Freelance Tip #2: Why Bother with Twitter

Though Twitter has only been around a couple of years, it’s spawned a little industry of books on how to effectively use it — and a big group of Twitter haters. I use Twitter and have for a long time, if we’re measuring time in Internet terms rather than, say geologic terms. Here’s my Twitter story, because I can see in your eyes that you want to like Twitter but don’t know how.

A few years ago, I had lunch with a fellow freelancer and tech maven Jason Glaspey. “You should use Twitter,” he said. “It’s like a water cooler for freelancers who don’t have anyone to talk to all day.”

“Ugh, I don’t know. It sounds annoying,” I said.

“I bet you’d like it,” he said. (He also recommended a virtual secretarial service which I tried. That was annoying, and the service ceased not long after.)

Figuring a couple weeks on Twitter wouldn’t kill me, I gave it a go. I now have about 200 followers, depending on the day and the spam activity. I’ve sent out over 1000 tweets myself, and I’ve read many times that number.

I’ve had two big Twitter successes in the past couple of years:

  • Local news station KGW needed an auto expert to talk green cars, and they put out the call on Twitter. Someone I followed retweeted it, and I found it. Long story short, I got to be an auto expert on live local TV with host Stephanie Stricklen (that’s @StephStricklen, for those who want to bask in her Twitter wit).
  • Nathan Fillion (@NathanFillion) tweeted that he was coming to Eugene, Oregon, to test drive an electric car. I contacted the car maker (@Arcimoto) and arranged to be there while the star of “Castle” and “Firefly” took his test drive. I wrote it up for the NY Times Wheels blog, and got to meet one of my biggest, geekiest star crushes. Way to keep it professional, KHG.

These are only the big ones. I also follow fellow gearheads for automotive story ideas and information, fellow freelancers for commiseration, and fellow Portlanders for local, real-time news. I also follow the famous and interesting (see: Nathan Fillion), and I follow a few literary agents I’d love to have represent me to see what projects they’re publishing these days. It’s not stalker-y. I swear.

If you still need convincing, then maybe Twitter isn’t for you. No shame in that. But you might be missing out on more opportunities than you think. (Captain Tightpants! I mean, come on! I MET NATHAN FILLION! *geek squeal*)

Published by Kristen

Freelance editor, author, and publisher