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Freelance Hacks: Which digital platform is right for you?

By Fiona Thomas, author of Out of Office, available to order in ebook now!

Working out what social media platforms you should focus on is key as a freelancer. Social media can take up lots of your precious time, so making sure you are talking to the right audience can be vital. Read on for my tips on making social media work for you…

 

LINKEDIN
I’m going to start with the platform that I know the least about: LinkedIn. Some freelancers get all their clients on this platform, and long-term contracts at that. LinkedIn is the most corporate of all the social media channels (if it had an outfit, it would be wearing a three-piece suit, carrying a briefcase and striding along Canary Wharf!). So if you know that your target audience is big businesses, then I would definitely spend time on LinkedIn.

I’m not going to give you any advice on how to do that because honestly, I have no clue. But I bring it up because I spent ages thinking that I had to be on every social media platform to be the best freelancer, but the reality is that I don’t want to work with corporate clients. I want to work with independent businesses and freelancers, so spending loads of time and energy on LinkedIn is kind of pointless for me. I’ve found a good blog post about LinkedIn for freelancers here because honesty, I’m not your gal for advice on this subject.

 

FACEBOOK
Next up I want to talk about Facebook (FB), but specifically, FB groups. I’ve found that instead of spending time trying to get my business page more likes and engagement (which feels a bit like drawing blood from a stone unless you invest in FB ads) joining the right FB groups can be a much better use of your time.

There are lots of free FB groups out there. I’m part of some great ones for freelance writers, such as No1 Freelance Media Women, Binders Full of Editors Seeking Freelance Writers and Binders Full of Writing Jobs. These are specifically set up to put people in contact with each other and they work really well. You quite often get a magazine editor saying, ‘Hey, we’re looking for pitches on this specific topic so please email me your ideas’, or a newspaper editor saying, ‘We’re looking for shift cover’, or ‘Here’s a vacancy on our website’.

You also get other writers looking for feedback or reassurance, so it’s a lovely way to network with people in your industry. I’m also part of a few others such as Being Freelance and The Freelance Lifestyler, where I see jobs cropping up and collaborations and friendships happening organically all the time.

 

TWITTER
Twitter – perfect for people who are good with sharp one-liners. The thing to remember about Twitter is that the timeline moves so quickly that once you’ve tweeted something, if it doesn’t garner engagement then it’s pretty much redundant.

However, it is a really good platform if you want to be seen to react to topical content or stay up to date with news in general. When I was pitching a lot to publications, I used to go to Twitter every morning and see what was trending. I would be able to gauge the mood of the nation, and it gave me ideas about what stories I could pitch in response.

Another good thing about Twitter is that you can post links. Compared to Instagram, where you can’t have links in your captions, and you don’t get the swipe up function until you have 10k followers, Twitter can be a good place to share your content.

 

EMAIL MARKETING
If you’ve got value to share with people, then email marketing can work for you. There are a few journalism newsletters that do really well because they collate all the journalist jobs of the week and send them out as an email. I can tell you, as a freelance writer, that kind of information is so valuable, and I know that it has definitely raised the profile of a few journalists and led to more paid work for them.

Some business owners send an email every single day and say it’s the best marketing tool they have. Some of my favourite newsletters are from Anna Dunleavy, Ruth Poundwhite and Emma Gannon. I don’t always make purchases through their newsletter, but I feel like I really know these women because they make their newsletters personal, whether that’s sharing something they’re struggling with, or giving some behind the scenes insight into what’s going on in their businesses. It builds up an extra layer of connection and, although you might not see the instant gratification, it’s a great way to stay in touch with your audience.

 

YOUTUBE
If you don’t like writing but you feel really confident on camera then YouTube might be worth exploring. Anyone can upload a video, start gaining subscribers and, eventually, begin to monetise it. It is pretty competitive on there now, with so many people starting channels, but that’s not to say that you can’t make a good go of it. If visuals are your thing then you could also try out Tik Tok and IGTV and see which one works best for you.

 

PODCASTS
God, everyone has got a podcast now don’t they? I started a podcast last year, and had to give it up because I started writing Out of Office and I couldn’t commit the time to it. I didn’t realise how much work a podcast is until I started recording.

For my new podcast (also called Out of Office), it takes me a day to write a script, a day to record and edit, and then another day to do all the admin for it, such as scheduling, promoting on Instagram and creating a blog post for my website. My podcast is currently monthly because I simply can’t commit the time to create an episode a week. But I’ve poured a lot of time and effort into Instagram over the last few years and I do worry that I’ve put all my eggs in one basket. You never know what is going to happen, and if my account was to get hacked or Instagram was to completely disappear, I want to make sure that my content is spread out over multiple platforms. Also, whereas Instagram is an external platform and out of my control, my podcast is completely my own. I have all the audio, I control the hosting, and it’ll always be mine.

I also find that there are a lot of topics that I need more space to talk properly about. Captions and stories on Instagram are quite limiting and I have a real desire to talk in a longer format so that I can provide more value to my audience. So, if you’re finding that one platform is too restrictive, then podcasting might be a good fit for you. It’s also great if you’re a natural collaborator because you can co-host or interview people which you might find really fulfilling.

 

INSTAGRAM
Instagram (IG) is my favourite platform, mainly because I love the vibe on there. I have so many great conversations in my direct messages, whether it’s about mental health, freelancing or current affairs. The mood on IG is generally very supportive so if I have to spend time on any social media platform, this is the one I choose.

It is quite limited as links go (you can only have one link in your bio and you can’t add links to posts unless you’re an online store) and it’s very visual, so as well as coming up with captions you’ve got to have images to go with each post, which I know some people struggle with. But IG stories is really where it’s at. That’s where I can get real with my audience, truly connect with people and, ultimately, get the most clients…which is the whole point right?

Read Fiona’s first blog post for more tips about using Instagram to find clients.

 

For more tips on freelancing, check out Fiona’s podcast, her new book, Out of Office, or follow her on Instagram.

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