Twitter for Freelancers: How to Market Yourself the Right Way
Simple but efficient techniques to get leads for your business
I took a deep breath and pressed submit. There was my content, live, out on the world wide web! And here I was, promoting it without a bit of shame! I looked at it with pride, nestled neatly among the white and Twitter blue. And then, just like that, it was gone.
If you’ve ever been in that situation — watching your carefully crafted and curated content simply disappear into the depths of your Twitter feed — you’re hardly alone. Using Twitter effectively is a powerful way to market your business, but it can be difficult to find a rhythm.
In this post, we’ll be looking at some of the obstacles freelancers encounter using Twitter to market themselves and some ways to overcome them. Let’s help you to be your best business self in the Twitterverse.
Why Should I Use Twitter to Market Myself?
Unless you’re living under a rock, you probably understand how important social media is for putting yourself out there. Which platform you use depends on your needs and preferences — some people thrive on LinkedIn, for example, while others, myself included, can’t make heads or tails of the platform!
I’ve had the best results in marketing my business on Twitter. I have generated interest in my services, garnered followers (as well as following some wonderful and insightful people myself), and even got some leads and ultimately landed contracts thanks to my Twitter presence. Your mileage may vary on Twitter, but there are plenty of successful freelancers who have amplified their voice with their Twitter accounts and brought in clients to their freelance businesses.
You can use Twitter for anything from sharing your political opinions to keeping up with your “competition” (if you choose to see other freelancers in that rather limited way!). I haven’t used it for either of these things, though some freelancers have had luck with both. It is a good listening tool and a good way for you to keep up with thought leaders in your industry and contribute to their conversations. It gives you the chance to get your name associated with whatever industry you work in.
Even if you’re not an active participant on Twitter, you can always use it as a listening tool to hear what people are saying about you, your business, your industry, and the world around you. We could all stand to be a little more informed in these areas, but there are benefits to going beyond being a lurker (more on that below).
Common Twitter Pain Points for Freelancers
Twitter can seem overwhelming at first, with its fast-moving feed and constantly changing content. The conversations move and develop quickly, and suddenly you’re talking with people you’ve never met on another complete stranger’s thread about gluten-free french toast. If you’ve ever found yourself in a Twitter conversation asking yourself “How did I get here?”, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some common pain points for freelancers using Twitter professionally and ways to work around them.
One voice dominates your feed
If you’ve used your Twitter account in the past for personal reasons and now you’re transitioning it to a professional account, aside from purging any unsavory content you wouldn’t want to share with clients, you might be dealing with one voice or one type of voice echoing loudly across your feed.
Twitter loves a good algorithm. Once you start following people in certain roles, it assumes you want more of that (especially if you follow Topics). But if you used to follow political activists and now you’re trying to court potential clients, Twitter might not be on the up-and-up, and your home feed could be filled with pictures of protests when you want to follow industry trends.
There are two workarounds for this when unfollowing won’t cut it or isn’t an option: “Muting” and “Showing less often”.
When you mute someone, you’ll stop seeing their tweets in your feed and still continue to follow them. You can do this by clicking on the arrow in the top righthand corner of that person’s tweet. A dropdown menu will appear, and you can click mute @_____. From that point on, unless you unmute them, you’ll no longer see their tweets on your homepage.
Show less often
When you choose to show someone’s tweets less often, you’ll find their presence on your feed to be considerably reduced. To do this, click the same arrow in the upper-righthand corner as you would if you were muting someone. The dropdown menu appears, and you can click the option to Show Less Often (it has a frowny face next to it). This reduces the amount that a person or organization’s tweets are shown on your feed.
It moves too quickly
Twitter is definitely more fast-paced than its social media counterparts Facebook and LinkedIn. There’s no good way to slow down its feed other than following fewer accounts (and using the Show Less Often option, as described above). You can, however, change which tweets are shown in which order by clicking on the sparkle icon in the upper-righthand corner of your home screen.
This opens another dropdown menu that gives you the option to switch between viewing the top tweets on the home page and the latest tweets. This should make it easier for you to keep up with the conversation.
Ways to use Twitter Effectively to Promote Your Freelance Business
Promoting your freelance business on Twitter involves more than just choosing the right hashtags to complement your posts. While these are important, there are other factors to take into consideration, including perfecting your profile and measuring your impact. Let’s take a look at a few ways that freelancers can use Twitter effectively to promote their businesses.
Get your profile on point
Your profile is essentially your landing page for your Twitter account. What’s on your Twitter profile could be the difference between someone following your account or not (and ultimately hiring you to do freelance work for them). It’s worth taking the time to perfect it. Here’s my profile page:
- A header image, where I’ve listed my name and what I do.
- A professional headshot, much as it pained me to get those done!
- My name. I’ve also added my job title so that it comes to mind when people think of me.
- A description (must be under 160 characters) that includes:
- What I do
- That I’m “for hire”
- The right hashtags
- My pronouns
- A little humor
- My website address
- And a pinned tweet, which is the tweet I’m currently focusing on promoting
Share your content (and that of others)
Speaking of my pinned tweet, did you notice it’s content from my blog? Yes, I shamelessly self-promote on Twitter, because I assume that’s what my followers want — content from me. I strive to write helpful content, so I want others to get a chance to read it and interact with it. You should do the same.
Whether you’re a graphic designer or a copywriter, sharing your content with Twitter will spread the word about your business and your capabilities. If you write content about travel, then share content about travel. Yours especially, but also that of others. When you find an article helpful or a design inspirational, share it with your network and you will start to become known as a thought leader in your industry. It takes time, but it works.
Network in and out of your industry
Sharing content without followers is an exercise in frustration. To build a network, you must follow others. No idea where to start? Search for the titles you use to define your job and see if there’s anyone else out there calling themselves the same thing. Twitter’s pretty smart about suggesting relevant people for you to follow once it recognizes a pattern. From there, all you have to do it click “follow” next to the recommendation.
And no — I’m not suggesting you “follow the competition.” If that’s the way you look at other freelancers, good luck — you’re making your journey all the more difficult. I’m suggesting you get to know other freelancers in your sphere. These are future friends who can help you grow your network exponentially through word-of-mouth and sharing your content. They may even refer business your way when they’ve got more they can handle.
But of course, you shouldn’t look at your network solely as a tool to promote yourself. Share their content, strengthen your bonds, and congratulate them on their wins, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by a supportive and caring social network that lifts you up.
It’s easy to feel like your voice will get lost in the yawning abyss that is the Twitter feed. But even if it feels like you’re shouting into the wind, someone is listening, so make sure you’re regularly engaging with your network (and outside of it).
It can be intimidating to reply to someone you’re not familiar with, but it’s a necessary step toward building a robust network, so make sure you’re regularly tweeting and replying (in a thoughtful way). For me, this was the biggest barrier to feeling comfortable with Twitter. Just this morning I wrote and deleted a tweet twice because I felt my opinion wasn’t valid enough to share. I finally rewrote it and posted it, and it was liked by people I would consider to be leaders in the industry I write for. Write the tweet, take a deep breath, and hit reply or post. You can always delete it if you feel you need to, but remember that your voice is valuable — letting others hear it is key to getting results when marketing yourself on Twitter.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to meet new people on Twitter and join in on the conversation is to participate in a Twitter chat. Twitter chats are conversations hosted by one to two accounts in which people come together to discuss a topic. Twitter chats center around a hashtag so that people can easily follow the conversation.
For example, @PRisUs hosts a weekly #FreelanceChat on Thursdays at 12:00 pm EST. It’s clear from the hashtag what the chat is about (though the specifics of the topics change week-by-week, for example, this week’s topic is breaking up with a client). To follow this (decidedly awesome) Twitter chat, I log on at the right time, click “Explore” and search for the chat hashtag.
Once it populates, I click on “Latest” to get the newest tweets and replies as soon as they come in. Usually, I keep another tab open with notifications so I can quickly switch over and respond to others as they respond to and mention me during the chat. The most important thing to remember is to use the corresponding hashtag with each tweet and reply so your insight doesn’t get lost in the ether.
Measure Your Impact
For all you data nerds like me out there, there’s Twitter Analytics, a free dashboard that comes with every Twitter account. If it looks like information overload at first, that’s okay. It’s easy to get lost in the data, but don’t let it overwhelm you.
Your Twitter Analytics dashboard shows you a 28-day summary (mine is pictured below) of your activity and how it’s changed over time. It gives you a month-by-month summary of your top tweet, your top mention, your top follower, and your top media tweet, as well as a summary of the same information in the 28-day summary for each month. It’s a handy tool.
If you’re already familiar with the Twitter Analytics dashboard, there are other, more in-depth tools to help you effectively leverage your Twitter account. Check out Hootsuite’s list of 40 Twitter tools for more resources.
Sometimes my content really does seem to evaporate into thin air. Other times, things I didn’t think twice about posting catch fire and spread. It may seem random, but it’s not. You can make the most of your Twitter experience by networking, engaging strategically, and finding the right options to customize your feed.
What’s your favorite Twitter tip? Share it in the comments below.