Social media: Major time waster, or strategic client acquisition channel?
🌏 LinkedIn operates with over 930 million active professionals each month, and that’s just one source of networking. Some 74% of freelancers use multiple social media networks — Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and even TikTok — to promote their services.
While social media opens a whole new world of opportunities, navigating a sea of 3.5 billion users, without a strategy, is treacherous. You need a plan to stand out and get on the radar of your ideal clients.
This isn’t your scrolling handbook or meme-sharing manual. No, this is your ultimate guide for learning how to strategically use various social media platforms to acquire freelance clients, grow your brand and succeed.
The short answer is that it depends entirely on your niche.
Journalists, marketers and content writers swear by Twitter; Creative independents scoop clients on Instagram; LinkedIn is our top choice universally for freelancers — a career-focused network with 930 million members in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.
Twitter is a great place to build a presence if you freelance in journalism, marketing and content writing. Solopreneurs in software development and design also exhibit great success in snagging clients from Twitter.
Pros of Twitter
Cons of Twitter
Instagram is a solid choice for getting clients in creative industries: photography, design, styling, brand advisory. It’s also a go-to spot for all sorts of business and lifestyle coaches, plus freelance educators with a knack for visual storytelling.
Pros of Instagram
Cons of Instagram
LinkedIn is an all-purpose platform for freelance knowledge workers. It’s the place to be for building professional connections in your industry with global audiences. If you do any type of online work, you should be on LinkedIn!
Pros of LinkedIn
Cons of LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a calling card and a CV/resume, meshed into one profile. It’s where 63 million companies come searching for talent, both in-house and freelance. LinkedIn helps you present your work expertise and service lines online so that you can get discovered by prospective clients.
Freelancers can use LinkedIn for both active and passive client-hunting.
Whichever works best for you, we’ll start with the same steps for total profile optimization.
Your LinkedIn profile headline is the first conversion hook in your sales channel. It appears right after your full name in connection requests and search results.
A winning LinkedIn headline speaks directly to your targets’ goals and pain points, and entices them to learn more about your background.
There are several formulas used by industry pros that may help you write a click-inducing LinkedIn headliner Remember that you’ve got 220 characters to play with:
It’s important to remember that your goal is to describe, in one snappy line, how you can be of service to others. To make your LinkedIn headline more compact, try incorporating special symbols like:
Communicate your value immediately, don’t be afraid to brag a little, like Jacob here. You’re offering a valuable service from your unique expertise to someone who needs it — let them know.
💡 Pro tip: Pretend that you're an ad copywriter — don't just write 1 or 2 LinkedIn headlines, write 10+! Then test out a few of your favorites to see which ones get the best traction.
LinkedIn provides you with two image spaces, for both your headshot and a profile banner. Making good use of both gives you a branding boost and helps stand out to clients.
Let’s tackle your profile photo for starters — your face should take at least 60% of the frame, and a warm smile is proven to help. Profile pictures with smiling people get rated as more likable, competent and influential (and a toothy smile does that 2x!).
🤓If you really want to have the ultimate people-pleasing photo, there’s an entire research paper on selecting a profile picture.
A professional photographer or a photography-savvy friend snapping a few classy candids of you should do the trick. Say cheese!
Next, switch to doing your LinkedIn profile banner — a 1584 × 396 pixels graphic to place alongside your profile photo. Select a similar color scheme to your profile picture for a nice sense of continuity. Avoid placing too much text next to the headshot or the background will look too busy.
Need an idea for something truly eye-catching? Try…
Ubaid combined a one-line elevator pitch, key service lines, a bragging right and his contact deets into one memorable banner.
Your LinkedIn profile headline serves as a teaser — a LinkedIn profile summary seals the deal.
LinkedIn provides a 2,000-character slot (around 300-500 words) for your summary, which sits atop your profile after the header section. However, it has a "See more" breakpoint after the first 250 characters (or roughly three lines).
Your goal is to pique the readers’ interest within those first sentences.
A good LinkedIn profile summary introduces new connections to who you are, what you do and who you're looking to collaborate with. It's important to be authentic when showcasing the unique services you offer.
Looking for some inspiration?
B2B copywriter Vasilena Vasilеva takes an unconventional approach by complimenting her connections, and piquing their interest with a “Click to see more” lead 😉
You may take a more conventional approach, like Krissie Claire does with introducing her main services right from the get-go.
💡 Pro tip: Give these new prospects a call-to-action (CTA) — a short statement, prompting their next step, such as sending an inMail message, scheduling a meeting with you or checking your website.
In 2021, LinkedIn launched its Services Marketplace — a no-frills promotion tool for independents. In several clicks, you can list a number of services you offer at the top of your profile.
When a prospect clicks “Show details,” they’re taken to a new page with CTA buttons (message, request a proposal), a LinkedIn page summary and availability-by-location information.
Service pages improve your discoverability, and LinkedIn automatically sends requests for proposals to multiple service providers who fit the user’s search criteria.
LinkedIn relies on different signals when deciding on how to rank your profile in search results for any given keyword (e.g., Shopify developer).
LinkedIn ranking signals include:
LinkedIn needs the above information to rank and recommend your profile, based on your professional background.
Optimizing your Skills section is the #1 place to start.
LinkedIn enables you to list up to 50 skills on your profile, and categorizes these skills into three areas:
You can either go with a LinkedIn-suggested order or reorder these skills manually.
This isn’t necessarily a game of “The more, the merrier!” LinkedIn will give the most weight to skills with the highest number of endorsements and upvotes from other members.
Endorsements also have different weights. The most influential endorsements come from your colleagues and connections LinkedIn considers to be highly skilled.
Start with a list of 8 to 10 core skills. Then reach out to your network, especially former colleagues, to give you endorsements. You have another option to add more substance to your Skills section by completing LinkedIn Skill Assessments — free tests for proving your proficiency in the skills you’ve claimed.
Pro tip: Don’t rely only on this skills section! Sprinkle them strategically in your LinkedIn headline, summary and work experience sections too.
LinkedIn also provides ample space for curating your portfolio items.
Start by using the vibrant Featured profile section, which allows clipping links, videos, images, audio, Word, PowerPoint and PDF files. You can even save highlighted LinkedIn posts and articles there.
A Featured section is a great place to display work samples and general client information (e.g., an overview of your main service lines, rate card, etc).
Finally, you have the Experience section. A great place to organize clips and work samples by both client and project. Use both the featured and experience sections harmoniously to really show off your chops!
If you’re a newbie freelancer, your problem isn’t that your reputation is flawed. Your problem is that you don’t have one yet! While this doesn’t necessarily harm your brand, it also isn’t helping much.
LinkedIn allows you to collect and curate social proof in the form of testimonials to confirm that you're great at what you do.
So once you’re done with all other LinkedIn profile optimizing, reach out to your connections — former colleagues, clients, mentors — for a professional recommendation.
Having a few (3-5) recommendations on your LinkedIn profile is great for building trust with new prospects and standing out amongst a sea of freelancers.
💡 Pro tip: You can (and should) include client testimonials in other ways, such as a Featured post or in your LinkedIn summary. Since the Recommendation section sits at the bottom of your LinkedIn profile, not all users may scroll to it.
LinkedIn connections and followers are potential clients. The more people see your profile, the higher the chances of you getting approached for a new freelance project.
The wrinkle? You probably don’t think you know a lot of people. Moreover, you may feel intimidated to approach strangers online.
Here’s a reality check: LinkedIn is all about networking. Other users expect to connect with interesting, talented pros like you to talk shop (and potential work opportunities).
To effectively grow your following on LinkedIn, start approaching people you like, admire, or find interesting with a personalized message request. Then build out your clout further by starting public conversations — that is creating content.
As mentioned earlier, LinkedIn uses your connections to determine your professional affinity. So if you want to be seen as a pro in skill X in industry Y, you have to mingle with like-minded people.
For example, as a PPC specialist, you’d want to connect with:
A good idea is to first add people from your past companies (LinkedIn will auto-suggest that). Then cast a wider net and reach out to people who have overlapping interests with you, work in the same industry, have a similar or adjacent professional title, or may be interested in hiring freelancers like you.
Build a habit of researching relevant LinkedIn connections and doing a bi-weekly dispatch of new connection requests.
Make things less ackward by pairing your connection request with a quick intro message:
I’m doing [X] in [industry]. We have a shared interest in [a particular topic], so I’ve hoped to connect with you here.
Creator mode sends LinkedIn a signal that you plan to be active on the platform — publish different content types, engage with others, and keep those platform engagement numbers higher.
For your active contribution, LinkedIn rewards you with some extra handy tools like:
Creators on LinkedIn can list hashtags on their profile, plus get a featured “Follow” button among other perks.
All of these tools come in handy if you plan to publish more content to build out your personal brand. LinkedIn rewards active creators boasting high engagement numbers with discretionary “Suggested creators to follow” placements, which can boost your follower and connection counts.
Sharing insightful, attention-grabbing content on LinkedIn is key to attracting leads (and getting some likes, shares, and engagement is rewarding in itself).
🤔 But what content makes that happen?
Jérémy Grandillon shared a brilliantly simple summary for getting started as a creator:
There are some tried and true topics that will garner the attention you’re seeking on LinkedIn if you can speak about them clearly, informatively and with a personal touch:
Next comes the harder job of content production (unless you’re a freelance copywriter or social media marketer of course). To avoid agonizing over the wording, start like any good artist does — copying and adapting the work of others.
Select a couple of winning LinkedIn post formulas and speak to your people in a unique, informative way.
Remember: All LinkedIn content you create should be written for a specific audience — your professional network and your ideal freelance clients. Treat your LinkedIn posts as breadcrumbs, which lure prospects one interesting conversation at a time. By showing your knowledge, personal hacks, or sharing an opinion on industry events you can build meaningful connections with others and position yourself as an authority in your niche.
The key to growing a following on LinkedIn is to not get discouraged if your first few posts go unnoticed. LinkedIn loves and rewards consistency, so keep at it! As long as you’re writing passionately, and not just posting for the sake of posting, you should gain traction in the niche you own.
Spend 1-2 hours a week writing and scheduling your LinkedIn content. (LinkedIn has its own native post scheduling tool). Keep sharing stuff even if your traction is low, while also doing some extra work in the background — connecting and engaging with other users.
Unlike many other social media networks, LinkedIn properly rewards people for engagement. When you like or comment on other people’s content, it continues to show up in more people’s feeds.
When you engage with other people’s content (beyond a perfunctory “like”), people tend to reciprocate and join the discussions you’ve started.
Start paying it forward with thoughtful replies and genuine conversations to get your content publishing momentum going. You’ll not only gain some popularity, but you might snatch a client from being so engaging.
Any social media platform (in)advertently creates a microcosm of highly successful, high-achievers living their #bestlife.
There’s nothing wrong with bragging about your successes and sharing freelance achievements once in a while. But too much #success and #not-so-humble-brags can deter some of your connections.
Being willing to be open and vulnerable makes it much easier to relate to you as a person than if you're just constantly bragging about how amazing your life is!
And to this point, don't be afraid to ask for help. If you're consistent with many of the steps mentioned above (being friendly, reciprocating, doing favors where and when you can), your network will be more than happy to help you out the next time you need a hand — refer the hell out of you, pass over some work, or otherwise help you get on a firmer freelance track.
Teach, don’t preach 💪
Doing so is the key to winning freelance clients on LinkedIn and switching your gears to more delightful tasks like getting paid for your services.
Instagram is the platform to be seen if you’re working in a creative space — design, photography, videography, fashion… you name it 📸
Although Instagram is more of an aspirational, rather than professional, network, it’s still a great source for grabbing clients according to freelance copywriters, coaches, and even web developers.
Ready to dive in? Start scrollin’ 👇
Similar to LinkedIn, a well-optimized profile gets you bigger organic exposure on Instagram. The difference, however, is that Instagram is almost entirely about visuals, rather than text.
Although both elements play their merit as we’ll go into next 👇
It’s a good idea to separate business and personal accounts to avoid any branding mishaps. Clients may not be as interested in seeing your wild 25th b-day party as your friends.
If you want to keep your followers, archive the less professional pics on your timeline, and create a better username. Replace Jonny123 with your full name, business or brand name, or a descriptive search time like “wordpress.wizz”. Instagram’s username limit is 30 characters, leaving plenty of room to get your point across.
You’ll want to switch to an Instagram Business account to access specialized features like an option to list your industry or niche, working hours, and a Contact button. An Instagram business account also gives you access to better content and audience analytics tools.
Alternatively, you can create a second business account for promoting your freelance services (and switch between them in the app). Just ensure you’re posting on the right account before you start liking, commenting and uploading.
Just like LinkedIn, Instagram allows business users to have a professional headline. It’s displayed as a bold first line on your profile page and is visible in Instagram search results.
Come up with a snappy one-liner, summing up your key freelance service. I’d suggest adding your name if you’re using a brand moniker as a username.
Instagram gives you only 150 characters to explain what you do in your bio (it’s a visual network after all).
You must be really clever about how you maximize the available space to explain what freelance services you offer and what makes you a special cookie ✨
A persuasive Instagram bio for freelancers should include:
You can also spruce it up by infusing some of your personality: Share what makes you different from other service providers. For example, your unique style, work ethos, or winning frameworks.
To make your Instagram bio even more eye-catchy (and compact), use emojis as line separators or replacements for bulkier words. Choose wording and visuals that work best for your ideal customer base.
Tara brands herself as an IG marketing mermaid, using a lilac color scheme and evocative wording for describing her SMM services. The consistency creates the brand, and the services are fun but informative.
The goal of your Instagram bio is to give potential clients a well-rounded idea of what you do and what content you tend to share.
Unlike other social media networks, Instagram doesn’t provide many linking opportunities.
You’re afforded a primary link on your profile page, which is, well… not much. To circumvent this lack of external linking, you may also share them in Stories as stickers, and consider saving these highlighted stories to your main feed.
If you want to promote and share different website pages on Instagram, like your portfolio, rate card, or appointment scheduling app, build a social media reference landing page.
With a dedicated Instagram bio landing page, you can funnel prospective clients to discover more resources and ways to connect with you beyond Instagram DMs.
Use an Instagram bio link to promote your:
Although landing page builders let you add unlimited links, it’s best to keep the total number to 5 items max. Or else you’ll leave visitors with choice paralysis.
Instagram requires regular content sharing, but repeating over and over again what you do in your stories or posts can bore the heck out of your followers.
You can avoid this unnecessarily annoying repetition by creating a set of three 📌 pinned posts to sit atop your profile feed.
As a freelancer you should definitely have an 👇
Having these three upfront helps new clients immediately learn about your process, pricing and personality to decide if you’re the right fit for their needs.
Story Highlights are a handy resource to leverage. Similar to Pinned posts, they provide a track record for new followers, who want to learn more about what you do.
Create a descriptive highlights collection with a 15-character title. Then add consistent cover images in your brand style. Finally, upload and assign individual stories to those categories.
Tried and true freelancers often choose to highlight their:
A story highlight is a great medium for async storytelling, so don’t forget to add new highlights to your collections after you post as consistently as possible.
Instagram is more of a show rather than tell platform. You need to present your freelance chops in action by curating your work examples, lifting the curtain on your operations, and sharing some knowledgeable video bites here and there.
At the same time, you also have a community of some 1.21 billion active monthly users to interact with. Many of them can be your future clients or sources for referral work opportunities.
But just how can one source and snag a freelance client from this pool of picture scrollers?
Curate your work samples: photography, videography, content and other graphical design assets. Instagram doubles perfectly as a portfolio website for anyone working in content creation or design.
Not in a visual-centric industry? Fret not, you can leverage Instagram to share your client work by publishing testimonials, case studies or before-and-after transformations.
Elizabeth Stiles, a freelance fashion & textiles brand consultant, shares great storytelling about fashion brands excelling in an area where she advises, peppered with personal hot takes and tips.
Social media networks are all about audience building. Your goal is to get on the radar of people who may need your services now or in the future. When they’re looking for a WordPress wizard, your (user)name should pop straight into their mind (or feed!).
The best way to get followers on Instagram as a freelancer is to regularly share engaging, educational content for your target audience. It can be as simple as:
Experiment with different content formats: regular photos, carousels, Stories, and Reels.
💡 Pro Tip: Reels now get higher engagement than feed videos ( 2.7%, vs 2.2%) according to recent data, and can be more effective in gaining traction with relevant followers.
Audience building on Instagram is a two-way street. Don’t just wait around for people to follow you. Start connecting and interacting with users, who fit your ideal customer profile, plus fellow freelancers who’re more likely to reciprocate your actions.
A curated following is your ticket to discovering unique job opportunities. Many creators, companies, and influencers share job opportunities on Instagram before publishing them anywhere else.
Never be afraid to approach companies and influencers directly in their DMs with a warm pitch of your services! Show true engagement with their account in order to shed the spam vibe.
Instagram lets you build a community. Find your tribe of like-minded service providers, make friends and brainstorm ways to grow together.
Combine each other's audiences to cross-promote your services with joint posts, live streams, or guest appearances in Stories. This way you can jointly acquire followers and generate more exposure to your content.
Anika and Dani — two fabulous copywriters — teamed up for a livestream about AI content writing.
Every day, millions of people take to Twitter to exchange ideas, meet new people, discover new trends, and post the occasional rant.
It’s the place to be if you’re looking for a new gig.
Twitter helped freelance writer Kaleigh Moore get her foot in the door with new writing gigs, and connected her with editors at publications she wanted to write about. While virtual assistant Ananyaa went from $5 Upwork clients to inbound Twitter leads, netting her almost $10K/month.
If you too want to get freelance clients from Twitter, this is your action plan 👇
Similar to Instagram, Twitter only gives you 160 characters for your bio section. Buuut, like on LinkedIn, you also get a 1500x500 pixels banner space you can use to pack extra information. Use both assets strategically.
A compelling freelancer’s Twitter bio would definitely include:
The goal of your Twitter bio is to tell people who you are and why they should bother following you. For some extra impact, you can also include your bragging rights and social proof, like how Massoma highlights her top clients (well-known brands) and a Forbes feature as her social proof.
To provide new followers with some extra context, you can also include a pinned tweet (just one) atop your profile feed that describes your 👇
Try different options before settling on a final one.
Twitter is a fast-paced network with new tweets coming in at lightning speed. To keep up with interesting conversations and engage with the right prospects, organize your following into Twitter lists.
You can create separate ones for:
Then build a system for checking in and engaging with each list. You can also choose to follow #hashtags on Twitter, but the bigger ones can get messy and overwhelming. It’s better to pick niche followings, such used by one strong account or online community.
Each social network has its breed of best-performing content. For Twitter, that’s short-form posts (280 characters) and Twitter threads.
Twitter threads are best for storytelling and condensed sharing of bigger ideas (e.g., how-tos, case studies, or industry reports).
Zain Kahn breaks down a curious AI report into 9 shot takeaways in a Twitter thread.
Twitter threads usually get more engagement (retweets, quote mentions, likes, and bookmarks), which the platform’s algorithms take into account for displaying your content in follower and non-follower feeds.
Twitter Blue users also recently got an option to write up to 10,000 characters (± 2,500 words) per Tweet. But long-form content doesn’t always perform better since Twitter users are used to shorter takes.
Other Twitter content formats freelancers can (and should!) experiment with:
Rohith Kaliyr, a Twitter brand strategist for major brands and CEOS, wrote the action-packed master thread of threads to help you understand audience building on Twitter in a clever way.
Your goal is to build a system for discovering those opportunities. Most people just go to the Twitter search bar and type something like “hiring freelance X”. This method is largely ineffective.
A much better option is to create dedicated Twitter lists for companies and/or people you’d want to work with. Then check back occasionally to see when they are hiring.
I’d recommend setting up alerts for specific keywords on selected accounts. In this case, you’ll get a notification whenever @Spotify tweets about hiring. You can set up a keyword tracker on Twitter using an IFTTT automation sequence.
Twitter’s whole gist is giving people quick answers to various questions. People use it to get advice, recommendations and opinions on everything, including who the best freelancer is for this or for that 😉
Your goal is to get onto people’s radars, so when a recommendation request comes up, your name comes to mind.
To be an awesome, helpful and clever Twitter user:
In other words: contribute positively to the community and make solid Twitter friends.
If you still have some spare time and want to venture into other corners of the Internet, there are some must-know tips for getting freelance work via Facebook, TikTok, and Reddit.
These platforms may not be the most used for discovering new client-freelancer relationships but can be utilized effectively nonetheless.
Facebook these days has a bruised reputation due to privacy scandals, fake news bonanza, and hate speech. It always was more of a leisure platform, where you’d follow updates on all your cousins' weddings and classmates' whereabouts.
That said, there are still some ways to find freelance work on Facebook. You just need to know where to search.
Freelancing groups provide a safe space to ask for advice on pricing for a project, brainstorm ideas for where to find clients, and vent about a client who just doesn't understand boundaries. Some also curate work opportunities or allow members to post about hiring subcontractors or handing out overflow work.
Freelance copywriter Abi Prendergast got $12K in work from freelance Facebook groups. Her strategy? Being very picky with the groups she frequents. In particular, she joined groups that her ideal clients used for tech support (in her case – Clickfunnels and Samcart Facebook groups).
Then Abi jumped on conversations, offering free help and advice. She applied a tweaked Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action (AIDA) formula for answering comments to show that she’s a pro in what she does.
Your goal is to demonstrate your value as a service provider before going for a direct pitch. Make sure you have a professional Facebook profile i.e., such that describes what you do, not just curates random personal updates.
Alternatively, you can also join paid Facebook communities (often associated with a certain course, mastermind, or creator) to mingle with like-minded folks and high-caliber prospects.
Reddit, dubbed as the front page of the Internet, is a collection of interest-based forums (subreddits). You have active r/freelance and r/digitalnomad communities, plus more niche groups like Belgium freelancers or game developers classified.
Unlike other social media networks, Reddit is really strict about proper user behavior. If you don’t follow Reddiquette, you’d be rapidly kicked out of the community and your account may get banned.
The big no-nos of Reddit are excessive self-promotion, random community submissions and nasty comments. Each subreddit has its own set of rules for posting and commenting, pinned at the sidebar. Follow these to the dot.
Similar to Facebook, you should select a number of groups where you can:
Reddit’s search bar is your best buddy for this purpose.
Like it or hate it, TikTok has been going BIG over the past years.
The audience demographic is predominantly young (Gen Z and Gen Xers), but plenty of companies are also active on TikTok and they are potential leads if you’re specializing in social media marketing, content creation, or other types of creative jobs.
Similar to other platforms, your goal is to show your expertise, but on TikTok, you also have to do it in a fun way e.g., by participating in trending TikTok challenges or using trending TikTok video formats.
TikTok has very strong personalization algorithms. Meaning it tries to place you in a niche subculture (e.g., FitTok, Cottagecore, BookTok), based on the type of content you consume and produce.
💡 Pro tip: Don’t get swooned by all the silly cat videos when using your professional TikTok account 😃
Instead, browse around and see what other freelancers in your industry are doing. For example, if you’re a social media marketer like Tey, you may want to share educational content for your clients, behind-the-scenes snapshots of your business, and some funnier personal posts.
Your goal is to draw the attention of potential prospects and hook them into contacting you for the next project.
By being active on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, or another network you put your name out to the world as a freelance expert in your domain. Plus, you often get to scope new and unique job opportunities before they get shared elsewhere 😉
Pick one social media network for starters to test the waters. Get active, get creative, and be genuine in your comms. By showing up consistently and leading meaningful conversations with others you’ll be acquiring great freelance clients in no time!
And once your pipeline is full of great prospects, use tools like Xolo Go to capture those payments professionally.
Xolo Go makes all those annoying yet essential admin tasks disappear like magic. Presto, change-o! Polished, professional invoices are created and sent! Complex VAT figures for that cross-border client are automatically calculated! Scary topics like compliance and tax time are streamlined to the point where they're completely painless! And if you're feeling a little confused or overwhelmed, one of Xolo's super-supportive support professionals is there to provide you with knowledge and an understanding ear.
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