Many professions (e.g. law, medicine) require continuing education of its professionals, justifiably so. After all, who wants to have a doctor whose knowledge of medicine, treatments and diseases is from twenty, ten, or even five years ago?
While continuing education isn’t required for writers, it is nonetheless a smart idea. There are two types of continuing education for writers: 1) Writing related 2) Technology based. Continuing Education in Writing covers any writing class, exercise, research, or connection that expands and improves one’s writing. I won’t cover that subset here, as most writers understand the reason to keep honing one’s writing skills. What many writers don’t consider is the need for continuing education regarding one’s technological skills.
The role of technology in writing
How do you use technology as a writer? Do you stay abreast of all the technological advancements? Ten or fifteen years ago, writers started venturing online, creating their own websites to market themselves, trolling for work on job sites such as Craigslist or Freelancewriting, or learning how to write web copy. What we now consider the ‘basics’ of the internet were at that time new skills we needed to learn to take advantage of a new market. And so, many writers plunged forward, developing their own sites and learning how to write proper web copy for their clients. Searching for jobs online or marketing oneself online are commonplace for many writers now, but they weren’t when the internet was in its infancy.
Consider the next progression on the timeline. With the explosion of websites by businesses, the need for content to attract people to their websites exploded tenfold. Content jobs abounded everywhere. Then came the advent of blogs. The concept brought new marketing possibilities and new job opportunities. Now the concept of blogging is so mainstream that many job websites such as Freelancewritinggigs include blogging as a distinct category of writing.
How does one blog to attract as well as retain viewers? How does one promote products and services through a blog? How does one maximize SEO (another technology-based skill writers need to learn if they’re writing for the web)? Of course there’s nothing saying a writer needs to know anything about blogging, but not staying current with the technology limits the writer’s potential for new jobs, and may even risk the loss of current clients, if those clients want a writer who knows how to blog. Blogging was, and remains, nothing more than another technological facet of a writer’s continuing education. Blogging is not a necessity for writing, but rather a new skill to be learned and mastered if a writer wants to stay current and competitive in an existing market.
That brings us to present day technological advances… Social Media. More and more writing jobs are not just asking for writers savvy in social media, they are requiring it. Do you know the difference between a tweet and a facebook post? Do you understand the value or ‘like’ing and ‘friend’ing? Do you know how to upload pictures, re-tweet, or create buzz in social media? Or do you avoid using social media all together? Yes, it’s the writer’s choice, but the choice impacts the writer’s marketability.
Lessons From the Past
If you’re finding more and more job opportunities for blogging, and secretly wish that you had starting blogging years back so that you’d be current, then you’ve learned the value of staying current with technology. Even if you haven’t yet started a Facebook account, or have no clue what Twitter is, don’t panic. The good new is that it’s never too late to get started. Just like the internet, Social Media is here to stay. Technology is every-changing, and the sooner your start, the faster you’ll catch up.
In conclusion, consider technology another facet, but a vital one, to your continuing education as a writer. Knowing the ins and outs, as well as the potential uses of the various social media sites can make the difference between landing a client or not.