Almost everyone is on some type of online forum with people of similar interests. Usually it is a hobby or lifestyle. Sometimes it is job related.
When you are on “fun” forums, you may tend to let your guard down, not do your best, writing wise, and maybe not pay attention to your spelling. However, this is exactly what you should be doing. You never know who may be on those forums reading what you (and others) have written.
Why is it so important to retain a level of professionalism on forums? You could get work, that’s why. From participating in forums, I have made a few contacts for one-time jobs, but also landed work writing a series of backyard farming books for a publisher who happened to read something I wrote a few years back on a homesteading forum. I have been hired outright by the publisher to write each book. Because of that forum, I now have five books under my belt, am working on number six, and have just been signed for numbers seven and eight in the series. This, in turn, has led to some mentions/interviews for magazine articles, a few podcast and radio interviews and, hopefully, more work along the way from other publishers, magazines or others who need content or maybe even other books.
This has also given me some background and substance to try to go after other forms of media, and to get my work out to the public in other ways besides the written word. As an added bonus, I am working with a topic that I love and live!
Of course, I am very flexible, willing to write on other things, and am working on some self publishing as well (unless someone offers me a good deal to do otherwise, which I am open to). At this time, I am also to the point where I do need to start looking for an agent who works in marketing not only my own books, but will work with me in obtaining other exposure, and can assist me in branding. But, that’s a good problem to have.
Did I ever think that I would get my foot in the door with a publisher from a forum? In all honesty, the thought never even crossed my mind, as it was not a professional forum. But, it does prove that no matter where you are writing, you may be seen for something more. And, what you write on that forum could land you a few articles or maybe even a book.
There are a couple of shortcuts that I do take, however. My email always has links to my Facebook author page, my blogs (I also blog for a magazine as well as my own blog) and what books are available. I also keep a good business LinkedIn profile that I have written as a resume. This way, when I am asked for my resume, I simply send the link. I don’t have to be concerned about attachments and people can see what I have done and what is in the works. But again, I do keep it professional and, although I don’t post my picture on LinkedIn, I do post my logo.
In the end, you never know where your next great break may come from. And, while I do have myself on some professional websites, my biggest break to date came from posting on a forum. My interviews came from people visiting my blog and/or Facebook page.
While you can still have fun on forums, blogs, Facebook and such, be professional. You never know who may be reading.
Kim Pezza works on, teaches and writes about backyard farming, small and large stock, small, no space and RV gardening, as well as homesteading skills and food in general, but is willing to tackle about anything. She works and lives between the Finger Lakes Region of NY and SW Florida.