This seems to be a question many freelancers ask themselves. Does social media even work? Is it worth the time and effort? Should I even bother?
My answer is yes. Definitely.
I am by no means an expert in social media or marketing, so I can’t tell you all the hard and fast rules to social media and how to make crazy sales. But I do know the basics, and when I look at my list of clients I realize almost half have come from some social media outlet. A few more have ended up deciding to go with me as their editor ultimately because I’m there—I’m available—I’m in front of them.
The main benefit of social media is exposure.
Using social media actively puts you in front of your audience—it shows you exist—and by posting helpful content you establish yourself as a go-to expert in the industry. You don’t have to be “the best” or even the most knowledgeable, but if your focus is helping authors/clients, then you will be seen as an expert in your field.
Most of my work comes from individuals. I like this because I get to know my clients and build relationships with them. And there are thousands of authors and writers on social media. Same for publishers. News companies. Magazines. Organizations. Connecting with potential clients and businesses on social media establishes a connection and shows you’re involved in the industry/topic.
Have you heard the saying that it takes 7 separate times of seeing something before a person decides buy it? Apply that to clients. If they constantly see you around, you may soon become familiar, trustworthy, and exactly the editor or freelancer they want to work with.
A little on my experience:
Twitter is my most active social media platform. I’ve found that Twitter is loaded with writers and publishing industry folks. I love it. In order to keep up my presence, I schedule tweets for the entire week in advance. I post interesting and helpful content geared toward writers because those are my ideal clients.
I write to almost everyone that follows me on Twitter and thank them for following. If they are a writer (I can tell by their profile bio) I’ll let them know they can come to me with any editing questions and I’ll be happy to help. Sometimes I’ll even give myself a shameless plug: “and if you are in need of an editor…” Guess what? It’s worked.
Share content from other blogs/people that’s related to your topic and audience and link back to those folks. Almost any blogger in the publishing industry is on Twitter. When I link to those bloggers as I share an article they wrote, that’s a great connection tool. Because it connects me to other experts and those folks will also be grateful I’m helping them out. Which in turn helps me out.
The main social media sites I use for business are Facebook (company page, not personal), Twitter, and LinkedIn. There are MANY, more, and you may find others work better for you. I’ve discovered these are the sites I enjoy updating and connecting with others on, so that’s where I’ve placed my focus.
The Basic “Musts” of Social Media:
You must be active and consistent. If you share five tweets in 10 minutes and then don’t share anything for the rest of the day, it’s unlikely your content will be seen. Post a lot and often. *I use Hootsuite to schedule my social media in advance.
Share useful content. What would your ideal audience want to read or learn about?
Don’t over promote . . . heard of the 80/20 rule? The idea is you promote others 80% of the time and 20% of your own.
Engage with your audience. Say hello to new followers, have conversations, answer questions, share opinions. Basically—be a real person.
Having a newsletter or blog will only help. If you have a blog, you can share those articles across social media and others may pick up the links and share them on their social media and it just goes from there. This all links back to your site. Win-win.
Stick with the platforms you actually enjoy. There are TONS for social media sites, but I suggest picking 2-5 platforms that you really like using. Spreading yourself too thin will drop your credibility and presence. You still need to complete current projects after all.
So I believe YES, social media works.
It may not be right for you, and that’s fine—not worth forcing something. But if you’re a freelancer that’s been debating starting up for a while now—my suggestion is to go for it. Focus on 2-3 sites, be sure to engage, share, and be consistent.
Then, after some time, ask new clients how they’ve found you. You might be surprised.
Written by Katie McCoach
KATIE McCOACH is a developmental editor working with authors of all levels. Her motto is, “Let’s create your best story!” Her specialties are young adult, new adult, fantasy, romance, self-help and memoir. She is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and Romance Writers of America. She recently judged the 2016 & 2015 Golden Hearts Awards and the 2014 Stiletto Contest. She is based in Los Angeles. Visit her at katiemccoach.com.