Social media is notoriously bad for your focus, your productivity, and, ultimately, your mental health.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Used properly, social media can be a valuable tool in your arsenal.
Freelancers who master their social media presence rarely lack work. Their problem changes from “how do I find clients” to “how do I scale my business to keep up with demand”.
In this article, you will find out how a freelancer can use Twitter effectively to get more work (and better work) while avoiding the pitfalls of social media.
If a tree falls in the forest…
Have you ever felt like you’re not getting enough recognition for your work?
Join the club! Artists, scientists, and engineers all over the world feel your pain. When you work quietly and only publish your work on occasion, the silence of the world can be deafening.
Not to mention the annoying lack of silence from your relatives who want to know when you’re gonna give up and get a real job. Preferably in a government office lined with file cabinets.
As a freelancer, you can avoid this problem by consistently publishing and promoting your work. Whether it’s your design portfolio, your blog, or your open-source software projects, share it with Twitter. Don’t only share the final product, but share the entire process of creation. Share your thoughts. Ask questions. Showcase your skill, but also show vulnerability.
You might be surprised how friendly and receptive the world suddenly becomes.
To paraphrase a classic philosophical question:
If a freelancer creates an awesome portfolio and no one is around to see it, does it even exist?
Follow the movers and shakers
Ask yourself three questions:
- Who are the people who hire people like you?
- Who can give you a great referral?
- Which startups just received funding?
You can find the answers by interacting with Twitter users in your niche. After a few weeks of daily effort, you should have a good idea of who the movers and shakers are. Follow them, interact with them, and keep your eyes open for opportunities.
Follow successful freelancers
Who better to learn from than other freelancers who happen to be at a more advanced stage of their career?
By following (and talking to) the right people, you can learn the tricks of the trade, make friends, get leads, and be inspired. Here are some examples to get you started: Kyle Prinsloo, Morgan Overholt, and yours truly.
Don’t follow distractions
On the flip side, do your best not to follow your favorite athletes, politicians, and other distractions. You should view Twitter as a place to do business, not as a place to read news, banter with your friends, start a fantasy football league, and occasionally do business. If you must do all these other things, start a second account.
Distraction isn’t the only problem, or even the biggest problem. There would be no harm in occasionally checking your favorite musician’s Twitter if it weren’t for one thing - the Twitter algorithm. The algorithm will notice your activity and start pushing more and more similar content to you, and if you interact with it, your feed will soon be more similar to a Vanity Fair article than to a professional tool.
Your attention is a finite resource. Use it wisely.
Use a scheduling tool
Problem: you want to have a strong presence on Twitter, but you don’t want to spend 4 hours a day tweeting.
Solution: use a tool that reduces your daily input to 30 minutes.
There’s a myriad of social media management tools out there. I use TweetHunter but you can use any tool you like.
The choice of tool isn’t as important as how you use it. The main principles to adhere to:
- Schedule tweets at least a few days in advance. You don’t want to miss days because you’re too busy or uninspired. The algorithm doesn’t appreciate inactivity.
- Use lists. The Twitter timeline is messy and fickle. Add users you want to interact with to lists. On Tweet Hunter, you can import Twitter lists to benefit from a better UX, scheduled replies, etc. Other tools probably have similar options.
- Engage on a schedule. Log in a few times per day, 10-15 minutes at a time, and keep your focus. No need to hang out on the site all day.
- Engage meaningfully. Responding “that’s cool” to 100 tweets is less helpful than writing one valuable response. Focus on quality and your target audience.
Keep this up for a while and you will start to see results. About once a week I scroll randomly to create a bit of randomness in my feed, but that’s my personal preference and entirely optional.
Play the long gameForget about “growth hacking”. Don’t check your follower count daily if you can help it. Instead, make genuine connections.
Interact with people you have something to learn from, people who can learn something from you, and people who inspire you. Opportunities will come your way organically.
Be generous with knowledge and don’t try to sell anything for at least the first 6 months. I guarantee it will pay off in the long run. Just recently I’ve had the following offers through Twitter without asking for any of them:
- Write for a startup.
- Record a course for a corporation’s content hub.
- Give a lecture at a conference.
- Co-found a SaaS.
I didn’t explicitly ask for any of these. Offers find you naturally as you create and share valuable content.
Careful who you learn from
There are hundreds of Twitter courses and eBooks out there. Most of them are cheap, full of platitudes, and a waste of your time.
One I can recommend is Dagobert Renouf's How To Dominate Twitter course. Dagobert is one of the most genuine people I've met on Twitter. He took a lot of time to experiment and figure out how Twitter works and compile this knowledge into a course.
If you want to get serious about Twitter growth, he's your man.
Success is found in unexpected places
People have built 6-figure businesses by posting memes. If you have a funny side, let it shine.
I’m not saying you need to create memes, just remember: there is enough serious stuff going on in everybody’s life. Nobody is against having a laugh. Some of my most popular tweets have been snarky takes about the tech industry.
Keep an open mind, build genuine connections, and don't give up. Success will find you.