When I started out as a writer five years ago, all my mentors repeatedly asked me to start a blog. I had reservations about it, starting one blog that was discontinued after a couple of posts and then giving excuses like lack of time or a lack of things to say on a frequent basis. Well, that phase ended last year and I now have a blog that’s over a year old, with an audience – even though the number is modest, it’s done wonders for my motivation to be a full-time writer.
So, when I was satisfied with my web presence, I decided to sit back and let the blog do its work. Then one fine day, I noticed that most of my friends on Facebook had joined Twitter. Twitter was a social media tool that celebrities like Amitav Ghosh and Vir Sanghvi used. People followed famous people on Twitter. Twitter was not for the average journalist or struggling writer. Those were my silly misconceptions. A social media geek, my curiosity was aroused with an increasing number of acquaintances joining the bandwagon. I finally asked one of them, “What do people do on Twitter?” The answer was a brief “Posting links mainly.” What kind of links, I ventured to ask. “News. Your work. Blog posts.” That got me.
Thirteen months later, I’m advising all writers – be it creative writers, feature writers, content writers, or any other kind of writer – to USE Twitter. Take advantage of the site as a professional tool. Here are five reasons why I’m on Twitter and regret not experiencing this earlier.
Spread Your Links
Earlier, when I posted on my blog, a few followers would stop by. Thanks to Twitter, every time I blog, I can post the link as a tweet AND get retweets from my followers. Once I wrote a flash fiction post that invited less than a dozen clicks in the first hour. Then somebody appreciated my writing enough to retweet the link that night. I woke up with the highest number of hits in my blog’s lifetime. In addition to blog post links, I post links to any of my published work that’s available online. You can tweet the link multiple times in case somebody on your timeline misses it.
Companies and people often tweet about vacancies and projects. Even if somebody on your timeline doesn’t, they may retweet these posts. Just like yesterday, actress Konkona Sen posted a retweet about freelance positions based in my city. I immediately replied to the tweet, asking for information at my email address. And this isn’t the first time I’ve done something like this. A few months ago, I gained a substantial content writing project from a similar retweet.
Meet Other Writers
The first people I decided to follow were writers. You’ll be surprised at Twitter’s power to bring you close to people of your community, the writers community, that you live in mentally all day and night. Authors post links to their own work and to work by other writers. Some authors are kind enough to retweet your blog URL if you ask for it. You can search for hashtags like #writing or #writers and get related news and advice from around the globe. I found a few great writers’ blogs via this method.
We all need quotes for our articles. Twitter gives you easier access to these contacts. Many journalist friends of mine have mentioned a celebrity or expert’s twitter handle in a tweet, asking for an e-mail address to contact them. You won’t always get a reply, but this is one way that may work. When I was with The Telegraph, I tried this and got good results. One out of three experts replied.
Follow the Leaders
A month into Twitter, I realised that all the major publishers use this social media platform. I follow Penguin USA, Penguin India, Westland Books, and a long list of others. It’s smart to follow major publications as well because you can get familiar with their language style and approach, and be in the loop about writing competitions. A few months ago, Elle magazine tweeted about their fiction awards. I never buy Elle. I don’t visit their website. So Twitter gave me important information that I wouldn’t have read otherwise. Publishers often post about contests and book launches too. And we all know that book launches are a great place to network.
Tweet. Read. Follow. Leverage your writing career and let this 140 character limit marvel be more than a place where people talk about what they eat and when they sleep.
Written By: Sue Ghosh
Sue is a freelance writer based in Kolkata. She has written for various publications including The Telegraph and Times of India. You will find her writing short stories for children or interacting with street dogs and her own adopted pets at any hour of the day. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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