Recently a group of new Freelancers joined my workshop for the Hive subscribers. All of them were focusing their time and energy on gaining clients on freelancing platforms and neglected LinkedIn.
When starting out, you are desperate for your first client. It is understandable, but you are missing out on opportunities to build a client list that you have control over. You command the rate of pay based on what you feel your service is worth.
With a freelancing platform, you compete against people whose cost of living is drastically lower than yours. Price often rules on these platforms because clients have smaller budgets.
What is LinkedIn?
Think of it as Facebook for business. You create a profile where you can share your experience and skills. Join groups for interests and industries. The focus is to provide you with tools to find people who would be good additions to your network.
Over the last couple of months, LinkedIn has transitioned into a content platform where you can attract a following and showcase your skills.
For Freelancers, this is where your clients will spend time networking and learning new skills through content like yours.
What are the first steps to using LinkedIn?
Create or update your profile. Think about the services you offer clients and tell them why they need to hire you.
Think about the challenges that they have and how you can help them. What are the benefits for them to hire a freelancer?
Start to think about what companies you would like to work for. Create a list of 6 to 10 companies and use the search functionality in LinkedIn to find people who work for the company that you can network with and build a relationship with.
We will be going into more detail about how to use LinkedIn as a Freelancer, but this should get you started.
Here is why freelancers need LinkedIn.
Less need for a website
Having a website to showcase your skills is essential, but not at the cost of starting your freelance business. This is one of the biggest hurdles that new freelancers face. LinkedIn is a great place to start if you do not have the technical skills or budget to build a website.
Your LinkedIn profile is your home page, portfolio, introduction to your services and communication channel with potential clients.
For a website, you will have monthly or annual costs for hosting and securing your domain name.
LinkedIn does not cost anything
You do not have any upfront cost to promote your freelancing business on LinkedIn other than your time creating content.
Having a website would take up more of your time with maintenance, building an audience and learning the technical skills required. That said, please read the section on the downside of relying on third parties for acquiring clients for your freelance business.
It is advised you limit the amount of time you spend on LinkedIn because it can be addictive. Your time is money, so limit it to 30 minutes at the end of the day or whatever works best for you.
Your current clients should be your focus, but having a strategy to acquire new clients is essential to keep your revenue flowing.
Your content is found quickly
Create engaging content and use no more than 3 hashtags within your content to get it found quickly within LinkedIn. This guide on how to create content for LinkedIn is a must-read.
The trick is to be consistent, so post regularly and use this as an opportunity to showcase your skills and attract your target clients.
Compare this with an article on your website that can take 30-40 days to start to generate decent traffic, and that depends on:
- The on-page optimization you have implemented.
- How competitive are the search terms targeted?
- How many links do you have pointing to the article and website?
That said another warning. Creating content is a better long term strategy to attract clients, so you should think about having a website.
Spend time where your target clients are active
At this point, we will assume that you have come up with the services you can provide clients. The next step is finding places where your clients are online, and one of those places will be on LinkedIn.
Think about the timezones your clients will be active.
Do not assume that people are not around at the weekend. Entrepreneurs will be using LinkedIn when there is less customer communication and staff are enjoying their weekends. It can be the perfect time to network.
LinkedIn opens up more opportunities and doors.
Become active on LinkedIn by creating content and engaging with posts to open up new doors that lead to opportunities.
Imagine the impact if you receive media attention from a conversation with a journalist on LinkedIn? From leaving comments on a post, you end up receiving invites to speaking events and podcasts.
It’s all possible if you take action, be engaging and consistent.
The downside of using LinkedIn for your freelance business
It would be inappropriate of me not to mention one big downside of using LinkedIn as a freelancer. You have no control over your content and network. Using third parties to build a business is not advised, so your long term vision is to have a website, an email list you have control of.
Algorithms can change, and overnight content can no longer be found, or your profile stops appearing in the search results.
Hopefully, this guide helps you understand why freelancers need LinkedIn and how the platform can help you attract clients.
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