HOW FREELANCERS CAN USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO FIND NEW CLIENTS
Thursday, September 17th, 2015
Once you take the (big) leap of faith to starting a freelance career, growing your client base and expanding your network can be a real challenge. While there are plenty of job boards and websites designed specifically for freelancers, sometimes these boards can seem downright overwhelming.
Constantly submitting pitches blindly to prospective clients is not always the most effective use of your time, especially on job boards where you may never receive any feedback as to why your pitch didn’t make the cut. Besides marketing yourself through a stellar website and fantastic content, how else can you land your next gig?
While I’m not a freelancer, I am a solopreneur who understands the challenge of reaching new clients and expanding your business profile. One of the best tips I ever received from a fellow solopreneur was to focus on growing my network reach through social media. Sure, nearly all of us have a LinkedIn page that acts as our online resume.
But what about sites like Twitter or Instagram? Is it possible to grow your personal brand here and reach new clients? Absolutely. Here’s how freelancers can leverage the power of social media to connect with potential clients outside of LinkedIn:
BROADCAST YOUR AUTHENTIC VOICE ON TWITTER
As a popular micro-blogging platform, Twitter is still ground zero for cultivating your personal brand and amassing a following – as long as you’re willing to get a bit more personal about your daily life. Twitter is the place to showcase your thoughts, passions and interests that go beyond your business profile.
Start by nailing the basics: upload a professional headshot, build out a keyword-rich bio, add a website link to your profile and select a location. Even if you travel a lot for work, it’s still critical to indicate a home base, otherwise your Twitter profile could fall outside the parameters of a targeted search.
Next, position yourself as an expert resource on a specific subject matter you want to write more about, be that budget travel tips or B2B content marketing. Be genuine, inject a little humor, wit or sarcasm into your posts (in keeping with your personality), and be smart about who you follow or re-tweet.
Follow the publishers and publications for which you wish to write, and be smart about tagging them in posts or retweeting their content. Never pitch an editor directly over Twitter; a lengthy series of messages is unprofessional and can be downright annoying to receive. Instead, once you’ve built a basic relationship, send a direct message or shift the conversation to email.
Your tweets may only be 140 characters, but your profile and the type of content you post (and curate) will say a lot about your brand. Since tweets have a very short lifespan due to Twitter’s real-time newsfeed, remember you’ll need to invest consistent time and energy each day into maintaining an active presence.
SHOWCASE YOUR CREATIVITY ON INSTAGRAM
While Twitter is great for freelance writers, it’s not always the best medium for showing off creative visual work. You may already be posting design work on Instagram as well as Facebook and Pinterest. By bringing more focus to your brand building efforts on Instagram (like these designers do), you can build your own design niche and expand your following.
Developing your brand as a graphic designer is all about leveraging social media sites like Instagram to tell a story through great work. Here’s the problem: most designers promote their work with a simple image post of their latest project and a few relevant hashtags. Get more mileage out of your posts by creating context and telling a story.
You don’t need to go overboard with a full-on case study, but do consider adding a line or two about your client’s problem and how you went about solving it. Showcase your work as it develops through the creative process: perhaps an initial pen-and-paper sketch followed by a rough design, and then the final product. Take your followers along for the creative journey and get them invested in the outcome.
Many freelancers I know wish they could be more creative in their day-to-day work, and have started using Instagram as an outlet for expressing this creativity. For example, let’s say most of your jobs are developing B2B logos. The opportunities for creativity are a bit more limited here than they would be with other clients.
Perhaps you enjoy sketching or typography; use Instagram to showcase these sketches and typeface designs. Doing so not only bolsters your reputation as a creative but also lets potential clients know that you’re open to a wide variety of projects beyond your immediate portfolio.
Bottom line: There’s nothing easy about breaking into a creative field and turning a side hustle into a full-time job. From broadcasting your authentic voice on Twitter to showcasing your creative eye on Instagram, leveraging the power of social media to curate content is key to successfully building out your personal brand.
Focus on one to two channels, post regularly to maintain an active presence, and take your followers along on your creative journey. You may be surprised by just how many folks start following your posts, commenting on your content, and even reaching out for work opportunities.