From accountants to writers, I can’t think of one field in which a freelancer shouldn’t be on Twitter. The trick is though, in knowing how you want to use it, and actually getting started (If you’re nervous, make sure to read all the way to the end.)
In my work (business writing) Twitter is the weak player in the social media world when it comes to building an audience (LinkedIn is better), but that doesn’t mean I ditch it altogether. Far from it. I stay signed on to the account on my phone and regularly have time scheduled to work with it on my calendar. It’s been a great place to
- Stay up on news in my industry
- Prove that I can actually use the platform…lets people know I’m connected
- Find new customers in the form of a follower list
- Connect with early adopters in my industry
- Network with other professionals
Basically, I’m saying you should be there too, so I want to give you the building blocks to get you going today.
To Blend Or Not To Blend
The first big question you have to answer, especially if you have an existing Twitter account, is whether you want to have a separate profile for your freelance work. With all the apps and clients available, manageability isn’t too big an issue (I actually love the regular Twitter app’s account switching features), so you just have to decide whether you want to mix business and pleasure.
A lot of that decision will depend on your audience (different from your customer) — if your audience is businesses, you’ll probably want to spare them your thoughts on Rihanna’s latest video. However, if you are, for example, a freelance entertainment writer and blogger (who sells their work to music publications), you might benefit from building (and communicating with) an audience that gets to connect with you more closely.
General Tip: If your customers are businesses (if you’re a product photographer, business writer, engineer, etc.), keep separate personal and professional accounts. If people are consuming your work (if you’re a personal trainer, food blogger, creative writer, poet, fashion designer) you might get a boost from mixing your personal quirks with your professional work.
Action Point: Decide on how you want to set up your accounts and if needed, set up the new one right now. Seriously…right now. You can come back and finish the rest of this post later.
Keeping Things Moving
Regardless of how amazing your work is, buyers won’t find you on their own. Let me put it another way. Being good is not enough.
Part of using a Twitter account as a part of your independent work or freelance life means you should be using it to let people know what you do and how they can buy your services. Your account should be leading people back to your work and your website (get one going if you haven’t already).
You have to market yourself. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean you have to dedicate half of your life to coming up with clever thoughts and links to share. Sign up for a scheduler (I like Buffer) and use it to set up a continuous flow of links to your best writing, portfolio pieces, and curated (and credited) material from other sites. Don’t be scared to repeat tweets (no one is watching your feed 24/7, so they likely miss a good portion of what you broadcast) and remember to engage live occasionally so you’re not just spouting about how great you are all day.
General Tip: If you hate selling as much as I do, use a scheduler to broadcast all of your “try my services now!” tweets. It’s something that has to be done, but there’s no reason you should have to cringe everytime it happens.
Action point: Go set up an account on Buffer now. The individual plan is free, so there’s no excuse for not at least learning how to use social scheduling.
Decide On Your Message
One of the great things about Twitter is that even if you deal with businesses, you can be a little less formal.
How loose you get will depend on your audience, but you’ll get a feel for that and things like how you should speak and bluntness as you go. For example, using your account to stay active in the #BlackLivesMatter conversation online might be a benefit, it might fall on deaf ears, and it might lose you business.
Remember though, your message should serve your readers, so don’t be that Twitter account that never gains any traction because it talks all day about how awesome it is. Include commentary on industry current events. Share (and reshare) useful blogs you’ve written (here are some ideas). Follow great people. Spread good news.
General Tip: To get a feel for how much you should push your services, start with the 80/20 rule–no more than 20 percent (roughly) of your tweets should be directly selling your work.
Action point: Start tweeting your thoughts about your industry. If no one responds, that’s ok. just get used to putting your thoughts out there with authority and confidence (those are essential to pulling in clients who pay for people who know and believe in what they’re doing.)
So there you go. After reading this, your professional Twitter presence should be up and running…not a task for next week or something you “really should get started on”. If you’re nervous, just create an account and follow people you think you’d like to have as clients one day…you don’t have to say a word. Just listen. Since you can always ditch the account you have absolutely nothing to lose.