One might struggle seeing Instagram as a writing tool. After all, Instagram focuses on the visual while the writer relies on words. But writers are seeing Instagram as yet another method of expanding a career, and yes, that could even mean finding work.
Just like writers have different voices, different styles, and different methods of growing their business, no two writers will tell you how to use Instagram the same. However, they can agree in general that Instagram has three uses: Branding, Finding Work, and Networking.
Whether you use your name or your business name or your tagline, make yourself appealing by optimizing your profile. Don’t just fill in the blanks. Speak to your perfect client in this profile and don’t worry about who you might miss. Some writers mix business and pleasure, still showing people their food experiences, vacations, or pets, giving themselves a personality. At the same time, they cover their successes, brag about a client, and show that they are multi-sided and three dimensional.
Freelance writer Colleen Welsch shows her personality all over social media, but on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thefreelancewritersguide/) she chooses a different tactic than most. She posts colorful graphics of one-liner advice, snippets of suggestions, and bulleted ideas, all of which click through to videos of instruction. She has a color scheme, a selective font, and a hippie design that’s entertaining.
Her other freelance life is at Glossy Type where she is a freelance beauty copywriter, branding specialist, and content marketing expert. Like many freelancers, she wears more than one hat . . . one counseling other freelancers and the other doing commercial work. Glossy Type likewise has an Instagram site (https://www.instagram.com/theglossytype/). There she uses a similar concept at her other site, only with a different color scheme. It’s still a fun design, but you catch a whiff of polish with a humorous side. She still flaunts herself and her life, but her writing niche carries the show.
You may keep a personal and a professional site, but keep in mind that people will click from one to the other. And if you also publish books, throw them in the mix as well to show how diversified and talented you are. You find a lot of readers on Instagram, too.
Freelance writing is first and foremost about customer relationships. Finding them, grooming them, and keeping them. So if potential clients are on Instagram, why not you?
Show your work and demonstrate your potential. If you write about jewelry, show an incredible photo with your best promotional copy. If you write about food, show something luscious and give a mini-review.
Grab testimonials from clients and put them in a graphic. Develop tweet-length remarks about what you do and who you do it for. Flaunt who you’ve written for, maybe even doing a shout-out thanks to them.
Again, the profile is all important, both in eye appeal and content, so that when the potential client decides they love your feel on Instagram, they can easily click to reach you and feel excited doing so. Consider using a site like LinkTree (https://linktr.ee/) to display your stories and clips.
In reverse, follow the customer. Freelance writer Lindy Alexander (https://www.instagram.com/lindyalexanderwriter/) specializes in travel, food, and lifestyle. She calls her Instagram style organic with a hint of strategy.
I follow all the editors, feature editors, and sub editors of magazines, newspapers, and online outlets that I write for and want to write for. Whenever I travel somewhere on assignment, I make sure that I create Instagram stories and take lots of images to create a couple of posts about my trip. Once I stayed at a new pet-friendly hotel (for a newspaper article) and shared a story about it on Instagram, and another editor of an inflight magazine reached out and asked me to write a piece for his magazine.
In another instance, she craved to write for a particular publication, but never could clinch the deal. So she followed the editor on Instagram, commenting genuinely on her posts and stories without forcing the remarks. After cultivating that relationship over time, she sent the editor a DM and asked if there was anything in particular she sought in a story. The editor replied, Lindy pitched to her and got the gig.
To find these editors and markets, begin with simply typing in your niche in the search box. Study the hashtags, bloggers, and companies that show up. Study their number of followers and their website. Study the type of writing they might be seeking, then go back and use your organic talents to communicate and be in-the-know.
In forging these relationships, do more than like a post. Comment and be unique and professional, basically standing out from other posts. Be diligent and authentic in following these editors. Many of the individuals in this business prefer Instagram over Twitter because it is less noisy and in-your-face. They like Instagram over LinkedIn because it’s like leaving the office and stopping off at a café or bar on the way home. Plus, Instagram is a slower moving social media environment, and your comments hang around in sight for a lot longer than the faster scrolling, easily disappearing remarks on Twitter. A few minutes each day on the platform can start that precious customer relationship you seek.
Follow (and interact) with other freelance writers, and you’ll not only land hints about gigs, but they also might hand you work that they don’t have time to handle. Watch how they behave on Instagram, learn how they land work (freelancers love to share), and possibly earn a recommendation from them to potential clients.
Through networking contacts you can hear about changes before they hit the mainstream news: editor changes, brand new blogs needing populating, magazine start-ups (and closures). Simply search for freelancewriter and study the movers and shakers, the six-figure masters and the solid five-figure slow and steady folks. Ask advice on niches, learn how to handle slow-paying clients, and figure out how others found clients on Instagram (and who they are). To find them, study general hashtags (#freelancewriter) or get more niche-y with it (#beautywriter, #travelwriter). Also seek tags like https://www.instagram.com/contentwriters or https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/freelancewriters.
Instagram is a tool and an entertaining outlet. Presenting your best side, your professional side, and your fun side on the same platform as many of your successful peers and potential clients will flaunt you as a person to know and work with.
Social media is a large part of our world today—and is thriving and growing by the minute. It’s important to know how to use social media for writers, everything from the basics to how it can benefit your career. Discover how to use social media to your advantage in this Social Media 101 course.