I’m in London today for ‘bitch better have my money’ - a panel & networking event focussing on negotiating freelancer rates. It’s organised by ‘f*ck being humble’ who aim to change the way we view self-promotion.
Social media is one of many ways to boost your public profile. As a freelancer, the majority of my new contracts are gained through social media interactions. People get in touch with me after seeing my work online - even though i’m not selling an actual ‘product’. Working in this field, and running SM accounts for clients, I tend to also treat my public social media account @mrskunderwoo as an extension of my business, not a ‘warts and all’ portrayal of my piles of laundry.
So - ‘f*ck being humble’: here are my tips for effective self-promotion online.
Look busy - even when you aren’t
That doesn’t mean making things up. But from a business perspective, clients want to work with someone who is in demand. Work ebbs & flows, so if you’re in a dry patch, come up with your own projects and talk about those instead.
Schedule time for self promotion
I divide my working hours between clients and ‘personal’ output: Instagram stories on new restaurant openings, blog posts (about self promotion!) or preparing for a public speaking /networking event. Like any business, if you’re entirely inward facing, its hard to build new relationships or gain new clients. It’s this unpaid work that yields long-term results - and helps keep your productivity levels up.
Keep reminding people what you do and why you do it
The old ‘rule of 7’ says that a prospect needs to hear your marketing message at least 7 times before they buy from you. In terms of social media, it means that you can’t just speak about yourself once and then switch off. Engagement needs to be ongoing, and if you put it out only once, most people will miss it.
Talk about interesting places and to interesting people. You and your business might be fascinating, but cross-promotion is key when it comes to building your network. Whether you’re arranging a formal promotional partnership or just talking about a person or business you admire, being outward looking is a hugely rewarding promotional strategy.
...to invitations and opportunities - especially things that make you slightly uncomfortable. In my experience, the things I feel reluctant to take on often yield the biggest rewards. They push me out of my comfort zone and yield new opportunities: talking at a school, attending an opening with people I don’t know (major social anxiety here) or giving a live interview.
Tell your imposter syndrome to beat it
Saying yes also means getting over that nagging feeling that you are out of your depth. If you feel under qualified or like you might be ‘found out’ - rest assured, so do even the most successful people, from time to time. Even Michelle Obama said recently, "It doesn't go away, that feeling that you shouldn't take me that seriously. What do I know? I share that with you because we all have doubts in our abilities, about our power and what that power is.’
Your unique POV is valuable. The honest stories behind your business help people identify with you and your brand. There’s no point in being overwhelmingly positive all the time: people tend to zone out, particularly in the days of influencer marketing and paid collaborations. In my circles there’s nothing worse than the ‘influencer’ circuit - where the vultures descend on a free opening, gush about how amazing it is, but never go back. Is a free dinner really worth your credibility? If you’re offering your opinion, people want to hear what you really think. What if they spend their money on an experience you endorse, only for them to realise it’s a pile of crap?
Ok, be honest, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Every time I read people lamenting their poor engagement, saying how the ‘algorithm doesn’t like them today’ I die a little inside. Could it be because your post wasn’t very engaging? Was it, per chance, about the weather?
If you’re a freelancer or a business and you’re selling an idea, a product or service, no one wants to see loads of photos of your dog. Social media is your shop window. In my opinion an over-curated page can come across as artificial, but nevertheless the photos and captions should be ‘on-brand’. That doesn’t mean every post should be a product shot. Relate personal posts - which can be hugely powerful in communicating with your audience - to your experiences as a business owner. And consider getting your dog its own Instagram account instead. Here are some of my favourites…