How I Used Twitter to Earn $1/Word

By Shireen Hakim

As a freelance writer, I often learn about gigs by following and pitching editors and publications on Twitter.  However, an arbitrary reply to an Audobon magazine associate editor’s tweet led me to my best-paying gig yet.

At first, I started out on Twitter for the same reason the rest of us writers do: to have an ‘online presence.’ After awhile, I learned that it was a great networking tool to chat with cool authors I admired. By following authors and accounts they followed, I found out about writing opportunities and valuable writing tips. Timing is everything since editors receive so many pitches and news stories are often trendy, so Twitter helps me get the first scoop.

So far, I have landed three lucrative gigs through Twitter, and the pay has increased with each new one. First, I saw NaNoWriMo’s (National Novel Writing Month) tweet for a blog post about my personal experience with NaNoWriMo, within an hour after they tweeted it. I quickly emailed my pitch where they indicated, and they responded to me a couple of days later. Importantly, I connected with their topic and had something I wanted to say, so the pitch and essay easily poured out of me. Their account has many followers and they are well-respected, so writing for them gained me notoriety and legitimacy (although no pay.)

Next, I was able to write an article, and get paid $75, for HelloGiggles, by tweeting their features editor. Per my usual strategy, I had looked through several publications’ (like Buzzfeed) editors’ profiles, and clicked with her. The key was, on her profile she mentioned that she was looking for pitches, and provided her actual email and website. Upon looking at her website, I saw that we connected on a couple of things, and I was able to send her a sincere and friendly email saying how much I would enjoy working with her. Over the next few months, I pitched several ideas to her, and simultaneously liked several of her tweets, and although she passed on my individual ideas she eventually added me to her monthly topics email list. She liked my pitch for one of her own selected topics, and I wrote a great article. HelloGiggles range is $75-$100/article, and I did ask for $100, but was happy with $75 since they are mainstream and have 1 million Facebook likes. I now proudly display this experience on my profiles and bios, and it has increased both my job offers and confidence.

On to the third and most significant gig. I had fun feeding the bluebirds in my yard, but I never expected to get paid for it. By chance, an Audubon editor’s tweet about bluebirds appeared in my Twitter feed. I replied about my recent exciting experience feeding bluebirds, with the intent of starting a casual conversation. I never dreamed of writing for her magazine. However, right away she replied for me to pitch her for an article about the bluebirds! I was stunned, but jumped at another opportunity to be paid to write. I quickly emailed her a creative pitch. I did not hear back from her for a few months. I pursued other options but wondered why the dry spell occurred after her eagerness. Finally, I messaged her on Twitter and she explained that she was looking for a more technical article. I quickly changed my tactic and we began discussing logistics for the article. She asked for a 300 word post and paid me $300. After a long, arduous, and arbitrary journey, I had finally reached the benchmark $1/word. I have written a second article for her, an online blog post, for the same amount, and I hope to write another (longer) piece. Further, I plan to move on to similarly well-paid gigs, because my expectations are now where they should be, and I feel established.


I have four tips for you to become successful as I have on Twitter

  1. Use Twitter. Twitter is writers’ networking haven. We are all introverts and like to chat from the comfort of our own home. Writers and editors are cool and want to hear from you. Mainly, they use it to notify people of pitches. Also, they want to chat with their fans and fellow writers. They want to see your personality, and shared interests. Chat with them about how you like their article, or you are both from the same Hogwarts house, etc. Follow accounts you sincerely have an interest in or experience with.
  2. Ask for more money. Always ask for the highest amount in their pay range, or what you think you’re worth. Even if you don’t get it, you will reach a middle number that is comfortable for both of you, and they will respect that you value yourself. And evenutally, you may reach that number with another gig.
  3. Follow up. Full disclosure, my Audubon article almost didn’t get published. My initial pitch was not the style magazine was looking for. But I followed up politely, adjusted my strategy, and thankfully it worked.
  4. Keep pitching. Pitch Perfect franchise made its third film, and they’re going for a fourth. So you keep pitching too. (Even if they reject it at first.)

Mostly, what you need is the confidence to allow yourself to be paid fairly for your writing.

Shireen Hakim is an award-winning author from Southern California.


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