Decided to go freelance? Or just interested in learning more before you take the plunge? Whatever work you plan to be doing as a freelancer, social media should be an important part of your marketing plan. It is an essential part of any business now and freelancers are no exception. Unfortunately there are a lot of myths and assumptions out there when it comes to social media marketing.
It guarantees more sales
Some people think that if you just tweet your services clients will suddenly come swarming in. First of all, no one likes sales tweets, we’ve evolved to just ignore them. Secondly, social media is huge. Twitter is good for glancing over things and collecting small digestible bits of information but there is a lot of it. Millions of tweets are sent every minute and most people ignore most of them. You need to stand out and be relevant.
Results are immediate
Building your social media profiles take time. You will not be noticed immediately so don’t be too disheartened. You need to build up a solid profile with regular updates and communicate with other users. If you are providing quality, useful and interesting content, others will share it.
Everything is a competition
In a way it is, you’re competing for time and attention from your audience. This doesn’t mean you should treat it like a race or a fight though. In fact you should reach out and share other people’s content, even if they’re in the same industry as you and are technically a competitor. Sharing content helps to build relationships and makes others more likely to reciprocate.
Followers are a priority
Of course you will want to build up your following, the more people who know about you the better, right? While that’s not wrong, followers are not the only important thing to consider. Some businesses will go out and buy a ton of fake followers to gain what they think is credibility. Why? None of them are going to visit your website and pay for your services.
Similarly, random followers, even legitimate ones are not particularly valuable if they’re not engaged with your content. A lot of people will follow you in the sole hope that you follow back to up their numbers. When you don’t, or even if you do, they soon disappear.
You should be trying to make contacts in your field, not getting anyone and everyone to hit the follow button. It doesn’t matter that someone else has thousands of followers. They might have been going longer, have fake followers, or maybe they’re offering something you’re not. You can learn a lot from your competitors. Take a look at what they’re doing right and see how you can apply the same principles to your profiles (without copying).
The number of people sharing your content on the other hand is a bit more relevant. Again, some will do it just so you do the same for them. However, most will share content they think will be relevant for their followers. This is opening up a new potential line of relevant, engaged readers. Focus on content and engagement, and the followers will go up on their own.
Social media is enough
If social media is your only current marketing method, you need to step up your game. Writing posts that say ‘hire me’ or ‘visit my website’ are not enough. Everyone is saying the same. You need to entice people to visit your site by giving them something they want or need. Free content, tips and advice are popular ways of getting more traffic onto your website and social media profiles.
If you want clients to hire you, you also have to go out and find them rather than waiting for them to come to you. One way you can do this is by cold emailing, emailing businesses and offering your services. You can also apply to job boards for freelancers, although content mills are best avoided whenever possible. Eventually, you will have to less of this because your work should start coming from recommendations.
Social media tips
It can be tempting to sign up to every social media site under the sun in the hope that you’ll be seen by more people. That may be true but what if you’re not being seen by the right people? You could be spending hours and hours on Instagram only to find out that your target market love Twitter instead.
The key to any kind of marketing is knowing who you’re selling to. The better you understand the needs of your audience, the sooner you can convert them to sales or sign ups. With that in mind, here are a couple of tips for some of the main social media sites:
If you want to use Facebook, you should think about setting up a business page to keep it separate from your personal profile. Many freelancers also make use of Facebook groups to share content, advice and find work. If you contribute regularly, without spamming, you can build a support network of freelancers who might end up recommending each other for jobs when they’re busy.
Twitter is good for sharing quickly digestible content. You can use it to share links to blog posts and reach a wider audience through the use of hashtags and trends. You need to stand out amongst the hundreds of other people doing the same thing and avoid being scrolled over.
Pinterest is probably not everyone’s first thought when it comes to marketing a business but it has quickly become a popular way of doing so. People are increasingly promoting their blog posts by creating Pinterest friendly graphics for each post. They are eye-catching and easy to share and save for later. Some people even use Pinterest as a way to display their portfolio. You could pin articles you’ve written or things you’ve designed and create a portfolio board. Each pin can then link back to your website.
LinkedIn is like a professional Facebook. You can build a profile of your career or business and include things like details and examples of previous work, testimonials and skill highlights. You can connect to previous employers and future clients. If you don’t already have a website, LinkedIn is probably the best place to start because the profile is an easy way to connect and show what you’re offering.
Other ones you might want to take a look at are Instagram, Flickr, Youtube or Google+. It will depend largely on the kind of content you’re pushing. Facebook is better for longer posts but Twitter is good for quick updates. If you’re a photographer, then visual based sites will be better, Instagram, Flickr or Pinterest.
Only you can decide what is best for your business and it’s fine to experiment. But don’t abandon ship. A social media account which you don’t update makes you look careless or suggests that you’ve gone out of business. Start slow and build, listen to your audience and then give them what they want.
How are you using social media for your freelance business? What other tips would you give beginners? Let us know in the comments below.