Struggling to find freelance work through traditional channels can be hard graft that often doesn’t reward the time you spend looking for jobs. As the power of social media grows, many businesses are turning to social media platforms to source their freelancers. However, there are few freelancers taking advantage of this, and even fewer that know how to promote themselves, their product or their service on social media. For anyone still washing around in the doldrums of e-tender or reverse auction sites, read on to see if you could benefit from leveraging social media.
Which Social Media Platform for Your Business?
It’s important to know where your desired clients might be hiding. In many cases it’s easy to use the platforms’ respective search functions to find appropriate businesses, but in order to do that effectively, you’ll need to know what industries are covered best by which platforms.
Twitter is a hive of activity for technology and media, offering plenty of resources for both journalists and programming freelancers. LinkedIn offers a wealth of opportunity for consultants of almost every kind, while Pinterest and YouTube, with their more visual cores are best for any kind of artistic or visual product or service. Facebook is an odd one, as it’s so massive that there are few industries that are poorly covered. However, the nature of Facebook means that while a billion users is an attractive audience, getting seen amongst the noise can be difficult.
Finding Work on Twitter
The great thing about Twitter, and what makes it such a powerful tool for finding work, is that the search functionality is highly customizable (just search for ‘freelance’ or ‘outsource’ with the hashtag ‘job’, for example) allowing you to quickly build up a list of followed organizations that will bring the job opportunities to you. However, simply waiting for someone to pick you doesn’t really work too well, and it’s sensible to start building relationships with the real players early.
This can be done through PMs, retweets and interaction with their tweets. The more you can show that you understand both their company and the industry, the more you’re likely to be able to put them on your client list. While your bio doesn’t allow you to show too much of your work, make sure you link to your online portfolio, allowing potential clients to see you work without even having to ask.
Finding Work on Facebook
Facebook is best used as an online portfolio that offers clients an easy way to see your work and interact with you in one easy package. However, it’s well worth creating a separate account or business page to avoid clients seeing pictures of your last night out with your friends. Searching for businesses within your industry can yield contacts, but job offers are not as common as on Twitter.
Leveraging that portfolio can be as easy as sending a personal message. However, the people managing the account are often less important in the commissioning process than those on Twitter. That said, it can be useful to build a relationship with those managing the account to give you an advocate on the inside of a company. You can also use your personal account to simply ask around, which in my experience often yields great potential contacts that you can approach outside of social media.
Finding Work on LinkedIn
Despite LinkedIn being based around business, there’s surprisingly little virality to it. This is a social media platform that is all about direct, targeted communication. You need to put in the legwork, find the discussion groups that suit you and make yourself seen over everyone else. There are a number of things that can increase your visibility, though.
Firstly, and most simply, every time you make a contact, you’re putting your face on another lot of newsfeeds. Keep building contacts appropriate to your business – making sure you stagger them out – and you’re increasing your visibility. You will also find it beneficial to join discussion groups within your target industry, as many of the topics are about outsourcing, giving you the opportunity to become a respected voice in that circle. Don’t forget to also join groups of peers, such as designers joining a design group, as you’ll get valuable advice and leads for free.
However, the most important thing is to directly contact your target businesses with structured proposals and on-spec work. Treat it like your own, personal job agency, and you’ll find that building direct relationships on LinkedIn can be every bit as effective as any other, more popular platform.
Finding Work on Pinterest and YouTube
Realistically Pinterest and YouTube offer online portfolio links that clients can access very easily. Most types of freelancer shouldn’t think too much about making Pinterest and YouTube their main source of work within social media. The only real exception would be performing arts.
Think of these platforms as points of reference to potential employers if you work in a visual medium. Designers and filmmakers can use these platforms effectively, but it’s always worth thinking about other, more specific platforms such as Sortfolio.com.
Keeping the Ball Rolling
One key thing to remember about social media is that it doesn’t pay to be static. Even when you have plenty of work coming in, make time to keep your social media outlets active. This means that you’ll always be building your social media reputation and visibility. Also, don’t forget your blog in all of this, and make sure you use it to produce authentic, expert content that will bring companies to you through links on your social media platforms.
Whatever you do, the social media route to finding work can take a little time, so make sure you’re not relying on it as a quick-fix safety net for when your other work becomes thin on the ground.Tags: facebook, Social, social media, Twitter