Tag Archives: freelance writing advice

How to Get 5,000 (or even 50,000) Followers on Twitter

by Mike O’Mary

logo_twitter_withbird_1000_allblue copyOver the last few months, FZ has featured some very helpful and insightful posts about social media in general and about Twitter in particular. If you missed them the first time around, be sure to check them out now:

Today, I’d like to add to the conversation, not by sharing my own (very limited) knowledge, but by introducing you to Lynn Serafinn, a real expert when it comes to Twitter, social media and online marketing.

iStock_000005894033XSmallWith Lynn’s help, I went from no Twitter account nine months ago to 5,600 followers for @TheNoteProject on Twitter today. Lynn herself has 50,000 followers across four Twitter accounts.

What good is 5,600 followers on Twitter? It’s been very important to me. My goal was to spread the word about the Note Project, a campaign to inspire people to write more notes of appreciation. My contacts on Twitter led to media interviews, posts and guest posts on various blogs and websites, and free gifts to Note Project participants by people and organizations that support the Note Project. In fact, more than half of the Note Project’s 50 sponsors came via contacts on Twitter.

What is the secret to Lynn’s success? It’s not as difficult as you think – and fortunately for us, Lynn recently shared all of her secrets in a three-part series on her Spirit Authors website. Click below to read all three segments – and start building up your community on Twitter today.

“10 Tips to Get Followers on Twitter and Why You Should” by Lynn Serafinn

Mike O’Mary is founder of the Note Project, a campaign to make the world a million times better by inspiring 1 million people to write notes of appreciation, and of Dream of Things, a book publisher and online book store.

$140,000 Per Year on Elance.com?

by Mike O’Mary

Will work for food iStock_000004304868LargeI’m curious…do any members of the Freelance-Zone.com community have experience using Elance.com to get jobs? If so, how did it go for you as a freelancer?

I ask because I’ve used Elance.com as a client, and I have mixed feelings about it. A while back, I mentioned to someone that I needed help from a graphic designer and a proofreader, but that I was on a tight budget. My friend suggested Elance.com. So I gave it a try and posted a couple of jobs.

As a client, I was pleased with the results. I got bids from graphic designers and proofreaders from all over the world. And the prices reflected the global nature of the competition. In fact, some prices were so low I couldn’t believe it.

In the end, I didn’t go with the lowest bidder. Nor did I go with an overseas bidder, although there were many. I went with U.S. providers, partly because of my comfort level, but also because I found that I could hire a U.S. freelancer and still spend way less than I had anticipated. In fact, at the end of the graphic design job, I gave the designer a bonus because I couldn’t believe how much work she did for the price she had quoted me. And that’s where my mixed feelings come in… Continue reading $140,000 Per Year on Elance.com?

Social Media vs. Community Management

By Amanda Smyth Connor1258179_hands_above_4

They’re the same thing, right? They both involve engaging your audience, creating brand awareness and sharing great content that will drive people to a product, site or information. Right? Right??


These two positions are often confused and are, more often, used interchangeably. While there is a great deal of overlap, these positions require very different skill sets. If you are a freelance writer looking to get into social media management or community management, you need to know the difference before you get yourself in over your head.

Community Managers are a liaison between the audience and the proper internal stakeholders. Community managers use proactive and reactive communication strategies to engage the audience and to gather feedback. They analyze the information that comes in (which is invaluable feedback!) and make recommendations that are passed along to IT, marketing, PR, customer service and sales departments. It is also the CM’s job to monitor the brand/product online across all channels (internet-wide). The internet is a big place. Without a CM, how will any buisness know what is being said about their product or site without someone to watch, interact, analyze and report back?

Social Media specialists strive to create strategies for bigger community engagement. From Facebook strategies to Twitter to [insert social media channel here], the social media specialist is the bigger picture person when it comes to the “how” of reaching and engaging customers. SMers can come from a variety of backgrounds but most often have a deep interest in marketing and brand management. If the community manager is the “voice” of the brand, the SM is the “head.”

And while these two positions are different and should not be confused, they must work closely together to create and execute a great social media strategy. You can’t just hire one, you really need both, and they need to work in tandem to be effective. What is a head without a voice, and vice versa?

Are you looking to get into the social media side of freelance writing? There’s a huge need for fantastic writers who can create really engaging content. Just make sure you are very aware of the requirements of the job you are applying for. Because these positions are so new, more often than not job descriptions for these positions are inaccurate and many companies don’t fully understand their own social media needs nor how to identify the right candidate for the position. Do your homework and understand EXACTLY what you can offer before applying for any positions.

Amanda Smyth Connor is a social media manager for a major publishing company, owns her own wedding planning business, and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.

Advertise Yourself

Joe Wallace freelance social media.jpgby Joe Wallace

It’s funny what kind of great ideas you get for other people where marketing and self-promotion is concerned, but when I started taking a look at things I personally wanted to do, I realized I’d been missing the boat in a lot of little ways that could really help at some point down the line.

Everybody knows you should put a signature file in your e-mails to let people know important things like “I’m available for hire on your next project” and “Contact me here to hire me or look at my awesome resume.”

But there are other little things I realized I wasn’t doing to promote myself that could have the same result as the signature file. Two of the most glaring omissions? T-shirts and bumper stickers.


When I’m not doing freelance social media management, writing articles, or preparing seminars about using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as PR tools, I have a little cottage industry going selling vinyl records, t-shirts and accessories for vinyl lovers. Whenever I do a convention, I’m almost always wearing a t-shirt advertising my site for vinyl junkies, Turntabling.net.

So why don’t I do that sort of free advertising for my freelance work?

A t-shirt that simply reads “freelancer” would definitely be a conversation starter in the right social settings, and when one thing leads to another, you could just end up talking shop with someone in need of a writer, editor, social media maven, etc.

I also noticed a distinct lack of shameless self-promotion on my vehicle–acres of bumper space that is just sitting there blank which could be used to direct someone to a resume page, The Freelance Zone, etc.

So now I’m getting ready to start being a bit more active in my self-promotion efforts by wearing my business on my sleeve, as it were. Within reason, of course. It would be insane to get a tattoo on my forehead with a web address on it, and a car that’s completely screaming a business message is a bit of a turn-off. But one nice, legible-from-a-distance bumper sticker could be a good way of adding some extra attention to what I do.

Jargon? Beware

Joe Wallace Freelance Social Mediaby Joe Wallace

I recently had to sort out an issue thanks to an innocuous bit of jargon that created massive confusion on the part of some readers on one of my client sites. The problem had to do with whether an IRS tax break for military people stationed overseas applies to someone with a military assignment in Hawaii.

The tax break, technically speaking, is intended for people who are at military assignments outside the United States. But there’s a bit of military jargon that defines stateside military jobs as being in “CONUS” as in, Continental United States. Does Hawaii count for the tax break? Is Hawaii a CONUS base?

By strict military interpretation, yes. Hawaii is an overseas base and military members get pay and benefits accordingly. There’s one specific benefit called OCONUS COLA, which is a cost of living allowance for people stationed abroad. People stationed in Hawaii can draw this benefit.

By the IRS definition, Hawaii is technically part of the United States and therefore people assigned there aren’t eligible for the tax break.

The presence of the phrase “CONUS” and “continental United States” in the article led some to believe that having a military assignment in Hawaii would qualify them for the tax break. According to the IRS, the answer is, “No, it doesn’t”.

Military readers often think “USA bases” when the term CONUS is used. But the literal interpretation of CONUS–the contiguous 48 states or “lower 48” excludes Hawaii and the U.S. protectorates.

If the jargon had been omitted, there would have been no confusion. It’s a great lesson in the power of brevity and the need to write plainly and without jargon–even when your audience expects it.

It’s just a shame that I didn’t follow my own advice on the brevity front for THIS POST. Better luck next time, eh?

Hey, Tweet Thang

by Mike O’Mary

iStock_000005848850XSmallOkay, I never thought I’d say this, but there’s some fascinating stuff on Twitter for writers. I see lots of job postings and writing advice. Have you gotten a freelance job via a Twitter contact? I haven’t gotten that far, but I’m finding decent advice and interesting revelations in 140 characters or less. Here are some of the results from a recent #writing search (followed by selected parenthetical comments from Yours Truly):

“Marry somebody you love and who thinks you being a writer’s a good idea.” Richard Ford @AdviceToWriters (Do you think Richard Ford really abbreviates writer + is = writer’s?)

I have a Leadership Devel (sic) Freelance Writing Jobs (sic). @writingjobs_in (As they say, the devel is in the details)

Article Writer Needed for 20 Articles on Health. @TWeelanceWriter (Writing the articles is cheaper than actually going to the doctor.)

To (sic) Good Online Writing Websites. @williamswafford (Because to is better than won?)

I have an online class. I want you to take it and do it for me. @Elance_Writing (That was my post from 30 years ago. Except classes weren’t online back then, so I had to pay somebody to actually go to class for me too.)

A brief rundown of novels and historical fiction set in Vancouver. @vancouver_rt  (I think that was the full text.)

Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said.” Elmore Leonard (He said knowingly.)

Writer wanted for occasional work. @writingjobs_in (Is there any other kind of work for writers?)

FlashFiction vs Short Stories: What’s the difference? @iwritepoetry (That’s what I keep saying!)

Have a new idea for a story. Gotta start writing it down. @AntMan0623 (Doh! Too late. I forgot it!)

The Impotance of Edditting @OnUrge (Very clevver.)

I just cried writing a scene. So either it was really good, or I’m totally delirious from being locked in this room all day! @capetownbrown (I cry when I read my own writing, too. Good writing? Delirium? I attribute it to writing with an onion.)

Possibly the best book I’ve read about writing and living the creative life. @DreamofThings (Hey! I said that!)

Bottom line: Don’t waste a lot of time there. But if you have a few minutes, get your Tweet self on over to Twitter and find some occasional work!

Mike O’Mary tweets as @DreamofThings and @TheNoteProject