Archive for December, 2012


Make a resolution to do better on social media

The Christmas decorations are coming down and the New Year’s fireworks are going up. Also around this time, long lists of New Year’s resolutions go up, too.

Diet and exercise top most lists, as do stronger finances and better personal relationships. One thing also worth reviewing among freelancers and maybe revising for 2013 is the way they present themselves through social media.

Numbers are why. As 2012 wound down, Twitter users churned out 175 million tweets daily. An estimated 625,000 new users joined Google+ daily. Facebook garnered about 850 million active users monthly. And LinkedIn added 50 million members in one year; it needed six years to get its first 50 million.

In other words, social media has skipped well past the point of novelty and entered the realm of necessity, especially for freelancers intent on attracting attention. So then, it pays for freelancers to paint a clean, clear portrait of themselves online, if they haven’t already, to keep that attention coming.

A few crisp strokes can do that. These should encompass:

Profile photos — There’s a reason it’s called “social” media. Nevertheless, a lot of serious people trying to do serious business still hide behind the faceless default icon all social media platforms employ, the result being they don’t gain digital friends or, more importantly, win jobs, says Nicholas Salter, a professor of psychology at Ramapo College of New Jersey. He led a recent study that found those people on LinkedIn with profile pictures are more likely to get hired than those without.

Susan Gunelius, a marketing communications executive who is the author of “Google Blogger for Dummies,” underscores the value. “It’s better to have 1,000 online connections who read, share and talk about your content with their own audiences than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you for the first time.”

Headlines — In a newspaper or news website, headlines are concise declarations of pertinent information intended to announce, inform and attract. In a freelancing proposal, job application or social media campaign, writing with the crisp prose of headlines brings focus and adds clarity to one’s message. Studying the way headlines are written and following their form can do wonders at putting that message ahead of others.

Keywords — And speaking of headlines, keywords give those headlines punch. These keywords are the distinguishing terms lacing online business reports, blogs, and especially job postings, that search engines pluck out for categorization. Special attention paid to keywords helps turn heads and boost Web and social traffic. But keep them relevant; don’t trot out trendy terms just because everyone else has.

Research — Like the way a drip, drip, drip from a leaky faucet can be distracting, so too can social content designed to make more noise than sense. The best, most memorable content reflects an understanding of the intended audience and an appreciation for what that audience finds interesting. Invest time online in 2013 researching audience behavior and trends. Start by getting to know Google Analytics and Google Trends, and reading reports from Gartner, the Pew Research Center, and Poynter.

David Sheets, SPJ's Region 7 directorDavid Sheets is a freelance editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at dksheets@gmail.com, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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SPJ Solutions Offers Insurance Benefits to Members

As a long-time freelancer, one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is acquiring the kind of benefits that come along with a day job — life insurance, health insurance, sick time, vacation time, etc. For things like sick time and vacation time, I have built those estimated expenses into my hourly rate. That system doesn’t work for insurance benefits though.

Because my background is finance, specifically benefits programs, I know where to look and how to evaluate carriers, coverages and premiums. A lot of freelancers don’t have that experience, or don’t want to learn. They want to write! Other freelancers don’t know where to begin to look for benefits. Do you find a local agent, Google “find insurance in Cleveland,” or ask friends for referrals? There are lots of ways to find insurance coverage, but SPJ has simplified all of that for you through SPJ Solutions.

Earlier this fall, SPJ partnered with WestPoint Financial Group in Indianapolis to provide SPJ members with access to a variety of benefit programs including life insurance, health insurance, disability coverage, long-term care, liability insurance, errors & omissions coverage and more. Forgive the cliche, but this new program, called SPJ Solutions, is one-stop shopping for insurance benefits and financial services. WestPoint Financial has agreed to work with SPJ and its members to offer a wide range of products and services in all 50 states.

For more information on the program’s benefits, contact SPJ Solutions at WestPoint Financial. You’ll receive a response within two business days. You’ll be put in a touch with an advisor who will help you identify what product(s) you need and provide you with options and quotes. One contact. One call.

SPJ Solutions @ WestPoint Financial
317.627.4753
Email:  spjsolutions AT gmail.com

The only requirement is that you are an SPJ member. Not a member yet or need to renew your membership? You can join or renew online now for only $75/year.  This is just one more way SPJ supports its members, so you can focus on doing the things you’d rather be doing — writing, editing, reporting, teaching!

Director of Membership Linda Hall at SPJ HQ is also available to help you with any questions about SPJ Solutions. You can reach Linda at 317.927.8000, ext. 203 or via email.  I helped HQ put this program together, so I am available to answer your questions as well. Call me at 360.920.1737 or contact me via email.

Virtually Yourz,

Dana Neuts, Freelance Journalist
SPJ Secretary/Treasurer
2013 Candidate for President-Elect

 


 

 

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