This month, we’ve been chatting to our friends over at SproutSocial. They wanted to ask us a few questions about the importance of social networking for a blog they were putting together. During the interview we got to thinking: If you’re a freelancer what social-media sites should you be on and how should you be using them?
It’s an important question, so we decided to put together this quick run-through of all the top social networking sites. It covers most of the web’s biggest social-platforms which creative freelancers should be using to their advantage, along with a few top tips on how best to start promoting yourself on social-media like a pro.
Facebook’s biggest benefit is it’s got more users than any other social network. That means a bigger (potential) audience for you. Just remember, as a platform, it’s not about expanding your customer-base but all about managing relationships with your existing contacts.
It’s main strengths are it’s a great place to post work and get instant feedback. Plus you can also set up an E-store, which is great news for freelancers in certain sectors.
If you’re a freelancer using Facebook, our pro-tip is make sure you set up a company page - not a profile page - as this gives you access to hidden insight via its analytics.
If Facebook’s all about your existing customers, Twitter’s best used finding new ones and expanding your circle of friends. When you tweet, focus on your newer followers and conversations with specific people who are relevant to what you do or want to achieve.
It’s the home of the hashtag so make good use of them, as well as DMs (don’t hold conversations out in the open). And unless you want a feed full of Facebook updates, never, ever, link the two accounts.
Our pro-tip for this social network is forget about the yawn inducing this-is-who-I-am-and-what-I-do header and put a call to action in there. We did, and in one week it doubled our newsletter sign-up.
The good thing about LinkedIn is it allows you to cut the crap. It’s a business platform, everyone’s there for the same reason, and it’s the social media to use for networking and making new contacts.
It’s full of niche groups and communities, and to get the most out of the site - get involved; join groups, join in discussions and jump in. You should also consider starting your own group as it allows LinkedIn users outside of your member community to be able to view your posts and content.
Our pro-tip for freelancers on LinkedIn is to use keywords and search-terms in your title, like ‘Freelance Graphic Designer’. LinkedIn also searches the rest of your profile for these so stuff ‘em in there too.
Pinterest is a bit of an odd one. People either love it or hate it, meaning it’s been a bit underrated as a tool for freelancers. However, used correctly it has some very useful qualities if you're a self-employed creative.
For instance, posts can be infinitely re-pinned causing a viral-loop of sorts. And even when re-pinned, posts always link back to their original page (i.e. yours).
The majority of Pinterest users are female, so if your target audience or main customer-base is the fairer sex, it might be a good platform for you. It’s a very visual platform (so a place to showcase work rather than meet new people) and can be used to set up mood boards and gather ideas. Pro-tip: Use ‘popular pins’ elsewhere, like on your blog or newsletter.
Like Pinterest, Instagram is a visual platform so, depending on discipline, will be of more use to some freelancers than others. It’s a great place to showcase work and, like Facebook, get some direct feedback from your carefully cultivated community of followers.
Just like Twitter you want to make good use of hashtags on all your posts. And one thing to be aware of is it’s a personality driven platform so don’t make it too work related. Mix it up a bit.
Our pro-tips for Instagram? If your freelance work isn’t visually-led (say you’re a copywriter) you can post screen-grabbed testimonials or, like a Twitter retweet, regram other users’ content. There's a great app for that called Repost.
Tumblr is another extremely visual platform and is probably of much more use to freelancers as tool for promoting their brand and business. With 22 million users, it’s a good platform to help get your work shared and seen with a much bigger chance of something going viral - or at least being noticed by someone who’ll be useful to you.
A huge thing Tumblr has over some other social media platforms is you can post Gifs, which if you can make your own (or get some made for you) can be a very powerful and creative tool. Our pro-tip for Tumblr is you can use HTML to embed follow buttons in your posts for your Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts. We recommend you do.
If you're a graphic designer, web-designer, photographer or any other type of ‘er’ whose freelancing revolves around some sort of design, Behance is a must.
It’s the largest online creative community and has a job section where you can pick up work or post jobs if you need to find someone to collaborate with.
Our tips for Behance include using multiple variations of tags and making your cover image count. The standard’s very high on this site, so you’ll need to stand out from the 99,000,000+ other creatives on there. Use it as an online portfolio to showcase your work, but remember - it’s a community not a promotional tool, so treat it as such.
Deviant Art is the place to be if you’re a freelance illustrator or digital artist working for yourself, and is worth checking out whatever discipline you’re in.
It’s the world’s largest online community of artists and with share buttons for Pinterest and Tumblr (as well as the usual Facebook and Twitter) it’s a good social media platform for freelancers to get some exposure on.
You can also upload your work and sell it on there as well as pick up commissions, so it has the potential to become an additional stream of income for freelancers. Our pro-tip is to remember it works on key terms only - so #Hash #Tag #The #Hell #Out #Your #Work.
Vimeo will be of most use to film makers and freelance animators, however that’s not to say it’s not useful for freelancers in other fields too. For instance, programmers and web designers can upload videos of sites in action.
As as social media platform for freelancers, Vimeo's benefits include a certain cool-factor thanks to its creative content, and the fact it's better quality than YouTube in every way. The best thing about uploading videos to Vimeo instead of YouTube is viewers are more likely to stay on your page, and less likely to be distracted by cats falling of chairs.
If you’re a freelancer imbedding video in your emails - you should be using Vimeo to do it. Our pro-tip is simple. Don’t doubt the power of Vimeo. It drives a ton of traffic to our site, and used correctly can be a very powerful tool.
So there you have it. Using these simple tips you'll soon be using social media to bring in new freelance work at a rate of knots.
And a big thanks to our friends over at SproutSocial who inspired us to put together this tutorial on social media for freelancers. If you want to read their blog post, in which Thrive's founder, Jerome Iveson, talks about the importance of Social Media for freelancers, just click the link above.
This blog post is brought to you by the creators of Solo; your freelance wingman. If you'd like to contribute to the blog, contact us on hello[at]wearethrive.com.