Within the last few years, social media has become perhaps the most dominant feature of the Internet landscape, and that’s why freelancers need to use it to their professional advantage. Networking, sharing, posting – all can be used strategically to promote projects, apply for jobs, or be sought out by potential clients.
This is generally considered the place to start for freelancers looking to build their professional online presence. It can be thought of as an interactive resumé; there are options for recommendations, endorsements for skills, networking groups, and job postings. LinkedIn users can have a free account, or select a premium subscription; more information about both can be found here.
Some like to network with as many people as possible, regardless of a shared industry. These people have been referred to as LIONs, or LinkedIn Open Networkers. Others prefer to be more selective about sending and accepting connection invitations. Regardless, because all connections can see contact information, it’s preferable to use an alternative email address, one that has strong spam filters.
It’s a good idea for freelancers to keep their personal and professional Facebook presence separate. Instead, a suggestion would be to create a Facebook page as opposed to a profile, invite friends to like it, and promote websites or work there. Search engines tend to index Facebook pages faster than profiles, too.
As of this writing, Twitter seems to work particularly well for freelance writers. Tweeting meaningful content is key – no one wants to engage with people who constantly post promotional content and clog up Twitter feeds! It’s important to watch out for and block “bots,” which are spam accounts. Generally, it looks better if freelancers have more followers than they are following.
- Hashtags such as #amwriting and #writetip can help with promoting applicable content.
- Twitter’s search feature is a great tool for finding out which hashtags are popular within certain topics.
Freelance photographers or artists should seek out Instagram before any other social media platform. As with Twitter, hashtags are an important part of the posts. The only downside to Instagram is that although profiles can rank well in search engines, and can be accessed from laptops, tablets, or PCs, it can only actually be used via its application on a smartphone.
Tumblr is an interesting way to promote multimedia content in somewhat of a blogging form. Pinterest has worked well for some, and it’s worth at least a consideration, depending on the freelancing niche. YouTube is a must for freelance videographers. Flickr is a good alternative to Instagram, since it can be used both as a mobile application, and via the usual PCs, etc. Social media can be a polarizing facet of the Internet, yet no one can deny its promotional value.
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