I made some shiny new business cards earlier in the year. Spent a bit of money on them too, got the premium glossy finish and everything. What can I say? I was feeling fancy! I know it might seem a bit old fashioned to hand out business cards, but I like having them on me just in case I bump into someone important, like the commissioning editor from Penguin, whilst I’ve queuing to get into the M&S Foodhall y’ know? You know.
But the reality is that when most people meet me and hear what I do, they ask one question. What’s your Instagram handle?
I’ve been freelance writing for four years now, and almost all of my dream clients had come from Instagram. Interestingly, the clients who I’m not particularly excited to work with have come from other avenues like Twitter or my website contact form. I spend about two hours a day on Instagram, and that means that my audience really knows who I am and what I stand for. The result? I’ve inadvertently tailored my marketing to attract people who fully get me and end up being absolute dreamboats to work with.
Here are my tips on how you can get your dream clients on Instagram too:
Know your dream client
I see too many freelancers on Instagram, trying to appeal to a broad range of people. Say you’re a social media manager. You could work with any kind of business, right? Technically yes, but aiming for your dream client means your content will be laser-focused and land with greater impact. If you really love working in the fashion industry, then tailor your content to attract busy boutique owners who need social media support. Use fashion imagery on your feed, share your OOTD on your stories, and offer tips that are specific to their industry. You could even champion your favourite small businesses to make them aware of you; then they might hire you in the future.
Tap into their emotions
The best content on Instagram content makes people feel things. Instead of pushing your services all the time (no one wants to see that relentlessly) think about the struggles your dream clients go through every day. From waking up to going to bed, what do they worry about? What drives them? What are they passionate about? What are they insecure about? Use this to brainstorm content ideas that will validate their emotions or inspire them to stay motivated. For example, one of my most popular posts recently was an admission that when I worked in a minimum wage job, I used to steal coffee from the break room. I then explained that as a result of my successful freelancing career, I just bought my first home coffee machine. This taps into the hopelessness that I know many people feel when they’re stuck in a job they hate, but it offers a light at the end of the tunnel too. It doesn’t directly sell to people, but it builds a deeper connection and brings them one step closer to hiring me, buying my book or taking one of my writing courses.
A survey showed that 35% of people are likely to reach out to a brand on social media as their preferred form of communication. Most of the coaches and VAs that I’ve hired have all started off as a result of an informal chat in DMs. If someone takes the time to send you a direct message, respond that day and respond with enthusiasm. It’s not about giving them the hard sell, but showing them that you’re friendly and pleasant to work with. If you can give them a quick win in the form of a piece of advice, then you’ll also demonstrate your knowledge and quash any doubts they have about hiring you.
You’ll begin to see that certain people engage with your content more than others. Whether that’s commenting on your posts, sending you a DM or answering polls on your Stories. These people should be guarded with your life. Always respond to them and go out of your way to repay the compliment. Comment on their posts and start up a genuine conversation to let them know that you appreciate them. This is good customer service at its finest and will mean they naturally recommend you to friends.
Be on Stories
Instagram Stories offers an invaluable opportunity to get up close and personal with your dream client. One in 4 Millennials and Gen Z-ers look for Stories of the products and services they want to buy, so if they’re watching your story, then they already care. Your job is to give them as much value as possible. That could be in the form of a sneak preview of a new product, a behind the scenes look at your morning routine or some practical tips on your speciality subject. Don’t forget to get people involved with your business decisions by doing regular polls to find out what people are interested in. If you’re stuck for ideas, show your personality. I’m well known for my love of the local duck pond, so much so that people now tag ME in their story whenever they see a duck!
The final, boring tip that you probably already know is to show up every day and be consistent with your messaging. The good news is that every post you share and every conversation you have in your DMs is giving you data about what works and what doesn’t so remember to look at your insights regularly. It also gives you a more detailed picture of your audience which will inform the next piece of content you create. It’s a case of playing the long game, but one that’s totally worth it when you see your dream client slide into your DMs to say “Can I hire you?”
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About your author
Fiona is an author and freelance writer with work published in iPaper, Grazia, Happiful Magazine and Huffington Post. Her most recent book Out of Office: Ditch the 9-5 and Be Your Own Boss is a guide to freelancing.
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After leaving a job I’d worked years for and spending most of lockdown doing every bit of prep possible, reading any and every book I could find, and listening to hours of podcasts on my daily walks, nothing quite prepares you for Day 1.
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