One of the things many writers don’t realize is that they are the product, not their writing. They’re not selling jewelry on Etsy or trying to advertise a company or product. As a writer, you have to sell your abilities. This means you need exposure. The best way is social media, but it’s also potentially harmful. You don’t want to put a lot of time and effort into updating a profile no one sees and you want to make sure you’re sending the right messages. To make the most out of your time, here is a list of sites that are the best for writers.
You may not have thought a picture-sharing site fueled by aesthetics and artists to be a great place to network for a screenwriter, but there are significantly more people using Instagram than Twitter (since February 2018 according to Dreamgrow). Filmmakers, directors, editors, they all want to share the behind the scenes snapshots of their work day and snippets of their personal lives. While it’s not an amazing way to converse, it’s a great way to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the industry. I recently joined because it’s the best networking site for the comic book industry, understandably because it’s one of the best ways to show off art. However, it can be time-consuming to try to get those perfect photos and make sure to maintain a presence.
This seems to be the favorite among most writers and those in the film industry. It’s easier for conversations and communication and quick to read through (usually) because of the limited word count. While pictures can be added, unlike Instagram, Twitter is mostly 280—it somewhat recently increased from its famous 140—characters and hashtags. This can be better for those, like writers, who may not always have something to photograph. Who wants to see your FinalDraft or WriterDuet screen again with #rewrites? Or what if you really don’t like selfies? Twitter is a great outlet to write thoughts and simple messages without the extra hassle for an ‘aesthetically pleasing’ photo. You also don’t have to swipe through pictures of other’s lives that might distract you more than a few witty lines or a production update.
Since it’s a great networking site for businesses, of course, it’s a great option for writers. You can update it with what you’re currently working on and side projects, but daily or weekly maintenance is not required, unlike Instagram and Twitter. However, that means your exposure is limited. People won’t always just “connect” with you because they know you, you mostly connect with someone on LinkedIn if you worked with them or knew them personally beyond being an acquaintance. You can ask people you are connected with to put in good words for you with companies they may have worked with before or ask someone to reach out to someone else who works for a company you want to, but there’s a professional or personal connection that needs to happen first that doesn’t on Instagram or Twitter. When looking for a job, LinkedIn is great, because that’s where the recruiters live and where you can show off your resumé, but when trying to stay updated in the Film Industry, Instagram and Twitter are better.
Facebook is currently the most popular social media site, but that can make it difficult for you to be heard. There’s an option to create your own page for others to follow, but Facebook is generally a site for friends and family to connect and share photos. If you’re going to invest and purchase ads, maybe it might be worth something, but as a business networking site, Facebook ranks pretty low, unless you’re invited to or join some highly targeted private Facebook Groups. If you have other social media like Instagram or Twitter and a link to a Facebook page your followers can find, that might add another layer of exposure for you, but it can be more of a hassle to maintain and update if it is generally used more for friend and family connections, having more to check and comment, leading you down that rabbit hole. It can also be a headache if you, like most of us, have to deal with polarizing political opinions.
While a social media site, Tumblr is great for three things: inspiration, sharing and making posts go viral. If you have the time and skill to maintain a blog with original content, then go for it. While Tumblr might be a great place to start and is mostly visual, you might also consider creating an independent blog. There’s more than Tumblr out there, we have WordPress, Medium, Blogger, and Squarespace. Tumblr is the best for those less tech-savvy, popular with photos, and it’s free. Medium has really caught on in the professional community and has a simple, clean user interface that leaves more freedom to the content rather than the design. Blogger, while lesser known, is free, more text-focused, and easy to customize. WordPress.com has a reputation for being professional and is free, but limits design and functionality to the posts. WordPress.org blogs have a $15-100 per year price tag and what some would consider a more difficult set-up, but also provides more flexibility and options with content and design. Squarespace has many wonderful benefits for a price depending on what you want, including easy interface and formats, plus a professional look. These are a lot to choose from and if you don’t think you can maintain a blog, I would consider just doing social media. If you’re interested but unsure, try making and maintaining a Tumblr. The social climate might be more casual than you want, but if you try that and think you can maintain your own blog, then you can find the best site for you.
There are other great websites like Goodreads or NaNoWriMo that can help you network, but they have pretty large flaws for most writing outside of novels. On Goodreads, you can connect with authors by following their profiles and message boards. For NaNoWriMo, it’s also highly specialized for novels and usually is only active around November (although they have Camp NaNo in the summer). These are great if you’re dabbling in novels or other variants of books whether it be poetry collections or short stories, but they can be counterproductive if not utilized right. Here’s a look into how NaNoWriMo can benefit screenwriter. With Goodreads, you might be encouraged to read more and expand your literary knowledge by following other friends and authors and see what they’re reading. Here’s more on how reading books can benefit your screenwriting.
Social media isn’t always the networking answer. If you’re old-fashioned and want to go out there and find writing groups, meetups and workshops on your own, that’s great!
There are also other great ways to connect, like going to conventions where you know someone you wish to collaborate or talk to might be. Following people on social media is a great way to know this information and a great way for others, if you’re popular, to know this information about you, expanding your own network and personal brand with little effort.
If there’s a specific site or app I didn’t mention, please share. I’m sure there are some great networking gems out there for all writers.
Beverly Peders is a Screenwriting student at Drexel University. While focusing on writing for the screen, she has also dabbled in playwriting, writing comic books, and video games. World building is her favorite and she constantly obsesses over anthropology and linguistics. In her non-existent spare time, you may find her begging her plants to stay alive or trying to convince nonbelievers that dragons are real. She is also a percussionist in several ensembles with a love of music that outweighs her skill.