Social media is unavoidable if you work online. Many freelancers try to avoid it because they don’t want to reveal too much of their personal life or they just don’t understand it. But once you start working for yourself, marketing becomes part of your job and in our time, social media is a big part of marketing.
If you are still hesitant to get involved in social networking sites, maybe these 15 reasons for freelancers to use social media will convince you!
1. Build a Brand
YOU are your brand so you need to make your name (or your business name) the first thing that people think about when they are talking about the services that you offer. When you create a brand, it helps people understand what you represent, what you offer, and even what you believe in. People connect with brands that are out there connecting with them!
2. Establish Yourself as an Expert
Do you have a niche that you specialize in? If you’re a freelance writer you might specialize in something like health and fitness or careers or social media. If you’re a freelance graphic designer you might specialize in social media graphics or ebook covers. A virtual assistant might specialize in WordPress installation and maintenance or writing business letters. If you are active on social media networks, it gives you the chance to show that you are an expert in your niche.
In order to become an expert in your niche you need to stay on top of what is new and trending. You can do this by following other experts, industries, and people that are involved in your area of specialty. You can also follow topics with hashtags on Twitter and Facebook so that you can see what people are saying about the niche that you work in and learn more about their needs.
4. Discover Offline Networking Opportunities
Although networking online is very important, there is nothing that can compare with meeting people face to face. Through social media networks, you can discover where events are happening and when and who will be involved. Pick an event to go to, connect with some of the main people involved, and get ready to make connections in real life that can lead to solid jobs in the future.
5. Get Recommendations
When you are looking for a new business tool – perhaps new software or a program – it is good to find out what other people think. Your closest friends may have no clue what you are talking about when you ask if they’ve tried any dictation programs lately but if you have a social network of people who work in the same field as you do, you can easily find out what programs work and which ones don’t.
6. Generate Ideas
If you do any kind of creative work, you know how easily it can be to get blocked. One day you’re zooming along with an article and all of a sudden you’re stuck. Social media provides you with ideas, topics, and tips that can lead to becoming unblocked and have you working again in no time.
7. Find a Mentor
If you are new to the world of working online, a mentor can be invaluable. A mentor can help you to learn the ins and outs of your trade, find tools, give you tips on getting jobs, and more. There are paid mentors and there are people who mentor others just for the pleasure of being helpful. If you’re active on social networks, it will make it easier to find a mentor that can help you.
8. Promote Through Guest Posting
Guest posting can be an excellent way of sharing your knowledge and expertise while directing potential clients back to your site. On social media sites you can find others who have blogs that are in the niche that you work in. Ask them if they would be interested in having you do a guest post. Bamidele Onibalusi, the owner of the Writers in Charge blog, is a young man from Nigeria who built a very successful freelance writing business with guest blogging.
9. Find Out Who is Hiring
One of the hardest parts of working online is finding the jobs. Sure, you can look on job boards or craigslist.org to find people who are hiring but how many other people are applying for those jobs? If you have your eyes open on social media, you can see who hires people in your niche. They may casually comment that their writer did a great job or that they love the new Facebook picture from their graphic designer. They might not be actively hiring right now, but in the future they may and if you’re connected with them on social networks, you’ll find out about it quickly. Why not contact them? Or at least keep your eye on them so when they are looking for someone you will be there.
10. Find Out Where the Market is Lacking
With as many freelancers as there are on the Internet, there is always something that webmasters and business owners want that they can’t find. What is it? Well, that’s what you need to find out. If you are engaging in conversation on social media, you may see someone say, “I have everything I need except ____. No one seems to be offering those services!” (not in those exact words of course). Can you do that? It could be a great way to add value to the services you already offer.
11. Create and Launch Your Own Product
If you are a freelancer, the chances are that you likely have the skills to create your own product. Services are great but you have to keep doing the work again and again. But if you utilize your skills to create a product that people can buy again and again, you only have to do the work once. If you have a large social network of people that are likely to buy that product, it is much more likely to be a success.
12. Target Your Job Search
In the offline world, I write about careers a lot. One of the things that I constantly tell people is that they need to research the companies that they want to work for. The same can apply to the online world. If you want to be successful, target your job search. Pick 5 companies that you would love to work for (it doesn’t matter why you want to work for them). Follow them on Twitter, Like their Facebook Page, look them up on LinkedIn, circle them on Google+ and subscribe to their blog and their email newsletter. The more you know about them, the more likely you will be to get the job when you find out that they are hiring or when you send a cold email.
13. Market Yourself Locally
While many people who work online focus on work that they can do by making connections to people that likely live far away from them, you can find work locally doing the same things you are already doing online. Local businesses are likely to need writers, social media managers, graphic designers and more. Connect with these local businesses through social media and see how you can help them.
14. Make Your Website More Visible
If you work online, you likely have a web site where you introduce yourself and make your services known. You may have samples of your work and testimonials from your clients. The thing with having a web site is that people need to find it for it to help you get work. In the past, you might have relied on Google search and used keywords. With the many algorithm changes that Google has implement in the past year or so, that isn’t necessarily enough anymore. Search engines rely on social networks as one of the ways that they determine the importance of a site and thus, where it should appear in the search engines. So, use social media to link to your site. If you’ve built up a following, others will share your links to your site, too. This will make your site become more visible both to search engines and to potential clients.
15. Keep Up with Your Competition
What are other freelancers doing? What kinds of services are they offering? What are they charging? Who is hiring them? By knowing what your competition is up to, you can make sure that the services that you provide have as much value, or more, than that of other freelancers in your niche. Keep a close eye on them and find out what they are not offering that you could provide clients and give them more value than the competition. Clients don’t mind paying more if they can see that what you offer is better than they next guy. You could also offer an upsell product or service that other freelancers in your niche don’t offer. For example, if you’re a freelance writer and you work out an agreement with a client to write some kind of content, you might offer him social media services or blog maintenance, too. Why should your clients go to someone else for those additional services if they can get them from someone that they are already working with?
Social Media – Here to Stay
There’s no doubt that social media is going to be around for a long time. The venues may change over time, but now that people are hooked on social media, businesses and webmasters will utilize it for connecting with their customers. And if your clients are connecting through social networks, you should be, too.