Before beginning this course I used Facebook often and Instagram rarely. I knew I had a lot to learn but I didn’t realize just how much I had to learn or how this entire field will involve continuous learning and updating. At times it is exciting and interesting and at other times it is daunting.
I was surprised to really take note of how much business is happening through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I have begun following companies and brands that I support.
I have also started a personal and professional Twitter account. I have explored many different applications and I have begun to learn about analytics and how to track them. I have very much appreciated the advice and knowledge of my classmates.
Some of the applications that I have found most relevant to my business needs are emailing programs like Mailchimp and Constant Contacts. I love the professional look and the ability to track who has opened or read the email.
This course has also taught me how large social media is and how it is changing the way we all do business. Through the webinar I took from Hootsuite, I was very surprised to learn how little people are trusting businesses but are looking for peer- to-peer advice. It almost seems like there are thousands of mini experts to turn to for advice, reviews and comments instead of just looking to a couple well-known experts in any industry. So much of marketing is not actually marketing but connecting with people and sharing experiences, being genuine and building trust.
I am still building a strategy for developing my professional network. Here is my plan for the next year.
London Book Fair
I attend the London Book Fair in the UK every April. I schedule back-to-back, thirty minute, meetings with people that I deal with only via email and the internet all the other days of the year. It is really great to have face-to-face meetings but it is also intense and exhausting. Some of the meetings flow easily and the friendly relationships I share online translate into great face-to-face meetings. However, there are some meetings that are really difficult, either because of a language barrier or a lack of connection. It takes me fully out of my comfort zone.
There is also a great opportunity to look for new contacts and to reach out to them by going to their stand and introducing myself. This is very hard for me to do. However, I am dedicated to give it a try.
Ladies Who Lunch
As I have mentioned before I am a member of a women’s group online called Ladies Who Lunch. I plan to be more proactive in researching and possibly attending network events.
I plan to increase my Twitter presence both personally and professionally and to connect with more people in my industry. I will also reconnect with those contacts in publishing that I have lost touch with.
I plan to put together a proper social media plan within my organization. I will research more international publishers and connect with them. I will draft a letter and ask our current contacts to follow us on social media.
Hootsuite offers free webinars and continuing education. I plan to schedule time to make this a monthly activity to help keep me in the loop of the ever changing social media landscape and to continue learning new skills.
At the moment I am trying out different tools. I am having trouble finding a platform that really works for me. The two I am currently using the most are Google Alerts and Tweetdeck.
It’s convenient that Google Alerts is free and easy to use. At this point I am not ready to pay for any service. I really want to make sure it works for me first.
I like Tweetdeck’s dashboard and that I can see everything on the screen at once. At first I found this a little overwhelming but now find it very useful for a quick and easy scan and to keep track of mentions of my company or the publishers we represent.
I also like Hootsuite but have already used their free trial period for another class. I think the Hootsuite website is very useful and their blog is full of very helpful information about social media. This is a great free learning resource and a way to keep on top of social media trends.
I generally scan Facebook and Twitter for news. This is a quick and easy way to see headlines and then to choose which articles to click on. I also signed up for The Skimm. They deliver a newsletter to your inbox daily with short paragraphs explaining current news and links you can follow if you want to read more.
Pinterest is my go-to when I am looking for ideas or wanting to learn more about something.
As for industry specific news, I have recently set up a Twitter account for my company and am following relevant publishing sites as well as contacts in the industry to keep my eyes on the latest news.
The general theme for listening and learning is a lot of scanning and then choosing which links to click to either learn more or to go into more depth. I find this challenging given that I don’t have enough time to follow all the links I wish I could. I also tend to save articles that I wish to get to later. Facebook is very useful for this and for reminding me of the articles that I have saved.
My secret wish is to increase my freelance work. I work in publishing and I would like to start working with small to medium businesses by helping them perfect their content. I would like to offer my services in proofreading and polishing for written content on websites, in newsletters, blog posts, catalogues and other types of promotional work. Most businesses create written content frequently and sometimes require another set of eyes to ensure that mistakes are caught and the writing is polished.
My goal is to create a profile in the new year and to begin a part time business. I love working in publishing and love working with words.
I am taking the Social Media Certificate program in order to add to my skill set and to hopefully move in the direction of having my own freelance business.
I would also like to start working with more authors. I work for a literary agency and my main job is selling rights and negotiating contracts. I love this part of the business and would like to continue working with co-agents and publishers in other countries. However, I would also like to add more work with authors.
I work with words. I read them, I write them and I organize them. I am skilled at paying close attention to detail. I understand that one word out of place can change the meaning of the sentence. Errors in business promotions, blogs or on websites can be glaring and off-putting. Errors in contracts can be damaging. Errors in communication can be confusing and time consuming.
I am good with words and sometimes I see a document as a puzzle and the original draft isn’t always put together in a way that truly fits. Sometimes it needs some rearranging and sometimes all it needs is a second set of eyes on it.
I think some of my best traits are that I am committed, dedicated, patient and I will go the extra mile. I keep my business communications professional yet friendly and thoughtful. I have always found that everything works more smoothly and efficiently when you are kind and take an extra moment to ensure that your writing is going to come off that way. There is a saying that people will do more than they are asked for when they feel appreciated and I truly believe this. I try to live this every day in both my own actions and how I interact with others.
There is a smoothie and juice bar in my neighbourhood called Raw Pulp and Grind. The store is beautiful with an amazing backyard patio. Everything I have tried has been delicious and healthy and the staff are always friendly. They appear to be doing well and have opened up a second location. In the summer it was a regular outing for myself and my children to get a healthy snack/drink and hang out on their patio.
Last year they created a healthy version of the Unicorn beverage that Starbucks was selling. They encouraged people to take photos with the drink and post to social media. They had a display in-store of polaroid photos of customers with their drinks. This is when I first noticed how active they were on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They post beautiful photos of their products and use relevant hashtags. They also post about the health benefits of juice cleanses or certain key ingredients in their products. Their look is colourful but uniform across their social media accounts.
They are doing a great job of teaming up and engaging with people and stores in the community as well. They have done pop up shops and sample stands in stores. They post special photos on relevant days for example Halloween, Black Friday and the Grey Cup.
They are currently offering a student discount between November 15 and December 15th, recognizing that this is a tough time of year for students. I think this is a brilliant idea since there is a student residence right around the corner.
They also share and retweet photos of their products taken by their customers.
Raw seems to have built a solid community both online and in-person in a short amount of time.
I have worked in the publishing industry for about a decade. I have had many different roles in two literary agencies. Currently, I create content and pull together pitch letters or marketing materials and sell the translation rights to books. I deal with people in many different countries. I also draft, review and negotiate author contracts. This past year I took on a couple of additional freelancing jobs and I started to think about how to branch out more and offer my services as a freelancer. Ideally, I would like to freelance as a proofreader. I see errors everywhere. My job requires attention to detail and I love helping to perfect a piece of writing.
Most businesses have a website, many have blogs and newsletters and promotion is happening online. A typo or spelling error can be glaring and sometimes all that is required is a second set of eyes on a piece of writing to catch the mistakes.
My target audience would be small businesses with a strong social media presence or the desire to have a stronger presence. I love the idea of working with women-owned companies and helping them to strengthen their businesses through the written word. I would also consider reaching out to medium-sized companies that do not have in-house people for this job but hire freelancers from time to time. There is also the possibility of working with un-agented writers who need a little help with their manuscript.
I would reach my target audience by first creating a Facebook page and reaching out to a couple of different online networks that I am already a part of. I would also consider becoming a member of Editors Canada and posting my profile and services on their site. I could create a blog dealing with writing and editing and offering tips on how to polish writing. I feel as though my target audience is potentially large but figuring out what to do first is a little daunting.
For those working as freelancers, how did you get started?
I think the most important thing I learned this week was to consider what I want my reader to do before I start to write. I rarely approach writing this way. My style is generally to share or relate an experience without thinking too much about what my goal might be beyond that. My writing tends to be personal and comes to me sporadically. However, if I approached it from the angle of what I wanted my reader to get out of it then I may be able to work with different styles or formats of writing and even expand my base of readers. Storytelling can take many different formats which was also pointed out in the readings.
The second most important thing I learned is to use active voice versus passive voice. It is easy to unintentionally slip into passive voice and this is a great thing to keep in mind when proofreading.
Other great reminders and things I work with most days are re-reading and cutting, editing and proofreading. Often writers are encouraged to “just write” and to worry about cleaning it up afterwards in the editing phase. This is useful when creating content as long as there are several rounds of editing before posting.
A group of my friends have been going to Nangor Resort in Westmeath, Ontario, every August long weekend for many years. This summer was the first time I joined them. Stepping out of my car on arrival I realized that I had stumbled upon a little piece of heaven.
I immediately felt like I had stepped into a simpler time. The accomodations were basic but the beach was so amazingly beautiful that even now as the days are getting shorter and colder, I cannot wait to go back. My children were so happy to be there as well. Going into nature is such a great reminder that sometimes it takes very little to be happy.
We barbecued outside while the sun treated us to an amazing sunset and the children played freely in the sand. We drank beer and wine and sat on blankets on the sand chatting and laughing. We gathered around a roaring campfire to roast marshmallows and sing songs. We went to bed when we felt like it and not just because it was getting late. We walked everywhere barefoot for the entire time we were there. Best of all, we just enjoyed being and being together.
I have spent a lot of time travelling outside of Canada and I often forget that having an adventure doesn’t require a plane ride. And sometimes the adventures are right on my doorstep.
Being a single parent means that I can’t scoop my kids up whenever I want and fly off to foreign lands to explore. It requires more planning and thought and money. However, it is so lovely when a reminder comes that we will still have adventures and that there are so many gems to discover even on our own doorstep.
Have you found an unexpected gem not too far from home?