Time for Step 5 of the “Beginner’s Medical Writing” series – a step-by-step guide to getting yourself started in freelance medical writing – an extremely basic guide for making the first move into medical writing.
If you’re just arriving, feel free to check out the earlier steps:
Back in Step 3 I mentioned the benefits of considering some aspect of social networking when you start up in medical writing – I think this is really useful whether you are considering freelance work, or if you are a full time employee somewhere.
I thought I’d give Twitter a plug today. I never thought I’d use Twitter – socially I’ve used Facebook for a couple of years, and whenever I’d hear people talk about Twitter, I just didn’t “get” it – I couldn’t wrap my head around how it operated, or what use it could possibly be.
A few friends who use it for business had told me I should definitely give it a go. I resisted the idea for a few months, but then decided to try it out – what harm could it do? If all else failed, surely I could abandon it, and at least know I’d tried?
So I joined a couple of months ago, and I love it!
How Does It Work?
Twitter is basically a service for sending and receiving status updates – so if you’ve used Facebook, you’ll be used to writing and reading these short communications. Twitter’s short communications, however, are capped at 140 characters (letters, periods, dashes, etc).
So it makes for a great way to get a short message out to people: “Free coffee at the cafeteria, 2-4pm”, or maybe a link to a cool photo. And for business purposes, people often use it to share links to web pages – whether something useful that they came across and want to share, or a link to their personal site to share an article, announcement, or product.
Due to the 140 character cap, you have to not only get creative in how you make your announcement sometimes, but you also need to shorten your weblink, otherwise this will quickly eat into your 140 characters. There are numerous applications that you can use to shorten your links (you can do a Google search to find one that you prefer), but I use bitly – it’s very simple to use:
- Copy and paste your desired weblink into the search box
- Hit the “shorten” button to the right of the box
- A shortened link will magically appear
- Copy & paste this into the Twitter text box
- Add a short accompanying message before tweeting
I was skeptical, I just didn’t see how useful it would be – I thought it sounded quite bizarre, all these “status updates”! What use could that possibly be!? But I have been very pleasantly surprised. It’s been a wonderful way for me to meet up online with other medical and freelance writers, other medical professionals, blogs, and organizations that I feel are useful to follow.
So I’d urge you to give it a go – and like I decided for myself previously – if you don’t like it, you can abandon mission. Join up today – come up with a short Twitter handle (that’s basically your username – it’ll have a “@” preceding it) – mine is @ParryMedWriting – don’t worry too much about choosing the perfect Twitter handle, you can always change it later if you feel like.
Some Useful Guides To Using Twitter
Rather than go on ad nauseum on how to use Twitter (and I’m still getting the hang of it myself!), here are some links to very useful articles that describe it much more concisely than I could!
Hope to see you over at Twitter!