February 6, 2016

Twitter – It’s Not Rocket Science, Y’all

In an effort to promote their products or services, many freelance writers have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. Once signed up and ready to go, some find themselves at a loss, regarding what to say, how it all works, and how to gain followers.

Beware the Self Centered Tweeter 

Selfish people end up lonely -- on Twitter.

A significant number of Twitter participants don’t seem to understand how it all works and how to gain followers. Many only tweet information about their own businesses, services, websites, and blogs. Not only will this give others the distinct impression that the tweeter has profound narcissistic tendencies, it will probably not result in any meaningful engagement – least of all – new client prospects or beneficial networking relationships.

Just like real life is not all about you, the true magic of Twitter only reveals itself when you promote others, engage with others, and follow others you admire without looking for anything in return.

Selfless promotion of others and meaningful engagement with others represent the most important of these three activities.

How do you know which tweeters belong to the me-first club? You can quickly scan the tweet streams of tweeters before following them to determine if they have true twitter networking potential or if they belong to the me-first club frequented by the self-centered crowd.

Just like in real life, it’s best to avoid those in the me-first club.

Beware of Following Everyone Who Follows You 

Avoid the Twitter freshman foible of following everyone who follows you. Your tweet stream will quickly become cluttered with irrelevant information and possibly inappropriate or spam content.

One of the great benefits of freelance writing is location independence. You can work for clients all over the world. Having said that, most freelancers will want to encourage followers in their local area or region as well. To find locals, try using Twitter’s advanced search function, or click on Nearby Tweets.

What to Tweet 

After collecting the first few followers, now what?

Even a prolific freelance writer may become a bit tongue-tied when deciding what to say at first. Many new writers and other freelancers join Twitter because everyone else says, “You must,” and “It’s a great way to gain a presence and grow your business”. While this is certainly true, it won’t do you any good (and may even harm your reputation) if you don’t know what to say and do to make it work for you and your niche. Pique the interest of followers and gain additional ones by trying a few of these tips:

  • Send out tweets about your current activities, relevant to your freelance writing business. Perhaps you just received an award for a magazine story or an investigative reporting piece. Tweet this exciting news out to your followers. When they respond in congratulations, thank them and start up a conversation – you may need to practice keeping the length under the 140-character requirement, but you’ll get the hang of it.
  • Check out the conversations of your followers and get involved in it. Ask your own questions about their discussions.
  • Search for peers in your writing niche, see who is following them and check out their tweet stream. Join in the conversation and follow them if they seem like a good fit for you.
  • Tweet about local events and news relating to your freelance writing business and mention those you collaborate with.
  • Sure, tweet about your business or services, but also throw in something personal and upbeat. One freelance photo-journalist throws in positive tweets about her organic garden and which plants are currently sprouting or ready to harvest.
  •  Throw a Twitter contest. Those who wish to enter the contest must re-tweet a post of your choosing. The contest could be as simple as asking a little known trivia question about your industry. The first person that tweets the correct answer wins. Choose only one winner, but offer a discount on your products or services to everyone who enters.
  • Tweet links to quality blogs about your freelance writing niche. Make certain the information is relevant, well written, and interesting.
  • Re-tweet interesting tweets from followers and industry leaders.
  • Create a modest profile that concisely conveys your freelance mission and niche. Avoid using hyperbole and, please, for the love of all things holy, spell- and grammar-check your profile.
  • Graciously thank those who re-tweet your information and who engage with you while on Twitter. Do this every time, without fail and watch your follower list grow.

Making Twitter work for your freelance writing business dreams involves steadfast commitment and solid relationship building. Make a commitment to spend at least one half hour a day on Twitter, truly connecting with followers and others.

Share your advice with newbie, or struggling, Twitter users. What things did you do to get started?



Image credit: courtesy of curious-b-b dot com

About Samantha Gluck

Not only am I the chief editor of this multi-author online magazine, I'm a content creator and social media marketing strategist with a background in journalism, finance, & healthcare. I began my content marketing agency, All Media Freelance, LLC, in 2010 and lead a well-rounded, talented team of multi-channel content strategists and niche writers. I've developed and managed print and digital content projects for health care, fitness, financial services, mental health, non-profit, and automotive publishers, as well as for biotechnology brands.


  1. I also like the Twitter list feature to just focus on certain tweeps – like you said your stream can get cluttered quickly when you start having a lot of followers or people that you follow.
    Lisa recently posted..Don’t Be Afraid of Your Photo on TwitterMy Profile

    • Oh yes, the list feature, hashtags, tweet chat, and all those fairly advanced features will appear in a future post.

      I don’t know about you, but I was fairly overwhelmed when I first got on Twitter in March of 2011. I had gotten all my clients at that time by word of mouth (not using any social media at all) and didn’t really think it was necessary — until the first day I used it. At that point, I realized the significance of Twitter and other platforms.

      I was so confused about hashtags, re-tweeting, who could see my tweets and who couldn’t, etc. I wish I had a series of articles to read at that time to help me feel more confident. Instead, I slogged through it myself. Two profiles later, I’m loving Twitter, even with its problems. We’ve all got problems. :-)

  2. Amy E. Shoultz, PhD says:

    As always Samantha…you are spot-on on all matters Twitter. Would only add one other tip to newbies: Get over yourself! Every single tweet doesn’t have to embody your quintessence…It’s just a tweet *-)

  3. I agree with Lisa. If it weren’t for the lists I’ve set up, I’d be overwhelmed with just the generic Twitter feed from everyone I follow. And I use Hootsuite to manage my lists and all of my tweets. It’s free and generally works quite well.
    John Soares recently posted..The Power of a Small WebsiteMy Profile

    • Yes, John, I agree. The list feature has really worked well for me and kept my anxiety levels down when using Twitter. I find so much more useful information from viewing my lists than just my entire tweet stream. I’ve not used HootSuite extensively, but TweetDeck is not working well at all on my new iPhone with iOS5. I’m switching to HS for my mobile devices for sure.


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