Freelance life: the power of self-branding

If you’re thinking of making, or have already made the gigantic leap from employment to self-employed, you’re probably wondering how you can get your business off the ground and start winning freelance gigs.

Effective advertising and connecting your business with people will go a long way in ensuring the gigs are lined up, as will building your brand and social media presence.

The good news is that you can do a lot of this for free. The not so good news is that building this presence can be a slow burner. Let’s not be under the delusion that you’re going to get as many followers as Justin Bieber on Twitter overnight. Be prepared to be in this for the long haul – this could take some years and will require the patience of a saint.

Leverage social media

There are over 3 billion people around the world on social media, so make the most of what is effectively free advertising. Start with the big hitters in the world of social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

This is called ‘organic social’ as opposed to ‘paid social’. One you pay for and one you don’t.

The nitty-gritty: 10 unwritten social media marketing rules for contractors

  1. Find your brand’s values, identity, tone of voice and personality, and project them. The tone of voice you use depends upon how you want to connect with your followers, the type of audience you are trying to communicate with, and how you want to be seen in the social media space.
  2. Great social media content is warm, humanised, makes people laugh and connects with them emotionally – often pulling at the heartstrings. Organisations such as Innocent Drinks and Paddy Power have raised the bar with their social media content. Clearing that bar must be your aim.
  3. GIFs are a great way of capturing users’ attention and are at the forefront of social media humour today. As the old saying goes – ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ – so think how many a GIF is worth.
  4. Every post should contain a picture, GIF or link preview – it makes them a hell of a lot more interesting. When people see information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of what they have seen three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people tend to retain 65% of the information three days later.
  5. GIFs are short and snappy which is the same ethos you should apply when writing social media content – think how you can make each post just that little more condensed.
  6. All shortened links should be personalised. A concoction of numbers and letters, like http://ow.ly/Crwo30lRQOZ can look ugly. People are much more likely to click on personalised links.
  7. Latch on to hashtags that are trending and plan as to what will be trending on particular days. Whether it’s #NationalHuggingDay, #NationalComplimentDay or #Halloween, it seems like almost every day the internet is celebrating something.
  8. Consistency is key – create branding guidelines e.g. how dates, dashes, and numbers appear – and apply these to every piece of content you create.
  9. When customers talk to you, talk back to them. Being able to interact with people from all over the world is just one of the reasons why social media is such a fantastic platform to promote your business. People love to be recognised and replied to on social media – it makes them feel special. Make content conversational by asking questions, creating competitions and adding polls are great ways to spark engagement, and can also help you shape the future of your business.
  10. Don’t make it too heavy. The best social media pages are the ones that keep it light-hearted, witty and tend not to take themselves or life too seriously – after all, no one gets out alive.

Connecting your business with the local community

There’s always something more endearing about helping a family put food on the table than making the CEO of a chain brand richer.  By supporting a local business, people are doing just that.  Strong ties with your local community can be vital for business growth.

Giving back

People are putting into your business, so why not give something back? Volunteer your company’s time for a good cause. Not only will you be making the world a better place, but you will also be broadening your skills and returning work with fresher insights, more motivation and a greater sense of purpose.

Keeping up

Keep up with the latest trends and tech in the world of social media: have you heard of chatbots, augmented reality and the term ‘dark social’?

With millennials and Gen Z set to rule the workforce by 2020, and baby boomers and Gen X reaching retirement, marketing practices soon become outdated.

Most importantly – be authentic. Be true to your company’s brand and values, and what you believe in.