As someone who loves being around people, I see social media as my digital playground. All my friends are there, and there’s lots to see and do. When it comes to my freelance writing career, social media has continually given me a boost.
Today, many freelancers are leveraging their social media presences to book bigger and better clients. They’re building their audiences, sharing their work, and making themselves look attractive to recruiters and potential clients. Here’s how they’re doing it, and why it’s important.
When I worked in-house, I hired an extremely talented writer who I found through a freelance writing marketplace. He was one of the best freelancers I’ve ever worked with, and he was inexpensive. I always wondered why he didn’t charge more—until I began looking for info about him online.
Essentially, this freelancer had no information available on the internet. He had a website, but it was pretty bare bones, and I couldn’t find a photo of him anywhere. His LinkedIn profile was sparse, and he didn’t have a profile on Twitter or any other sites. Suddenly, I knew why he wasn’t charging more: he didn’t have a brand.
Molly Berry, community manager at Skyword, regularly recruits writers for various clients. “I look through everything: published work, personal websites for work, personal websites for blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, G+, Facebook, and the like,” she said. “If a writer is representing one of our clients, I need to make sure they look good across the board.”
According to Berry, the biggest mistake many freelancers make is forgetting the fact that some brands might consider freelancers to be their representatives. While it’s one thing to use social media to express yourself personally, it’s important to remember that you never know when a potential future client might be reviewing your sites to learn more about you, and to consider whether you’d be a good fit for its mission and brand voice.
“Think of the internet as one big resume,” Berry recommends. “If you’re thinking about posting something that seems borderline controversial, try to look at it from a potential client’s point of view.”
You may reason that your business of one doesn’t need a social media strategy, but if you spend a little bit of time developing one, you’re likely to see results. When you’re building a social strategy, focus on one or two sites, rather than every single one. Choose the one where your clients are most likely to hang out—according to Berry, Twitter is a major focus for many clients of late—and develop a strategy that keeps them front and center.
Tami Brehse, a marketing consultant based in West Palm Beach, FL, decided to see if automating her Tweets would result in more visits to her website. She set up a month’s worth of Tweets (60, to be exact, at two Tweets per day so as not to bombard her followers,) and waited for the results to roll in. After a month, Brehse found that she was able to drive 311 percent more traffic from Twitter in just by automating tweets. In all, her automation strategy resulted in nearly 50 percent more users, around 60 percent more pageviews, and an approximately 19 percent increase in average session duration.
Clients hire you for your expertise. If you want to attract the best brands, you should share your best work on social media—everything from links to recently published articles to screenshots of LinkedIn recommendations, and even Retweeted praise from clients. You can also Tweet about your work life, such as a new desk chair you bought, or how you’re excited to get started on a new article.
When you share what you’re working on, be as positive as possible. You don’t want your Twitter or Facebook feed to look like an endless rant about freelancing, or bad client behavior. Yes, you can Tweet whatever you want, but keep in mind that if you put down your clients on social, the bigger and better clients may not be interested in hiring you.
I have a big personality, and you can get a glimpse into just how weird I am if you find me on social media. When I first began freelancing, some warned me that I should turn it down a notch.” However, over time, I’ve learned that my big personality is actually what helps me land clients.
Since I began freelancing, I’ve found that my best clients are my biggest fans on social media. They share my stuff, favorite my Tweets, and tell me they love what I have to say. I am who I am, and part of why I started freelancing was so that I could bring more of myself into my career.
Even though I love to share my personality via social, I know that it may prevent some clients from hiring me. Some people may not buy into what I have to say and may be turned off by my honesty. For me, this is a way of ensuring that the clients who work with me are ones who get what I’m about.
If you’re just starting out as a freelancer, my advice is this: you may want to stay away from anything overly controversial. Berry put this well: “If you’re using [social media] for work, keep it clean. Take the election for example—having a positive opinion about a candidate is one thing, but sharing negative opinions about an unfavorable candidate is another.”
If you want to book bigger and better freelance writing clients using social media, keep the following in mind:
I’ve found that social media has been an integral part of growing my business. What’s your experience with social media been like? I’d love to hear. Connect with me on Twitter (@EmmaFayeS and Skyword @Skyword) to share your thoughts.