Scoring a business on Twitter as a freelancer
So you’ve decided to go freelance and now you’re scouting for open business deals. Or perhaps you’ve already established yourself and are searching for some more work. Either way I want to share some insight into how I manage to get business deals on Twitter. This is by no means a de facto way for you, just my personal experience, an insight if you will. Note that I am a designer but you could take some valuable tips from the post even if you’re not.
It should be noted that I never intentionally used Twitter to score business. I did however manage to use certain situations that have come along the way and turned them into a business deal.
This one is a no-brainier. You need to follow people to see their updates and pick up traces of deals lurking between the lines. That’s all good but the important bit is to follow the right people. I’m not here to give you names because that is impossible. You are the only one that knows who your potential clients are. I follow ordinary people, I follow “important” people and entities that I like. I never follow someone just because he is a potential client. I don’t, you could. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you plan on doing that you need to know who needs your services and skills. Once you have a clear vision of who might need you, find them on Twitter and prowl. The most recent deal I got was with an online tea retailer @Zisha (more on that in the next paragraph). The deal is still in the talks but we’v broken the ice. Oh, one more thing: interact only if relevant. Don’t give your potential clients the feeling they’re being stalked. They’ll think you just atention whoring.
Show original content
This is where you have to have something worth showing that will interest a potential client. I post quite a lot on Twitter and the majority of those posts are just simple updates, things I have on my mind at the moment. The second most posted thing is my original content. Things I post on my website, things I designed as an exercise, photos I took for fun or for a purpose, sketches, doodles, tutorials, free stock materials and so on. Lots of people only share links to works of others, random web pages and, in general, things they didn’t do themselves. Being like that will not help you. Make, produce, create content and then share it. Only then will someone notice you. Maybe. There is no sure fire method out there. Experiment. Posting original content has helped me a lot. I mentioned Zisha before and the story how I got into a business conversation was really quite simple. I recently published a post about Deshi, a tea packaging prototype. I thought it might be interesting to show that to Zisha, purely because they deal with tea and it was a tea packaging prototype. I only recently started following Zisha because I ordered some tea from them and I liked it. I had no intention to score a deal. I was just lucky, i guess (see last paragraph) but luck would be nothing if I didn’t show them my original content.
Even though I tried to start some brand(s) in the past that would represent me I found out I was doing it wrong. It took me a while to figure out that I am the “brand”. I am the one that is important. Me, as a designer and a person. I post my personal stuff on Twitter (but not that personal if you know what I mean), I post my professional stuff as noted in the previous paragraph and I post other meaningless stuff. It’s a mix of posts and from what I’ve been able figure out, other Twitter users seem to prefer a personal touch. People tend to trust people more than brands. Just look at the case of @sweeden (just don’t try to pull a “Sonja” if you’re not sure you can indeed pull it off). The fact that other countries are following the example it’s just a matter of time before some private entities get the point and do the same. When you know that there is a real person with a name and a surname behind a certain account you (and potential clients) will feel more comfortable and open to suggestions.
There is, of course, some luck involved here as well. I scored one business deal recently that was pure coincidence. Someone posted if anyone does Adobe Flash. Not even realizing it was about a business deal (even though I should smell the wind) I volunteered that I know my way around flash. Next thing I know I’m sending out some examples of my work (note the “Show original content” paragraph) and just like that a business deal was sealed.
Before you go off running to your Twitter account and start altering your business model bear one thing in mind: Twitter is not my primary source of business. I get just enough business out there to earn a little extra. I do not know if it’s a good idea for to base your business model on Twitter alone. I’m not saying it’s not possible, I’m just saying that it might be risky. But then again, what isn’t?
As it’s probably obvious you can follow me on Twitter here.