I started writing in the electronic age with several articles in technical journals. None of them netted me more than $25 but they did give evidence of ability when I met someone looking for a writer with experience in public education. I presented one of the articles at a national vocational conference and another was the basis for a presentation to the Washington State School Board. When I got my first contract for pay the manager for whom I would work told me that I needed a business license. The State of Washington licensed me as Benson Tech Write.
An established contract technical writer said that I should start building a network in case my contract ended and I needed more work. I joined a writers’ group. I did not meet an employer at any of the meetings. However, I did become have a network of unemployed and underemployed technical writers who in general were seeking the same thing as I was – more work. Sharing information about possible jobs was not part of anyone’s personal agenda.
One of my short term project clients suggested a personal web site and related E-mail address. I learned basic HTML, bought the URL tincupnomore.com and had it hosted. The focus of my site has changed several times but I still maintain it myself. I did develop and maintain two ‘no glitz’ sites. One paid for my time and the other was pro-bono. My next prospective web site client wanted more glitz but I had other obligations. My site host offered to Search Engine Optimize (SEO) my site for just $340.00; my son showed me the basics of SEO in about five minutes.
Online writers’ groups and bloggers advised that anyone in the writing profession or those who wanted expanded markets for their work should have multiple social and professional media accounts. I joined Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Facebook, Red Room, a publisher’s group, and set up a personal blog. To the best on my knowledge not one copy of my first book was sold by my posting on any of those. Many promotors of these groups now have procedural documents for sale.
Not too long ago, the literary agents and other gurus were advising writers to have a brand. One agent looking for clients gave a requirement, “I only work with writers who have a well-established brand.” After reading a number of opinions about branding one’s writing, I decided that brand probably meant having a reputation or record for having made a profit for an agent or publisher. Thus, very few first time authors could or would have a brand of that definition. There are brand development manuals on the market.
Now I am reading that a writer must have a platform. I just saw an ad for an author platform promotion kit ($550.89) on sale for $99.99.