How Social Media Can Change Your Life

Grunge Social Media Art

Sometimes I find myself defending social media to the experienced user and beginner alike. It can be easily accused—and rightly so—of being full of shameless self-promoters, shrill marketing, and naked people.

That’s only one side, though, and it doesn’t have to be the side you engage in or tolerate. Just because you have to throw away junk mail, turn the channel during a commercial, or ignore a telemarketer doesn’t mean you’ll decide to stop receiving mail, ditch the TV, or lose the phone. You get smarter about how to avoid (or stop) the behavior you don’t like.

I’d like to share with you 6 brief stories of how social media has enriched my life in ways that couldn’t have been possible before—and why I continue to be an advocate for it and teach it as a way of building platform.

1. Darrelyn Saloom

Darrelyn Saloom

I first met Darrelyn at a Writer’s Digest event in December 2008. (Here’s a story she wrote about that.) When she attended the event, she was not involved in social media. Within six months, she started participating on Twitter (@ficwriter), and writing guest posts for my blog at Writer’s Digest. Without this online glue to keep us in frequent contact, I would have likely forgotten about her, and the relationship would’ve faded away. Instead, her social media participation grew, we stayed in touch as she attempted to get her book published (she now has a deal!), and I now write this post on her farm (in her writer’s studio!) in Louisiana, my first trip to the state.

2. National Endowment for the Arts

National Endowment for the Arts

In summer 2010, I was contacted out of the blue by the NEA. I had never before been in touch with the organization, nor had I ever met anyone there. The director of literature at the time had read a Publishers Weekly article that mentioned my Twitter presence, then read more about me here, at my own website. Because of my expertise in social media, he e-mailed me to see if I would be interested in participating on a grant funding panel focused on audience development in literature. And that’s how I came to serve with the NEA.

3. Dan Blank

Dan Blank

Several years ago, I compiled and blogged about a list of people who I thought provided the best insight (via blog) on the publishing industry. One of those blogs was by Dan Blank. Being the wise blogger that he is, he e-mailed me a thank-you when he saw the mention, and we started exchanging messages and looking for each other at industry events. Currently, we use each other to bounce ideas off of, and we support each others’ efforts in service to the writing community, since we have similar philosophies and practices. I suspect that we’ll hatch a very cool partnership project before it’s all over!

4. Jeanne V. Bowerman

Jeanne V Bowerman

One day (well, perhaps on many days), Jeanne saw me tweeting about bourbon, and decided to say something, even though we’d never had any previous contact. We bonded over drinking on Twitter, then later, she decided to trek from New York to Cincinnati to attend the 90th Writer’s Digest anniversary party that I was organizing (plus meet with a business partner in town). We hit it off marvelously, I asked her to write an article for Writer’s Digest magazine, and we’ve been supporting each others’ efforts ever since, both in person and online. Here’s a post I wrote about Jeanne last year.

5. Brad King

Ball State professor Brad King

I first became aware of Brad King through his talk at TedxCincy. After his talk, he asked via Twitter who wanted to get together for lunch. I responded via Twitter, although ultimately we didn’t go out for lunch together. However, we stayed in each others’ memories, and when he saw me on the speakers’ roster for SXSW 2011, he dropped an e-mail asking if I’d like a pick-up at the airport in Austin. (Yes, Brad is that nice, adventurous, and awesome!) I went to dinner with him and two others headed to SXSW, and got a wonderful introduction to the spirit of that event. Brad is now writing a series of guests posts on this site.

6. Porter Anderson

Porter Anderson in Copenhagen

As many of you know, Porter is responsible for weekly round-ups here on this site, Writing on the Ether. So how did this partnership start? The beginnings go back to Twitter. He e-mailed me in December 2010, to point me to an article suitable for my old blog series, Best Tweets for Writers. Over time, we communicated more and more on Twitter (especially via DM!), and met up at a few conferences. Then, a few months ago, I invited him to contribute, and he graciously accepted. (What I’ve done for him is up for debate—except add more work to his daily load!)

While you’re smart enough to catch onto the pattern in these stories, here are a few of my own observations:

  • Relationships that start online are often solidified offline.
  • Relationships that start offline can continue and grow through online media.
  • There’s a trust-building process. It takes time for the relationship to take off, because as we all know, when it comes to strangers on social media, we have to be wary of people who may be out solely to take advantage of our goodwill.
  • Even the smallest moment of reaching out to someone else on social media can turn into something big and meaningful for your career.

Many other relationships and opportunities have come to me due to social media and changed my life—not least of all, my current job—but this post has to end somewhere.

Let’s hear stories of hiw social media has changed your life. Please share in the comments!

Posted in Creativity + Inspiration, Digital Media, Life Philosophy, Social Media.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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This is going way back before Twitter and FB, but I first met my editor through a message board for a vintage kids mystery series we both collected. We met in late 1999, she started editing my work in 2000, and without her, I wouldn’t have an editor I trust enough to make the indie path viable. She’s also grown to be one of my best friends. 

Lisa Hall-Wilson

My writing partner and I met at a conference, but typically only see each other at that conference – but we chat every day. We cowrite a blog, are cowriting a fiction mss, have flown across the continent to writer’s conferences together – but we only ‘see’ each other once or twice a year.

Dan Blank

Thank you so much for the mention – loved the other stories here as well!

Sarah Elisabeth

Great post, Jane. I’m more of a Facebook person than Twitter. Here’s one story of how it worked just like you said with the online/offline relationships:

Darrelyn Saloom

No doubt about it. Social media has been life-changing (for the best) in my life. I’ve learned so much from reading and writing for your blog. And even found my first reader, editor, and now friend (@dzmalone) in the comment section. Oh, and I love having you here on the farm. 

Anne R. Allen

Social media turned my life around. In two and a half years, I’ve gone from an out-of-print author and increasingly-unpaid freelance writer to the author of five novels and contributor to four anthologies. My blog got me offers of publication on both sides of the pond, a job teaching social media for authors. And best of all–an international community of writer friends. 

Joe Bunting

Great post, Jane. Through a strange series of events I actually met my wife through a blog. It’s a long story but basically social media did indeed change my life.

Jill Barville

Stories like these are why I don’t feel guilty about the time I spend on social media. I joined Facebook a few years ago because of a story assignment. That led to re-connections with old friends and quite a few new friendships that have become my daily water cooler conversation. Then, I joined Twitter 7 months ago while researching agents for my novel. I wasn’t expecting to make friends but I discovered two communities of people (with some overlap) – writers and runners. I’m motivated & encouraged every day by the warm-hearted people I’ve met through Twitter. In fact, I’ve logged a… Read more »

Porter Anderson

Wait a minute, @JaneFriedman:twitter. You mean you and @Jeannevb:twitter  have the bourbon? I’ve been looking for it. Why do you think I’m on the Ether?–pretty gassy substitute for the good stuff, too. And it looks to me like @DanBlank:twitter  and @TheBradKing:twitter  need a drink as badly as I do. A pleasure making your cyber-acquaintance. And let’s see, of our merry band here, I still have Jeanne, @fictwriter:twitter (Darrelyn) and Brad to meet in person. Brad, I’ll let you know my flight plans. Jeanne, #amdrinking. Darrelyn, which animal is your best editor? The NEA folks are here with me now and… Read more »

Jeanne V Bowerman

I definitely see a drink-up in our future 🙂 

Dave Malone

Indeed, Anne Allen’s story says it all. Using social media (oh how I love Twitter) in some ways here as others testify to–has also provided an added benefit: it helped focus me (an artist in love with so many of the arts–not just writing–and in love with so many of my random projects!). After some failed attempts at web designs and some other things, it became clear what I wanted to deliver and who my niche audience was. And quickly, the social media fell into place for me–I used my website, e-newsletter, Twitter, and a little sprinkle of FB. Jane,… Read more »

Florence Fois
Florence Fois

On-line groups and connecting to other blogs has given me a great support group of other writers. Joining Writer’s Digest introduced me to more, to you and Chuck Sambuchino and the wealth of information you both share so generously. I love the blog and have recently uped-the-volume on FB, but I am still a reluctant hold out with twitter. I’m glad you were not, because then I would not have met Porter Anderson 🙂  Maybe one these days I won’t see twitter as someone trying to stuff a knitting needle into my ear. Thanks for another great post! 

Jeanne V Bowerman

Jane, I’m honored to be mentioned here! Meeting you on Twitter has been one of the most satisfying experiences in my career – though the best bonus being the foundation for our wonderful friendship. That one article I wrote for Writer’s Digest ended up launching other writing gigs for me as well as podcast interviews and speaking engagements at conferences. Regarding Twitter in general, it’s how I met the then editor of Script Magazine and got my weekly column, Balls of Steel. Not only have I gotten assignments, I’ve also made incredible people who share my interests, like best selling… Read more »

Cynthia Morris
Cynthia Morris

What a great post. I love how it’s less about changing a life and more about real connections between people who share common interests. (Which of course changes lives, but I like to focus on the connecting part.) I met you in person at AWP in Denver when I was making my Writers in Love video. From there I began following you.  You tweeted something about Dan Blank’s Build Your Author Platform class and after checking it out, I signed up immediately. I’m still working with Dan who is helping me strategize my novel launch for next year.  Okay, I’ll… Read more »

Diana Murdock

Great post!  I started my blog when I took Kristen Lamb’s blogging workshop.  Not only did I get top-notch instruction on how to get started, I ended up with a group of women and one man who are pretty damn close to each other as we turned to each other for help and support (#WANA711).  Many live close to where I live and I have every intention of meeting them.  We’re even talking about meeting in Las Vegas this next summer.  From there, my family has grown to include some of Kristen’s next group (#WANA1011) and many, many others.  My… Read more »

Karen McFarland
Karen McFarland

Although I’m just getting to know Diana (#WANA711) through Kristen’s class, I (#WANA1011) would like to support Diana’s comment about the top notch instruction you receive from Kristen Lamb. Not only are you taught how to blog, but you are given the tools on how to survive and succeed through this mass social media craze. But what you don’t expect is the tremendous support that you inherit from Kristen’s twibe. You develope long lasting relationships not out of selfishness, but because of the pay it forward atmosphere that stems from Kristen Lamb herself. It’s been an amazing experience, one that will be embedded in my heart for a long time to… Read more »

Jonathan Gunson

I see @Porter_Anderson and you @JaneFiedman as trouble makers … but only with regard to drawing attention to Bourbon.  I’m trying to stay free of that turpentine so I can concentrate  🙂 


Jane, wonderful post! I don’t know if you remember me, but I think we were shoved together at one of those very loud cocktail parties at Thriller Fest in 2009. Needless to say, I’m a great fan of yours, your work is always, clear, concise and spot on. Here’s a shout out to Diana Murdock, as I am one of Kristen Lamb’s (#WANA1011) bunch and they are a fantastic network. You are exactly right about ignoring the bots and routine self-promoters, my life is a lot richer now that I have a great on-line community to go to for help,… Read more »


I love it. I think I probably found you on Twitter too Jane, as well as @DanBlank:disqus. I’m going to refer friends and family to this post next time they tell me Twitter is a waste of time. Thanks for sharing!

Gale Martin
Gale Martin

I saw tenor David Lomeli in New York City Opera’s Elixir of Love in spring of 2011, and was blown away. After writing my review for Bachtrack, whom I met on Twitter, I then found David on Twitter, and just mentioned how much I loved his performance. I found a friend for life. He is an Operalia winner and an international rising opera star. I wrote a novel about opera, and David read my novel and gave me a vidoe review for my book launch. (He also called my boss on his birthday and sang “La donna e mobile” to… Read more »

Claire Denise Johnson
Claire Denise Johnson

Social media has connect me from with people I met as far as Maasailand in Kenya to a dear friend I met on a plane to Atlanta. I hope to write a guest post for you one day! I’m at


I must say I’m a bit disappointed you left out your west coast connections!  ; )

Suzi Banks Baum
Suzi Banks Baum

Dear Jane, I agree with you. I enjoyed your snapshots of all these relationships that have mutually benefited from your contact. If you had asked me even one year ago, if I would ever enthusiastically embrace Social Media, I would have laughed. Today, I see how it supports my work in sharing my voice on my topics. I have met and been enlightened by so many great people and witness daily, even here with my friend and guest blogger on this site, Joanne Tombrakos, how these online connections, solidified offline, and nurtured with mutual support, create an environment that benefits… Read more »


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I completely agree with your last points. I have been able to create some really meaningful and lasting relationships with other bloggers online. I met just one of those people last time I was in Philadelphia for coffee. It was fantastic. This is also a terrific idea for a post.

Deborah a. Culp
Deborah a. Culp

I have been a writer for 20 years now and still love it! When I began practicing the craft, I only had a Word Processor and the willingness to make it happen. There was no Internet presence (that I knew of) and we developed our film via wet work chemicals. Now I’ve become digital savvy and still no where near where I’d like to be. Social Media is the wave (rave) of the future… “It’ here to stay!” I too find myself defending it, to people on all levels. All because I know that tit is not going anywhere. Whether of not we choose to learn it, utilize it or practice it in our daily affairs, it’s the hit.… Read more »

Meet the Writer: Jane Friedman | Women of Google+

[…] with reviews, suggestions, guest posts and “how to” articles. One post I enjoyed, How Social Media can Change your Life, offers personal stories of engaging relationships to counter the claim that social media is only […]

Book Bits #105 – Robyn Carr interview, Allrecipes bidding war, Vachel Lindsay | Malcolm's Book Bits and Notions

[…] How Social Media Can Change Your Life by Jane Friedman – “Sometimes I find myself defending social media to the experienced […]


[…] Social media has its influence on many things, but when it comes to who we are social media has a huge influence. It effects is in good and bad ways, like most things. Jane Friedman talks about how social media has enriched her life and she shares many stories on how it has through her website ( […]