2015: A Year of Networking
I’ll always remember 2015 as the year my editing business took off.
I had already been freelancing for a few years, but it was on top of other jobs, and I didn’t have a plan. Before, I always sought out jobs through online postings, where I was fighting for the attention of whoever had posted the latest Craigslist or Elance ad.
Did I find work? Yes! Did I form relationships with some neat clients? Yes! However, I was a complete stranger to each connection, so it was like starting from scratch every time I reached out to someone new. It got me work, but it was exhausting and uncertain.
I needed a better way.
A year ago, I made the decision to quit one of my teaching jobs and spend more time establishing a social media presence. I wanted to form lasting relationships with people and be visibly present and available at all times. In a way, I still didn’t have a plan; I took the leap and started trying things as they came to me. I owe editor friends like Lara Willard and Ashley Brooks a lot for encouraging me, keeping me accountable, and offering solutions as I moved my work forward.
That was huge. The best networking isn’t online, after all—it’s the flesh and blood humans who come alongside us and form community. I’m thankful to have that.
In addition to my real-life colleagues, though, I tried five different ways of social media networking that paid off last year. These are the ways social networking worked for me in 2015:
For the first 8-9 years of Twitter’s existence, I knew only three things it could do: relay kids’ daily activities to a world that didn’t really care, allow fans more access to celebrities’ “real” lives, and give companies a platform to pretend to be actual human beings. I wasn’t impressed.
Basically, I was too cool for Twitter.
Then, in a colleague meeting about social media tools, my friend Lara casually mentioned that Twitter helped her connect with more clients than she could actually schedule. Really? There were writers hanging out on Twitter, writers who wanted to connect with editors? I figured it was worth looking into, so I signed up.
I was in for quite a surprise! Twitter has a surprisingly rich literary community of authors, editors, agents, and publishers, and they welcomed me to the conversation with open arms. I’ve connected with some really neat clients, made friends who support me in my own writing, and learned a ton about the publishing world that I’m sending my clients out into. In just one year, I’ve gone from 0 followers to well over 800, and a lot of those are amazing authors and editors that I chat with regularly.
I’ve been converted and can say without doubt that Twitter has been my #1 networking tool over the past year.
In my mother’s words, who would’ve thunk?
This is technically part of what made Twitter work for me, but it involved so much more than tweeting.
From June to September, I had the honor of participating as an editor in Samantha Fountain’s premiere Pitch to Publication event. This pitching event hooked writers up with editors who worked with their chosen author through a full developmental edit before sending the manuscript on to participating agents. Not only was I spoiled with a great manuscript, I got to share tips and feedback with over 100 hopeful writers and see my network swell to include the larger #PitchtoPublication family.
I wrote more here on what I got from the experience.
In July, I was a cohost to Lara Willard’s #pg70pit contest. This contest was based on writing voice, and I gained quite a few new followers and even clients who wanted to hear more about what I had to say on the topic. I love the questions I received—questions I’ve been able to blog about in the months since summer—and now I have a head full of ideas on how to connect authors with resources on growing their voice and style.
I’ll definitely be back for both contests in 2016. The contest community on Twitter is huge, and I love being able to help make it worth the while of the hardworking authors who participate!
Just about a year ago, Lara Willard invited me to join the MS Editors team as an associate editor. MSEditors.com is a directory of several freelance editors who cover a variety of genres and editing services. I’ve had clients referred to me from other editors who weren’t the best fit, and I’ve been able to return the favor. Working with a team means two things: (1) more exposure and (2) more accuracy in matching author to editor.
In March 2015, I finally launched the current version of my editing site. I wanted a place where I could always be found—a place where authors could read about who I am, what I do, and why I do it. I also wanted to provide helpful resources to reach more writers than just my paying clients, so I started this blog as a way to share constructive writing and editing tips and interact more with writers.
The site been a great place to point people who find me through Twitter or other social media, and most queries come from people who have read about my services here and are ready to find out what that would look like for their specific project. I’ve also had a fairly positive response to the blog, so my goal this year is to post on a more regular schedule to build a more stable community of readers who are writers.
Facebook is my newest addition. I don’t put a ton of time into Facebook marketing, thanks to how difficult Facebook makes it for pages to be seen, but I do work to keep up a presence through blog links and other resources. The best thing this has done is let me make my personal connections aware of my business and give them the opportunity to follow what I’m doing. It’s a small following, but it’s mostly a following who knows me and is highly supportive of my work when they do share it with others.
My Social Networking Plan for 2016
I learned a lot about networking in 2015, and I plan on taking all five of these tools with me into the new year. I know that I can also do more to expand and strengthen my networking in 2016.
On Twitter, I’m planning to schedule intentional time to post helpful content and engage in real-time conversation. I appreciate every one of my followers and connections, so I want to make sure I’m providing helpful content, engaging with the content of others, and chatting with the people who have shown me that they’re happy to have me there. Too many times last year, I slacked off for a week or two because I didn’t have a plan. This year, no more leaving people hanging!
On my blog, I’m already halfway done with drafting a post schedule for the entire year. In 2015, I had some months with many posts and some months with almost none. In 2016, I’ll be posting more regularly with a mix of writing tips, editing resources, and (hopefully) my first guest posts from authors and editors I’ve loved working with and learning from. Readers will be able to subscribe through WordPress or email, and all posts will be shared through Twitter and Facebook as usual.
Anyway, that’s where I’ve been and where I’ll be heading! Thank you to everyone who has been part of my journey. In the end, the past year hasn’t been about money or status for me. It’s been about the books I’ve worked with and the writers I’ve connected with—people from whom I’ve gained at least as much as I’ve given.
You mean a lot, and I hope you stick around.