You hear how you have to have an online presence as a part of your freelance career, but what does that mean? How do you do it? Why is it so important?
I started to understand when Facebook was booming in high school. Eventually, I hopped on the social media bandwagon and created an account. Before long, I was caught up in this online world where my friends and acquaintances engaged outside of school and showed a whole new side of them.
The power of social media REALLY struck me once I graduated. Suddenly, I wasn’t seeing my classmates as often (or not at all anymore for some), yet I still knew what their college dorm looked like, who they were dating, and even who had a baby. I felt like I was continuing to learn about these people without even really knowing them in real life.
And that’s kinda what you want to accomplish with your online presence—you want your audience to feel like they know you just by what you share online.
Let’s talk about it.
Before we get into it, you’ll also want a bangin’ portfolio to show off your skills once you ramp up your online presence! Whether you need to start from scratch or give it a boost, my free guide will lead the way. Access the guide below.
What is it?
Ok, so what does it mean to grow an online presence?
It may include:
- More followers
- More impressions
- More engagement
By growing an online presence, you’ll grow your brand. And in the case of freelancing, it’s kind of a personal brand unless you build an agency or something similar. If it’s just you, then YOU are the brand.
With that may come an increase in followers (people who subscribe to your online channels), impressions (the number of times your content is seen by someone), and more engagement (when people react, comment, or share your content).
The more of these elements you have, the more well known you’ll be online!
Why do you want to do it?
Some reasons why having an online presence is important for a freelancer like you include:
- You’ll show off your skills. The internet is a great place to start conversations and publish content around what you know so others understand what you’re all about.
- You’ll build an audience. The more people who know about you and “follow” you, the more people will be exposed to your content and have you top of mind if they are in need of your expertise.
- You’ll network and make connections. It’s all about who you know now. So it’s more than just putting out content—when you start making personal connections with people and engaging with others with similar interests as you, you never know how many doors that may open!
- You can attract prospects. By building your audience and making connections, that all results in attracting prospects. The more people who know what you’re about, the better shape you’ll be in for leads!
- You can learn from others. By building an online presence and engaging with other like-minded people, you are bound to learn from others. Seek out people who have more experience than you, who may do business differently, or have interesting perspectives. Different people may make you think differently about how you work that could improve yourself as a writer!
What I love about social media and being online is that I can’t tell you how many people I’ve learned from who I could contribute to becoming a better writer. I learned a lot in school, but learning from other writers all over the WORLD is unmatched.
Where do you do it?
There are a few places I recommend building an online presence including any social media platform and your own website/online portfolio.
My favorite social media platforms as far as the marketing/freelance/writing communities are LinkedIn and Twitter. TikTok actually has a pretty strong freelance/writing community also. I’ve had the most engagement and growth on Twitter, though! I think it’s just a casual, user-friendly platform that isn’t so intimidating. It’s easy to tweet little snippets of thoughts here and there and easy to interact with others.
As far as a website/online portfolio, I ALWAYS recommend having even a simple website for two main reasons:
- When you engage with prospects, it’s always good to have a professional website or online portfolio to look more legit.
- You don’t own your social media.
The thing with social media is tricky. Do you remember Vine? When it shut down, all of the creators on there had to start from scratch…and many of them who didn’t have websites and solely relied on Vine as their only platform REALLY had to start from scratch.
This is because they didn’t own their audience. If their audience only existed on Vine, they had no control over them or a way to reach them once the app kicked the bucket. So many had to start from zero after working so hard for the audience they had.
You don’t want to be like so many of the Vine creators. When you have your own website and can build an email list, YOU own your email list, YOU own your platform, and YOU have complete control. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok…any of them could shut down tomorrow, and you don’t want to suffer from it.
How do you do it?
There are several types of content and strategies you can deploy to create your online presence, like:
- Plan social posts ahead of time. It may only take 30-60 minutes per week to draft some good social posts so you don’t even have to think about it every day. When I don’t plan, I feel a little scattered for the week. Planning ahead is key!
- Publish original blog posts. If you create a website, blogging is an awesome way to improve your online presence, show off your expertise, and build a jackpot of writing samples for your prospects. The benefits of blogging are endless.
- Engage with others. This is VERY important—it’s hard to gain exposure by just using social media as a one-way street, so don’t just publish content, engage with others. You get what you put into it for sure.
How do you create GOOD content though?
When do you do it?
There are a few things to keep in mind when you think about timing in general. Speaking more generally, it’s never too late to start building an online presence, so don’t feel like you’re too behind.
Also, as far as your publishing frequency, it’s important to choose a schedule and stick to it. Maybe you’ll want to aim for one blog post per week, one written social post per day per platform, and one video to share per week. Whatever works for you, stick to it! That way, you will regularly be putting out content and have more of a chance to be seen by more people.
Each platform may also have more of an ideal time to publish. For example, you may not gain as much traction on LinkedIn at 10:00 pm, but a tweet on Twitter may see more action around that time. It’s always a good idea to test out different times of day with different platforms—who knows, depending on your audience/niche, you could see more activity at different times than other content creators on the same platforms.
Phew, that was a lot. Now what?
Ok so if you’re just out of the gate with starting to build your online presence, this may all feel completely overwhelming. But consider this post more as an overview of what the whole picture could look like and take it in baby steps. In your earliest days, start by:
- Choosing your niche. Essentially, choose a topic that you could talk about non-stop. You don’t necessarily have to talk about writing or marketing to show that you’re good at it, you can just do it—apply your skills to your content and show that you’re good at it without having to say it directly.
- Choosing one social platform to publish content.
- Building a simple website/online portfolio.
- Publishing content consistently based on a schedule that works for you (even if you only post once per week).
Simplicity is the way to go, and as you feel more comfortable, start adding more to your content strategy. Even if you begin by simply responding to other people’s original content, that’s still a great start!
Keep in mind that you may not experience that much engagement right away either, but don’t lose hope! Consistency, trying new things (because the algorithm is weird and always changing on all platforms), learning from others…it all takes time.
Don’t get too caught up with follower count or “likes” or any of that also. Be patient, just create your content, and make connections with your audience. Everything will eventually fall into place.
Start your online presence journey today! Commit to it by commenting below about your first step..