Creating an Online Presence as a Top Notch Freelancer
The greatest challenge freelancers face as small business owners is developing a consistent funnel of clients, attracting new prospective clients into the fold and maintaining existing clients for long term partnership. Relying solely on job boards to substantiate your workflow as an outsourcing agent is both tedious and tiresome. While an important piece to the freelancer puzzle, long term entrepreneurial success in the content provision arena lays with developing a reputation as a top notch freelancer who clients proactively seek out. Creating a powerful online presence that attracts prospective clients through social media sets the stage for an organic funnel that delivers new projects straight to your doorstep, removing the reliance on the competitive rat race of job board lotteries.
Social media is a game-changing tool that gives every freelancer the ability to put their best foot forward across a variety of platforms, sparking interest in potential leads and confirming expertise in your field. Many freelancers miss the power of this opportunity by only phoning in the basics on the platforms most likely to be frequented by their target market. Social media engagement is not a repetitive series of logging in to deliver a mountain of impersonal “cold calls” to random connections with the hopes of securing a nibble of interest. Social media is a strategic web of tactics and opportunities to establish your brand, creating a solid network of leads and clients that will set the stage for your career as a freelancer.
Create and Optimize Dynamic Profiles
Many freelancers make the mistake of only filling out the very basic information on their social media profiles. Especially on LinkedIn, a robust representation of your brand, your portfolio and your expertise is paramount to convert interested leads to purchasing clients. Completing your profiles and optimizing them with appropriate content allows prospective clients to get a 360 degree view of how you can support their outsourcing needs. Your social media profiles are often your first impression! Just as you would deliver a strong resume at an in-person interview, you must similarly design a dynamic representation online that allows your talent to shine!
- Develop consistent messaging and branding that create a solid picture of “you” so that leads can easily recognize you across a variety of platforms.
- Complete all profiles fully and take advantage of the creative tools and options that allow you to list all of your accomplishments, qualifications, body of work and talents.
- Use engaging and professional images that colorfully reflect your personality appropriately.
- Avoid sharing inappropriate personal commentary, photos or updates that should be saved for those profiles where you engage friends and family and not prospective business partners.
It’s important to note that completing your social media profiles to the fullest extent refers to the professional content that prospective leads would be seeking in order to confirm their interest in your creative ability. It does not mean that you must project personal information that is sensitive in nature or poses a security risk. Safety first!
Do Your Homework and Get to Know Your Target Market
Small business owners from all walks of life often express frustration when it comes to social media, succumbing to the annoyance of feeling like they are “talking to themselves.” While growth on social media is a marathon, not a race, there are tools that you can use now and homework you can do today to better understand your target market and how you can engage them successfully. Attracting clients through social media does not happen by accident. You cannot “set it and forget it.”
- Use search tools and reporting metrics to track hashtags and topics to find ones that align with your brand so that you can deliver content that is important and relevant to your audience.
- Define your ideal client and explore which platforms they frequent on social media, along with how and when they frequent them so that you can show up in the right place at the right time.
- Regularly review your engagement online to measure which types of posts and which content is more popular among your audience and which strategies are falling flat.
Build a Social Media Strategy
When you engage on social media or develop profiles to attract prospective clients, you are developing the marketing campaigns that your business relies on to grow and excel. Similar to any direct mail campaigns or other outbound strategies that you design to market your business, your social media efforts should have purpose. The next logical step to take after researching and defining your target market is to put a strategy in place to convert prospective clients to sales dollars.
- Clearly define expectations with anyone who engages as you on social media, along with how, when and where the strategies will take place and make sure you’re on the same page.
- Set S.M.A.R.T. goals that create the metrics with which you can measure your success, taking the time to review and adjust as needed to continue forward momentum.
Remember Service Over Sales
Social media is built on a mutual interest in developing relationships where everyone wins. Many business owners make the mistake of talking “at” their target market instead of engaging “in” a dialogue “with” their prospective clients. Yes, sharing relevant unique content that you have developed is important, but your social media attitude should always focus on service first and making the sale second. Genuine interest in the needs of your audience develops the trust that fuels conversions.
- Show support and active engagement in your communities of interest to establish a reputation as someone genuinely interested in the collective needs over your personal sales pitch.
- Organically develop your reputation as a thought leader in your industry by freely giving support, guidance and insights to your audience to help them build trust in your authority.
- Ask questions to better understand your audience, their needs and personal interests, seeking to learn more about them so that you can serve them better.
- Ditch the sales pitch by creating authentic, mutually beneficial relationships that keep YOU (your personality, your character, your ethics) in the forefront of their thoughts, so that they become your cheerleaders and sales pitch when natural conversion opportunities arise.
There’s a repetitive theme weaving through each of these recommendations for attracting clients through social media. It’s not about you! Effectively engaging on social media means delivering on the information and needs of your followers, not your personal interests in winning over their sales. Generosity and genuine connections reign on social media, so special treats like free webinars, discounts or giveaways can have long term payouts that make the short term investment well worth its while. Simply put, the more you give, the more you get. Social media gives you the ultimate opportunity to be your very best you, creating a personal connection that propels your professional authority forward in a dynamic trust-filled fashion that has exponentially more momentum than a generic sales pitch. With a little strategy and a whole lot of heart, social media can build a rock solid funnel of professional opportunity that will promise a long-term successful career as a freelancing agent.