While Facebook is often listed among the top “time waster” sites, it actually has a lot to offer you as a freelancer.
Instead of absent-mindedly scrolling past baby pictures and Pinterest-worthy dessert recipes, why not put Facebook to work for you?
To give you the best look at how to use Facebook as an integral player in professional development, I interviewed the admins for some of my favorite Facebook groups.
Armed with my personal experience and insights from the best in the biz, here’s all you need to know about how to use Facebook groups to hone your craft.
How Facebook Groups Can Benefit You as A Writer
Sense of Community
Being a freelance writer often means a lot of solo work. You may have the odd Skype conference or in-person meeting, but for the most part, you’re on your own.
Being part of a community, even if only online, is a great way to beat the isolating effects of the career.
Groups made for writers of all sorts can help you connect with like-minded people. Connecting with people that understand your day-to-day life and struggles can also go a long way in combating burnout.
“Members get great knowledge from other writers that have previously been in their shoes. I think it helps to have people who are traveling on the same journey as you are and can relate to similar things” –Nicole Yingling, Female Freelance Writers
Opportunities present themselves the most unexpected of ways. (Say, a certain social media platform, for example.)
These groups often have hidden gems in the form of job leads. More often than not, overbooked freelancers will reach out to their writing group if they’re offered a job they have to pass on.
These groups shouldn’t be considered a job board by any means, but every now and again, surprise opportunities arise.
Another huge perk of joining a Facebook group is that you have an accountability army behind you.
Some groups may have a designated day to share your wins and another for struggles. By staying engaged and participating in weekly “challenges”, you’re kept accountable for your work.
In a smaller setting, mastermind or accountability groups can be a considerable help in keeping you on task.
Just remember, when you log into Facebook to check the group, don’t get distracted and stray back to your personal feed!
Arguably the most significant benefit of joining a Facebook group is that you essentially have a whole club that can help you problem-solve.
From client relationship issues to WordPress snafus, my groups have been a personal lifesaver. Especially in larger groups, it’s very likely that someone will have an answer to your woes.
“(Members) feel they have a place to come where they can share what they are working on or ask a question, knowing someone will support them.” – Annie Beth Donahue, Query
If you consider yourself any variety of writer, you’re most likely familiar with the dreaded writer’s block. You know, the zapped creativity, the blank stare at an empty page.
It’s the worst and it happens to the best of us.
Virtual communities can be a great way to overcome a wordless dry spell. Whether it be commiserating with others dealing with the same or learning from another members’ productivity tips, there’s a lot to be gained from tapping into the creativity of a group.
How To Find The Right Group For You
Types of Groups
There are many, many (read: many), types of groups for different types of writers.
There are groups for full-time freelancers, part-time freelancers, novel writers, WordPress bloggers, stay at home moms, and that’s just scratching the surface. Whatever your interests may be, trust that there’s a group for you.
Not sure just what you’re looking for? No worries. These groups can also be an excellent way to explore new niches or paths to take your writing. Don’t be afraid to pop into a few different ones and take a peek!
Course-Associated Facebook Groups
If there’s one thing freelancers know, it’s the value of continuing to learn new skills and methods.
One of the most accessible (and popular) methods of continuing education is through online courses.
With a plethora of options available, some courses aim to boost their value by adding a private Facebook group to their offerings.
Course-associated groups are great because you can ask questions on specific modules or action steps, share wins, and get insider info not available anywhere else.
My first foray into Facebook groups came from the writing course that got me into freelancing. The group has undoubtedly been the most prominent asset in getting my business up and running.
Without the insights and support from my fellow “students,” it probably would have taken me a great deal longer to grow both my confidence and business.
Groups vary in size, and each comes with their own set of pros and cons. I made it a point to join groups of different sizes, as they all offer unique upsides.
For example, smaller-sized groups are ideal for mastermind or accountability purposes. Larger groups may be more helpful in getting varied experiences and answers to your most burning questions.
While they serve different purposes, both can be equally beneficial.
“Bigger is not always better. The dynamics of a group are important. Do the members treat each other with respect? Do they post content that’s useful, or is their main focus to sell you on their latest product?”- Annie Beth Donahue, Query
Can’t find one you love?
No problem. Start your own!
Keep in mind, however, that it may take some time to grow membership numbers.
I’d suggest starting with a smaller mastermind group and taking on some admin responsibilities. This way you get all the benefits of an accountability group while getting a feel for some of the administrative duties required for running a group.
Suggested Facebook Groups
Finding the right groups for you is an individualized process. As we mentioned, there are groups out there for nearly every niche or interest.
While my needs and preferences may differ from yours, here are just a few of my go-to groups. I’ve omitted any groups related to courses I’ve taken and my mastermind or accountability groups because they are so specific to my individualized experience.
- Female Freelance Writers
- No-Fluff Freelance Writers
- Writers Helping Writers
- Freelance Writers
Facebook Group Etiquette
While joining Facebook groups is a relatively simple endeavor, there are a few dos and don’ts involved. After all, having proper etiquette is just polite.
“Learn and follow the rules.”
Each group usually has their own set of guidelines regarding what’s okay and what’s not.
Some rules may be straightforward and glaringly obvious, like not tolerating abusive behaviors like name calling, while others may pertain to allowed topics, sharing schedules, or if self-promotion is okay.
Before jumping into the comments, be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules.
“Don’t spam the group.”
Most groups will encourage members to share their work, but will usually designate sharing for a specific day (Winning Wednesday, Promo Tuesdays, etc.)
Being in a group can often lead to a lot of notifications on your feed. The last thing people want is to be continuously bombarded with notifications that are pushing other’s products or work.
For a group to be truly valuable to its members, posts should be genuine and adhere to the rules.
“Be mindful of the admins’ time.”
For the most part, admins create these Facebook groups to encourage and help bring together a community for people with shared interests or goals.
Admins have a lot of responsibilities such as posting content, moderating comments, screening members, etc. Sending numerous direct messages, or tagging them in every comment can become overwhelming.
Especially if the group is course related, some members may believe they’re entitled to answers directly from the admin or creator of the group. While many admins do try to remain engaged and respond to as many comments and questions as they can, it can be a daunting task.
Remember that admins are people too. They have lives outside the group and may not be available to answer your every question. Utilize the wealth of knowledge of the members whenever possible. That’s why you joined, right?
“Use the search tool.”
“When you join a group, use the search tool to find an answer to your question. Only after a good search, post your question and remember to be polite.”- Alina Bradford, No-Fluff Freelance Writing Group
Out of all the admins I interviewed, nearly everyone gave me the same advice. The search tool is your friend!
If the group is long established before you entered, you’ve probably missed some posts and pertinent information. Rather than adding to repeating questions or posts, use the search tool to ensure what you’re adding is new information or hasn’t been already answered.
Searching before you post helps cut down on unnecessary notifications for all members and is just considered proper etiquette.
So, stop the using the ‘Book as a procrastination tool and instead get some serious professional development under your belt!
With a group out there for everyone, what are you waiting for?