Even though I'm not thrilled with social media, it's not all bad. It's helped me land a few freelance gigs.
Anyone who knows me is well aware that I'm not overly fond of social media. However, at the same time, I'm not a complete idiot, so I know it's necessary. I know that, as a professional blogger, I'm expected to promote what I write through social media. Shunning social media is something I would do at my own peril, so I go along, make my submissions, and every few months I consider hiring a virtual assistant to do all of the crappy submissions.
But, as much as I moan about social media, I do recognize something very real about it: You can find freelance gigs with the help of your online social connections. A number of the gigs that I have now are the result of my online connections, and my activity in social media. If you want to be a freelancer, whether you are writing, designing, or doing something else, social media can be a big help.
Using Social Media to Get Noticed
Believe it or not, social media can help you get noticed. If you are active in a social media community — especially a niche social media community — you can make connections with other people who notice your work. Many of the personal finance freelance writing gigs I have right now are the direct result of my involvement on Tip'd. If you are active in a community, someone is bound to notice. And when a freelancer is needed, the first thing that someone does is turn to the familiar. If you have been active in a social media community, submitting articles and voting on others' submissions, your name will be familiar, and you have a better chance of landing a freelance gig.
However, in order for this to work, you do have to be active in your community. You can't just submit your own stuff and leave. It helps to stick around and vote on a few other submissions, and perhaps leave a comment or two. It takes time to become a true community member on the web, but if you are careful about where you spend your time, you can become a recognized member of a community, and possible someone others turn to.
In addition to being active, you also have to provide something of value to the community. Whether it's high quality content, or whether it's interesting information, or whether it's timely advice, you have to show that you can add value. When others see that what you have to contribute offers value, you are more likely to be viewed as a professional, and as a desirable addition to a team. Consider the audience in the community (especially if it's a niche community) and show how you can help them.
I have been fortunate in the relationships I have online. Most of them, however, originated through social media. A follow on Twitter. A chance encounter on Stumble Upon (yes, I once had two gigs as a result of Stumble Upon). And, of course, LinkedIn has provided me with a number of opportunities. I even do work now for someone who found me through a mutual connection and approached me cold. Open yourself to building relationships online, since you never know when it might result in a job — or when you can help someone else find a freelancing gig. In some cases, when I don't want to take on more work, I recommend some of the other writers I have contact with.
Remember that relationships are about give and take. You have to give as well if you want the ability to take down the road. As you build relationships through social media, remember to be as accessible and helpful as you can be. Not only can you enjoy more freelance gigs as a result, but you can also make real friends in the virtual world.
Image source: Paola Peralta via Wikimedia Commons