Greetings, Gather writers, and welcome to this issue of Freelancing for Pleasure and Profit. For our 60th issue we're going to consider some recent trends and how they can impact the life of a writer.
You're likely a regular contributor to Gather if you're reading this article. Perhaps you post to Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter with some frequency as well. Can such postings impact your life as a writer? They can. It's up to you to make sure these actions don't impact your writing career negatively.
Let's face it; we all are guilty of posting something silly, completely off-the-wall, or something that might be perceived as disrespectful if misinterpreted by the wrong person. In most cases an editor or publisher considering your work for a freelance assignment won't do a detailed search on you and come up with such postings. However, if you're being considered as a staff writer for a major publication...they'll check you out quite thoroughly.
How can you be sure these posts won't have a negative impact? Follow these steps, and while they won't guarantee instant success; they will certainly play a role in preventing future embarrassment and possibly costing you a job.
1. Don't write anything you wouldn't want your mother/grandmother/next door neighbor to read.
2. Keep your profile "Private." This will help prevent everyone from reading absolutely everything that you've posted.
3. Avoid "surveys" and other topics that can be considered controversial. If you vote on something about the President and later are being considered for a slot on at a political publication that may not share your views...it can actually mean the difference between you or an avid supporter being chosen for the job.
4. Cut the "cutesy" crap. Your BFF will LOL at your =) faces, but an editor may think you're an idiot.
5. Don't post a picture that you don't want to show up on a prospective publisher's site. I once submitted an article for publication, along with a photo for the editor to use with my bio. It was high enough resolution, so instead of contacting me for another, she swiped one that was posted on a social networking site....and it wasn't even one that I had posted! A friend had posted it, tagged it with my name; and now it is forever on the web for all the world to see. It was taken at the end of the day with a grandchild on my lap, my hair unwashed and no makeup on.
6. Ask friends and family members to respect your professional image and not to post those less-than-flattering photos of you online!