Conduct a quick search on Twitter as you’re waiting for your next freelance project to come in, and you might just get a bit of a surprise. Hidden among the tweets about breakfast cereals, Justin Bieber, and #threewordstosayaftersex are a series of requests for freelance workers in a variety of different fields. At a rough average, a new plea for a freelance help goes out every few minutes on Twitter from someone somewhere in the world. And that’s just Twitter. When it comes to landing freelance work, social media might just be the new Elance. Here’s how to use social media to find freelance clients.
The biggest opportunities for freelancers are on the biggest social media site of all. Facebook is rapidly approaching its billionth member and while one American jobseeker in six found their last job through a social media platform, it’s Facebook that lands 44 percent of the jobseeking activity.
- Size. With more than 900 million active members and over 125 billion friend connections, it’s almost certain that your next client is on Facebook somewhere.
- It’s personal. Although Facebook has business pages, most activity on the site occurs between friends. Asking for work on Facebook can feel like making a business pitch at a dinner party.
How to Do It
- Use the privacy settings to target your hunt.
Tell people that you’re looking for more freelance work and ask if anyone on your contact list knows anyone who needs a freelancer. But before you hit “Post” use the dropdown menu next to the button to change the custom settings. You’ll want to make sure that your request can be seen by “friends of friends” and that it’s hidden from any current clients who might worry about your time commitments.
- Add a portfolio.
When your message reaches a potential new client, they’ll come to your Facebook page to find out who you are. Unless you have a business page though, they’re going to see pictures of your vacation and your friends — interesting, but not likely to win you a job. New York-based graphic designer Takeem Owens makes sure that his pictures include an album of his client work — and makes the pictures public. That’s a smart way to turn a Facebook profile into a business portfolio.
- Talk about your work.
Sure, most of your Facebook conversations are going to be lighthearted but when you meet friends they ask how work is going. Tell them. Link to sites you’ve just finished, logos you’ve just designed, projects you’ve just completed. Every time you congratulate yourself, you remind your friends what you do — and stay on their minds when they hear of someone who needs a freelancer.
- Easy and professional. Twitter tends to be more professional than personal and relationships are maintained with less investment of effort than that required on Facebook. Freelance jobs are often advertised on the platform too.
- Contacts are wide but shallow. While the referrals you generate through Facebook will pass through trusted friends, the recommendations and requests you see on Twitter could come from people who know no more about than they see on Twitter.
How to Do It
- Search for work.
The easiest way to find freelance work on Twitter is to look for it. Search for “freelance.” Filter for the hashtag “#job.” Follow specialist freelance job timelines such as @work_freelance, @joblance_jobs and @ifreelancer.
- Build Your Network
Following people you don’t know on Facebook is always a bit creepy. On Twitter, it’s encouraged. Follow the companies you want to work for and interact with their timelines to make sure they know who you are and what you do. Don’t pitch for work directly unless they ask for help but stay on their radar.
- Use Your Bio
Twitter’s minimalism makes it a difficult place to show off your work. But make sure that your bio includes your profession, your URL leads to your professional site and that your photo roll includes samples of your work. It’s the closest you can get on Twitter to a portfolio.
- It’s a job site. LinkedIn’s main purpose is to boost careers. Few people use it to keep their friends and colleagues updated in the way that they use Facebook or Twitter but they do keep their resumés updated and assume that their connections could lead to work.
- Weak communication channels. It’s much easier to make a request go viral on Facebook or Twitter than it is on LinkedIn. Updates tend to be automated announcements of new connections or feeds from Twitter rather than news posts made directly to the site.
How to Do It
- Complete Your Profile
LinkedIn provides plenty of space to list your skills and describe your experience. Make sure that you complete all of the fields but also add a picture, pick up recommendations and use the job title to reflect the kind of work you’re hoping to do.
- Improve Your LinkedIn SEO
LinkedIn’s summary includes a place to list your specialties. Use that field to add plenty of keywords and turn up in the site’s search results.
- Keep Building Connections
Because LinkedIn is the most static of social media’s Big Three, staying visible takes effort. Each time you create a new connection however, you’ll appear on the home page of your contacts, reminding them that you exist and showing the sort of skills that you can offer. Try to make a new contact or update at least once a week.
- Join Groups
Freelance requests tend not to pass through LinkedIn’s connections. They’re more likely to turn up in specific groups where clients ask for help and other freelancers discuss terms and challenges — and look for places to outsource their overflow. Some of the biggest groups include Designers Talk which has more than 38,000 members, Freelance Professionals, with over 28,000 members, and Advertising Freelance whose 10,000-plus freelancers all work in one industry.
Don’t join all the groups at once, though. Join a new group every week to keep your name visible on your contacts’ homepages.