How to Really Use Twitter to Find More Freelance Work

“Twitter is vital to finding freelancing work.”

“Twitter a waste of time.”

If you’ve been around the freelancing community very long, you’ve probably heard both comments. But, which is it? Is Twitter an important way to find way for freelancers to find work, or is it a waste of a freelancer’s time?

The answer is…it depends.

It’s certainly possible to waste time on Twitter if you use it carelessly. It’s also possible to find work through Twitter. In this post we’ll discuss the how to make the most of Twitter as a job hunting and networking tool. If you’re interested in wasting time, I think you can figure that one out on your own. ;)


Learn All You Can

To get the most out of Twitter, you need to learn as much as you can about the tool. At Freelance Folder, we have a lot of great posts about Twitter. Four of the best to get you started are:

  1. Twitter For Freelancers (A Basic Overview)
  2. Five Ways to Generate Referrals or Followers with Twitter
  3. 3 Ways To Get Clients From Twitter
  4. How to Get Started with Twitter Lists

Once you’ve reviewed the basics of how to use Twitter and some of its features you’re ready to move on and optimize your Twitter account for finding freelance work.

Start With Your Profile

One of the biggest mistakes that I see freelancers making on Twitter is having a vague or incomplete Bio. If someone unfamiliar contacts me through Twitter, the first thing that I do is to click on their user name and view their Bio to learn more about the user.

More and more often, I’m finding that the Bio information is blank or meaningless. A blank Bio tells me nothing about the Twitter user. If your Twitter Bio is blank it means that prospective clients can’t find anything out about you either. This also means that they are much less likely to contact you about work.

As a minimum, a freelancer’s profile should contain a brief description of what they do (in the Bio) and a link back to their professional website (a portfolio or blog).

You can update your profile by selecting the Settings option on the main Twitter Menu and then selecting Profile from the Settings menu.

Follow the Right People

Another mistake that freelancers make is only following their friends or peers on Twitter.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with following friends and peers, but if you want to use your Twitter account to find work you also need to be following current clients and potential clients.

Take a look through your prospect list and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who would I like to do a project with?
  • Do they have a Twitter account?
  • Am I following them on Twitter?

It may take some sleuthing on your part to uncover the Twitter accounts of current and prospective clients, but in the long run your effort will be worth it.

A word about number of followers–there are many methods of gathering large numbers of Twitter followers quickly being promoted online. Most of these programs are largely ineffective for networking purposes. While you may be able to build your follower list quickly with such a program, it is unlikely that the followers gained are true prospects for your business. It is much better to have a smaller follower base that is truly interested in you and what you do.

What about the Who to Follow suggestions from Twitter? Are they likely to be good prospects?

The Who to Follow suggestions are based on Twitter’s own algorithm and right now they aren’t telling what that algorithm is. You’re much better off deciding who to follow based on the criteria that I listed above.

Have Quality Interactions

Do your tweets have personality?

Here are two mistakes that many freelancers on Twitter make:

  • Constantly sending out impersonal post announcements
  • Blindly tweeting for work

It’s okay to announce posts through tweets–especially if you take the time to make sure that you are sharing quality information. But, that shouldn’t be the sum total of what you do on Twitter.

Likewise, you shouldn’t constantly be tweeting about how you need work and nothing else. You wouldn’t go up to a stranger and open the conversation by asking for work before you introduced yourself, would you?

Take the time to have some personal interactions with those you follow (and those who follow you). You can do this in several ways:

  • Ask a question that requires a little bit of thought
  • Answer a question that requires a little bit of thought
  • Share something about your current projects

Pay attention to what others tweet. You never know when someone might share that they are hiring.

Don’t be afraid to use Twitter’s Direct Message feature if you want to ask a private question of someone you are following, but be careful not to flood anyone with too many private messages.

The Direct Message feature is the third option in the right column (under the Home option and your user name).

I’ve often used the Direct Message function to ask a follower for more details about a writing position, or followers have contacted me through this function.

Don’t Forget About Search

The Twitter search feature is another great way to look for projects on Twitter. There are two ways that you can use Twitter search:

  • Type a phrase (just like you would in Google)–The search tool brings up any recent tweets that contain that phrase.
  • Search using hash tags #–Hash tags are one way that Twitter users to tag their content. Some tags you might want to try include: #[yourspecialty]jobs (such as #designjobs, #writingjobs, etc), #jobs, #projects, and so on.

If you know of some Twitter users that regularly broadcast links to job openings, you may want to consolidate them using the Twitter List tool and check the list frequently.

The Twitter search tool is located on the right side of the Twitter window, between the Retweets and Lists options.

A Few Reminders

Twitter can be a powerful tool in your job-hunting arsenal, but it shouldn’t be your only tool. Just like with any other networking or social media strategy, finding jobs through Twitter takes time. You should view Twitter participation as a long-term investment in your business.

Share Your Thoughts and Experiences

Have you found work through Twitter?

What methods did you use? Share your answers in the comments.

Image by rosauraochoa

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Comments

  1. says

    Twitter is BRILLIANT at getting me work. I owe it a lot.

    I have got work from overseas (I’m in Australia) I got a couple of little jobs from New York, which also lead to me getting the confidence to to and get another client in the same field. I now have another big job I wouldn’t have thought to get without twitter.

    I have got a massive and regular client from Twitter. It was partly a referral from someone I had been chatting with on twitter for ages. The client was also on twitter, I answered a call for a freelancer and got it because my work is good, and I answered a second after they posted. They got the opinion from the other person, so it all worked. Now we tweet about projects coming up, which is good for them and me.

    Your article is great, I think people should focus on PR people, there are heaps on twitter and they have clients who want designers.

    Also, when you follow someone or someone follows you, make sure you say hi, either through a DM or just regular. It shows them you aren’t a robot, and starts the conversation.

    For me, I am alone at home/studio A LOT. I really like having people to chat to about stuff, I have a heap of other freelancers as followers and it’s great to have people to commiserate with about freelance life.

    It does take time, and you have to enjoy it or you will just sound like a jerk. But I have got some really great friends, and contacts and importantly WORK!! I have it on my iPhone so that helps with keeping in touch.

    Be funny, be random, but be CAREFUL. Don’t bitch about a client when they could find out. It’s all public (other than direct message) and it’s out there forever.

    Facebook is for seeing what the people you already know are doing, Twitter is for finding new people to have conversations with.

    Get into it!! My handle is KateBurns76 come follow me!

  2. says

    My first client came from Twitter and has turned out to be a great “friend I’ve never met.” I do completely agree with the concept that you have to enjoy tweeting. The ones who don’t tend to come off like electronic junk mail.

  3. says

    Very helpful article. Gaining and keeping followers on Twitter has turned out to be a very tricky endeavor. I lose followers all the time that turn out to be suspended spam accounts. And it seems like a lot of other techies who follow me will stop as soon as they feel they’re not directly benefiting form me, like I should be lifting them up at my own expense. And if you ever tweet about a belief or cause you hold very dearly, or care about a lot and feel is important enough to tweet about even on your professional account, be prepared to lose followers who disagree with said belief. Ay caramba!

    Custom twitter backgrounds are a service of mine, so being on Twitter and connecting with that community is understandably important. It may not be one of the most important aspects of Twitter success, but having one doesn’t hurt (unless it’s 800kb and ugly to boot). So, in a small way, I suggest people make or get one if they take Twitter seriously. And, to help myself and other freelancers in that area, I often am willing to do free backgrounds for other freelancers who aren’t graphically inclined. The opportunity it has thus far brought me has been mixed, but I enjoy it.

  4. says

    Freelance FactFile–That makes a lot of sense! It sounds like you are making good use of Twitter.

    KateBurns76, Thanks for your thoughtful response. It sounds like you are having a great experience on Twitter. :-)

    everysandwich–Electronic junk mail–ugh! I can always tell those because they are usually automated direct messages trying to sell me something right off the bat…

    TheAL, I think what you say about sharing personal beliefs is true on any social media, not just Twitter. But, you are right. Sometimes sharing personal beliefs can cause you to lose business–however, some issues are just that important that it’s worth it!

  5. says

    I found a client on twitter for executing a little task and he turned out to become the most loyal client and therefore more profitable for me. I totally agree with all the advice in this article!

  6. says

    Excellent post about using Twitter! I must say I still use Twitter as a personal outlet but this gave me great ideas on how to use it to find work.

  7. says

    This post is made of awesome! I’ve used Twitter for more than a year now because I was always being told I should, and I can’t say I’ve had huge benefits from it beyond interesting/helpful links – but I think this has given me a new perspective on how to make it work to my advantage.

    The main problem I’ve found with following potential clients is that a lot of them hardly ever tweet, or if they do it’s not something that leaves an opening for you – but then I guess that’s the case with a lot of businesses, and you just need to find the ones who you can use Twitter to make contact with.

    @ButterflyCopy

  8. says

    The article accurately captures the wave of experiences observed while working with the Twitter platform. I could have used an article like this months ago to cut down our trail process period.

  9. says

    I haven’t thought about using twitter in that way before, it was always what can I offer to my followers that would be useful. I never really thought of asking questions,

    Thank you!

  10. says

    I have gotten a few clients from Twitter who have which become long lasting and valuable connections. Using apps like Tweetdeck makes it easy to run multiple searches at once.

  11. says

    I find the twitter chats to be particularly helpful. Following a specific hashtag opens up many opportunities that I might not have considered as employment opportunities. Just spending 5 minutes in one of these chats could create a lasting, working relationship that lasts months!

  12. says

    Create quality expertise profile and then follow freelance profiles. Make with relations and enhance professional contacts with those profile members. It is one of the best ways to get freelancing projects through Twitter profile.

  13. says

    You can also search for phrases such as:

    “Anyone know freelancer”
    “Looking for freelancer”
    “freelancer needed”
    “need a freelancer”

    Just replace “freelancer” with your keyword such as “web designer”, “graphic designer”, etc.

  14. says

    i never really used twitter to find work. after reading this, im seriously considering giving it more of a chance. thank you for this. as usual, Laura, your articles are insightful and helpful.

  15. says

    Thanks for the information its very useful for the freelancers. i don’t have the twitter account but now i will make my Twitter account.Thanks for the advice.

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  17. Michael Leahy says

    Yup, all of the above. Twitter is also a great way of finding stuff, either through he search function, asking direct questions or following that those that others follow. It is always good to follow industries you have worked with, as it helps contribute salient comments to hot topics of interest to potential clients (as opposed to other writers).

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