Is Social Media Worth It For Freelancers?
Most people nowadays have a Facebook account to stay in touch with friends and family. On top of that, lots of us also use services such as Twitter and Google Plus to stay up-to-date on what's happening in the world and to meet new people.
Social media has enriched our lives and has made the world a smaller place. These days, you can make connections with people you could never have dreamed of meeting a decade ago.
But is social media worth it for freelancers?
Should Freelancers Use Social Media?
The short answer is: yes, it's a good idea for freelancers to use social media. There are a few reasons for this.
Social media is an excellent tool for marketing and finding work in five different ways…
For most freelancers, a vital source of prospects is networking. New clients come through meeting new people. Social media is a great way of starting conversations with potential clients.
- Client Awareness
When clients "Like" your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter, they'll receive your updates. This keeps you at the front of their minds, so you'll be the first freelancer they think of when they need the services you offer.
When you start conversations with people on social media, their contacts can see that conversation. This makes you more visible to potential clients and boosts your credibility in their eyes. As such, conversations can act as indirect referrals or recommendations.
- Social Proof
The way you talk with people on social media is far more important than the number of followers or friends you have. That said, having a reasonable amount of fans or followers acts as social proof, which helps potential clients trust you when they check out your profile.
- Gig Hunting
Twitter's advanced search tool is particularly helpful for finding clients who are looking for your services.
On top of all these marketing benefits, social media is useful in another way. If you're freelancing from a home office, social media helps you stay in touch with the wider world. You can use it as a virtual watercooler, where you go for a break to catch up with other freelancers. You can also follow thought leaders to keep up-to-date on the latest news and opinions in your niche.
Yet despite all these benefits of social media, there are potential drawbacks…
How to Stop Social Media from Taking over Your Life
Social media is incredibly distracting. In fact, research has found that Twitter and Facebook are more addictive than cigarettes or alcohol.
Of course, updating your Twitter feed or Facebook page once or twice a day isn't a problem. But spending hours of your working day on social media or checking for updates every few minutes will have a big impact on the amount of work you can do for clients and the quality of work you submit.
Getting distracted by social media can have a huge impact on your work. Research shows that office workers who get interrupted at a task take 25 minutes to return to that task.
How can you stop this from happening? I've found a few different ways to stop social media from taking over my life.
- Restrict your choice of networks
The fewer social networks you use, the less opportunity you have to be distracted while you're working. I've found Twitter and LinkedIn are the most useful tools for hooking up with other freelancers and connecting with potential clients.
- Schedule your updates
Social media is all about sharing. But every time you log into a network to share something, that's a potential distraction. You can avoid this distraction by scheduling your updates with something like Buffer App.
- Give yourself a time limit
I recommend setting a limit of fifteen minutes per network per day on your social media use. Most days this will be enough to reply, to browse the latest updates from your connections, and reply to any messages you've been sent.
- Block social networking sites
If you find the urge to check Facebook is too strong for you to beat using willpower alone, consider limiting your access using an app such as SelfControl (Mac), SelfRestraint (Windows) or StayFocusd (Chrome).
With these measures in place, you'll be able to keep your productivity on track while still using social media as a marketing tool.
What's Your Take?
Do you use social media in your freelance business? Why or why not? What have you found are the main benefits and drawbacks of using social media?
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