You may have heard that social media is the hottest opportunity of 2012, but you might still be wondering how businesses use social media … and how it can be your path to the writer’s life.

Social media is basically a group of websites that provide a place for their users to share messages with their friends, colleagues, or even strangers. The most popular social media sites are Facebook.com, Twitter.com, and LinkedIn.com.

The thing that makes social media so unique – and such a big opportunity – is the ability to connect with virtually anyone around the world and share your message with them.

Right now, social media is being embraced by all types of businesses because they can use it to their advantage to reach out to people like they’ve never been able to do with offline media, like print, TV, or radio. Social media really is changing the world.

But businesses need a social media expert to show them the most effective ways to use social media – and they are willing to pay very well for this expertise. Many social media experts charge each client $2,500–$12,000 per month – and they’re having no trouble finding clients.

So why should anyone who wants to live the writer’s life embrace social media now?

Here are the three main reasons I’m giving it a try:

1. Work from anywhere – literally.

We all have the dream of working from anywhere at any time, but honestly, technology limits us a bit. I personally do not want to take my computer to the beach. And I find it a tad difficult to type a 14-page sales letter on my iPhone.

But a Social Media Expert has a whole different life. They can do most of their work from their smartphone. With all the social media apps now available, they can check and update their clients’ accounts, follow people, and tweet right from their phone from anywhere with Wi-Fi or cell phone reception.

2. Have a lot of fun and get paid for it.

I don’t know about you, but I think social media is a lot of fun. I check my social media accounts several times a day – even if I’m not getting paid. I don’t just follow the goings-on of friends and family. I also network with clients and work colleagues and keep up with industry trends in my niche.

But when I am getting paid for it, I’m still having a great time social networking with people on behalf of clients. For my clients, I use Twitter and Facebook to search for and answer customers’ questions and share quality content. This extra attention helps my clients get more loyal customers.

I even enjoy training my clients’ staff to handle social media. It’s fun to show them all the benefits of these social media tools and watch them grasp how powerful this form of marketing can be.

Most people know just a small percentage of what social media can do for their business. They have no idea it’s a sales machine, networking goldmine, and customer loyalty generator. Showing them this side of social media gets me really excited.

3. Help businesses succeed.

When I first became a copywriter, I chose to specialize in writing for small businesses. I saw a need there. I knew I could help them increase business with direct mail, a better online presence, and a few other tricks I have up my sleeve.

But after pounding the pavement for months, it became clear that my mentors were not kidding. Small business is a hard niche because the majority of them do not understand direct marketing, do not have the budget for it, and, honestly, just don’t care that much.

I decided to switch niches and cater to the personal development industry. I love it, but I still yearn to help small businesses. That’s just one more reason I’m so passionate about social media …

Because social media is so popular right now and so many businesses are seeing such great results, small businesses are eager to give it a try. The investment isn’t huge (much less than one direct mail campaign), so they can get up to speed quickly and stay within budget. It’s trackable, so they know if they’re making it. And it’s exciting to get their name out there, connect with customers, and then see them in the store.

I’ve decided to couple my social media training with my copywriting services to offer more services to more businesses. I made this decision mainly because I’ve already invested a lot of time and energy into copywriting, and I already have some steady clients in that niche. My social media work will provide a nice side income for me – plus I love the work.

But you can easily make a full-time living – working just part time – running social media campaigns for clients. The demand is there. And businesses are willing to pay.

I recently attended a networking event where the guest speaker was a “Social Media Expert.” She passed out a form to sign up for her social media training class and said, “We had 20 spots, but there are only 10 left.”

By the time the meeting ended, the remaining spots were sold. At a rate of $297 per seat, she made $5,940. (More than most people make in a month.) I attended the class to get an inside view of what it took to be a Social Media Expert, and I was impressed by the amount of new clients she got from the class.

Most of the attendees decided they couldn’t handle social media and they hired her to do it for them. Considering she could charge $2,500–$12,000 per month, she’s making a good living.

The point of this story is that social media – and finding social media clients – is not difficult. As a writer, you already have most of what you need, the ability to write. The only thing you might need to learn is how to use social media to help businesses achieve their goals.

I’d even venture to say it’s probably the fastest, easiest, most fun way to start living the writer’s life.

What do you think? Comment below to join the discussion …