Will An Editor Judge You If You Don’t Have An Online Platform?

Yes. She is quietly judging you.


As a writer, do you need to have a website or blog?

It’s a question I’m asked pretty regularly by coaching clients, blog readers, and other freelance writers.

My response? Well, I can’t speak for all editors out there but, during my time fielding intern and blogger applications, and freelance queries, I always did the same thing.

If a website, blog, or Twitter URL did not appear as part of the writer’s email signature, I immediately googled their name so as to find it myself.

And if I didn’t find it?

I immediately questioned the abilities of the writer.

I know. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? But an online presence illustrates a number of things for an editor seeking clues to a writer’s abilities:

1. It illustrates web-savviness. If you have a website or blog, it can show, first of all, that you have at least some experience with blogging platforms or content management systems (CMS). And if you know one platform, you pretty much know them all. This means that — if necessary — you could produce your own content on a publication’s website. Also, depending upon the contents of your site, a well-put-together platform could bespeak a working knowledge of smart SEO (important for web writing), smart linking practices, hed-writing abilities, and a talent for creating multimedia packages. All important as more and more content moves online.

2. It hints at the existence of a built-in audience. If you have a well-read blog, or a high follower count on Twitter, it establishes you as an authority within your niche, which means that you’ll probably bring in more eyeballs. (Book publishers and literary agents also look for already-existing online platforms for the very same reason… that built-in audience could translate to higher visibility and guaranteed book sales.)

3. It illustrates social media marketing-savviness. Speaking of eyeballs, editors love it when you’re active on sites like Facebook or Twitter. It means you’ll probably promote your piece once it’s live, a form of free marketing that can get their publication on the radars of new readers.

4. It shows that you’re able to deliver. When an editor can see multiple clips of yours in one, convenient place, it shows that you have a proven track record of actually delivering copy to other editors on deadline.

5. It illustrates writing ability. If you have a blog, you can bet I’ll scan a few posts in order to get a feel for your writing ability, and for your voice. If I can’t find any examples of your writing online — not a blog post… not a bio on your professional site… not a clip… — I’ll start to wonder if you’ll only end up being a headache to edit. Of course, a cover or query letter will also give me a feel for your writing ability, but I always do a bit of extra research if I think a letter shows promise. You know. Just in case. Almost all editors have been burned or disappointed by writers. It’s smart to be thorough up front.

In short, some sort of web presence will give an editor proof of your varied abilities as a web-savvy writer, which is important in times like these. If I can’t find anything online, I’m unsettled. Because it’s just weird if you’re not online by 2011. It shows that you haven’t adapted to the many ways in which media and publishing are shifting.

Is that really the impression you want to make to a possible new editor?

It doesn’t need to be expensive. It doesn’t need to be technically challenging. And it doesn’t need to swallow up all of your time. There are tons of resources out there that make building an online presence quick, easy, and inexpensive. But it does need to happen.

Related: How To Avoid Social Media Fatigue in 5 Easy Steps, Using Twitter To Achieve World Domination (in Your Field), 7 Portfolio Sites That Make It Easy To Strut Your Stuff, How To Market Yourself: Strengthening Your Web Presence


  1. I am always surprised when I meet a writer that doesn’t have a web presence. It’s so easy in this day and age, and I DO think editors look to find out more about a potential contributor.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly, Steph. Plus, having your own URL (preferably your name) means you have some control and domination over those Google results.

    A website can be as simple as a one-page summary of what you’ve done, preferably with a photo and contact information (through Well Versed Creative, we’ve done this OFTEN for people who essentially want to build a custom, online “business card”).

    But setting up a WordPress blog is easy as pie. One note of caution: I don’t like to find a writer’s site that is messy, confusing, or outdated any more than I like not finding one at all… 😉

  3. Seconding everything Lindsay said in her comment. As writers, we’ll never be able to completely ignore/escape the world of Google, so why not harness the internet for our own nefarious purposes? Let it do the promoting for us!

  4. absolutely. I would have never received my book deal if I didn’t have a platform already. My agent said for years, platform, platform, platform. Your own website is just the first but most important step

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