How do you find work as a freelancer? It’s one of the most important questions in our community, and one of the toughest to answer.
While referrals, networking and traditional job boards are all solid options, social media is rapidly becoming the go-to tool for many freelancers to find their next gig. So, where should you start?
Clean up your act
This should go without saying, but make sure any public online information about you is squeaky clean before you start using social media for your freelance business.
As a freelancer, the lines between your personal and professional life can easily blur – and personal branding is a powerful tool to stand out from the crowd – just make sure your accounts don’t damage your professional reputation.
Also, you don’t need to open an account on every platform available. Work out which platforms are best to boost your business. If you’re a photographer, for example, Instagram is a must to showcase your portfolio. If you’re a writer, LinkedIn and Medium both provide you with alternative means to market your work.
Let’s focus on some of the most prominent (and useful) social media platforms to help you find work.
First, go over your LinkedIn profile. Your headline will be used to make snap judgements on your abilities – so make sure you stand out (in the right way). You can announce the fact you’re looking for work here too. For example, ‘specialist freelance writer seeking tech businesses in need of a friendly copywriter’ might catch a potential client’s attention.
Also, include work samples with your experience on your profile. It will make it easier for potential clients to see the quality of your work. And make sure you ask current clients for recommendations and endorsements to further boost your profile.
Next, find out who has been looking at your account and keep an eye on this information. For example, if a specific person keeps looking at your account, reach out with a message and ask if they are in need of some freelance support.
LinkedIn groups are also a much-underused resource where you can connect with new professionals by playing an active part in industry-specific discussions.
Finally, did you know LinkedIn has its own freelance marketplace? You’ll find LinkedIn ProFinder under the work tab. To use ProFinder, you need to apply to become a service provider. You can then submit your first 10 proposals for free but (and here’s the catch) after that, you’ll need to pay $59.99 per month.
Don't be a Twitter twit
Twitter is a great space to engage with influencers in your field. It’s a less formal platform but make sure you maintain your professional persona – and don’t come on too strong. It’s fine to follow, reply to, favourite and share tweets, just don’t do that for every tweet a person posts. And don’t join conversations just to promote yourself. Add value in everything you tweet – this social media space is already pretty crowded, and you want to entertain, not annoy people.
Twitter is a really useful tool to find gigs – you just need to know how to search. If, for example, you’re a graphic designer, go to the Twitter search bar and type in ‘graphic designer wanted’. Within all those tweets, you should find some job requests popping up.
Try to be as specific and try as many word combinations as possible to widen your search. The Twitter Advanced Search feature can help you home in on relevant roles by location or for specific skill sets.
When you do find a relevant role, reply to the tweet or (if you both follow one another) you can DM the account.
Twitter Lists are another useful tool to help you cut through the noise. You may want to create a list called ‘companies I want to work for’ or something specific, like ‘AI companies in Cambridge’. This can help you keep an eye on your industry and any potential leads.
As with LinkedIn, make sure you have a strong summary sentence describing what you do on your profile page. You may also want to throw in a few hashtags to help people find your account based on your skills and experience.
A final word on Facebook
Potential clients may use Facebook to search for you online. So, you could make some of your profile public if you’re searching for work.
While your photos, wall posts, likes and other personal information should be restricted to friends and family, you may want to keep your employment and educational information public. You could also keep professional updates public too. For example, if you publish an article on an industry blog or speak at an industry event, you could make that information public.
In summary, remember to use social networks regularly, responsibly and intelligently to help you find your next gig and widen your reach in our increasingly prominent online world.