Freelance work often comes from who you know, not necessarily what you know. So, how do you shake that money maker and get into it when all the networking events are shut?
Well, turns out you go digital. Beyond communities, you should be heading to social media.
Here’s what to do and where to go to get freelance work from your social media profiles
Decide who you want
Most of the people I know who are pounding the pavement looking for freelance work have to make a decent living because they have to contend with:
- An evaporation of time due to home schooling
- Partners working from home and a new normal routine
- Becoming the sole bread winner as other jobs evaporate
- Being the sole parent they always were with more pressure
- Stress of what is happening outside and where the world is going
- Lower opportunities for freelance work
- OR so much freelance work but precarious working situations that make saying no too scary
Add in recruiters saying it’s a buyer’s market, concerns about who and when you’ll qualify for assistance and the general issues going on, you have to make some tough decisions.
Now, you need to be brutal about what you want to work on. Define your clients by:
- The kinds of services clients need during a pandemic that you offer
- The sorts of projects and services that are going to give you the best margin
- The sorts of clients who are going to give you the least amount of brain draining ridiculousness
- That are connected to other people who they can refer you to
Now more than ever is the time to get tight on what you offer and who you offer it to.
Some simple research tips to create those definitions:
- Look around you at the pain points businesses have, including the new trends that have popped up
- Where are the scenes around those innovations that you can satisfy?
- What would the service to solve their problems look like?
- Where and how do you need to promote it?
They also couldn’t explain what they did. Many of the founders came from non-marketing backgrounds. And they were used to talking to investors, not customers.
By getting in with the Australian sharing economy scene, I not only survived, I thrived. Social media, strategic plans, and writing content were all available to me.
When the market has a high-level impact or a new scene emerges, all it takes is a bit of a spit and a polish to become needs centric. Especially if you’ve asked people what they need!
I know there are freelancers looking for work who are relying on the old patter about confidence, come with me, let me teach you how, and let’s make money together.
It’s lovely. But it’s naïve.
Your clients are time poor, stressed, and scared of spending money. They want to know you are in the trenches with them and are looking to solve their pain points.
Standard sales promos seem on the nose and tacky right now. Make sure you are authentic and genuine. People want nimble, honest, and supportive over clever and cashed-up.
They want to know in an instant you know you understand things are changing, too.
You know how you would go through the checklist of wearing the appropriate clothes, packing your business cards, practising your pitch, and making sure you’re turning up at the right time to the venue?
You can digitally suit up for virtual networking as well.
The way you do that is subtly different but has the same principles.
Visual presentation matters
Review the profile photo you have on your personal profile. This is especially true of Facebook but applies elsewhere as well. Having a nice, smiley face instead of your favourite “screw you” meme, group photo, or caustic tagline makes all the difference when people check you out.
Nobody wants your girlfriend’s dismembered arm hanging in the air on your LinkedIn profile. We’ve moved past using logos as profile photos on any form of profile photo. To do that looks so 2014.
That smudgy freelance lifestyle photo you are using? Wipe the lens! Good grief, we’re in a pandemic about cleanliness. Get those grubby thumb prints and blergh smeared pictures away from me.
Be a human. A non-smudgy, smiling, up close human.
Fill in your LinkedIn
Nobody cares if you went to So Big University for 1995 to 2003 in an irrelevant degree. They care what you got from the experience. Ditto your work experience. The details matter.
With your LinkedIn, don’t list who you are like a packet of tick off items. Frame it in such a way that people can see your softer values.
For example, think about your LinkedIn as a way to demonstrate:
- Skills easily via keywords people often look for and program names they want to hire you to use
- Your attitude. Clients and people in the hiring game care about your personality, your ability to work with others, if you have leadership qualities and experience, optimism and realism. Inject them into your profile
- That you achieve results. This is especially true when you are trying to secure freelance work during an economic downturn. Your clients want to know that if they hire you, you have a proven track record. So, talk about the new sales and members. Raise up the analytic merits of what you do. Talk about the volume of projects completed, the money made, and the inefficiencies slayed by working with you.
LinkedIn does daunt many of us as it feels like a CV on steroids. But if you focus on the work you want right now, you will be able to gear your LinkedIn towards it. And that’s the key. Credentials and stories and wonderful meanders through your history are great. But what people want more than ever at the moment is to match your skills and personality to their desired outcomes.
Review your other social media profiles
There’s a lovely habit going around at the moment where everyone is spending time talking to their colleagues and their acquaintances.
Be careful not to make your LinkedIn look so peer orientated you forget about your clients. Clients want the person that can do their freelance work.
If you look like you have time for the typing pool conversations and are saying “how’s this pandemic hammock I got online?” too much, they may think you don’t need or want the work. Or you might look like a giant clique. Or a fan club reunion.
They want human. But maybe not humans in the tea room, you get me?
Everyone is looking for the opportunity to help other people. For us, it’s giving us freelance work. Don’t reduce your chances of receiving it by not specifying you need it!
Similarly, our social media profiles like Facebook Pages, Groups, Twitter, Instagram etc are full of language that you could have used to get clients in 2019 that won’t get them now.
In both areas, remember that everyone is in state of flux. Most of us are overwhelmed, unable to concentrate, or gone into some Rambo-like survival mode.
That means the time for fluffy catch phrases, pre-Covid19 whimsy and unicorn emojis has left us.
How to cut through the clutter:
- Acknowledge the present situation as it stands
- Split out the keywords of the services you are focussing on
- Pick your favourite four
- Write descriptions that are succinct, focussed on those keywords
- Make it bloody easy to get in touch with you
Treat the body copy of your profiles like a taste tester or a sampler as opposed to a main course.
You’re going to have to make a case for the project and your rates in some industries. It’s better to get them in your inbox or on the phone as soon as possible and before the doubts set in.
Miscellaneous social media tricks
Your social media should be the place where a client can get a deep sense of you. It’s best to chart out the content before you put it up, even loosely, so you can meet that mandate.
You don’t have to be visible and rigid about your timeline, but you do need to have a backbone to what you want to do.
- What are my client’s challenges?
- What tips, tricks and content can I highlight to help them with those challenges?
- How can I demonstrate my brain in an approachable manner?
- What is going to make them optimistic about their business?
- What can I share that let’s them know I am there for them beyond the sale?
During this time, to get freelance work means to be less salesy and more supportive. Think like your clients and tap into the problems they are facing. Give them the safe place to explore what hurts. Let them uncover it.
Sometimes, people have a pain and they don’t even know they have it. If you define it, the trust begins. If you define it and then offer the solution, it simply grows.
When we’ve been working on our business for too long, we often forget the customer on the end of it. You can see it with late stage social media becoming all about the business, what they do, who they are and nothing else. It’s common for early stage freelancers to do this too because you think that’s what everyone else does so it must work.
Put simply, if it’s all about you, you leave no room for the customer.
Your clients want to know you in relation to what you can do for them. You have to tell the story that invites them to take part.