You’ve spent years developing your skills as a creative professional. You’ve shared your work with the world on your online portfolio, but now what? It’d be great if that’s all it took—produce great work and get the client of your dreams.
If you want to land your dream client, you need to get out there and hustle. You need a marketing strategy to ensure your work gets seen by the right people.
Illustrator Sabrina Smelko cites social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Behance and Dribble as the source of 25% of her clients. “I personally think anyone trying to make it as a freelancer should be present on social media,” she said.
“43% of all social media users have purchased a product after sharing or favourite it—and that includes hiring a creative professional”Vision Critical, 2013
These ten tips will help you grow your following, establish your notoriety and land the client all through your social media channels.
1. Engage with your followers.
Communication is a two-way street. Imagine you’re at a dinner party and just talking about yourself—it’s obnoxious and no one will like you. The same etiquette holds true online.
If your strategy is to simply spam people, chances are they won’t click/like/share your work. You may find that you’re actually losing your audience. Instead, take an active role in your community of followers—interact with their posts and it’s likely they will do the same.
Make an effort to create an engaging environment and watch as your social media audience becomes more engaged.
2. Post consistently.
If your social media goes dark for weeks at a time, you’re not doing yourself or your followers any favours. Waiting weeks, or even days, between posts can kill off the enthusiasm you’ve built up. This can lead to an uninterested audience or people jumping ship completely and unfollowing you.
Make a schedule that suits your workflow and keep it up. It could be that you have new work every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or perhaps you post your best work from the week on Sunday mornings. It doesn’t need to be a huge undertaking; it just needs to be consistent.
Use a social media management dashboard like Hootsuite or Buffer to manage multiple social media platforms and schedule your posts. This way, you can follow a calendar to be sure you’re posting frequently, and reply to your audience organically.
3. Play tag.
You may have left the game of tag in your past, but your social media strategy can learn a thing or two from this school yard game.
If you’re mentioning another person or company on social media, be sure to look up their account and tag it. Tagging a brand or a person will let them know that you are talking about them and can be the first step in fostering a new relationship.
It will dramatically increase your chances of a re-post, and will also show up to their network’s audience on their social media feeds. This means more exposure for both parties—it’s win-win.
4. Find your niche.
Social media can create useful allies, so when you’re building your community, find like-minded accounts and people to follow.
Conduct an audit on your followers. Ask yourself, who are the top professionals in your field? What communities already exist in your industry? Which brands matter most to you? Once you’ve got the answers, you’ll know who you should be following.
Keep tabs on brands and publications you want to work for one day. Follow those you admire and do them a solid by re-tweeting or sharing their updates and work. Build off these relationships.
If you’re a wedding photographer, it doesn’t make sense to cultivate a legion of UX mobile designers in the hopes of expanding your network. Find other accounts in your niche and it’s likely they’ll be interested in following you back.
5. Strike a balance.
Look at your social media activity and take a tally of your original posts, reposts and replies. This is a great indicator to see if you’re engaging or spamming.
You don’t want to spend all your time talking about yourself—this can get boring and makes you sound a bit self-absorbed. Most experts say that your ratio should 3:1 for original content. For every single post about yourself, there should be three posts of curated content: a post that talks about someone or something else.
When selecting what to share with your followers, remember to keep it on brand and relevant to your audience. Include your opinion, point of view or commentary along with the link or image.
Curated content lets you engage with your community while also commenting on relevant topics and sharing the love with other creative professionals.
6. Be conversational.
Social media is a great place to strike up conversations. Think of it as the water cooler at work or even a creative workshop. Simply asking for feedback on an image is a great way to facilitate meaningful engagement with your followers.
You’ll be surprised by how a candid question can generate chatter. It’s no secret that question posts get more comments than statements so be curious; ask your audience for their opinions and insight.
Focus on should, would and which questions—they get the most engagement. Avoid how, why and where as they are less likely to get your audience excited.
The more conversational your accounts are, the more connected your audience will feel to you and your work.
7. Get analytical.
Like everything in your career, some social media strategies will work for you while others might miss the mark. It’s important to keep track of what is working and what isn’t worth your time and effort.
Enable Google Analytics on your portfolio. You’ll be able to figure out which platforms and posts are driving the most traffic to your portfolio.
Facebook and Twitter also have insight tools for your company page that can tell you a lot about your audience and engagement. Once you know which posts are attracting attention to your portfolio, you can keep doing what’s working and adjust what isn’t.
8. Timing is everything.
A large component of social media success is posting at the right time. “The best times to post on social media are when the people you want to see the content are on the network,” says Julie Neidlinger of CoSchedule. “That’s the easy answer. And not a useful answer.”
Post on Twitter between 12-3 pm during the workweek. Instagram audiences are engaged throughout the week, but Mondays might get you a bit more attention. Facebook posts do best from 1-4 pm Wednesday through Sunday.
9. Visualize it.
People don’t engage equally with every post on social media. This might seem obvious for creative professionals, but images generate more engagement on social media.
“Photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs on links than text-based posts”Buffer, 2013
On Twitter, adding an image to your post can result in a 35% boost in retweets.
Share photos that interest your target audience. These seven tools can help you create amazing social media graphics without Photoshop. People are more likely to skip words and go straight to the photo, so make sure it’s a great one!
10. Define your style and stick to it.
Your social media should be an extension of your online portfolio and personal brand, so make sure your accounts have the same look and feel. Remember: clients and followers love your stuff because they love your style, so be consistent.
Your style will give your brand (aka you) a unique identity that will help differentiate you and your work from other creative professionals. Your followers should see your images in their newsfeed and know right away that it is your photo, painting, design or illustration.
A random photo from your grandmother’s birthday party might stick out or make you lose followers if you tend to keep things strictly business (sorry, grandma). Don’t stray too far from your aesthetic.
For more tips on how to market your online portfolio, download our free 50+ page ebook More Traffic, More Money, More Fame: How To Market Your Online Portfolio.