You Are What the Web Says You Are: Writers and Social Media

By Joe Pulizzi
Founder and Chief Content Officer for Junta42

My expertise is in content marketing — custom publishing to most of you reading here. When I was asked to submit a blog post, I started to think about all the things you may not know about the content marketing industry … the opportunities for writers in the corporate world, the growth of the industry (now $56 billion and bigger than magazines), and that the stigma that used to surround writing for a corporate publication is now gone. Where it used to be looked down upon, writing for a company like Microsoft is regarded as a pretty cool thing in today’s environment.

Learn more from Joe Pulizzi at our Nov. 17 webinar

Joe will share tips on how writers and editors can start their own media ventures at our webinar, A B2B Journalist’s Guide to Creating the Next New-Media Resource. former PC World editor-in-chief (and ASBPE guest blogger) Harry McCracken will also be a presenter.

All those things are very important, especially to me, since I live and breathe this industry. But, even though all those opportunities are reality, there are some very important social media elements that I believe most writers are missing out on.

Let me explain. Starting back in 2000 when I was with Penton Media, and now with Junta42, I would continually get solicited by freelance writers, at least two to three per week. I don’t mind at all. I need good writers all the time, and you never know when a business relationship makes sense, but I do have a litmus test. Here is what I do when I get an email from a writer looking for work.

1. First I check their website. If they have no website, that’s a problem.

2. Then I check to see if they have a blog. A freelance writer without a blog makes no sense to me. It is the ultimate promotional tool for a qualified writer, yet I find that most writers don’t have one. (For those without a lot of money to spend on a website, use the blog as your website. It costs nothing.) And yes, even those of you with steady gigs should have blogs.

3. Then I check their LinkedIn profile. How many contacts to they have? (Fifty should be a minimum.) This shows me that they really know how to network, which can help with sources for any story. In reality, 100 contacts is probably the minimum.

4. If they pass the first three tests, that’s a great sign. For other references, I Google their name to see if anything interesting comes up. Facebook, StumbleUpon, Digg profiles all help. Those tell me that this person has a clear understanding of the benefits of social media, and knows how to use it.

This whole process takes all of five minutes … five minutes well spent. It helps me figure out who I should really talk to, whose work I should evaluate. Fewer than 5% of all the writers I come in contact with pass these four tests. Those are the ones I’m interested in working with. They understand networking, social media, the value of writing as a form of marketing, and that the way you get new business in the writing world has forever changed. You are what the web says you are — and you have almost 100% control over that message. Very powerful.

There is an opportunity here for any writer to take the necessary steps toward a more successful future. Start now, while it still is an opportunity.

Joe Pulizzi is founder and chief content officer for Junta42, the leading media/bookmarking site for content marketing and custom publishing. Junta42 Match is the industry’s only buyer/seller marketplace for custom publishing solutions. Contact Joe at joe[at]junta42.com.

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