November 3, 2021
The social media freelancer landscape is a busy one. Since anyone can sharpen their skills using platforms like Instagram, the competition is fierce.
The social media freelancer landscape is a busy one. Since anyone can sharpen their skills using platforms like Instagram (without necessarily doing any formal training), the competition is fierce.
That’s no bad thing, since it raises the bar and demonstrates the value of social media marketing to all kinds of businesses, from beauty to cloud computing to food trucks. For that reason, if you’re a social media freelancer, it’s never been more important to demonstrate your skills and capture the attention of your dream clients.
The brands and businesses you’d love to work for.
One of the best ways to do this is to leverage the very platforms you use on a daily basis. Specifically, Instagram. The modern day portfolio and the perfect place to flex your creativity and strategic prowess.
In this article I will share 9 tips to help you use Instagram to demonstrate your skills as a social media freelancer. By the end, you’ll know exactly how to fill your schedule with the kind of work that lights you up.
It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how few social media freelancers use their Instagram bios effectively. While your content is vital, the first thing potential clients and employers will look at is your bio.
And remember: you’ve got a matter of seconds to sell yourself, your capabilities, and any accolades or stellar results you’ve achieved. People don’t stick around on Instagram accounts for long, so this is your (fleeting) opportunity to convince someone that they absolutely have to work with you.
How can you best do that? Let’s break down the bio step-by-step:
The fact is: very few people will ever click on the link in your bio. That’s because Instagram makes it so enjoyable to stay on the app, scrolling and swiping and consuming content. It takes a lot for someone to actively leave.
But fear not! You can make it a lot more tempting to hit that link in bio by thinking of your Story Highlights as a mini website. When structured strategically, these will accelerate the know, like and trust factor with your audience.
We’re going to talk about 5 Story Highlights, because when using Instagram on a smartphone (as almost everyone does) you can only see 4-5 Highlights before they disappear out of view. Since most people won’t swipe through all your Highlights, we want to focus on the ones right there in front of them.
The first Highlight should be aimed at people who have just discovered you and know very little about you. From there onwards, you want to provide the necessary information so that by the 4th or 5th Highlight, they’re ready to take that next step.
For example, sending you a DM about working together or checking out your services page to find out your prices and availability.
Here’s what a strategic set of Highlights might look like:
The titles of the Highlight examples above are suggestions that you can personalize accordingly. As long as it’s clear what the Highlight is about, that’s all that matters.
And don’t forget to update your covers so they’re branded or uniform in style. Highlight covers that are pulled from the content within often look messy and aren’t very enticing to click on for the viewer.
Here’s an example of strategic Instagram Story Highlights from Abby: https://www.instagram.com/dirtyworkdigital/
The best way to use Instagram to demonstrate your skills as a social media freelancer is to flaunt your capabilities with brilliant content.
As obvious as that sounds, competition between social media freelancers has never been fiercer. Particularly since the pandemic resulted in many people questioning their corporate careers and/or having to look for new jobs after being made redundant.
For that reason, Instagram is your stage and you shouldn’t be afraid to use it. While I’ve gone into much more detail about how to create an effective social media content plan before, let’s run through some of the fundamentals here.
For starters, you want to get ahead with content planning. This is vital as a social media freelancer, since almost every minute of your working day will be taken up with client work. Unless you get into a good habit with planning content in advance, your Instagram account will soon be forgotten - and we don’t want potential clients to stumble upon your account and see that you haven’t posted anything in the last 3 weeks. That doesn’t make the best first impression.
To make content planning as easy and efficient as possible, develop your strategy. Here are some questions to help you do this:
Think of your content strategy as your guide. With this, you can jump into content planning more easily and develop posts that move the needle for your freelancing business.
Once you’re happy with your strategy, allocate time in your diary to bring this to life. As I’m sure you know all too well from your day-to-day work, if you don’t make the time for content creation, it just won’t happen.
Personally, I try to plan up to two weeks of content at a time. I break the entire process up into individual tasks. On Friday morning I spend time planning ideas. Another day and time I will write two week’s worth of captions, and so on. This approach removes the overwhelm from content production and ensures I don’t slip out of the habit.
Now you have your content strategy, the next step is to turn that into value-packed pieces of content.
While every social media freelancer’s expertise is slightly different, here are some of the ways to grab potential clients’ attention:
It’s worth saying that it’s a good idea to use Instagram to share content you actually enjoy creating or producing. Otherwise you may find yourself in a situation where a potential client wants you to reproduce similar content for their business because they love what they see on your account. That’s no good if the content is a real slog for you to create.
Of course there are always elements of our job (even in the fun world of social media) that we find somewhat challenging or even a little tiresome. But don’t fill your feed exclusively with Reels if you loathe the process of planning and producing them!
Speaking of Reels, it’s a smart idea to incorporate some video into your Instagram content plan.
Because while I’m a huge believer in not jumping on the bandwagon of every new app and feature that launches, I’m also mindful that wider consumer trends are (very) worth keeping an eye on. For example, the trend for video content, which isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Now, that doesn’t mean the only way to demonstrate your skills as a social media freelancer is to create multiple Reels per week. But if you want to get one step ahead of the competition, consider sharing a video format that feels good to you.
That could be in-feed video, Instagram Live, IGTV, or Reels. The beauty of Live is that besides outlining the content and mentally preparing (!), you don’t need to do much else. The effort to create them is relatively minimal. And once finished, you can save the Live down on your grid permanently as an IGTV. That’s two pieces of content in one. ✅
However, for those of us who prefer to create content behind-the-scenes (as opposed to “in the moment”), batch filming a selection of Reels might be preferable.
The great thing about video is not only does it show potential clients you’re aware of marketing trends that impact their business, but it also helps you get found by more people. This increased reach and awareness gives your social media freelancing business exposure to clients and opportunities.
The easiest and most effective way to generate more clients as a social media freelancer?
Share testimonials all the time. Seriously, you want to be shameless about this. Every glowing piece of feedback from a client, whether it’s in the form of an email, a text message, an Instagram DM - screenshot it and add it to a folder on your computer.
This brings me onto the importance of having a process in place for collecting testimonials. All too often, this part of running a freelance business gets neglected.
Among the crazy day-to-day of creating content, community management, social strategy, and campaign monitoring, getting feedback from past clients can feel like a chore. One that can wait.
To avoid slipping into this habit, put some time in your diary to set up a system. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
If you can collect a combination of video testimonials as well as written, even better. Nothing beats seeing someone’s face light up as they talk about what a fantastic job you’ve done managing social media for their brand or business.
In terms of how to use Instagram to present these testimonials, it doesn’t need to be “sexy”. Overlaying a screenshot of a glowing email onto a coloured tile is great. In fact, this way of sharing feedback is arguably more authentic and trustworthy than writing out kind words yourself.
Here are some examples of testimonials shared effectively on Instagram.
This one from @litchfieldmedia summarises fantastic client results:
This one from Nesha Woolery, while not about social media freelancing specifically, is a great example of sharing screenshots within graphics:
And don’t forget - sharing stellar results of accounts, projects and campaigns you’re working on are equally effective at wowing potential clients.
Percentage increases, before-and-after comparisons, and even happy customer feedback from your clients’ customers will demonstrate your competitive skills as a social media freelancer.
While we’ve talked a lot about using Instagram professionally to prove your authority and show off your expertise, let’s not forget how important it is to communicate your personality.
Social media is all about relationships and working closely with people. Both in terms of clients and collaborators, but also in terms of the people you interact with (or create content for) on the other side of Facebook/Twitter/Instagram every single day.
But what’s this got to do with using Stories to demonstrate your personality?
Don’t forget that potential clients will be more likely to resonate with (and get in touch with) someone they feel they could get along with in a work capacity. And from your perspective, sharing more of “you” on Stories is a great way to attract the right clients - people that share similar values and understand your outlook/sense of humour/approach.
So don’t be afraid to show up on Stories regularly to give your audience a behind-the-scenes look at your life. This could be in the form of:
Complement this content with Stories that show off happy clients, successful campaigns, and even some social media tips and tricks, and you’ve got the ideal balance of informative, authoritative and personal Stories.
Not every caption you write needs to be War and Peace, particularly if you want potential clients to see you as the Reels Queen and not the Wordsmith.
However, writing is still an important and incredibly marketable skill. Not just for captions, but also scripts (Instagram Live) and storyboarding (Reels).
And since a good writer usually means a half-decent communicator, don’t forget to make the most of your captions. At the very least, demonstrate that you recognize the fundamentals of a good caption:
Incorporating these essentials doesn’t mean your captions have to be long. With these essentials covered you can show potential clients that you know how to write for an Instagram audience, capturing their attention and calling them to action.
Now that you’ve got everything in place to effectively demonstrate your skills as a social media freelancer, the final thing to say is…
Half the battle with promoting ourselves on Instagram is that we don’t feel good enough. We tell ourselves that people won’t be interested to hear from us or that we’ve “shared enough”.
If you’ve ever felt like this, try this approach. Instead of getting inside your own head, open up Instagram with the thought: How can I help my ideal client today? What would they benefit from seeing?
Changing your mindset from thinking about you to thinking about your audience is a great way to remember that everyone (in this instance your followers) are thinking about themselves. They’re not thinking about you.
Not to mention the fact that they’re being bombarded with hundreds of different messages from hundreds of different brands, friends, and family members every single day. If you want to stay relevant, you’ve got to show up - and show off! - regularly.
With an optimised bio, killer content strategy, and testimonials aplenty, you should feel confident to use Instagram to demonstrate your skills as a social media freelancer.
Don’t be afraid to show off. Instagram is an incredibly saturated platform, and the world of social media freelancing is incredibly competitive.
Modesty will get lost on Instagram. So be bold, have a plan, and start attracting your dream clients.
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