The challenges of freelancing don’t lie in the daily commute or finding the right outfit to wear to work. Instead we have to continually think of ways to market ourselves and drum up business. This isn’t always easy. Not only do we have to stay on top of our own game, but we have to consider all of the other freelancers who are vying for the same opportunities. The good news is that in 2010, there are plenty of options. Finding them is easy thanks to social media.
We all know social networks such as Twitter and Facebook are fun networking and socializing platforms, but they, along with other social media tools, can also be used to enhance your job search and help you to land more clients. While younger freelancers are eager to embrace social media, many “old schoolers” confess to “not getting it” or its importance.
Don’t underestimate the usefulness of social media, you never know what you might find beyond the regular job boards.
Social Media Tools for Freelancers
Everyone you meet on Twitter has the potential to become a client. If they’re not hiring freelancers, they may know people who are.
The power of Twitter lies in the ability to build relationships and create conversations with followers and the people who you follow. The people who you meet on Twitter:
- Share job opportunities: Some Twitterers enjoy sharing what they feel to be good freelance opportunities. Others actually hook up their Twitter stream to freelance job search sites and blogs. Find the Tweeps who share your same interests and goals and share gigs together.
- Share useful links: The best thing about Twitter is how there are always opportunities to learn. Every day yields links to blog pots, news items, videos and cool things to do. How does this benefit freelancers? Because there’s always the opportunity to learn and become inspired by the world around us. Twitter is the world around us.
- Share your links: Once you have built relationships with your followers, share links to your blog posts, portfolios and more. Using Twitter also sends traffic to your blogs and website and help to build your name and reputation. Be careful not to become a spammer. Tweeting nothing but links is a turn off for most.
- Offer support: Your fellow freelancers are very supportive and offer tips and advice, especially if you have questions. You’ll also find collaborators, conversationalists and fans.
- Offer camaraderie: Working from home can be a lonely existence. Twitter’s water cooler effect helps to ease the solitude of a day spent alone in the home office.
Facebook holds the same networking and socializing benefits as Twitter plus more. Facebook offers the ability to build your own social network through their groups and fan pages. Many of these groups share jobs and opportunities. Look beyond the obvious “freelancing” groups and get nichey with it. For example, if you’re a blogger and who specializes in weddings, look beyond blogging for wedding groups and networks to join. Meet wedding planners and caterers. Meet musicians, brides and grooms. Once they know you, some of them are bound to hire you for their projects.
Many now offer job lists and links to available opportunities. The beauty of blogs lies in the comments, however, but blogs are more than job search tools. The benefits of blogs as networking venues abound. When you participate regularly in the discussion topics, your name becomes more familiar to people. Potential clients who appreciate your point of view will remember your name and contact you for their projects.
- Online forums: The communities share leads to jobs and job search advice.
- Linked In: In addition to Linked In’s job boards, you’ll find an online resume service and many groups for sharing job leads, links and tips. Join the networks of people with whom you wish to build relationships and have former clients offer references and recommendations.
- Blellow: A microblogging site for freelancers, Blellow also offers support groups and job leads.
- Twitter Job Search: A search engine featuring all the jobs posted on Twitter, Twitter Job Search allows you to search a variety of categories.
Knowing Who to Follow
So how do you know who to hang out with on the various social networks and blogs? To find folks to follow (and vice versa) simply search your interests. If you’re a web designer, by all means, visit the various design groups but also branch out to the niches that interest you most. Align yourself with the people who:
- Hire freelancers
- Know people who hire freelancers
- Outsource to other freelancers
- Share the same ideas and interests
- Have to potential to collaborate on ideas
- Inspire you
Be Careful What You Put Out There
Keep in mind that while using the social networks to find work, potential clients will be using the social networks to check on freelancers. Put your best foot forward. Build a professional profile and act appropriately so they feel as if can trust you with their brand. If you tend to get a little wild, you may want to consider a separate personal profile for fun.
It’s All About Relationships
Using social media is all about building relationships. Everyone you meet, both online and off, have the ability to become a client. When you talk with the same people every day, you build up trust. Trust leads to business. If you build it….they will come.