Facebook: Social Networking Business Tool or Freelance Career Killer

Yes, I have a Facebook account. Yes, I have some friends and even some clients on there. Everyone seems to believe networking through Facebook is the way to develop and enhance a freelance writing career. I haven't found any  new clients through Facebook. I haven't gained any extra work through Facebook. I admit I've met some writers along the way, but that's about it.

And so, I have days and even weeks when I forget to log into my account at all.

So, why is it that so many writers who really need to be working hard to make the money they need to pay bills or mortgage or other expenses spend hours and hours per day sitting on Facebook chatting with friends or playing time-wasting games?

Is this a secret way of saying they don't really feel like being a professional writer today?

Or is it a complete lack of respect for the responsibility of the self-employed lifestyle they chose when they decided they didn't want to work a 9-to-5 job where they had no Facebook access at all?

I see it a lot: writers who complain that they can't find enough work or can't earn enough to pay the bills. They stress, whine and complain about staying up really late at night to catch up with overdue workloads. They leave paying orders they have accepted sitting unwritten for days and days and days....

And then you see those same writers playing or chatting on Facebook for three hours at a stretch, a couple of times a day. You shake your head in disbelief when you see writers who have submitted 88,000 words to a non-paying fan-fiction website just for kicks, even though I'm the lucky writer who gets to complete their actual PAID overdue work they didn't bother to complete - even though they moan that they can't afford to pay rent.

I don't know about you, but when I'm working, I like to .... you know.... WORK!

This means I'll sort through my schedule. I'll plan what I'm going to write for the day. I'll shut down my email program, turn off Skype, take my phone off the hook, crank up the stereo and sit my butt down to earn my mortgage-payments.

Sure, I get clients complain that it took me two hours to get back to them. They want to know why I don't respond to my emails or Facebook messages or Skype calls that instant. Of course, there are some clients who forget about the 16+ hour time difference and decide to try and contact me while I'm snoring soundly in the middle of the night.

But I explain it to them clearly: when I'm working, I'm really working. I'm not chatting. I'm not socializing. I'm not playing. I'm not networking. I'm not surfing the net, or goofing off in front of a movie. All of those things are left for when I've finished work for the day, completed outstanding orders and made the money I need to keep a roof over my head.

After all, I have a mortgage to pay. I have a daughter to feed. I have bills to pay and a myriad of other financially-related things to worry about. The last thing I need to be doing is wasting time playing with "social networking".

So.... tell me what I'm missing here. Should I spend hours of my day chatting on Facebook to other writers who are also complaining about not earning enough? Or is social networking a complete waste of time for a professional freelancer?

You tell me.


parsibagan said...

Dear Angel, You are just like me. In fact, I have gone a step ahead and blocked Facebook from the network level. However, I do not play the music system while working since it affects my concentration. I'm nearing 60, yet I punctually get up and begin work at 7am.

Like you, I cut off all sorts of communication (apart from my mobile phone... my friends and relatives know what to expect if they call me during the day unless it is an emergency). However, once the clock strikes 8, I am a changed personality. No more work, even if the client is willing to pay 200% extra as urgent charges.

Like you I have to pay mortgage and look after my family of 4.

Take care and keep on writing awesome posts like this. I really wish I had the same writing skills as you.

Moo said...

I think they call it cognitive dissonance -- most folks consider themselves good, hard-working, responsible and fair, even though almost nobody really displays all of those traits. If you find someone who displays three of them on a regular basis, treat them like the rare gem they are. We all do messed-up things, then we complain about how the outcomes aren't what we want. It's just human nature.

I mean, here I am, 5 articles to do within the next 12 hours (even though it's about one hour's work) and plenty of hustlin' I'd be smart to get to, and I'm laying down comments on another writer's website. Why? Just because I feel like doing so. I can't justify it.

I'd say Facebook can be leveraged to meet the profitable people in life... or to bother people you knew in high school (guilty), or to plan outings with family members (also guilty), or to play that strange farming game. I once watched someone meticulously work her virtual farm for over an hour before I got bored of it... but she never did plant grass seed in her actual yard. It's all madness, Angel! Moo!

Anonymous said...

The irony of Facebook as far as I am concerned is the fact that a social website has created a generation of unsociable square-eyes obsessed with ever increasing and ever less important minutae. I created an account as a 'oh go on then' reaction to friends and relatives continually asking me too.Since then, I have been on it precisely twice and I still look back and think 'what a waste of time'.

shasha said...

hey I am from Bangladesh. I am a SEO also. But I like to write. I know i am a very good writer. I write 3/4 story book in bangla. This is our mother language. But I know I cannot spread my experience for lack of English knowledge. If I knew English very well then I can do very good in this field.When I read this article I am looking every sentence you write and those sentence's structure. At last one thing I am telling you at the end earning from internet by article writing is not for us it is only for you guys who born with mother language English.

Thoughts from all over... said...

I like this posting for a few reasons. One is my obvious dislike for anything Facebook. It's reach is profound but it's mission is not. I de-facebooked myself and couldn't be happier. Second is the lack of reality in normally well-intentioned folks. Bottom line is, most of us get exactly what we deserve.