Can Social Media Hurt My Freelance Writing Career?

Social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter can be the greatest tool in your freelance writing arsenal; however, if used incorrectly, they can cast a negative shadow over your career that will be very difficult to avoid.

Statistics show that 78% of traditional employers check the social media pages of prospective employees. Since freelance writers typically deal in the digital realm, it is safe to assume that percentage is even higher.

Can Social Media Hurt My Freelance Writing Career?

It is very rare that a freelance writer will work face-to-face with clients. With that in mind, it is imperative to make your online presence shine – this is your first impression, after all.

It is very rare that a freelance writer will work face-to-face with clients.

Don’t Be a Zombie

With so many social media platforms to choose from, a novice freelancer will often feel the need to create a profile on every single website. This mistake is harmful for a number of reasons:

  • You run the risk of stretching yourself too thin
  • You reduce the amount of time that should be devoted to writing
  • You might end up with a “zombie profile”

When a potential client Googles your name only to be lost in a deluge of profiles you haven’t updated in six months, a sloppy and unprofessional image is projected.

Consider your own reaction when you stumble upon a blog or webpage that hasn’t been recently updated – it is typically a sign that the owner is either lazy or doesn’t have time to stay engaged.

Don’t Be a Nuisance

While regularly posting on social media is important, there is a fine line between staying active and drowning your followers in a torrent of updates. Experts recommend posting at least once per day, with a maximum of three or four posts.

When clients visit your page, you do not want to give the impression that you have nothing better to do with your time than share funny memes and quotes all day.

Also, should you ever run late on a deadline, overactive social media accounts will speak much louder than the actual obstacle you came up against.

Don’t Be Unprofessional

There are plenty of stories circulating the web that tell the sad story of an employee losing their job due to irresponsible social media use. Take caution in keeping your personal and public accounts separate. Familiarize yourself with the privacy settings on your personal accounts so that clients are not able to see what you share with close friends and family.

If you harbor opinions that may be offensive to anybody, it is generally best to keep them to yourself. For example, don’t post about how you absolutely hate visiting Austin, TX – your next client could very well be from this city!

Stay true to the purpose of your professional social media accounts; you are there to promote your brand, not lose potential clients.

Don’t Be Irrelevant

Your posts should represent yourself as a well-rounded individual, but do keep your audience in mind. If you write for health and nutrition blogs, it may not be the best idea to share that you ate nine slices of bacon for breakfast. If you write about business and finance, do not share how you just lost a thousand dollars at the casino last weekend.

Negativity is detrimental to your image – nobody wants to login and see their feed filled with hateful and angry comments. Take any issues with clients or criticism elsewhere (so long as it’s entirely private!) Before every post you make, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will my followers find this relevant?
  • Will this contradict what clients pay me to do?
  • Will this tarnish my online reputation?

Have you made any of these mistakes and received social media fallout? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

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I think it all depends on the individual, as for me its not a problem at allReply to Stephanie
I think it also depends on what your target demographic is. If you’re a fashion writer, then Pinterest and Instagram might be better for you than Twitter. If you write about careers, you should be on LinkedIn. Yes, keep it clean, professional, positive and smart if you want to showcase your profiles in your portfolio. Also, don’t just post for the sake of posting (the “me too” posts). Always bring value to the conversation.Reply to Mickey
Everyone usually talks about the benefits of social media, so it’s nice to finally see its many potential disadvantages as well. Pretty powerful stuff, and thanks for sharing a quick excerpt with us on Writer Town! ElvisReply to Elvis
I agree with Keri. I created business profiles on Facebook and Pinterest. My other social profiles I created as a result of freelance writing. I do my best to update them frequently as I feel having a strong social presence to be pivotal in landing clients.Reply to Elna
Sound advice on an important issue, Vanessa! I try to keep in mind that anything I post online could be read by current or potential clients.Reply to KeriLynn