Bloggers use social networking sites like MySpace for self-promotion all the time. But how can a struggling freelance writer take advantage of the same type of strategies bloggers use? It’s easy. Here’s the breakdown in five easy steps:
1. Cultivate lots of “friends”. The law of averages says the more MySpace friends you have, the higher the response rate will be when you post a link to your material or send a bulletin saying “Hey, look at this!” The extra eyeballs on your work means the greater likelihood that your article will get comments and feedback. The more activity on a given article, the better you look in the eyes of an editor who has to decide whether to use you again.
2. Add “targeted” friends. Got somebody else in the biz you want to make friends with? Maybe an editor or a publication you want to get published has a MySpace site. Add them as friends and start up a casual “relationship” with them by sending the occasional message or posting a nice comment. This is standard MySpace behavior, but when it comes time to strike up a conversation with someone at that publication you won’t be such an unknown quantity at a medium-sized or smaller operation. The key here is to be a semi-regular MySpacer, posting and commenting without mentioning your own work–until you need to.
3. Blog about your own work on MySpace. It’s fun to write about the amusing incidents and accidents that happen when you are writing a piece, as long as you don’t cheat your own writing by divulging stuff that’s better left to the original article. I once wrote a small gossipy piece about interviewing Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse. The night of the interview the entire band was sick and I ranted about all the things I had to do to keep from catching their germs. The story behind the story is a great way to add eyeballs to both the original piece and your blog.
4. Seek out fellow freelancers. It’s called social networking for a reason! You can trade markets, share horror stories about editors who don’t pay, and learn about all kinds of openings for new income. This sounds like one of the more obvious pieces of advice, but there are a few different tactics you can use to make this pay off in unexpected ways. Maybe you aren’t the best photographer in the world, and you need to team up with someone to get some shots for an article you want to pitch. You know it won’t fly as a query unless you have the .jpgs to back it up, so why not hop on MySpace and seek out a local photog?
5. Use MySpace for interview material. One of the best sources of interview material for music journalists and other niche writers is right in front of you every day. You’d be shocked at how many bands respond to MySpace when it comes to interview requests. And it’s not just the struggling indie bands, either. Many established artists who have slipped a bit past their prime but are still in the game will respond to a request…it all depends on the artist. How would you like to pitch a few music interviews to your local alternative newsweekly? You could get hooked up in no time at all via MySpace.
Not all of these strategies work for everyone, but chances are at least one of these can help you in the early stages of the game. I have successfully used all of them and still use #5 to this day. The most important thing is to look at this list and see what inspires you; many people come up with a completely new angle on at least one of these after a few days of trial and error.