Even though I'm not thrilled with social media, it's not all bad. I've used social media to find freelance gigs in the past.
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 freelance writer and professional blogger, I'm expected to promote what I write through social media. Hell, I'm supposed to be on social media as part of my personal brand.
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. If you want to be a freelancer, whether you are writing, designing, or doing something else, social media can be a big help.
Use social media to 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. I've received referrals, inquiries, and offers due to my interactions on:
- Old defunct networks like Tip'd that offered community
There are plenty of other networks available today, from YouTub to TikTok. Plus, there are podcast communities and other ways to get your information and content out there.
You must be active in your community to make this work. You can't just submit your own stuff and leave. Stick around a bit. Engage. It takes time to become a true community member online, but if you're careful about where you spend your time, you can become a recognized member of a community, and possibly 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, interesting information, or 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 demonstrate your value.
Build relationships to find freelance gigs
I'm fortunate in the relationships I have online. Most of them, however, originated through social media. A follow on Twitter. A chance encounter on Instagram. 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. At the Freelance Writer Academy, we have an exclusive Facebook group where writers can interact and get to know each other. They share leads and tips. We post gigs from people we know.
Too often, we think of online content creation as a contest. In reality, there's a lot of work to go around. We should be a community. Look for your community, and you might be surprised at how it helps you find freelance gigs.
Self-promotion and client promotion
As you attempt to find freelance gigs on social media, don't forget about balance. In general, you don't want to give too much away for free. I usually have a virtual assistant cycle through my author pages and share new pieces. I don't go out of my way to promote, but I do tag them. You don't want to be constantly pushing client work, though. If they want that promotion, that comes with a price. Building a little goodwill doesn't hurt, however.
What you really want to do is promote yourself. Post interesting and thoughtful pieces. If you've been a guest somewhere or written something on your blog, share it. Look for good examples of your abilities and share them. As you build your reputation and following, you'll also find it easier to raise your rates, charging more for your work.
How to use different networks to find freelance gigs
Ok, so how do you actually go about using various networks to land your next freelance job? Every network is different, so you need to consider your purpose on the platform and what you hope to accomplish. My favorite social networks to find work as a freelance writer are Twitter and LinkedIn. But I also get use out of other networks.
Know the purpose of the network
First of all, know the purpose of the network. What do you hope to accomplish on the network? How will it help you find gigs?
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a great place to find all sorts of freelance work. Update your profile to include keywords related to what you do. I make sure to describe myself as a freelance financial writer and podcaster. Use the “open to work” badge. You can also sign up for alerts related to positions. I get alerts for “content writer” and “freelance writer.” Then, you can apply for gigs from your profile. You can also follow companies you want to work with and connect with editors.
- Twitter: Follow editors on Twitter. They often post when they need pitches or regular writers. Look for hashtags like #freelance, #amwriting, and #writingjobs. You can also use #freelancecareer to find others to network with and get job postings for freelance work.
- Facebook: I use Facebook less for directly finding jobs and more for networking with other freelancers. I belong to different groups of freelancers. When there's a new lead, I might get a referral from someone in the group. I also refer work to other writers. Connect and share.
- Discord: Similar to Facebook, I use this as a networking tool. It's more about connecting to other freelancers and sharing resources and leads than it is directly applying to jobs.
- Instagram (and TikTok): I don't use TikTok much — I'm super cringe over there — but these image and video-centric platforms have a place. You can turn some of your work into short clips or videos and share them. I've had editors reach out to me after seeing a TikTok of what I do when the market is dropping. Once, I got a freelance podcast gig after sharing a clip from an appearance on Instagram.
Carefully consider how you present yourself and do so consistently across networks. This doesn't mean you're the same on every network. There are different audiences. But be reasonably consistent. Use current photos. Come up with a bio that you can tweak slightly for each platform. Don't change the core of who you are on each platform.
When possible, use the same handle for all your social media. I'm pretty terrible at that, but it's not too hard to find me on various platforms.
Consistency also refers to how often you post. This is my Achilles heel — especially when it comes to video. Using social media to find freelance gigs requires that you participate on a regular basis. I'm working on this. While I'm comfortable and have plenty of work, I can see how I could shift a bit to charge even more or even do different types of work.
We like connection. So be real. You can be both professional and real as a freelancer. Make sure you understand the type of freelance work you're doing and your audience. Make sure you present your authentic self for that approach. My vibe is professional and capable, with a bit of an attitude (at least that's what I tell myself). I'm straightforward and authoritative but not afraid to swear or get a little bit sassy.
When you are clear about your values and are yourself, more brands and publications will want to work with you.
Are you trying to find freelance gigs and start your freelance journey? Check out my free webinar at the Freelance Writer Academy.