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February 24, 2022

How to build your social media following as a freelancer

Written by Olivia Bufton

Like. Love. Follow. Social media can be a turbo-charged way to attract clients to your freelance business, showcasing the very best of your skills and putting them directly in front of the eyes of your target audience.

But we also know that it can be a massive time-drain. How many times have you sat down at your laptop to work, only to realise that you’ve wasted hours scrolling Instagram or engrossed in YouTube videos? In this guide, we look at how freelancers can be socials-savvy, building a following that suits your business without sinking hours of precious time into a black hole.         Here are our top tips for getting your TikTok ticking or your Twitter trending when it comes to freelancer social media.

Focus on just one or two platforms

Focus on a few channels to start with – don’t do them all! From TikTok to Insta, Facebook to YouTube, there are an ever-growing number of social media platforms and still only 24 hours in a day. Nothing looks worse than an untended social-media profile, so our advice is to pick one or two key platforms for your business and focus on building a following there first. You can always branch out later.

To find the right social channel for your freelancer brand, do a bit of research on where your base tends to migrate. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, head where the brides-to-be will be! 52.5% of UK Instagram users are aged 18-35, and girls rule – 57% of users are female. Its photography based content makes it the ideal platform for promoting those picture-perfect packages. That being said, you could also try and stand out from the crowd and get yourself noticed on an emerging platform like TikTok. Whatever your freelancing business is, try and match the social platforms you focus on to your customer base. If your work is mostly business to business, LinkedIn could be a good place to start for your freelance social media coverage – we’ve got a new guide on how to use LinkedIn Services Marketplace to sell your freelancer skills as well.

Be personal

You – and your unique skills and personality – are at the heart of your freelancer brand. If you have the time, taking your own photos and videos will typically get much higher engagement than if you just pop up stock photos and the same insipid quotes that everyone else is posting. On social media, people want something they can connect with – whether it’s aspirational, relatable or makes them laugh or cry. This is especially true with recent trends for “shopping small” and getting to know the individuals behind businesses. Remember though, there is a boundary if you’re putting your personal life out there online, and you need to consider if your client base are the type that won’t be offended by the occasional swear word or if you need to keep things a bit more straight-laced.

Seek inspiration from existing influencers

One way to build a great social media following is to understand how the pros do it! Study your favourite influencers and the people whose content you enjoy every day and try and identify what it is about it that keeps you coming back. Is it their humour? Their expertise? Their no-nonsense attitude or their beautiful aesthetics? You can use other people for inspiration and try and see if there’s any similar tricks or posts you can try with your own content. Remember not to copy or steal though, or you may find yourself in breach of copyright. Always bring it back to what’s unique about you. Throughout the past year we’ve put together some lists of the best in the business when it comes to freelance YouTubers, TikTokkers and Instagrammers

Use scheduling tools

There are lots of free and low-cost tools that freelancers can use to schedule and manage their social media content. By doing this you can create and upload your videos, pics and captions in advance and set them to post automatically. It also lets you manage your different social media accounts all in one place, helping you keep on top of replies and engagement – and you can set a piece of content to push out over several different platforms. All of these things will help reduce the amount of time you’ll need to spend on socials each day. It’ll also encourage you to plan ahead, mapping out your social media for the month so that you’re not scrabbling for content.

Monitor and evaluate

If you’re putting a lot of time into social media, it needs to be a worthwhile investment. Yes, it will take a little time to grow a following, and possibly longer for those likes and follows to translate into new clients for your freelancing business. But, long-term, if social media isn’t giving you clients, is it a worthwhile investment of your time? The best way to understand whether you’re using social media effectively is to create a process for monitoring and evaluating the performance of your accounts and posts, as well as the time you’ve spent preparing them. That way, you will be able to see which types of content get the most engagement; begin to focus on those and do away with others. There might be other ways to grow engagement – for example, a blog

Most social media sites also use algorithms to determine which content gets displayed to users so monitoring trends might help you understand performance better. Are certain types of post or keyword getting more visibility? Is posting in the evening better than posting first thing in the morning? Proper monitoring and evaluation will help you understand the answers to these questions. It’s something that needs to be done regularly though – make it a monthly or weekly appointment in your calendar to sit down and gather all your social stats.

Engage with other users

It can be tempting to treat social media a little bit like a shouting competition, showing off and trying to attract attention. But really all of the platforms we use were designed to be collaborative – the clue is in the name! So make sure your social use really is social. Like, comment and share on other people’s posts. Not only might they return the favour, but it will help grow your network, and strengthen ties with other freelancers, businesses or your most loyal customers. Make sure you always respond positively to any engagement on your posts too – that first time commenter could go on to be your next client. One word of warning: make sure your comments are relevant and genuine, as spamming pages could get you flagged as a bot and your accounts taken down.

Have freelance business insurance in place

Having business insurance means you’re instantly ready to take on clients that come to you through your social channels. Professional indemnity insurance will also protect you from a couple of the potential pitfalls of social media, including copyright infringement and defamation. To find out more about how Dinghy supports freelancers with their self-employed business insurance, head to our website.

About Olivia Bufton

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