freelance writing
Storytelling Communications

How Facebook Live Videos Transformed My Freelance Writing Business

10 Minute Read

It takes a heck of a lot of work to be a solopreneur. Did you know that? I mean, I assumed it would be busy, that’s for sure, but I certainly didn’t, and couldn’t, understand it until I was going through it. While there are hundreds of duties you assume as the CEO of your freelance writing career, making yourself visible to potential clients (while building on your relationships with current clients) is one of the toughest and most strenuous jobs you’ll have.

First, you choose a visibility strategy. If you’ve been writing for years, your go-to will be creating a blogging campaign and sharing those posts out online. Then, you’ll network in social media groups and promote your services. Maybe you’ll take it a step further and create products you can sell via your freelance writing website. You’re working hard, yet sometimes it seems as if all this (unpaid) hard work is falling on deaf ears. You’re ready to try something new but you can’t invest much more money into your marketing communications, so what do you do?

It’s time you consider recording live videos on Facebook.

I started filming live videos because everyone else in my Facebook business groups seemed to be doing it. For real. I was watching as these entrepreneurs grew their businesses by connecting with their audiences on a deeper level than they could with writing. Their reach was visibly growing, and I was left with a sinking feeling that some of my peers were suddenly sprinting past me. The way I saw it, I had two choices: I could wade in my jealousy, or I could join them.

Ah, but live videos presented more and more obstacles. Not only would I need to change out of my loungewear, but I’d also need to slap on some makeup and find a spot in my house that looked presentable enough to be filmed but was far enough out of earshot of my napping daughter.

But I worked through all these things . . . and I did it. And it was scary. Then it wasn’t scary anymore. It was successful. Very successful. Much more successful than I’d thought possible. The first day I went live, I had a former colleague contact me to ask if I had availability . . . immediately. In just one week of consistent posting, I gained over 100 followers on my Facebook page. Countless acquaintances sent me messages to ask me to expand on something they heard in the video or to ask questions for me to answer in future live appearances. I was booked up with discovery calls from people who wanted to know if we’d make a good fit to work together.

My videos were getting noticed, and as pleased as I was, this right-brained, creative girl wanted to understand why this particular marketing method worked so well, so that I could continue to ride the momentum.

Going live the first time is super scary, y’all. Anything could happen. Your children could interrupt screaming, “HI!” in the background, items near your camera could crash into view, or your phone could shut off in the middle of the recording (because there are thousands of pictures you’d failed to delete and no storage for anything else). How do I know? Well, in my short career of filming live videos, all of those happened to me. Now, I highly doubt people are simply watching my videos in anticipation of the next big mistake. So, why are they tuning in, and what makes them want to work with me after watching?

It’s simple. Being real creates a connection. When your audience relates to you, connects with you, they’re more likely to want to do business with you. If you want to build a relationship in order to boost your bottom line, here are a few tips that you must follow.

scaredy cat facebook live

Stop Being a Scaredy Cat

You don’t have to lecture me about being nervous to go live. I know all the excuses: I don’t know what to talk about, I’m not good on camera, What will my friends/coworkers/former classmates/next-door neighbor think when they see me on video? I get it, but I can’t feel bad for you. If you want something enough, you’re going to put the effort into it. Period. End of story.

And if you feel nervous about your looks or the physical space around you, well . . . get over yourself. I know, I’m being harsh, but I also know how easily these thoughts can derail your momentum. I didn’t go live once because I had too many wild hair frizzies that couldn’t be tamed. It was a wasted opportunity. No one cares if you have a curtain or wood paneling as a backdrop, or if the shirt you’re currently wearing is the same one you wore in a video last week. If you’re providing value to your audience, they’ll feel connected and satisfied. Plus, they have frizzies, favorite shirts, and awkward rooms in their home, too. No one is perfect.

Start Being a Storyteller

Meet Sasha Gray, the powerhouse behind Lipstick, Margaritas and Hairspray, which has over 230,000 followers on Facebook. She does live videos Monday through Saturday mornings with a longer “Scattered Sasha” show on Tuesday evening. Her reach is immense and her fan following is loyal. But why? It’s simple: Sasha’s presence is contagious. She is a strong storyteller who shares her thoughts and insights about daily life with her following. She’s also not afraid to make mistakes, be silly, or speak her mind. She doesn’t do anything to gain an audience. They’re attracted to her.

So, why am I telling you about her? Because you’re a storyteller, too. You have all the tools you need to capture the attention of your viewers. Use your way with words to engage your audience, and while you’re finding your footing, you’ll gain a following.

Image attribution: Michael Bentley

Image attribution: Michael Bentley

Mistakes are Unavoidable. Embrace Them.

If you’re going to go live, expect there to be many mistakes that happen throughout your video journey. Gray says, “Of course you hope you won’t make them, but you do! Just remember that mistakes are what make you real to someone. People want to do business with people like them—real, everyday humans that they know, like, and trust.” So, be that person, mistakes and all.

As Renee Hribar, founder of the Entrepreneurial Parents Movement and host of The “S” Word LIVE! says, “If you make a mistake and hate it—some mistakes are good and make you more relatable—but if you hate it, delete it.” If you mess up in the middle of a live video, end it and don’t post it to your timeline. Just the other day, when I first went live, I realized that I had mascara all over one of my eyelids, but someone had just clicked on my video and announced themselves. What did I do? I said, “Whoops, I’ll be right back.” I didn’t post that one-minute clip; I fixed my makeup job and started over again. Give yourself a little grace when things aren’t perfect.

Also, know that you might not be the person making the mistake, either. Facebook Live is still a baby, and it can be temperamental. Not only do you have to laugh off your own mistakes, but you have to prepare for the random technical issues that happen with live filming. Hribar understands how frustrating it can be to experience these glitches, and takes steps to try to prevent them. She says, “I become my first viewer. This helps to make sure I have audio and that I am actually live. I started doing this after having done a 20-minute live video, wondering why no one showed up, and pressing finish, only to have the screen popup reading, ‘You have to have gone live at least four seconds.’ WHAAATT?!? I just went live for 20 minutes!”

Provide Value to Your Viewers

There are many ways to film a video that shares strategic, valuable content. The first is being ready to perform. Gray says, “Have notes. Know what you want to say and get it out. Be prepared, but not over prepared. Be a little spontaneous.” Start with a story for the lede and use what you’ve learned in your freelance writing career to develop a few key points that will provide immense value to your readers. Once your outline is ready, so are you.

And don’t be stingy with the information you share, either. Hribar says, “My mantra on all things is ‘Give all that you’ve got.’ You will never tell someone too much that would prevent them from hiring you.” This means you can share writing tips, SEO ideas, marketing tactics—whatever it is that your following would benefit from. If you’ve niched down, talk about the topics your ideal audience understands (or wants to understand!).

Engage, Engage, Engage

Your audience isn’t watching you live because they want to see you. If they simply wanted to watch you speak, they could skip the live version and watch the replay when you post it to your page. The reason they enjoy the live version is because it makes them feel as if they are communicating directly with you. Gray says, “The connection you can make with the people in that moment is phenomenal, and they really want that connection, as well. It feels like a personal conversation between two people, even if it may be 200 people watching.”

The best way to engage your viewers is to ask questions of them. Hribar says, “Ask simple, easy-to-answer questions. The goal is lots of comments to increase organic reach.” To engage her audience right away, Hribar asks viewers to say “hello” when they join and share a personal fact, such as where they are or what they do. She asks questions throughout the video. “I premeditate calls to comment that are simple and easy to answer, and then stop and sip my water or tea, or just breathe for a second to give them a chance to answer,” she says.

To encourage viewers to engage with you, read their comments and questions out loud as they appear. Use their name when you repeat it, too. Say, “Amanda just said, ‘Oh my goodness. I can’t wait to try this out.” Then, follow up with a comment to her. Suggest that she come back into the comments and let everyone know her results. If people think that there is a possibility that you are going to address them during your video, they’ll be more likely to participate.

Don’t Stop Once You’re Finished Recording

You may think you’re done with your marketing efforts once you’ve finished recording, and technically, you’re right, but only if you take the easy way out. There is so much you can do to boost your reach and make your videos more enticing. First, if you want to increase your reach, you’ll share your video. If you posted on your business page, like I do, share it on your personal page, in your Facebook group, and any other groups you’re involved in (but only if that’s allowed).

Next, edit your videos. Make sure they have titles and include smart keywords in the video tags. You can even tag people you mentioned in the video or check yourself into a location (like a coffee shop) if you’re filming outside of your home. Then, generate captions so that the viewers who can’t hear you will be able to read along as you talk. Digiday reports that 85 percent of Facebook Live videos are watched without sound. Take that one in for a moment. Why bother recording these videos if you’re audience isn’t going to be able to hear you? Captions solve that problem. #NoHeadphonesNeeded

One more thing: develop the connections you’ve created. “Do follow up and make a point to connect in a genuine way with those who engage live or on the replay with your live streams. They took the time to watch you. They are raising their hand saying ‘I’m interested,’ in some way,” says Hribar. They may be potential clients. Nurture the lead and build the relationship.

Are you ready to add live videos to your marketing plan for 2017? Film your first or next video and leave the link in the comments!

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Erin Ollila graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. After a 12+ year career in human resources – specializing in employee health and dental benefits, as well as wellness programs– she's jumped headfirst into digital strategy and content creation. Erin believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She lives in Southeastern Massachusetts, neighboring Providence, Rhode Island, one of her favorite small cities. Learn more about her at

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