Social media. It’s not just for sharing cat videos on YouTube, tweeting to favorite celebrities, or stalking high school boyfriends on Facebook. Social media is a business tool that can help freelancers network, land more jobs, and ultimately make more money.
Meet new people
With social media, freelancers can stay connected to their industry regardless of location. Those who can’t afford a faraway flight to a conference or can’t attend big city meet-ups can still join in the conversation.
“All my networking is done on the Internet,” veteran freelance writer and owner of The Renegade Writer blog Linda Formichelli said. “There are so many ways and options to find and connect with people.”
Reading tweets from magazine editors or participating in writing groups on LinkedIn is the kind of daily inspiration and conversation that every freelancer can benefit from – and it’s a great way to fill the void of coworkers. When reading an online publication, see if the author’s Twitter handle is included near her byline or consult this list of magazine editors on Twitter. Search the Groups Directory on LinkedIn for “writing” to find a new community of like-minded individuals. Bonus: Users who have a group in common can access more of each others’ profiles and can easily connect.
Draw more attention
Beyond a website, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook pages are a great way to brand a business. Social media sites rank high in Google searches as well, meaning freelancers can have some control over what a potential client might find about their business.
According to Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day author Mari Smith ,“It’s your space on the Internet and yours to own and carve out and position however you wish.”
Maintaining a website can be time-consuming, but there are easy sites like about.me that allow users to build a web presence in minutes. The site can act as a central hub for contact information and social media presences and it requires little maintenance.
“Link in all the different pieces of your online identity to one place—Twitter account, social network profiles, photo sharing websites, etc., ” Lifehacker writer Jason Fitzpatrick said. “You want search engine queries to direct to you and your accomplishments, not your virtual doppelgangers.”
Find more work
Clients are searching for freelancers online — no one picks up the phone book anymore. A large online presence only increases the chance that someone will stumble upon a freelancer’s portfolio or blog.
“At least with writing, a lot of people are using LinkedIn like the Yellow Pages,” Formichelli said.
Easy-to-use blogging platforms, like Tumblr, can help writers establish themselves as experts. Even if a writer isn’t familiar with one field, blogging regularly about the topic shows passion and interest.
“Don’t worry if you’re not a subject matter expert in your field yet,” Forbes contributor David Lerner said. “Think of your blog as an actual vehicle to learn about areas that interest you.”
It’s not only potential clients that freelancers should try to connect with and impress via blogs and stellar LinkedIn profiles. Every connection made is a connection that can potentially lead to a new client.
“I cannot tell you how many gigs I’ve got from other writers,” Formichelli said. “Once you get out there and get to know people, they’re going to help you.”