For so many freelancers, one of the real joys of working on your own is that you get to indulge your introverted personality in the joy of not having to interact with the great outside world.
This might sound flippant but in reality, with an estimated 25%-40% of the population identifying as introverts, we’re betting a whole heap of these are people like you, like us – freelance writers, designers and creatives who fall comfortably into that statistic.
The big challenge of freelancing, for introverts and extroverts, is generating income and finding customers. While some work might come through your own personal and professional networks, still more is generated through the quite horrifying expression of having to: “put yourself out there”.
This horrific act really means leveraging social and professional media channels to sell yourself, your products and your services. In part, building a professional persona and using it as a gateway for your professional interactions is imminently sensible (hello there, Sasha Fierce) but in reality, should you really even bother and how much work do you generate from the likes of Twitter and LinkedIn anyhow?
It’s pretty hard to pin down exact figures for that question but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence out there that suggests both these platforms are positive hotspots for picking up projects. It will depend of course what type of business you’re in. Feature writers, for example, must employ the Power of the Pitch to catch an editor’s eye and no amount of posturing on LinkedIn is going to replace that skill.
But for others, offering their services as consultants or virtual assistants, LinkedIn is just the right place. There are plenty of ways to make this happen and plenty of experts to help you become relevant on the site. When you cut through all the hyperbole, the real answer is that you need to be an incredibly active contributor. Make connections with as many relevant contacts as possible, comment on tons of posts and articles and contribute your own on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute basis. Whatever you do, DO NOT STOP or you run the gauntlet of being filed away into that shameful LinkedIn pit marked: who?
If you’re looking at who to connect with on LinkedIn, the trick is to do your research. It’s as hard, or as easy, as that. Look for your perfect employers and the organisations they work for and start posting relevant articles, take a look at what they’ve posted, begin interacting with them and good luck to you.
It’s the same for Twitter and other social media sites (though whoever got a lead from a Facebook business page as a freelancer?). The key to attracting leads is through interacting with the right people and being a positive pain in the arse with your regular and consistent interjections of gaiety and wit that somehow link back to your line of business. Honestly, it’s exhausting.
If you’re looking for a few accounts to help a fellow freelancer out, it’s worth following these. They’ll give you some advice and tips and you may find some secondary contacts worth following:
A simple search under hashtags #freelance, #freelancer or #freelancejobs will take you to plenty of other accounts worth hooking up with.
And then there was Instagram. But put all those hashtags aside for a moment and let’s turn our attention to a real curveball in the social media rankings and that’s Pinterest. Now if you thought Pinterest was all cakes for a four-year-old’s birthday party and boards filled with ideas for small owl tattoos (not as niche as you’d think) then you were wrong my freelance friend. Pinterest has got some swag and here’s why: you can find your niche and target a very specific audience.
Let’s say you’re a freelance accountant looking to pick up some more clients, perhaps other freelancers or small business owners. You find boards that are specifically engaging with people looking to better manage their finances. You start by pinning your own top tips, free advice and so on, eventually linking back to your own blog. You set yourself up as the voice of authority in your niche. You become the go-to expert and the best thing is that you haven’t spent hours finding individual clients, they were all right there waiting for you.
Whoa, I know right? It’s not all bunting and cupcakes after all.
While it might seem that you’re the only one who hasn’t found the silver bullet of transforming social media channels into leads that become clients, chances are that you just need to be a little more consistent and a little more targeted. It’s a start and for the introverted freelancer looking to break big, it’s time to find your inner stage name and start the business of connecting with the real world, at least behind the protection of your Mac.