Survivial Skills for Freelancers

How to use Twitter chats to grow your network and benefit your business

Twitter chats are a free and effective way to grow your business network by connecting with others in your field of expertise or your geographical area. I recommend them in Survival Skills for Freelancers as a great way to connect with fellow business owners and freelancers – and because I couldn’t find a central list to refer people to, I decided to create my own.

The list below is a work in progress. If you know of, take part in – or even host – a Twitter chat, and you’d like me to add it to the list, drop me a DM. Equally, if you spot any mistakes, please let me know!

First, a quick overview:

What are Twitter chats?

Twitter chats are organised online conversations that take place at the same time and on the same day each week.

How do Twitter chats work?

Participants – often freelancers and small business owners – use a designated hashtag (such as #FreelanceChat or #ContentClubUK) to introduce themselves, find new people to connect with, and often answer questions posed by the host.

Twitter chats most commonly last for an hour – sometimes less. Most Twitter chats are hosted by the organiser, though some regularly invite guest hosts to pose the questions and guide the discussion.

What is the benefit of Twitter chats?

Freelance life can be isolating. When you’re working from home day in, day out, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’re the only person who understands the things you’re going through.

In reality, there are hundreds of thousands of people who are in the same boat, and who struggle with the same issues.

Twitter chats present an opportunity to build your network by connecting with other people who get it. They’re a great way to find new likeminded, inspiring people to follow, to share advice and resources, and to get answers to your burning questions.

How do I find Twitter chats to take part in?

Start with the list below. Find a couple of chats that fit your niche – whether that’s your area of expertise or your geographical location – and take part in a couple. You’ll quickly find the groups that are friendly and welcoming. Set a weekly reminder to take part, and get involved!

Pro tip: approach Twitter chats with a generous mindset. Think about giving and sharing advice and expertise, rather than focusing on what you can get from it. Interact with other people’s posts, retweet, like and comment before expecting others to do the same.


An important disclaimer: Twitter chats take place around the world. I’ve been caught out many times by time differences, and so the published times in this list are all based on UK time – whether the chat originates outside the UK or not. It’s not ideal, but neither is trying to work out time differences when you’re very much not someone who’s good with figures!


 

Niche Twitter hours

 

Day

 

Time

 

Hosted by

#AgencyChat Thursday 7pm to 8pm @agorapulse
#allinbizhr Monday 12pm to 1pm @ALLinBIZnet
#allinbizhr Friday 12pm to 1pm @ALLinBIZnet
#ContentClubUK Tuesday 11pm to 11.30 @Fi_digitaldrum
#creativebizhour Monday 7.30 to 9pm @lizzie_chantree
#ecomchat Monday 1pm to 2pm @danbarker @JamesGurd
#EmailHour Thursday 8pm to 9pm @robandkennedy
#EthicalHour Monday 8pm to 9pm @EthicalHour
#eventprofs Monday 8pm to 9pm @themiceblogHQ
#eventprofs Friday 8pm to 9pm @themiceblogHQ
#eventprofstalk Monday 9pm to 10pm
#FreelanceChat Thursday 5pm to 6pm @PRisUs
#FreelanceHeroes Wednesday 8pm to 9pm @FHChat
#handmadehour Wednesday 7.30 to 9pm @handmadehour
#handmadehour Sunday 8pm to 9pm @handmadehour
#IndieHour Tuesday 8pm to 9pm @retailmentoring
#ManUKHour Tuesday 8pm to 9pm @ManUKHour
#PetworkingHour Tuesday 6pm to 7pm @petworkinghour
#remotechat Wednesday 6pm to 7pm @workingrem
#SmartNetworking Monday 7pm to 8pm @smart_bn
#SEMrushchat Wednesday 4pm to 5pm @semrush
#SMESupportHour Wednesday 8pm to 9pm @mbsmih
#TwitterSmarter Thursday 6pm to 7pm @MadalynSklar
 

Geographical Twitter hours

 

Day

 

Time

 

Hosted by

#BrightonHour Monday 8.30pm to 9.30pm
#BrumHour Sunday 8pm to 9pm @BrumHour @DavidWMassey
#CotswoldHour Thursday 9pm to 10pm @ShireMarketing
#MalvernHillsHour Wednesday 8pm to 9pm
#EveshamHour Thursday 8pm to 9pm
#HampshireHour Tuesday 8pm to 9pm @HampshireHour
#HerefordHour Monday 1pm to 2pm
#Midlandshour Wednesday 8pm to 9pm
#NetworkNorthEast Tuesday 2pm to 3pm @Durham_Business @easymarketingne @CannyInsights
#Oxbusinesshour Wednesday 1pm to 2pm @CypherHQ
#SurreyHour Tuesday 7.30 to 8.30pm @surreyhour
#uptonhour Tuesday 8pm to 9pm @uptonhour
#WiltshireHour Monday 8pm to 9pm @WiltsHour
#WorcestershireHour Wednesday 12 to 1pm @WorcsHour @StuartAllenFCMI
#WorcestershireHour Monday 8pm to 9pm @WorcsHour @StuartAllenFCMI

 

Writing the book on freelancing… quite literally!

Fellow freelance copywriter, Nigel Graber interviewed me on the launch day of my new book, Survival Skills for Freelancers, and shared the post in the Copywriter Stories segment of his website. Did he get any sense out of me on the most exhilarating day of my career?! Here’s the interview…

“I always thought legendary Cotswolds copywriter and editor Sarah Townsend wrote the book on freelancing. But now she’s actually gone and done it. It’s even been released on National Freelancers’ Day. Let’s turn some pages.”

So your shiny new book, Survival Skills for Freelancers, is out today. How excited are you?

Oh, you can’t imagine. It’s like a milestone birthday and Christmas all rolled into one. Everything has been leading up to this day for so long, and I can’t wait to see how well Survival Skills for Freelancers performs out there in the real world! Can’t say I’m quite as excited about the inevitable adrenaline crash that will follow, but hey – it’s all good!

Did you always plan for publication on National Freelancers’ Day?

I did. There are five million self-employed workers in the UK right now, and over two million of them are freelancers. That’s a lot of us going it alone with very little support. I needed a publication date to focus on, and National Freelancers’ Day seemed like the perfect date.

What inspired you to write it?

Last year I wrote a blog sharing the things I’d learned from 20 years of freelance life. It proved to be by far my most popular post, and generated an overwhelmingly positive response.

People loved the honest, no-frills advice, combined with the heart-on-your-sleeve confessions. I realised I could use my experience to create an indispensable guide to the highs and lows of self-employment. A book that 29-year-old me would have loved at the start of my own freelance journey.

Does it deal with freelancing in general or is there a bias towards copywriting and editing? Is it as useful for, say, a freelance web designer as it is for a copywriter?

It’s very much aimed at freelancers in general. While the anecdotes and stories relate to my experiences as a freelance copywriter, the advice is relevant to anyone who’s already self-employed, or who’s thinking of going solo.

What else can we expect?

It provides advice on the issues we all experience as freelancers, such as:

  • Strategies to deal with isolation
  • Knowing your worth – and what to charge
  • Trusting your instinct, and learning to say no
  • Achieving balance and avoiding burnout
  • The importance of investing in your business
  • The qualities that help you survive and thrive as a freelancer.

It’s a crowded market. What do you think makes your book different?

Think of all the books you’ve ever read on copywriting. Do you ever say to yourself, “I enjoyed Copywriting ABC, but it was just like Copywriting 123!”? I doubt it. That’s because no two journeys, no two voices, and no two approaches are the same. So yes, there are other books on freelance life out there, but none quite like this one.

I didn’t want Survival Skills for Freelancers to feel like a conventional business book. Yes, it’s packed full of tried-and-tested strategies and practical advice, but it’s more than that. I wanted it to feel collaborative and supportive – like I was there on the journey with you.

Fellow copywriter Anna Gunning sums it up as being, ‘like having your own personal business mentor’, while my first ever Amazon review said, ‘Reading this book was like settling down with a good friend for a business chat’. I actually teared up when I read it because that’s exactly how I wanted it to feel.

How long did it take to write? And how many hours per day?

I had the idea at the end of last year and I’m publishing in mid-June, so I guess it took about eight months from start to finish.

I know people who’ve spent years conceiving, writing and publishing their books but that wouldn’t have worked for me. The only way I know how to do something is full on, 100 miles an hour. I’ve lived and breathed the book, the publishing process and the marketing for the past four months – possibly longer.

It’s ironic that it’s about balance and boundaries, because – particularly in the past couple of months – mine have gone out of the window. Yes, having a deadline has kept me laser focused, but I’ve found myself so engrossed in – and energised by – the writing, editing and sheer learning involved that I may, occasionally, have forgotten to look after myself. I imagine I haven’t been that easy to live with recently!

Did you have to put your day job on hold?

I set myself the goal of getting the first draft written by the end of January, and I gave myself a month off client work so that I could get it done. So yes, I did. For the past few months, and throughout lockdown, I’ve been juggling client work and book work. That’s been tough. Really tough. But I am SO happy with the end result that the long days have been worth it.

What did the writing process look like?

Actually, much the same as any copywriting job, but on a far grander scale. I’m (generally) hyper organised, and I think you have to be to make a success of this process. I started with thoughts, ideas, and a structure. I wrote, I edited, I revised the aforementioned structure… rinse and repeat. It’s like any writing job, I think. You start with all the elements and gradually fit them together in the right order, like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Was there much research involved or was it all stored in your head?

It was a pretty good balance of stuff I needed to research and stuff I knew inside out. It’s very much written from the perspective of my own experience, so that bit was easy!

Copywriters are a friendly bunch. Did you get much help from the community?

They really are. Without the support of the freelance community, Survival Skills for Freelancers would be a very different book! Each chapter ends with quotes and opinions from freelancers on everything from impostor syndrome and what to charge to the importance of connection and when to say no. It also includes mini case studies from copywriting legends such as Nick Parker and Graeme Piper.

Many of my copywriter friends are helping me to spread the word about the book because they believe in the importance of what I’m trying to achieve. They’ve been sharing pics of the book and reminders of the launch date all week. They’re amazing! So supportive.

What made you go down the self-publishing route?

I knew exactly what I wanted the book to look and feel like, and exactly how I wanted it to be structured. I would have struggled with not having complete control over cover design and content, so I knew from day one that I would self-publish!

What effect would you like the book to have?

I’d like it to help people get more enjoyment from self-employment. There’s a lot to love about freelance life, but it can be tough, too! I’ve been through a lot in my 20 years as a freelancer. I’ve done things that worked, and things that didn’t, and it took me a long time to get to a point where I felt like my own success was sustainable. Readers can use what I’ve learned to fast-track their own freelance success and make fewer costly, time-consuming mistakes in the process.

What advice would you give any other aspiring authors?

Acknowledge that it’ll take a LOT of time – and that there’s a lot more to the process than just being able to write. Within a month of getting started, I had an A4 folder that was two inches thick with information: print quotes, freelancer quotes, research, resources, useful articles, marketing tips… And I have over 400 documents in the Survival Skills for Freelancers folder on my Mac!

If you’re planning on self-publishing, be prepared to do your research – there’s heaps of information out there – and don’t be afraid to ask colleagues who’ve been through the process for advice.

Brilliant. Finally, how can we get hold of a copy?

Survival Skills for Freelancers is available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats, and there’s more information at survivalskillsforfreelancers.com. I’m all set to record the audiobook, too – just need to find the time to do it!