You love the freedom you get from freelancing—choosing your own clients, setting your own work schedule, working from anywhere you want. But your flexible schedule and comfortable home office only benefit you if you have work to do.
Freelancers have to constantly search for new clients to maintain a steady income. If you use all the tools you know about and still struggle to hit your financial goals, try marketing yourself on social media.
When you think “social media,” you probably imagine your relatives sharing pictures of their last vacation or celebrities tweeting ridiculous things. If you act wisely, however, you can use your social media accounts for more than socializing. You can use them to expand your business.
Each social media platform requires different posting and interaction strategies, but the most important things to remember are consistency and tone. You want to interact with the site regularly, without spamming your followers, and make people aware of your services without sounding like a marketer.
You probably know the basics of posting and making friends on Facebook, but this social media site offers more resources for those looking to establish professional connections. In addition to your profile, you can create a page solely dedicated to your freelancing career and use it to discuss your projects and general interests.
After you create a page, you can:
- Share links to your own writing and any articles that showcase your interests. A strong online personality attracts more attention from prospective clients than a stiff, formal persona.
- Like the pages of other freelancers or even companies you’d like to work for. Connecting with other freelancers opens up opportunities to collaborate and network—they may even send projects your way if they’re overwhelmed with work.
- Interact with freelancer and company posts naturally, liking and commenting as you would any other post. Don’t try to promote your own work in every comment or spam other pages with links to your material.
Facebook is also a great way to stay in contact with former clients. Thank them through your page and ask if you can share your work as a way to promote you both. Other clients looking for freelancers can gauge what it will be like to work with you and see the quality of work you provide.
Encourage your friends, both freelancer and otherwise, to like your page and share your posts. The more exposure you get, the more likely you are to get noticed by a client needing a project done.
The micro-blogging social media site can overwhelm even the most Internet-savvy individual if you aren’t used to it. Whereas Facebook is meant to connect friends, Twitter is a nonstop deluge of idea snippets. The trick with Twitter is less about showcasing all of your talents and experience and more about making sure the right people see your tweets.
Whether you’re new to Twitter or you’ve had an account for years, you’ll want to start building a useful following.
- Follow the accounts of the people you want to work for. Nearly every publication in existence has a Twitter account, as do all their employees.
- Create an engaging profile to give the people you follow a reason to follow you back. With any social media site, you should have a professional headshot, a complete bio succinctly describing your skillset and areas of expertise, and a link to your portfolio or website.
- Don’t feel constrained by the 140-character limit—look at it as an opportunity to practice conveying ideas clearly with as few words as possible. Shorten your links with a service like Bitly to make the best use of your character limit.
Inject a little personality into each tweet so readers know you’re a human, not a robot. When you share an article, voice your opinion about the subject or give a quick insight. If you share something you think might interest prospective clients, include their handle in the tweet. Be careful not to spam or irritate them, though—maintain a professional demeanor even when sending a quick tweet.
Twitter uses hashtags to organize tweets, and if you use them right, they can help others see you. Research the trending hashtags of the day or week and see if any apply to you.
If the top hashtag has no relevance to you, don’t jump on the bandwagon, but if a hashtag applies to your work, your interests, or writing in general, send a tweet using it. Others engaging with the hashtag may see your tweet and become interested in following you.
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is meant for business use, which means you can more openly promote yourself. However, you still want to avoid overloading prospective clients with too much information at once.
- Make one entry for freelance work, and include just the highlights instead of listing every client you’ve ever worked for in the experience section. In the description section, discuss what services you offer clients. LinkedIn allows you to add media to your work information, so you can include links to your portfolio or slideshows of your work.
- In your bio, make sure to be specific about what freelance work you do. If you specialize in technical writing, or if you have experience in website design, make that clear. Don’t just describe yourself as a freelancer.
- Directly connect with clients or companies you want to work with. If you don’t have anyone you want to work for specifically, use the search feature to find jobs in your area of expertise. For example, searching the keyword “writer” and the title “freelance” together returns dozens of possible jobs.
LinkedIn also allows you to actively network with other freelancers. Joining a freelance group can give you access to clients you wouldn’t otherwise know about, as well as tips and advice from others in your field.
You don’t have to actively post on LinkedIn to find work, but you should connect with other people who can benefit you. Connect with former clients and ask them to endorse your skills and write testimonials on your profile. Connect with other freelancers and individuals who often need freelance work.
Using social media is easy, but using it to expand your career requires careful tactical planning. Above all, be confident, be professional, and be yourself. Show, don’t tell, possible clients why they want to work with you.