Survivial Skills for Freelancers

How to win at social media without losing your mind

We freelancers have a love–hate relationship with social media.

On the one hand, it’s a vital source of connection, information, and even business. On the other hand, it’s a giant pain in the backside and a sinkhole that swallows up wasted hours doing god-knows-what when we should be nailing those deadlines.

What’s the secret to making social media work for you, without losing your day – and your mind?!

We all know where we’d be without our online friends: out in the cold, isolated world of working alone in our sorry little home offices, is where. Those Facebook groups, Twitter chats and timelines provide everything from office banter to “your-client-did-WHAT?!” support.

They’re life support for freelancers.

But, social media comes with a warning.

If you’re not disciplined – hell, even if you are – social media can be a dangerous distraction.

It’s also an enormous source of pressure. It sits on your devices like a digital conscience, taunting you with all the things you should have done:

  • “Have you updated your LinkedIn profile recently? You know you should’ve asked that client for a recommendation by now!”
  • “Why haven’t you shared something fresh and funny on Twitter this morning? What’s wrong with you?”
  • “C’mon, you know there’s no point even having a Facebook page these days unless you’re prepared to advertise!”
  • “Your Instagram grid is looking tired and you haven’t posted for days… surely you have something to share?!”

Social media wants a piece of you. And it wants it now.

But listen up!

Unless you have literally no work – and if that’s the case, I humbly suggest you have bigger problems than how to manage your social media presence – stop trying to do it all!

You’re not omnipotent. Or is it omnipresent? Maybe both.

The secret to social media success is to pick no more than two platforms and do them really well.

There’s nothing wrong with establishing a profile on every platform – it certainly won’t harm your Google ranking. But as long as your information is up-to-date and relevant, and you check in regularly to respond to any messages from potential clients, don’t be afraid to leave it at that.

So, which platforms should you choose?

Good question.

It makes sense to hang out where your clients are. If you’re a B2B business, LinkedIn and Twitter are likely to be the best fit, while B2C freelancers will have more luck finding their audience on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

Run your social media – don’t let it run you

Once you’ve picked your platforms of choice, here are a few tips to help you get the best out of your social media marketing.

LINKEDIN

Whatever business you’re in, you should have a personal profile on LinkedIn. Think of it as a virtual CV that showcases your skills and experience. You don’t have to spend time engaging, liking and posting, but at least be present.

If you want to do LinkedIn well, start by optimising your profile. There are plenty of people out there – experts such as Jonathan Pollinger or John Espirian, for starters – who’ll happily tell you how to do it.

Once you’re set up and ready to roll, check in at least once a day:

  • Like and comment on relevant posts
  • Ask your clients for recommendations (I had 109 at the last count)
  • Congratulate people on their new jobs
  • Create your own thought-provoking posts
  • Share long-form articles

…and remember to keep your profile up to date.

INSTAGRAM AND PINTEREST

Great social media content doesn’t require expensive gear. Once you know your audience and you’ve got to grips with the basics, get busy with your smartphone camera and start creating engaging posts that reflect your personal brand.

Free tools like Snapseed and Afterlight are great for editing your pics, while apps such as Canva and Spark Post help you combine text and images for eye-catching posts.

Experiment to find the hashtags and posts that work for your audience, and take inspiration from businesses that do Instagram and Pinterest well (but no outright copying – remember, your brand should be unique to you).

TWITTER

Twitter gets a bad rap; commonly from people who use it to advertise, then slate it for being a waste of time. Go figure!

If they dialled down the desperate, and started engaging, informing, and entertaining they’d have a very different experience.

So, be real. Build relationships. Show your personality. Share tips, tricks and advice. Reply to questions. And be nice!

If you carefully curate who you follow (god knows there are some hate-filled people out there, and no one needs that) Twitter can be a great source of inspiration and support.

FACEBOOK

I remain unconvinced about Facebook pages as a tool for service businesses, but if you’re in the business of selling cupcakes, jewellery, or some other photo-friendly product, it can work really well.

Keep your page up to date, and aim to post daily. Funnies and thought-provoking questions traditionally get good engagement, though it’s getting harder to achieve without paying to advertise (and that’s a whole other blog post).

If you combine this advice with the discipline to check in on social just a couple of times a day, you’ll soon notice the difference it makes to your productivity and wellbeing.


This article was first published on Digital Drum.

Why five-star reviews are the best FREE marketing tool you have

Asking clients to recommend your business is a great way to boost your credibility online. But if you’re not in the habit of asking for reviews, how do you go about doing it?

For the past couple of years, I’ve focused on asking clients for testimonials on LinkedIn – and I now have over 100 recommendations for everything from ongoing marketing support to website copywriting.

Read on to find out how you can do the same…

The case for online reviews

You just spent a fabulous weekend in London, at a gorgeous hotel with attentive, friendly service, soft, fluffy towels and city views to die for. Chances are you found that hotel by reading traveller reviews on a site such as TripAdvisor or Booking.com.

Most of us choose our holidays, our cars and the movies we watch on the strength of reviews written by other people.

We book dinner at restaurants we’ve read about on Google, and never buy anything from Amazon without first checking the reviews.

Sharing is caring

We live in a culture where we love to share our experiences – good or bad – to help other people make the right choices. Reviews and recommendations shape our lives and influence the decisions we make.

Given a list of three builders, we pick the one who built that incredible extension for the guy up the road. As for graphic designers… did you see how many people have recommended that freelancer in Cheltenham? He must be great!

Customer opinions help to build trust

Recommendations tell other people that we know our stuff. We deliver. We’re credible. We’re creative. We add value. We make their lives easier. We’re fun to work with.

In his 1984 book, Influence, Robert Cialdini lists social proof as one of his six principles of persuasion. When more people are doing something, we feel a compulsion to follow suit.

And therein lies the value of the humble testimonial.

Here are my top tips for using online reviews to make your business more successful.

When’s the best time to ask for a recommendation?

Most clients will be happy to recommend your business if you’ve provided great service. It’s best to ask for an online review soon after you’ve finished a project, while the experience of working with you is still fresh in their mind.

Which reviews should I ask for?

Whether you should focus on encouraging customers to review you on Google, TripAdvisor, Trustpilot, Facebook or LinkedIn depends on preference and the type of business you run.

For example, TripAdvisor tends to be the first port of call for hotels and restaurants, Trustpilot is popular with tradespeople, while LinkedIn is popular among professionals. Rather than diluting your efforts and getting a few results across a range of channels, focusing your efforts on one channel can get the best results.

How do I ask my customers to recommend me?

Whichever channel you decide to focus on, send clients and customers a direct link to the review page of the site with a short, friendly note asking if they’d mind taking the time to review your business. If you can ask them in person, even better!

If you’re not used to asking for feedback it might feel uncomfortable the first time you do it, but once you get into the habit it’ll soon become second nature.

How do I ask for a recommendation on LinkedIn?

Asking for a testimonial on LinkedIn is pretty straightforward:

  1. Open LinkedIn.
  2. In the search button, top left, type in the name of the person you want to ask for a recommendation.
  3. Open their profile.
  4. Under their name are two buttons: Message and More…
  5. Click More…
  6. Select Request a Recommendation.
  7. Use the down arrows on the right to select your relationship. For example: “Claire was a client of mine”.
  8. Select your position at the time of working with them (hint: it’s usually the top option).
  9. Personalise the recommendation request, and hit send.

Why Google reviews are good for business

Until now, I’d never thought of asking a client to review me on Google, but with studies proving that Google reviews can help to catapult your business to the top of Google search results, asking for Google reviews is on my action list for 2019.

How do I ask for a five-star Google review?

Asking for a five-star Google review is super simple:

  1. Open your web browser.
  2. Type your business name into Google – not the URL to your website – as if you were a customer searching for your business.
  3. Scroll down to find the button that says Write a review and click this button.
  4. Copy the lengthy URL to this page.
  5. Use a URL shortener such a Bitly to create a more user-friendly URL. (Google’s own URL shortener is being discontinued in March 2019).
  6. Save your shortened link somewhere safe so you can use it again and again (I texted mine to myself and copied it into Evernote – whatever works for you).
  7. Email recent clients inviting them to leave you a Google review, and remember to include the shortened link to make it super straightforward.

Four uses for online reviews

  • Use them for your own marketing Quotes can be used to spice up your website, provide content for your social media accounts, or as the basis for case studies to showcase the value of your services.
  • Get noticed online Reviews and recommendations – particularly Google reviews – can help drive your business to the top of search results online.
  • Get real Online reviews are a great way to keep track of the things your customers love – and hate – about your business, your products or your services. See negative reviews as a chance to improve your service, not a reason for despair – and always respond politely and promptly.
  • Give yourself a boost Bad day? Lost confidence? Read your customer testimonials to remind yourself of why you do what you do – and just how good you are at it.

Just ask

Most of us are happy to share our experiences, and your clients are no exception – so start turning them into online advocates for your business and building up your online reviews. You’ll soon notice the results.