I have gotten several clients directly through social media, specifically Instagram and Twitter. I’ve gotten referrals through Facebook, but since I have been on Facebook for 13 years and use it almost entirely for personal and not work, I often don’t think about Facebook as a marketing tool.
The two questions I see and hear most often is “How do you find clients?” and “Do you use Upwork?”
These are two separate questions, and I am going to briefly address the latter first, as it is an easy answer for me.
I do not use ANY content mill sites. No Upwork, Elance, Fiverr, etc. I have seen on Reddit that some freelancers have had success and are able to mine through the bad clients and find great projects and clients on those sites over time. I, however, am not one of them. I attempted to use Upwork when I first started since so many people give the advice to use it “to build a portfolio.” And I think we all know I hate that people keep getting told that. You don’t need a portfolio! I still don’t have one!
I gave it a shot, and I was horrified by the sheer amount of clients looking for “2500 words for $25” or “2 cents per word, no negotiation.”
To me, content mills feel like a race to the bottom. A horrific perpetuation of a cycle for the lowest bidder. If no one were to WORK for 2 cents per word, then no one would only OFFER that low pay.
It’s hard because when you first start out, you think you don’t deserve much, since you’re inexperienced, and it’s incredibly common for freelancers, especially writers, to severely undervalue themselves. I’ve been there. Since writing comes fairly easily to me, I was not really putting a fair price on my work and my time. Pricing yourself fairly to YOU is important!
Then how do you find clients?
As soon as I say I don’t use content mills, as they just do not work for me and my business, the next question is always “Then how do you find clients?”
Great question! All of my current monthly clients (my business model is monthly retainers for stability and then always having a project or two on top, for diversity and fun) were referrals. But my projects come from all over!
The majority of my initial clients came from social media. One of my main monthly clients right now originally came through Instagram, as did several project clients.
The easiest way to start using Twitter and Instagram more effectively is to start using relevant hashtags ASAP. They are searchable and followed by many people as a way to get exposed to new content. On Instagram, you can have up to 30 hashtags per picture, and on Twitter, your only limit is the 280 characters. You want to use relevant hashtags and not just popular ones if they don’t fit the content, as that is an easy way to get people to ignore you.
Use good pictures. It doesn’t matter if they are selfies from your phone, try to take a decent picture that isn’t blurry or too crowded or anything. Instagram, in particular, is a very visual platform.
Also, be yourself. I post everything from the food I cook to my cat being cute, blogs I write, and random things from throughout my day. I am not just looking for random followers, I am being myself and showing who I am.
So, now that you’re using the platform correctly and continuing to build your account, how do you find clients?
You can direct message anyone on Instagram and tweet at anyone on Twitter.
Every single time anyone liked or commented or followed my account, I checked their page. If they had CEO, founder, entrepreneur, public speaker, etc, any of those types of titles, I sent them a quick message:
Hi! My name is Jyssica Schwartz and I am a writer and editor based in NYC. I’d love to talk to you about helping you with blogging, website and ad copy, ghostwriting, articles, or book editing. I can provide you with writing samples as well.
I got a surprisingly high number of responses. Most of them were along the lines of “You’re a writer? That’s cool!” or “How much do you charge?”
For the first, I said thanks and we often had a conversation. That is one more follower on social media and potential reader of my books and blogs, or even possibly a client in the future. Be nice to everyone, you never know when they will pop back up.
For the second, I started asking questions and explained that prices depend on the work.
I can do per-word, per-project, or monthly pricing, and it includes different things and amounts of time. In fact, I’d love to talk about it. Do you have time tomorrow to hop on the phone for 15 minutes for me to get a better idea of what you need?
This works well for me. I have a conversational approach, and once I get people on the phone, I do well. People tend to like me and I know how to ask questions and laugh with them and understand what they need without them ever fully explaining it.
In fact, my background in sales and business has been extremely helpful in my writing career.
I have no problem at all reaching out to strangers. They are welcome to ignore me, respond, block, whatever they want. But how are people supposed to find me? By magic? 99.9999999999999% of people in the world don’t know who I am.
It is up to me to promote myself. No one is going to do that for you. Sure, they might read your article or share your post now and then, but everyone is the hero of their own book and it is important for you to take control of your life and your business and go get clients.
For me, the hardest part was getting to the point where I felt I was getting compensated for my time. It was a bit of trial and error, seeing how long things took me versus how much I was getting paid.
I do not go below 12–15 cents per word for individual blogs and articles. Do I get some push back? Sure, sometimes. But for every “That’s way too much! You just lost out on a customer!” (Gee, sounds like I kind of dodged a bullet…) I also get a “Thanks so much, you’re amazing to work with. I appreciate you!”
You can’t please everyone, so start with yourself. (Also, don’t ever work for free. Ever.)
Reach out to people directly. Social media has made it so easy to get out there and introduce yourself to people — use that!
Have you had success marketing yourself through social media? Tell me about it or ask questions!
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