Guest Post from Ashlee @ Work From Home Happiness
Landing your first client is one of many major milestones you’ll reach along the way in your freelance career. But if you’ve yet to take the direct approach to getting work, it can seem like a huge undertaking to track down and approach prospective clients.
Thankfully, social media has made it a lot easier to sell your services directly without ever feeling like you’re making a sales pitch. With the right social media marketing strategy combined with your own talent, you can use social media’s far reach to help you get the first of many direct clients.
Focus on the Right Social Media Platforms for You
Keeping up with multiple social media accounts can be a full-time job in and of itself. To get the most out of your time and efforts, focus on a social media platform or two. It’s better to have a couple of accounts that are done really well rather than ten profiles setup that are all lacking.
But how do you know which platforms to focus on? Figure out where your clients are. If you are a designer, photographer, or any other type of visual artist, your clients probably hang out on similarly visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. If you offer professional or consultative services, LinkedIn may be a better fit. Whatever your freelancer offerings are, find your clients and go there.
Use Your Profiles to Your Advantage
As a freelancer, your social media profiles act as your online business card, so make sure they represent you well! You wouldn’t hand out a physical card that was missing important information like what you do and the services you offer, and you don’t want to let your social media profiles similarly suffer.
Take the time to fill out all details completely like ‘about me’ sections and contact information, upload a professional profile picture, and share samples of your work. Don’t be shy—your profile is the one place to showcase you and your talents.
Make it Search Friendly
Social media itself has become somewhat of a marketplace for clients when looking to find talent. A few well-placed and targeted keywords relevant to your industry throughout your profile increase your likelihood of being found when potential clients do social media searches. But don’t overdo it! You always want to write your profile for humans first and search bots second.
Use Hashtags for Help
Using hashtags are an effective way to find potential clients and also be found by clients on social media. Instagram and Twitter are probably the most well-known social media channels for their hashtag use, but Facebook and Google+ are hashtag-friendly too. When you’re looking to make connections, a quick hashtag search can provide a long list of potential clients tweeting and posting within your industry.
You can even use a free service like Twitonomy to find which hashtags influencers in your industry are using. If their choice of hashtags is working for them, you can be sure it can work for you too. Try incorporating some of them into your own updates to make it that much easier to be found the next time a business is looking for a #freelancer to get work done.
Be Resourceful, Not Forceful
As a freelancer you’re selling your services, but that doesn’t mean you have to always be pitching them. No one likes to be sold to and that includes potential clients. Constantly hard selling on social media is a quick way to put clients off before you even land your first one.
Instead, be a valuable resource of relevant industry information. Try to share trending news in your field, aim to make insightful comments, and link to interesting articles whenever you can. When people come to rely on you as an expert in your field, you will become the go-to source for clients looking to hire talent.
Don’t Sit on the Sidelines
Social media marketing is not a spectator’s sport. You need to be an active participant if you want to get noticed. A good way to be social and increase your online presence is to join social media groups. LinkedIn and Facebook both have very active interest-specific groups that make it easy to connect with like-minded individuals within your industry.
When you comment on posts and photos, like links, and share things from others, you begin to form relationships. And since people like to work with people they feel like they already know, you stand a better chance of being offered a gig when you get to know others by sharing and participating on social media.
Be Authentic, Not Automated
It’s tempting to save time by using one of the many popular automation tools for maintaining a social media presence. But an automated approach won’t be nearly as authentic as taking the time to thoughtfully put your own touch on what you post and share.
Potential clients will appreciate it when you take the time to read what they’re sharing or add to an active discussion with your own comments. Generic, off-topic, or randomly scheduled responses make you appear absent and inattentive—certainly not the impression you want to make as a freelancer!
When you take the time to see what’s going on in your industry and stay current on what potential clients are doing by actively engaging, you put yourself in a much better position to land a gig more than any automated version of yourself ever could.
Stick With It
Social marketing success as a freelancer doesn’t always come overnight. The best marketing campaigns are built on consistency! Remember to concentrate your efforts on a social channel or two and remain actively engaged. Before you know it, you’ll have a roster of clients offering a steady stream of work and referrals. And, as many freelancers can attest, lots of work and happy clients is one surefire way to achieve freelance success.
Ashlee Anderson is a freelance writer and blogger who embraces the gig economy and enjoys helping others find happiness in working on their own terms. You can follow her experiences as a freelancer and find actionable ideas and advice about remote, home-based, and location-independent opportunities at Work From Home Happiness.