How to launch a freelance writing career via Twitter (Case Study)

December 22nd, 2009

(NOTE: This is a guest post by Victoria Harres Akers)

Andrew Keys, a landscape designer and blogger, didn’t sign-up for Twitter with the intention of launching a writing career. In the spring of 2009 Andrew hesitantly created his @oakleafgreen Twitter account after a bit of coercion from a friend who told him it would be a great place for him to promote his landscape design firm.

So Andrew set out trying to find the value of Twitter for his business. What he found were people in his industry talking shop and learning from each other.

Intuitively, Andrew made smart connections. He followed people in his industry, including editors at gardening magazines. He stayed engaged, nurtured relationships as they developed and subsequently his investment of time resulted in an invitation to contribute to a national gardening magazine.

Three articles later and Andrew has added “freelance writer” to his resume.

I asked Andrew if he could offer some advice to other writers who would like to use Twitter to network and perhaps even pitch a story. He quickly recommended starting with research.

“Months before I created my Twitter account, I found a long list from a reputable blogger in my industry of her favorite Twitterers,” he says. “When I signed up, I went back to that list, followed everyone on it, joined the conversation and made some good connections.”

Even more connections followed from those initial relationships.

When I asked Andrew if there was one thing he’d done that really stands out as having helped him in his Twitter endeavors, he says, “I was real. That, to me is the crux of Twitter at its best.”

I agree.

“Don’t pigeonhole yourself,” he suggests. “All work and no play makes Andy a dull Twitterer! Keep in mind that Twitter is about being real, and it’s about entertainment…the more well-rounded you are in the discussion you generate, the larger a following you’re likely to gather.”

“In the end, I think that [earnest contribution to discussions] went a lot further in those editors’ minds than if I’d pitched them when we first met,” Andrew says. “And it went a lot further in my mind because I felt I actually came to know them and the rest of my community as people. That’s as valuable as any published article, if not more.”

Here are some final bits of wisdom Andrew shared:

  • Learn and obey the rules of Twittiquette {basically, be polite}
  • Post a photo of your actual face as your avatar
  • Nurture valuable relationships
  • Contribute intelligently to conversations
  • Self-promotion has a place on Twitter, but know when to stop
  • Be yourself and enjoy talking to people


If you’d like to contribute to Old Media, New Tricks, you can reach us through @mediatricks on Twitter.

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Entry Filed under: New Tricks,Twitter

  • vharres

    Rebecca, I agree. Twitter is a great, big opportunity to learn from each other. We are all both teachers and students. We just have to be willing to share and to be open to possibilities.

  • vharres

    Scot – I think Andrew has a bright future ahead of him : ) He can be found in Fine Gardening this month (issue on shelves now).

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