Freelancing is all about making positive connections and building relationships. The more relationships that you build, the greater your pool of potential customers.
That’s why, as a freelancer, I like to examine different means of connecting online. Today, I’ll examine question and answer (Q & A) sites and provide a mini review for fourteen popular Q & A sites.
Why Q & A Sites Can Help Freelancers
A question and answer site is exactly what it sounds like. A site where users can go to ask or answer questions. Some sites are specialized within a particular field, while others are broad and encompass just about anything
Depending on the site, freelancers may get four potential benefits from participating in a question and answer site:
- Branding–Probably one of the biggest benefits that a question and answer site offers is that it gives you the opportunity to brand yourself as an expert in a particular field by creating well-written and informative answers.
- SEO–Some question and answer sites are indexed by search engines and provide SEO benefits to the users. (However, this is not true of all Q & A sites, so if this is your primary reason for participating research carefully.)
- Traffic–Well-written and informative answers can attract other users to your profile, which should include a link to your own freelance website.
- Connections–Finally, participating in a Q & A site gives you the chance to interact with others and building connections with others.
There are actually dozens of question and answer sites on the web, but not all are created equal. Some are more popular than others. Some are actually hybrids offering social media aspects or included as part of a larger social media platform. Finally, some are too small for most freelancers to benefit from or are too littered with spam to bother with.
Next, I’ll provide some information about fourteen of the most popular question and answer sites.
14 Q & A Sites for Freelancers to Consider
In alphabetical order, here is a summery of fourteen of the most popular question and answer sites:
- Amazon Askville–As the name implies, this is a subsidiary of Amazon. Questions can be sorted by category. Here you not only have the opportunity to share text answers, you can also include informative videos.
- Answers.com–Known for simple questions and answers. This is one of the older Q & A sites and has a huge variety of answers and participants. One drawback for freelancers is that there don’t seem to be any real user profiles here, so perhaps it is not a good option for making connections.
- Facebook Questions–Despite the popularity of Facebook, I didn’t even know that this feature existed until recently. Did you? This allows you to poll or ask questions to your friends and to their friends. Since questions are in the form of polls, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of ways to show your expertise. Facebook has also recently acquired friend.ly, another questions site.
- Fluther–Another relatively new Q & A site, this one has two levels of guidelines. One for serious answers and another for those who just want to socialize. The difficulty in finding questions specific to a particular field may make this one difficult for freelancers to use.
- Formspring–Questions and answers are limited to people you already know and interact with and those who are connected to them. Still, it could be way to show your expertise if you have a large number of connections.
- junglr.com–This is a new site, still in alpha testing, so it is difficult to tell what it will ultimately turn out to be like. It does look like it’s going to have a social media aspect and even badges, so there should be a chance to connect and build a brand here.
- LinkedIn Answers–This is a part of the major social network that is known for its ability to connect professionals. Don’t underestimate the value of answering a question here. LinkedIn Answers can be searched by topic and participation is targeted to those who are most interested.
- Mahalo Answers–A unique factor here is that answering Mahalo questions may earn you a very small reward in Mahalo dollars. However, as a freelancer the point here shouldn’t be to get rich through this site, but to share what you know about your field.
- Quora–This question and answer site is known for its tech vibe and a younger demographic. You’ll find the opportunity to share detailed answers on a number of topics specific to your field. The site offers the opportunity to complete a detailed user profile.
- Server Fault–This Q & A site has a very narrow focus. It is for system administrators and those in the IT business. If you are knowledgeable about security issues or an operating system (Linux or Windows) this may be for you.
- SimplyExplained–This site’s hook is that the users are “experts.” Experts are rated based on previous answers. You can search for experts on a particular topic. Your profile can include a link to your website.
- StackOverflow–This is a great site for sharing technical knowledge. The site is primarily used by programmers and developers. If you are knowledgeable in this area, this may be worth checking into.
- StackExchange–A brand new (still in Beta) Q & A site for professional graphic designers and others involved in the graphic design industry.
- Yahoo! Answers–Dating from 2005, this is one of the older question and answer sites on the Internet. Sadly it also contains a number of silly questions and spam. However, at least one expert believes that participating here can drive a significant amount of traffic to your blog.
Tips to Get the Most from Using a Q & A Site
First of all, follow the rules. Read the user guidelines or terms of service for any site that you make use of.
Next, make it easy for people to connect with you professionally. Fill out your user profile completely. Use the same profile, avatar, and username that you use elsewhere so that potential clients can find you online more easily. If the profile allows for it, also include a link to your freelancing site.
Finally, don’t be a spammer. Make sure that your answers are relevant and helpful.
What About You?
Have you used Q & A sites to build your online reputation? What sites would you recommend?
Share your answers in the comments.
Image by arturodonate