Twitter Tips for Freelancers: How to Find Gigs, Editors, and Your Voice
For many freelancers, Twitter has been the source of “doomscrolling” since the word was popularized during the early days of the pandemic — but it’s always been a great resource. You just have to learn how to leverage it best for your needs.
Oftentimes, freelancers who struggle with utilizing Twitter stress that they don’t have anything to say, but that’s just part of the equation. The app is also great for connecting with editors and sources, learning from other freelancers, creating discussions, and finding work.
Who and what to follow
Before you go on a following spree, figure out what it is you’re going to be using the platform for. Don’t simply follow people based on where they work. People change jobs all the time — particularly in the media industry. Follow them because their content is useful or makes you want to engage with it.
I like to sort who I follow into a few buckets: Outlets I want to write for, accounts that share resources, sources within the beats I write about, and content or people I know and enjoy. Everything else has got to go (or be muted).
It’s really about streamlining and curating your timeline to make it enjoyable and useful as possible.
How to use Twitter’s advanced search
Twitter is a great tool for search. Here’s what to look for and how to do it:
Search the publication’s name (or use its Twitter handle) along with “editor” in quotations to narrow results. Switch to the people tab and you can often find editors from the team there.
When you find an editor whose content you like, take a look through their “Tweets & Replies” tab to see who they’re engaging with. Check out who they are following, too.
Once you find the handle you want, look at their bio first. Is the email listed there? Do they have a portfolio or website linked? If so, check there for a contact page or where their email may be listed. If it’s a personal email and not their work email, it’s not for pitches from you.
You can also search their handle and “com” as in .com or the end of their email. If they’ve ever included it in a tweet, the tweet will come up in the search results.
Once you know the email format for a publication, you can guess the address. For example, Mic.com is first name @mic.com — as are a lot of the BDG group outlets.
Calls for pitches
Search terms like “pitch me,” “send pitches,” “call for pitches,” or “pitch call” but it’s also helpful to follow people that are often looking to be pitched.
How to reach out and engage with editors and writers
First and foremost, try not to make it about you when you’re first reaching out. Respond to their tweets about their dog. Read their latest story. Share your thoughts on their celebrity couple obsession or make a recommendation when they ask.
Sure, this takes paying attention and time, but freelancers should be treating Twitter like a social gathering. It’ll feel a lot more organic and a lot less “looking to connect.” Rather than looking to work together first, try to get to know the person via their Twitter. It’ll make pitching and working together easier in the long run.
Sending a DM that you want to work together or to simply get to know the person doesn’t offer an easy call to action or a response unless they’ve asked for DMs. Try to connect on other things first on the timeline.
How to prioritize your content
Tweet about topics in your beat and things you care about. If you write about sneakers, tweet about the latest SNKRS app press release or story. If you write about fashion, live tweet a red carpet and your thoughts on who is best dressed. Music? Drop what you’re listening to this week and why. Get involved in the conversations happening on your timeline. Be yourself, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot by being insensitive or offensive.
While you may be apprehensive to tweet a potential headline you’re going to write, you can tweet around the topic. When I locked in my interview with Pharrell Williams, I asked for people’s favorite Pharrell verses. I shared some of mine and then carried the conversation on my timeline, retweeting other people’s thoughts and asking them questions about the songs they chose. Other editors and writers could see my knowledge on the topic and it helped me prepare for the interview. This very specific question – that didn’t have much to do with anything I was asking Williams specifically – helped open up a broader discussion on him as an artist.
Also, consider your bio and how you want people to reach out to you. Are your DMs open? Is your email listed? Do editors know you’re a writer? Where can they find your work? Do you have a website or portfolio? MuckRack compiles all your published work in one place. You can link there if you don’t have a website yet.
Re-sharing evergreen content
As topics relevant to your past work trend on social media, or if there’s a day relevant to stories you’ve published, share it! When California minted a new law against people removing a condom during sex without consent, I shared this story I wrote for GQ.
Also, if you don’t have evergreen content or work that isn’t pegged to any specific date or news story yet, share stories that are representative of your point of view and why. This way you can still participate in the vein of content you want to be creating.
Finally, looking for sources as freelancers via Twitter is helpful to find voices outside of your community with the hashtag #journorequest. Check out the hashtag and share others’ requests that may be relevant to your following or community, too. This way your timeline will get used to seeing it before you share your own.
Rae Witte is a New York-based journalist covering music, style, sneakers, dating, art and tech topics for sites like TechCrunch, Architectural Digest, i-D, Wall Street Journal, Bustle and GQ, among others. You can find her on Twitter @raewitte.