As part of our upcoming release on Monday, Helium will get more social! We’ve cleaned up the social media sharing icons at the top of each article page and included the Google +1 button.

We’ve also created an action bar that moves as you scroll down the page. This bar includes social buttons for Facebook, Twitter and Google +1. You can even click “hide” if you want the toolbar to be hidden. When logged in as Helium writer, you will also have additional tools in the action bar. They include “Article Tools,” “Print article” and the “Write now” button.

It’s important to note that the “Write now” button will no longer be at the top of the article. It will now be housed in this action bar.

If you’re not logged in to Helium, the action bar will look a little different. It will not include the “Write now” button, and it will not include “Article Tools.” This creates a cleaner and more user-friendly presentation for readers of the site.

Earnings & Payments changes

We’re also adding a new feature to Earnings & Payments for all writers. Writers will be able to download an Excel spreadsheet listing their earnings on every article they’ve written on Helium (up to 1,500 articles). Now you can clearly see how much each article has earned, making it easier to see which articles have been more successful and which ones need some editing, or some promotion.

On Monday, Twitter released Twitter for Newsrooms, its new guide for journalists using Twitter. Broken down into four sections called #Report, #Engage, #Publish and #Extra, the guide is full of helpful hints about the best ways to use Twitter to research stories and publish and promote your work on Twitter, which makes it a great resource for Helium writers – especially the first two sections.

The first section, #Search, breaks down four different tools or apps that will help you find information in different ways on Twitter. Twitter Search, which just switched its address to twitter.com/search from search.twitter.com earlier this month, is the basic search. Advanced Search lets you fine tune your search terms to find exactly what you’re looking for. The guide also breaks down the differences between TweetDeck and Twitter for Mac as apps for monitoring people, topics or lists on Twitter, as well as how to use Topsy to search Archives. Knowing how to use all of these tools effectively will make it easier than ever to use Twitter to find story ideas and new experts you should follow in your niche.

The second section, #Engage, gives pointers on how to use Twitter to help engage readers and promote your work in a productive way. The guide uses Katie Couric and reporters from The Washington Post and the Boston Globe as examples of what works well. They all personalize their Tweets, doing more than posting links to their own stories. They talk about what they’re reading, what they find interesting (including work from other writers and sources) and what they’re working on, and they respond to readers, too. According to the guide, this approach helps build a sense of community that keeps readers interested. The guide also includes a few tips on how to brand your Twitter profile to make yourself easier to find.

The final two sections, #Publish and #Extra, include guidelines on how offline new outlets (like TV broadcasts or the print edition of newspaper) should display Tweets, and links to support forums and blogs.

Stop by and check it out! Even if you think you’re a Twitter pro, you’ll find something useful. If Facebook is more your style, they have a similar site called Facebook and Journalists that you can like to get tips on using Facebook as a writer, too.

As an online freelance writer looking to improve your writing skills, you should be following experts in your field on Twitter. These people and organizations can provide you with inspiration, training and help with writer’s block. It’s also a great way to keep up to date on news in the industry.

Take a moment to enhance your writing skills and follow these experts:

Knight Digital Media Center (@kdmc)

PBS MediaShift  (@PBSMediaShift)

NewsFuturist.com (@NewsFuturist)

NextNewsroom (@nextnewsroom)

American Journalism Review (@AmJourReview)

Knowledgewebb (@Knowledgewebb)

Poynter’s Romenesko column (@Romenesko)

Wiredjournalists.com (@wiredj)

Modernjournalist.com (@ModernJourno)

FreelanceFolder (@FreelanceFolder)

Take advantage of these free skills and training. It will not only help you improve your writing, but give you ideas on how to approach different articles.

Don’t forget to interact with these writers, bloggers and organizations. Reply to a tweet. Message them with a question. Or retweet their post to your writer friends to help spread the message.

Interested in learning more? Read our previous post:
10 writer training resources you should follow on Twitter

Follow Helium on Twitter: @Helium, @HeliumWriter, @HeliumVP

With Google handling more than 88 billion searches each month, it is important that you’re putting your best work in front of those who are searching for it. You may have your own blog which has its own following, but how do you obtain more followers?

One way to do that is to write a guest blog post. Network with other writers in your niche area and offer to write a post on their blog about something you’re knowledgeable about. Is a current topic trending? Share your view. Provide your insights. That blog post will also link back to your blog or website, giving you more exposure.

You can gain a lot more traffic if you guest post on a blog that is a high traffic site. It’s an easy way to build backlinks, build your readership, gain subscribers and to get other bloggers to guest on your blog.

Major websites and companies do this all the time. Do you really think they write all their posts? Of course not! They reach out to other experts in their field to share their news and expertise.

Just doing a quick search on Twitter for “guest blog post” comes up with a host of options for writers, like this one, “Looking for any lawyers, law students or law-nerds for an upcoming guest blog post @Digg.” We’ve even seen people reach out to fellow writers on Twitter, posing invitations like, “We’d love for you to write a guest blog post!”

Blogger Frank Dickinson talks about his fear the first time he approached a fellow writer to guest blog. “What happens if they say no? How do I approach them? Should I have a set of guidelines for them? What’s the best way to get a hold of them?” Dickinson writes in his post, “3 Tricks For Getting People To Guest Post On Your Blog.”

Interact, engage with, and get to know another writer before asking them to guest blog for you. Twitter, LinkedIn and the individual’s own blog are great places to do this. Dickinson also suggests breaking the ice by featuring the potential guest blogger in a write up on your own blog. You can do this by interviewing the person, reviewing their work and writing a post about what you’ve learned, and retweeting their blogs posts.

If they say yes, provide some structure. Give them a length and a deadline. Talk about topics.

Here at Helium we love to feature guest bloggers. Just this week writer M. J. Joachim shared her story. Interested in being a guest blogger for Helium? Let us know!

You joined Twitter, tweeted some friends and followed some celebrities. Now what? Well if you’re an online freelance writer looking to improve your writing skills, begin by following some experts in your field.

Twitter is an amazing tool to help you get training and advice to develop your talent. By signing on to Twitter you can see what others are talking about, thinking and sharing. For writers, it’s very often free education you’d be a fool not to take advantage of.

Take a moment to enhance your writing skills and follow these experts:

10,000 Words multimedia journalism blog (@10000Words)

Poynter school for journalists (@Poynter)

NewsU is the e-learning site of @Poynter (@newsuniversity)

Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (@PEJPew)

The Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University (@NiemanLab)

Society of Professional Journalists (@spj_tweets)

The Journalist’s Toolbox from SPJ (@journtoolbox)

The Institute for Interactive Journalism at American University (@JLab)

The Committee of Concerned Journalists (@journalists)

Journalist’s Resource, a project of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy (@JournoResource)

Writing is a talent, but it’s also a skill you can and should improve by learning new things, or refresh your knowledge. These writers, bloggers, journalism schools and organizations also share informative news about the writing and publishing industry.

Twitter is great because not only can you read the articles, tips and expertise these experts provide, you can also interact with them. Reply to a tweet. Message them with a question. Or retweet their post to your writer friends to help spread the message.

You’ll be sure to learn a few things and even find inspiration to write more.

We’d like to hear from you! Share with us who else you get writing advice from on Twitter in the comments section below.

Freelance writers face unique challenges. Many freelance writers do not depend solely on work from clients or from upfront payments, instead, many depend on income that comes from residual earnings. Residual earnings are based solely on the traffic, number of people who view the work, that a piece of content receives. So, in addition to being able to research and write high quality articles, freelance writers also need to learn the art of Internet marketing.

One of the most popular and easiest marketing tools to utilize is Twitter. Like anything else that involves marketing, it takes some time and energy to learn in order to market articles effectively, but the return on your investment is worth it.

Twitter is a micro-blogging (posts of 140 characters) and social networking site. As with most social networking sites, it can account for large amounts of time before you even know it, but with good time management and some automation, you can tweet while you sleep and continuously earn.

Before we continue, if you’re new to Twitter, please consider reading “5 reasons every freelance writer should invest time in Twitter.”

Why automate Twitter?

Wait a moment, consider what happens to an article when it is sent through a Twitter stream. Someone posts a tweet and it then is pushed to a feed which everyone who is following them can see. The followers who are reading that stream see the article and if they are curious enough, they may read it and if they like it they may even re-tweet it to their followers. Remember the old shampoo commercial “and they told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on and so on”? Twitter works under the same premise and has the ability to send anything viral. By automating Twitter it means that a freelance writer does not have to spend time revisiting Twitter and manually creating updates. Automation of tweets will help save time, effort and can even market for you while you’re sleeping.

What tools are there available to use for automation?

Automation is a great tool and one that everyone, especially freelance writers, should be using to their full advantage. There are many Twitter applications such as HootSuite, TweetAdder and SocialOomph that help you schedule tweets for certain times of the day and will tweet them for you. This offers you not only the opportunity to save some valuable time, but to market to others while you’re snoozing away. Most of these options are of low to medium cost solutions that can potentially provide a respectable ROI on your time and money spent.

What kind of ROI are we looking at here?

Each of the three programs mentioned above have different fee structures. HootSuite offers a free (limited) version as well as low-cost monthly options. TweetAdder offers a lifetime subscription for a set price of less than $75 and SocialOomph offers a monthly service for less than $30. Speaking only for myself, I use SocialOomph for my Twitter account (and several client accounts). On average, my earnings drop $3-$5 per day if I forget to load work into SocialOomph. Over the course of a month I average $10 per day (this is with approximately 900 articles). Other income has increased as well (AdSense, etc.) as a result of using automated Twitter features.

How many followers do I need?

Fortunately, there does not appear to be a correlation between followers and income. In fact, some client accounts have fewer than 1,000 followers and are gaining as many hits a day as the account that has more than 10,000 followers. It is more about the quality of the followers you obtain versus the quantity. One person who is interested in what you have to say, reads your posts and shares them is much more valuable than 100 people who don’t bother with anything you post.

To recap the value of tweeting while you sleep

If used properly, Twitter is a great promotional tool that can educate writers on crafting better headlines to attract views, aid in finding new work and increase residual revenue opportunities. By selecting an automation option that schedules your tweets, you’re likely to tap into a market you might never have before like the one viewing while you sleep.

Follow me on Twitter @doreenmartel
Visit my Helium About Me.
Read my blog: FreelanceandMore.biz

Image Credit: By Sanseng (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

A very powerful tool many members of Helium are discovering is Twitter.  But what is Twitter and how can someone use it to help them with their Helium writing and to get traffic to their articles to increase their earnings?

What Is Twitter

Twitter is difficult to describe because it’s many things to many people.  The basic idea is that it’s another social networking tool.  As a user, you are able to post short messages of up to 140 characters called “tweets.”  These tweets are then aggregated out through Twitter, search engines, and third party applications (the use of hashtags – #[hashtag] – are an example).  So in a broad sense your tweets can be seen by others via these large entities.

The real power of Twitter for a common user though is via the social part of the tool.  Twitter allows you to friend other people and for them to friend you – on twitter it’s called following.  When you look at your Twitter home page (when logged in) you see a stream of all the tweets from everyone you’re following.  So you are able to share with friends, family, and people that are interested in your shared content.

Uses For Twitter

So what can one use Twitter for?  Again, this is a question with many answers.  Some people use it to share the mundane aspects of their life (“Just had toast”), the extremely personal, to reach out to multiple friends (“Fun time at X come join us”), etc.  However the most effective way to use Twitter that I’ve seen – and the focus of this post – is marketing.

What do I mean by this?  When I used Twitter some of the people I followed were my favorite web comic creators.  People whom I thought were talented artists and creators and whose comics I enjoyed.  Many of these artists used Twitter not only to update when new comics were coming but to talk about events they were going to, to communicate with their audience, to offer special discounts (“Use this code for 20% off today in my store”), or even to link to live broadcasts of them drawing the comics in real time.  As a follower you got to see “behind the scenes” and get to know the artist – most of whom were interesting and had a lot of the traits their comic characters had (which, as a fan, I already liked).  As an artist they got a single medium in which to reach out and communicate with their audience – much more powerful than the one-on-one medias (such as IM or e-mail) or even one-to-many medias (such as bulletin boards).

Another group I followed were my peers in the web design community – people who I learn from and work towards becoming more like.  They shared many of the same things and I got to see although they might be “giants” in my industry many of them are geeky, have weird senses of humor, and problems – just like me.  In other words, it humanized my idols.  And, in the process, I achieved more respect for them and what they do for the community.

So what does this all mean to you, the Helium writer?

Effectively Using Twitter To Market You

If I was a Helium writer I would use Twitter in much the way I envision using it one day to promote my web site / open source projects one day:

  1. Announcements of released work (“New blog”, “New WordPress Theme”, etc)
    • Although people might subscribe to your RSS feed on your blog, maybe it gets lost in the shuffle.  Or maybe someone is following you and doesn’t know about your blog / delicious / open source projects / Helium articles / etc.
  2. Crowdsourcing new ideas/concepts (“Writing article on buying kitten. What are 5 things you’d expect to hear in it?”)
    • What better place to get ideas then from your audience?
    • Good way to pick up on things you might have missed or not thought about – different viewpoints.
  3. Peer communication (“Hey X your article on Y was really great.”, “Hey X cool article about Y, I have a few links on Delicious that you might want to add.”) and marketing (“Hey if you like my stuff, you should really check out X she’s brilliant.”)
    • Treat others as you want to be treated and they’re likely to return the favor.
    • Peers might be able to help you out. (“Checked out those links, some are a bit dated. You should check out THIS:…”)
  4. Meetups (“I’m going to be at X this afternoon for Y event. Hope to see you there”)
    • Maybe you’ll find a new friend.  Or get a job offer / freelance gig, etc.
  5. Getting help (“I’m looking for references for this article..”, “Anyone know a good site to find X..”)
    • Keywords here might open you up to new followers.
  6. Sharing interests (“Great new site here:…”, “Brilliant story about X here:…”)
    • Showing a bit of your personal side – while frightening – can humanize you.  Having your audience identify with you helps.

What ideas would you add to the list? (#2)

Remember that while sharing is good it takes time to build an audience.  Don’t be discouraged if you don’t seem to get a lot of @replies or followers right away.  Twitter is a big place.  You’re going to have to market yourself.  Put your Twitter handle (username) on your Helium profile.  Mention it in blog / board posts.  Follow other people you find interesting or useful.  Use #hashtags appropriately.

Twitter is a tool – just like Delicious, Reddit, or StumbleUpon.  It’s unique from those in that it’s built around self promotion.  Using it for it’s purpose effectively and regularly will pay dividends.  The longer you do that, the more those dividends will return.

I hope this helps.

By the way, you can follow Helium on Twitter.

Want the latest on what’s happening at Helium as it happens. Check us out on Twitter. Our user name is HeliumWriter.