Here’s a question you’ve probably asked at some point:
Can Twitter really help me find more work, or is it just a waste of time and energy?
The truth is, Twitter can help you fill your plate with awesome freelance jobs and put more money in the bank… but maybe not the way you’re thinking.
Sure, you can seek out freelance gigs on Twitter. You can search hashtags and watch your lists like a hawk and hope that you’ll be sitting in front of your computer, staring at your Twitter feed, when your dream employer tweets, “We want to hire a freelance blogger.”
But the chances of that happening are pretty small. The chances of you noticing that a company’s hiring someone with your skills and then actually landing that gig are small not because you won’t discover those opportunities, but because a thousand other people will discover them at the same time.
That’s why rather than using Twitter as an outbound marketing tool, where you reach out to others, you should use it for inbound marketing instead, helping potential clients find you. [You like that? Tweet it!]
So how do you help people find you on Twitter, and how do you turn those potentials into paying clients? Here are a few tips:
Be Your Awesome Self
Twitter is your chance to show the world that you know what you’re talking about, without waiting for anyone to give you permission to get up on the podium.
So don’t be shy about sharing your expertise!
That doesn’t mean you can only tweet links to your own portfolio. Part of your awesomeness is your network, and how keyed in you are to the industry you write about, so tweet plenty of helpful links to resources in that field.
The fact that you know your stuff, not to mention other people in the space, is attractive to anyone who might consider hiring you.
Have a Home Base
Once people see how awesome you are, they’re going to want to find out more about you. In fact, they won’t hire you until they do. So you need to have a place where they can do that, one that’s featured prominently on your Twitter profile. You want to make it easy for them to take the relationship one step further.
For most writers, that home base is a blog, but it doesn’t have to be. It could be your LinkedIn profile. Or an About.me page. Or a succinct profile on any of the million portfolio sites out there (here are a few examples of portfolio sites for journalists).
If you don’t have some way for curious parties to find out more about you, your strengths and your services, you’ll never convert your Twitter effort into clients.
Make Smart Connections
Networking on Twitter is great, but you know what’s even better? Strategic networking.
We all love serendipitous Twitter connections, where you meet an intriguing new friend or professional contact (or in my case, a boyfriend!). But true Twitter power users are far more strategic with the platform, finding ways to connect with specific people who will help them reach their goals.
One way to do this is by creating a private Notice-Me list, and then looking for ways to interact with people on that list through RTs, @replies, @mentions and eventually Direct Messages.
Having a target list of people to “meet” will help you focus your efforts on social media, so you know what tangible steps you should take to reach your goals. It will also help you measure your progress and really see the return on your investment. If you follow through on this, you’ll never feel like Twitter is a waste of time.
Use the @Mention
And use it properly! This sounds simple, but it will go so far toward building your network.
Take every possible opportunity to @mention publications, companies, and most importantly, individuals, and they’ll be far more likely to notice you exist. Then, if your feed is quality, they’ll notice how awesome you are. Then they’ll hop over to your home base. Do you see where we’re going with this?
That person who noticed you might not hire you at that very moment, but if you stand out in some way, they will remember you down the line. They’ll think of you when a friend mentions his company needs a copywriter, or when their boss says it’s time to find a freelance blogger. That’s when you want to be top of mind.
So rather than trying to find freelance gigs on Twitter, focus on helping potential clients find you. It takes some legwork and some smarts, but it’s far more effective in the long run.
Image: Rosaura Ochoa