Sunday, 5 May 2019

How I've Built A Platform By Blogging & How You Can Too


Today's post was an original article I had written for the incredible platform Stage 32 - which if you're not familiar with, I cannot encourage you enough to go an check them out! I decided since I hadn't shared this on my own platform - and with the messages I receive  daily asking about how and why I do what I do - I figured it may be helpful to some of you! 

So, let's get right into it!

If I told you that I have interviewed award-winning screenwriters, producers, managers, and other industry professionals who have worked on projects like the Jurassic Park franchise and with studios such as BBC, Marvel, and Disney without leaving the comfort of my own home, would you believe me?
And what would you say if I told you that you could do it too? In fact, let’s go a step further and say you don’t even need to get off the couch to do so.
In this post, I'm going to share how I’ve been fortunate enough to speak with some of the most influential filmmakers and writers in the world without ever having to go past my front door.



1) Use Social Media as Your Professional Platform

How Blogging Interviewing and Online Networking Gets You Noticed


Let’s be clear, I’m an aspiring screenwriter like most of you, and am still applying to contests and working on my craft and writing projects in between freelance writing jobs. I think it’s important to establish that I am in the same boat as you, and it’s tricky waters to navigate in this industry, which I feel very passionately about supporting and encouraging others on the same journey. And how do I interview these Industry Insiders you ask? Through the marvel that is Skype or email. It’s easy, accessible, and convenient.

This is where social media is an amazing tool, and if used correctly can completely increase your chances of getting noticed, create networking opportunities, and more. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are the three channels I use the most. I can’t stress enough how important I believe these tools to be for a writer, there are no limits on the opportunities that are out there. Put in the effort of creating a professional public image, but be genuine. Audiences can smell from a mile off if you’re putting on a persona. Besides REAL means communication and engagement, which is what will work in your benefit.
Recently, I had an industry professional who worked on films like Doctor Strange, Jurassic Park, andFallen Kingdom send me a message on Instagram, agreeing to be interviewed for my blog. This never would have happened without Instagram. And before you ask if you need a huge following to attract someone like this, no. You don’t. I currently have (updated:) 1,686 followers on Instagram and 410 followers on Twitter.
I am, by no means, anything of a social media influencer. But I have, surprisingly, had a few industry pros who have stumbled upon my account and decided to stay. I recently had James Wan (Aquaman, The Conjuring & Saw) check out my Instagram story. 
Random, I know, but the point I’m trying to make is that social media allows me to facilitate these interactions and occurrences that wouldn’t happen anywhere else.
Here’s how you can do the same:
  • Streamline your content with hashtags. Follow and tweet out to sites, companies, and individuals who have created content you like – whether it’s an article, book, or event you’ve been to. Start becoming visible to the bigger audience via these channels but don’t be overkill.

  • Keep to a regular posting schedule that isn’t excessive. And please, refrain from public Facebook or Twitter rants or controversial posts. This is a professional gig you’re after. Treat it like one.

2) Look Into Guest Blogging & Starting Your Own Blog

How Blogging Interviewing and Online Networking Gets You Noticed

Blogging not for you? Well, don’t dismiss it too quickly.

Guest Blogging is a fantastic way to not only showcase your passion, skills, and knowledge, it also allows yourself to put you and your name out there in your professional field. At the same time it builds upon or teaches you a new set of skills, like copywriting and giving/receiving feedback. You should also seriously consider starting your own blog.
  • Having a blog means you’re building an audience that you are actively trying to engage with while creating quality content. It also gives you a considerable advantage when it comes to getting recognised as a professional.

  • It’s all about creating and promoting yourself as a brand. By having a presence on social media, you are opening yourself up to be noticed by a lot of people, especially by sharing your posts via social media with relevant hashtags.
It's very easy to reach out via email to inquire about writing a guest post. From there, you can contact others with more confidence in future. There is no reason not to do this. Check out some of your favourite blogs or websites and inquire about writing one. Good luck!

3) Consider Internships - They Will Give You Priceless Experiences

How Blogging Interviewing and Online Networking Gets You Noticed

Sometimes unpaid internships create controversy in conversations, I know, but hear me out.

Unpaid writing is a dirty word among some writers, but without my very positive experiences of interning, some of the most incredible opportunities would never have happened to me. I’m finished my second internship of my career with Shore Scripts as a feature writer in Entertainment & Research in October 2018.
My duties included reaching out to directors, agents, managers, and production companies to bring onto Shore’s Industry roster. In some cases, I was emailing people whose work I have long admired. I first started interviewing industry professionals for Bang2Write four years ago during my first internship, and has now evolved into me being a moderator and assistant of Bang2Write’s Facebook group created by Lucy V. Hay. Again, this opportunity wouldn’t have come my way had I not considered interning.
Shore Scripts is based in Los Angeles. I live in the UK in a tiny village like something out of The Shire. I’m more likely to see Bilbo Baggins stumble past my front door then I am to come across a famous screenwriter or filmmaker. Yet I spend most days doing exactly that.
Remote internships are out there and they are doable around full time jobs. That’s how I’ve always done it. I’m not going to lie, it’s a busy schedule but you can make it work, but the advantages of interning (full or part-time) are bountiful.
  • There is so much to learn, so don’t be narrow minded about learning other skills like script reading or editing. You’d be surprised how much these skills come in handy as you navigate through this industry and help your own craft. Think of it as a multi-pronged approach of getting your foot in the door: The more skills you have, the more use you will be to fill a position. It’s also about meeting people. More skills = more opportunities = meeting more people.
Search for these opportunities. Too many writers give up at the first hurdle after one lackluster google search. Reach out and contact a blog, company, or website that you admire and would love to know more about and ask if they offer remote internships. Be proactive.

4) Be Open To Any Opportunity & Create Your Own Luck
How Blogging Interviewing and Online Networking Gets You Noticed

I’ve met some pretty cool people in the most unexpected places. You never know when you’re going to bump into somebody. In my experience, there are two approaches when it comes to reaching out and creating opportunities:

  • The internet means there is no excuse. Send a polite and brief email about who you are, what you do, and why you’d like to connect.

  • Don’t send emails via personal platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn unless you have been specifically told to. These people are not your friends. They are potential colleagues, and by respecting them and their space, they’re more inclined to respond to you. It’s also important to remind you not to spam any of these potential contacts with links or self promotion. It’s an immediate block zone. They owe you nothing, and rightly so. All the hard work is down to you, my friend.

  • Attend networking events like the ones offered by Stage 32, join a filmmaking community online, or consider a virtual writing group. All of this is so crucial. Make connections with people within these platforms, collaborate, and, most importantly, build relationships. More often than not in this industry, it’s about who you know and not what you know. And that’s not a bad thing. If you keep hustling, carrying yourself in a professional manner, and remain a pleasure to work with, then what’s there to worry about?
It’s important to remember that you have all these tools at your fingertips. You just have to be confident enough to know that even though it won’t happen overnight, at some point somebody will notice your hard work. You’re just helping your chances along a bit with some helpful hashtags and interesting tweets along the way.
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