In the early days of my freelance career, I used to wait for clients to find me, or lurk in Facebook groups for writers and wait for job opportunities to crop up, commenting underneath alongside the other 500 other people who were also desperate for work. But in the last two years, the majority of my clients have come from Instagram. And often, they have been my dream clients. The kind of people who I admire and am proud to be affiliated with. I want to share my top three tried and tested tips to help you find your dream clients through Instagram.
1. DON’T TELL PEOPLE WHAT YOU DO, SHOW THEM WHAT YOU DO!
Last year, all I talked about on Instagram was the fact that I was writing a book. I wasn’t showing my audience that I also did social media scheduling and strategy advice, copy writing for other businesses, email marketing and pitching to magazines. So how could I expect people to approach me for content support if they didn’t know what I offered?
The penny dropped when a client sent me a direct message asking for support and said something like, ‘I don’t know if these tasks are beneath you’. I suddenly realised I was giving off the completely the wrong vibe on my account! A lot of freelancers talk about what they do on Instagram but they don’t get into the nitty gritty of how they do it.
For example, one of the most engaging Instagram stories I’ve ever posted was a walk through of how I plan, create and schedule a months’ worth of content. I showed how I look at Instagram analytics, filled out a content calendar, created graphics and what scheduling app I use. To me, that seems really boring but I can’t tell you how many messages I got after from people saying, ‘Oh I didn’t know you offered this as a service. I’ll bear you in mind when I need to hire someone’. Showing your behind the scenes processes is a really great way to get clients thinking about how they can benefit from hiring you.
2. BE SOCIABLE.
Lots of freelancers think that by creating and scheduling content, they can then ignore Instagram the rest of the time to get on with other things. But really, creating intentional content and having it scheduled ahead of time should be done so that you can then show up as a user of the app instead of just a creator. What I mean by this is, you can’t expect people to comment on your posts if you don’t ever leave comments yourself. You can’t be annoyed that you’re not getting any direct messages if you don’t take the initiative to slide into other peoples’ inboxes.
A good tactic for this is to identify some of your dream clients and start talking to them. To be clear here, I don’t mean pestering them or giving them the hard sell. I mean starting conversations with them on a genuine level. Send them a message that says, ‘I liked your post today’, ‘Where did you get your t-shirt?’, ‘Your dog is really cute’. This is always most effective when it comes from a genuine place, so don’t go in with ulterior motives.
Just think about treating people with warmth and kindness, because the best business relationships are built on that basis. Also, remember to socialise outside of your own circle. Don’t just rely on the comments section of your content, head to the comments section of other posts and start conversations there. You don’t always have to be on stage to share your message, you can be part of the audience talking to the people next to you and meet potential clients that way too.
3. DON’T SIT ON THE BLOODY FENCE.
Bland Instagram content is one of my biggest pet peeves. A lot of business owners fall into this trap because they’re scared of offending people. I don’t mean that you should post controversial or click bait style content to trick people into engaging with you. What I mean is that you’ve got to stand for something when you show up online. You’ve got to know yourself, and your brand and core values, and you’ve got to be proud to share them with the world. The more you focus on your own values, the more likely you are to attract clients who are in alignment with them.
I would rather attract ten new followers who really understand me than 10,000 people who don’t share my interests and my values. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through on Instagram, it’s these humanising aspects that will connect with your audience and make people more inclined to want to work with you.
I’ve spoken about mental health on Instagram for years now. People have followed my ups and downs, and had their own feelings validated through my own. I want to attract people who care about mental health because those are my people. For you it might be important to attract people who are eco-conscious, or believe in equal pay, or something more trivial, like being particular about the origin of their coffee or loving to wear bright colours. Whatever your passions are, share them with the world and get people invested in who you are as a person.