15 Minute Freelancer

35. Find freelance clients on Twitter

September 24, 2021 Louise Shanahan Season 1 Episode 35
15 Minute Freelancer
35. Find freelance clients on Twitter
Show Notes Transcript

"Being helpful is a rock-solid strategy for attracting clients." And what better place to find people who need your help than on Twitter? In this episode, Louise shares some tips to help you attract more clients on Twitter (and avoid getting sucked into doom-scrolling rabbit holes!).

Louise Shanahan is a freelance health copywriter and content marketer. She's on a mission to help others build a freelance business that feels easy and works for them – in weekly snack-sized bites.

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Welcome to 15 Minute Freelancer, your snack-sized guide to being your own boss and building a business and life you love. I'm your host Louise Shanahan. My LinkedIn bio says I'm a freelance health copywriter. But for the next 15 minutes, I'll be tickling your ears with practical strategies, behind-the-scenes stories, and nuggets of wisdom so you can create a freelance business that works for you. Whether you're just starting out or you've been self-employed for a while, I'll be right here with you to help me navigate the ups and downs of freelancing life. So grab a coffee relax and join me for 15 minutes of freelancing fun. Don't forget to hit subscribe. 

Hey everyone, I hope you’re well. A while back I did an episode on how to find freelance clients on LinkedIn, and a lot of folk seemed to find it useful, and there were some requests to do the same sort of thing for Twitter, so that's what I'm going to cover today - how to find freelance clients on Twitter. 

I know there is a real dark side to Twitter, it’s addictive, it fills our brains with mush, it’s the epitome of clickbait culture, there is a lot of creepy folk, it doesn’t bring out the best in folk a lot of the time, their reporting process sucks. Ok, so why use it, ha! I actually really enjoy Twitter. There are some real upsides if you’re intentional in how you use it. That means having some awareness of when you’re getting sucked into rabbit holes that are going to steal your time and energy, and making sure you only follow and engage with people who are going to be bringing the right kind of energy to your feed. 

That doesn’t necessarily mean creating an echo chamber for yourself, I think it’s good to follow people who have different perspectives and different experiences and expertise than you, but there’s maybe a difference between how you curate your feed for professional purposes versus personal purposes. Mine is somewhere in the middle. I’m conscious that it’s primarily a work account, where I want people to see me as a professional, but it’s still just me, right? I like and share posts that aren’t strictly work-related, I share random bits n bobs about my daily life or thoughts, so it’s obvious what my non-work interests and politics are without that being the main focus of the account. If I think of that from a client-attraction perspective, well, I do want to attract clients who have a similar outlook to me, so I’m not trying to hide any aspect of my personality or politics. I think of it as a kind of watercooler, if such things still exist – like, if I worked in an office, I’d maybe chat about non-work stuff around the watercooler, but I’m still aware that I’m at work, if that makes sense. Do office workers still chat around a water cooler? Do they all traipse out to Starbucks instead? Or have walking meetings? I guess it’s all on Zoom now anyway. Ok, I’m getting off track.

Although I spend way too much time on Twitter, it's not my main source of new clients so I’m not writing every single tweet with that specific purpose in mind, I don't have a finely tuned client-finding strategy on Twitter, but even with a more relaxed approach, I do get a decent number of leads from Twitter, so hopefully, if I share what I do, you might get some ideas for your own Twitter lead gen strategy.

So, my approach to Twitter falls into three parts – community, content, and then attracting clients. In other words, who I am connecting with? What communities am I part of on Twitter? Who do I want to interact with and how? Then, the content, what am I actually tweeting about? And finally, how do I translate all of that into getting leads from new clients and making a sale, as it were.

Let’s start with your Twitter community and how you make connections.

This is very timely actually, because this week (we’re in mid-September) I had the honour of hosting Content Club UK. You may have heard me mention this before, Content Club UK is a community of content marketers and content creators – there are writers, designers, strategists, SEO experts, technical writers, all sorts, and we meet every Tuesday at 11am UK time for 30 mins. One person hosts, this week it was me, and we ask three questions and then have a bit of a chat around that particular theme. It's such a lovely community. When I first discovered this group, it was such a relief. I realised freelancing didn’t have to be a lonely experience. It could be fun. I could make friends! It was the first time I realised that other freelancers aren't my competition. There's plenty of work for everyone, and we can really help each other. People share advice, support each other, cheer each other on, and it's a really brilliant source of support, especially if you work alone.

So if you're interested, you can go and search the hashtag #ContentClubUK and you'll find this week's chat, which was all around the theme of change, how the world of content creation has changed over the last year or so, how content creators discuss changes with clients, and what we'd love to change about the content world if we could wave our magic wand.

Anyway! My point here is really that finding this community was also what made Twitter really click for me. Online networking is more fun if you are genuinely friends with people you interact with. This community has helped me no end – not just by making friends and finding a bit of moral support from people who are in the same boat as me, but because my business works mostly through referrals, building relationships with people who might one day pass on my name to new leads has been really effective from a business point of view.

There are loads of Twitter communities and twitter hours, so I suggest trying out a few and seeing which one feels like a good fit for you. Some others are #FreelanceHeroes, #FreelanceChat, there are industry-specific ones too. You could even start one of your own.

Next, you want to think about who to connect with. Who you should follow?

-       Firstly, I suggest connecting with other freelancers, people you meet in these chats, for the reasons I just mentioned

-       People who are leaders in the industry or industries you’re interested in, the people who you might look to, to keep up to date with the latest news or trends in your industry so you can interact with their communities, get on their radar by joining in the conversation, and pick up some interesting talking points for discussions with new clients

-       People who work for the companies you’d like to work with, so this might be the CEOs, the marketing managers, sales leads, and so on, who might be in a position to hire someone who does what you do – and if you’ve built a relationship with them, hopefully you’ll be top of mind when they do need to hire someone

-       People who regularly post job opportunities that fit what you’re looking for, e.g. Kat Boogard, Sian Meades-William, Michael Keenan and Elise Dopson at Peak Freelance, others post about freelance writing jobs

-       Anyone whose tweets you enjoy! Consider following people in industries that are completely different from the one you work in, so you can gather new perspectives and maybe find some interesting stories, research, a new twist on your usual messages to add a new angle to your own content, and bring new insights to your audience. 

Oh and just a side note here, you decide who you follow. It’s your feed. Don’t follow people because you feel obliged to. I’m not into this whole follow me and I’ll follow you back thing. If you follow me, please don’t be offended if I don’t follow you back. I don’t really get that. I don’t expect people to follow me because I follow them. I don’t even really look at the notifications of new followers. I just follow people based on what catches my eye in my feed or who I’ve DM’ed. I know some people like to send a wee message to new followers to say hi, thanks for following, and maybe an open question to get a conversation started. That sounds like a good plan to me, as it builds a closer relationship for the start. I don’t do that personally, maybe I should! Similarly, you should feel free to unfollow people whenever you want. You don’t owe anyone a follow. If someone is bringing content into your feed that doesn’t sit right with you or triggers you or makes you feel bad in some way, you can decide to unfollow. It’s your feed.

You can also organise with lists if that helps you keep your feed tidy.

So next, what should you actually post about? 

  • Most importantly, I think you want to avoid being one of those people who just like other people’s tweets. You’re not going to build any meaningful relationships that way. So the number one rule is to engage authentically – reply to other people’s posts, and if you want to retweet them, try to get in the habit of using quote retweet so you can add an insight of your own or mentioning something that stood out for you. That’ll help you start your own conversation around a topic.
  • When you’re posting your own tweets, it’s kind of the same approach as with other social media platforms. Educate, entertain. Let people get to know you. Think about how you can demonstrate your expertise, share what you’ve learned about topics you want to be known for. 
  • Share your successes and failures, share examples of your work. Remember, if you want to attract clients or be known for a particular type of work, you need to be sharing examples of that work, and talking about that work. If you want to be hired to design Squarespace websites, there’s not much point talking about the benefits of WordPress all day long. If you want people to hire you for conversion-focused sales page copywriting for eCommerce brands, but you only ever share examples of your blog writing, people aren’t going to know to hire you for their sales page projects. You get the idea.
  • Think about using threads, polls, questions, see what resonates and gets the biggest reaction. Don’t worry about going viral or getting thousands of followers. We’re all about the 1000 true fans theory here, right? I talked about that on the vanity metrics episode, which I’ll link to in the show notes.
  • Some people have a rule about only tweeting about a single topic or a few topics, and this seems to be a fast way to grow your account. But it’s up to you how rigid you want to be with this. Others just tweet about what they’re interested in, what’s on their mind at a given point in the day. It’s up to you. I generally try to stay focused on marketing, copywriting, freelancing and health topics, but I’m sure the odd GBBO tweet makes it through now and then.

How often to post? As often as you want, really. I wouldn’t be aiming for 20-30 tweets a day or anything, but if you only tweet a couple of times a week it’s going to take a while to build relationships. I sometimes set aside 20 mins in the morning to engage with people, tweet what I’m up to and so on. As with all aspects of marketing your freelance business, if it’s not workable, you’re not going to stick to it. But at the same time, if you’re serious about seeing results from something, you do have to put in a little effort too.

One way to get more mileage out of this and save effort is to think about how you can repurpose content. So, have you got blog posts you could turn into tweets? Can you come up with a few ideas each week and reuse and rework those posts on other social media platforms? I usually cross-post my more uh, insightful tweets on LinkedIn. And it’s interesting to see what the different response is on the two platforms. You can also turn Twitter threads into blog posts. 

As I say, some people like to focus on a particular topic or a few topics, and mention those in their profile. Your profile should make clear what you do and what you tweet about, to help people decide if they want to follow you or hire you. Include your website address or contact page or link to your newsletter sign-up page or whatever, depending on what you want them to do most. What’s your call to action. And while we’re on profiles, I def recommend including a real photo of yourself in your profile. Unless you’re wanting to participate in a communicate where avatars are the norm, like NFTs, I dunno, if you’re a crypto copywriter or something.

Finally, how does this translate into new clients?

I don’t seek out people I want to work with and then go for a hard sell. It’s more about creating a feed that reflects the kind of conversations you want to have with clients, and hopefully a feed that genuinely interests you so you want to be there and you feel inspired to contribute. 

So it’s really about attracting leads through networking and building relationships, starting conversations that lead to new projects.

More directly, you should keep an eye out for people in your network who are looking for help with a problem you solve. You want to get good at spotting when someone’s looking to hire someone with your skillset and putting yourself forward (you can search periodically for posts like this). That might involve a direct offer of help, or you might just share a blog post or recommend something they can do to solve their problem. Being helpful is pretty much a failsafe strategy.

I suggest also making a concerted effort to interact with people who fit your dream client description – not in a stalky way, but just getting to know them and letting them get to know you in a natural way. I don’t love the idea of cold pitching on Twitter, but maybe it works for some people. If you go back and listen to the episode with Bree Weber on cold pitching, there may be some ideas there that could be applied to Twitter. 

Finally, if you want people to hire you, at some point, you have to make the ask - let people know they can hire you and how – so every so often, remind people what you do and how they can hire you, or share your availability or whatever. A lot of the time people might not realise you’re available or feel awkward about DM’ing you, so don’t hesitate to make this an obvious ask. Sometimes people will say ‘oh thanks for the reminder’ or ‘oh we might need someone who does that actually’. Again, if you do this in a natural and genuine way, it won’t feel too salesy or pushy. Although there’s nothing wrong with selling really, that’s a bit of mindset hurdle a lot of us have to try to get over – you have a service that people need, there’s nothing wrong with advertising that fact. We might do a separate episode on that!

So my Twitter client attraction strategy is a bit of a softly softly approach. It’s a long game. It’s a very effective way to find clients but if you need clients right this second and you need the cash in your account right now, there are quicker ways to do that. 

Um, I think that pretty much covers the basics of finding clients on Twitter. I’m sure there are a million other ways to do this, but this is my approach. Just being myself, not overthinking it, making it fun or at least doable, otherwise I’ll not stick to it. Maybe that has given you some ideas for yourself. Let me know how you get on – I’m @louiseshanahan_ on Twitter, come and say hi!

You've been listening to 15 Minute Freelancer with me, Louise Shanahan, freelance health copywriter and content marketer at thecopyprescription.com. If you enjoyed this, please hit subscribe, leave a review or share it with a freelance friend. And if you've got a freelancing question you want answered on the podcast find me and say hi on Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. Thanks, and until next time, happy freelancing!