Tag Archives: social media

Finding Inspiration in Weird Places

By Amanda Smyth Connor

I am what they (I) call a mockingbird writer, meaning I tend to write in the style that I have most recently been exposed to.


Case in Point #1: Last week, I re-read “Bossypants” by Tina Fey…for the third time.  I think it gets funnier every time I read it.

After brief episodes of reading, I would go back to my writing assignments to find that I was writing in shorter, more staccato sentences and more often than not I would make some lame attempt at a Liz Lemon-style self-deprecating joke.

Case in Point #2: I finished Bossypants and moved on to a Stephen King classic, “It.” Things took a decidedly darker turn in my writing projects, to which my editor simply wrote back to me:  “WTF?”

I find writing inspiration in odd places, but most notably from the style of book I’m reading at any given time. It’s a gift and a curse. [My editor assures me that it’s a curse. ]

Have you experienced this mockingbird style of writing? Where do you find your best writing inspiration?

Amanda Smyth Connor is a social media manager for a major publishing company 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.

Can You Reach the Right People via Social Media?

by Helen Gallagher

You might think being on blogs, Facebook and Twitter gives you enough exposure for your professional profile. But what if your desired reader or client isn’t out there?


Numerous studies show that men and women have differing online habits. While this may seem obvious, it is important if you’re counting on people finding you online and hiring you to work with/for them.

Examples from recent news items in The Atlantic and Christian Science Monitor:

— Fewer men use social media, and they are dramatically less likely to log on everyday.
— Men spend 28 percent less of their online time on social networks than women.
— Males don’t “Like” brands, update their status, or comment on others’ pictures as frequently as women.
— Women view social networks as a way to connect with family, friends, and co-workers. Men do not.

So, before wasting time on social media, hoping to reach the right contacts, consider spending more time reading up on sites that share meaningful industry-specific content. In other words, go where your clients are. Ideas include:

CNet.com, and wsj.com for business contacts
LinkedIn.com industry-specific groups
MediaBistro.com for journalists and media industry news

And, don’t overlook traditional trade magazines. (See tradepub.com).  Whether your client works in insurance, housewares or transportation, you’ll keep up with industry news, and be ready to talk business the next time the client contacts you for a freelance assignment.

Helen Gallagher blogs at Freelance-Zone.com to share her thoughts on small business and technology. She writes about, coaches and speaks on publishing. Her blogs and books are accessible through www.releaseyourwriting.com.

Social Media’s Gender Divide

onlinescrnMost would agree, women talk more than men, so perhaps it won’t surprise you that social media is largely a female bastion  — It sometimes seems like a barren wasteland of men.

Turns out though, men have their own conversation style, so they tend to stay clustered with other men; just as women like friending and chatting with their female peers.

Gender Demographics in Writers

Perhaps this is just natural, and follows other trends; such as male’s history of earning higher wages than females, and more top journalists are male. Most top authors are male, too, and a handful of the top blogs are by men, but they don’t seem to work at staying visible like women often do.

Even book reviewers, I’ve recently learned, are more males than females. The New York Times, for example, in a 2010 statistic showed reviews by male authors totaled 524, and only 283 by females. Similar disparities exist for male/female writers at The Atlantic.


Pin Agency, a California marketing firm, calls this “Mars and Venus in the Blogosphere,” where Technorati ranked top blogs. No.1 was Arianna Huffington’s The Huffington Post (which is actually a liberal news website and not really a blog per se) as its most influential blog but only one other blog (Dooce) owned by a woman, was among the 30 top-earners.

On a lighter note, they quote:

There are more male bloggers because of the so-called male answer syndrome (MAS), which apparently is the tendency of dudes to always have an opinion, even in subjects that they know little or nothing about. “Guys seek thrills and speed. They go for the adrenalin rush. They get pumped by going higher, faster, farther than anyone else. They want lots of action and instant gratification. That’s also why guys like blogging – instant opinions, and lots of them. Men clearly have an urge to blog that women lack,” says The Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente.

Pinstripes on Pinterest

And Pinterest?  Forget about finding men there. Over 80 percent of current users in the U.S. are female. In the U.K., the balance flips, with only 44 percent female, and the 66 percent of males who do use Pinterest are wealthier.

Foursquare.com has long been known as a man cave, with 80 percent male users, but the company says it is now trending to 60/40 male/female users.

Dig around if this gender divide is of interest to you. Now that we’re aware of this difference, we can aim to become more inclusive. We can write in a voice that appeals to both genders. Remember, too, on social media, that we have friends of both genders so our comments and updates should be of interest to both.

Build Your Online Platform Now

If you’re launching a freelance career or getting ready to wow us with a break-out novel, don’t wait to start building your platform. All authors need a platform as a way to reach readers, but it can also help you sell your book to an agent, attract attention for interviews, guest appearances…. and other wonderful things that bring more money your way. Getting accepted for freelance assignment is easier when you can direct an editor to a page bursting with clips and ideas.


With your website or blog as the core of your platform, widen your connection by linking your blog posts to Facebook, tweeting about new posts, and connecting with others through the dizzy array of online portals.  Most success with social media requires we give more than we take. So spend a few minutes each week boosting someone else’s work too, by leaving a comment, or writing an online review of a good book.

To keep your traffic growing, don’t let your loyal readers get bored when they visit your blog. Have fresh material at least once a week, and include photos, links and quotes. That’s what we’re used to seeing when we read a magazine, and you want your visitors to get the full reading experience whenever they stop by.

If you’d like to get better referrals from Facebook, consider setting up a Facebook Page, rather than asking professionals in the writing industry to visit your Facebook personal profile. Create a free page at facebook.com/pages, for your freelance business. To begin, you must already have an existing personal profile. This is a quick way to display your writing portfolio.

Unlike a personal Facebook profile, your business page should have a service and information component, not personal chatter. A Facebook page acts more like a website, and in fact, can take the place of a website if you put some time into structuring it. There are loads of templates at the Facebook site. The page design has pre-installed features to get you started and you can include add-ons for a guestbook, clips of your work, and even promote your books. This is a professional way to display your portfolio and let editors see that you’re savvy in social media – another plus in getting hired today.

What goes around comes around, so get visible out there and share some energy!

BIO: Helen Gallagher joined Freelance-Zone.com to share her thoughts on small business and technology. Her blogs and books are accessible through www.releaseyourwriting.com. She is a member of ASJA, Small Publishers Artists & Writers Network, and several great Chicago-area writing groups.

Social Media Shakeup for Journalists?

It’s been around long enough that we can stop calling it “new media”, and now that Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the rest are becoming more firmly entrenched in the day-to-day business of commerce and earning a living, the big questions are starting to get more attention.

As in, what’s considered “ethical” and “professional” when it comes to the use of social media in an editorial context?

For a lot of freelancers, it’s just a question of making sure you don’t alienate your current or potential future employers with a lot of random, possibly off-putting posts you’re likely to regret the next day after the fun is over.

But for others, it’s a lot more serious than that. Case in point, a recent blog post by Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing.net reporting that Sky News has issued strict new social media rules for its journalists with regard to Twitter use on official accounts.

Doctorow writes, “Under the new policy, Sky reporters are prohibited from retweeting from rival journalists and the public (though they are allowed to retweet each other). They are also not allowed to tweet about subjects that aren’t their beat. Finally, they’re prohibited from “personal” tweets in their professional accounts.”

When it was still called “new media” and the anything-goes frontier had many treading without care or caution, some thrived, some lost their jobs, and some just didn’t participate in the social media fun and games. But all that’s changing and more than ever, freelance or not, social media is a vital part of networking and information gathering.

The fact that professional codes of conduct are being formed on an organizational basis means in the next couple of years you might wake up finding a de facto standard of professionalism with regard to these things that wasn’t here at the time I’m writing this.

Sure, there are plenty of unwritten rules of the road now, but lest we forget, once upon a time the rules of journalistic ethics weren’t so formalized, either.

Now, it’s easy (at least for an experienced observer) to distinguish between the practices of a blogger, who can rant on and on with few consequences (except to reputation and future employability) and a bona fide journalist who is guided by a set of rules for fact-checking, source verification, attribution, etc. Not that all journos follow those rules all the time, but you see where I’m coming from…

These types of stories are the ones to watch for anyone interested in social media theory, journalism, etc.

Joe Wallace Vinyl Collector and authorJoe Wallace is a writer, editor, social media manager, and collector of weirdness on vinyl LPs.

Wallace runs the vinyl record collector’s blog, Turntabling.net, has snarky things to say about bad album covers, and writes short italicized bios about himself in the third person.

His book, WTF Records: A Turntabling.net Guide to Weird and Wonderful Vinyl, is in the final stages and should be inflicted on an unsuspecting public by Christmas. He’s not saying WHICH Christmas yet, mind you…

Just Walk Away

Joe Wallace freelance social media.jpgby Joe Wallace

I sprained my frontal lobes today. I spent a good long time writing about social media for retail banks, VA funding fee changes for veterans looking for a VA mortgage, and writing advice for people who need help managing professional Twitter and Facebook profiles.

You know that feeling you get when you can’t remember what 2 + 2 adds up to and the thought of writing another word fills you with the urge to run screaming down the hall? Yep, that’s what I’ve got.

I should have stopped half way through my marathon writing jag, walked down the street to my local coffee shop and given my poor battered brain a rest. Then I’d be capable of getting some additional work done today. But I didn’t, and chances are good that I won’t write another thing for the rest of the day.


Like the runner who trains too hard for a race, but instead of pulling an Achilles’ tendon, I’ve not got to put an ice pack on my skull. Someday, I will learn to stop, drink a cuppa and chill out before diving in again. But not today, apparently.

Sometimes, pacing yourself (even when you don’t think you need it) is a damn fine thing to do. What do you do when you need to stop and avoid overtaxing your most precious writing instrument?

Joe Wallace writes about finance, social media, retail banking, vinyl records, and foreign films. He runs Turntabling.net which discusses and sells vinyl records, and travels the USA in search of the coolest indie record shops in the land. When he’s not doing all, that he’s a freelance pop culture philosopher and roving food critic wannabe.