Since I left my long-time jewelry business and started working freelance, I have learned so much about myself and about what it really means to use social media to work a business. My former jewelry business was direct sales, and therefore, there was always a roadmap of where to go. When working for yourself, you have no one to answer to but yourself: no incentives to hit, no pre-determined marketing and no team to rally. Just you.
Sometimes it gets lonely and a little boring being just you. But it also really helps to figure out who you are, and what your social media presence means to your business. You start making friends because you just want to BE their friend – you aren’t constantly thinking about selling them something or snagging them as a possible recruit. I am not just spraying and praying on social media to attract business, but only posting things that are meaningful to me. And if I do post about selling something, it’s because I really mean it and genuinely want to share it.
I’m certainly no pro at freelancing, far from it. But I have learned a few things from working freelance that has given me a greater perspective on using social media for business and/or direct sales. Separately, not necessarily together.
Treat Yourself and Your Business the Same as You Would Treat Others.
Be your own client, and heed your own advice. It’s like being the mom that takes the smallest piece of pizza – she takes care of everyone else’s needs before her own. You have to continually ask yourself, ‘if this was for a client, would this be good enough?’ Coach yourself as you would someone else: and if deep down you know that the answer is that you can’t pull it off, pull the pin and move on. It isn’t a failure to anyone but you.
Budget is the Most Important Thing.
Please take it from me, who has poured a lot of money into dreams and ideas – wait 6 months before you spend ANY decent amount of money on anything. And that goes for online courses that promise to take you to the next level business-wise, or the latest and greatest conference that is going to catapult you into super-stardom. Because it will be like water in your hands – gone before you know it and all you will have left is memories and wet hands. I have been practicing the ‘6-month-rule’ for almost a year, and I have talked myself out of more ideas, courses, and products than I can count. But it has served me well. And my RRSP’s are still nice and healthy because I can still contribute – even on my small (but growing) income. The conferences and courses I have missed…well there are always new ones on the horizon.
Some things are non-negotiable, like web hosting, iCloud storage, or something else that you just cannot do yourself. But for the most part, having that money to pay for your expenses while you WORK your BUSINESS, is a much better use of your resources most of the time.
Dress for Yourself, No One Else.
When I look back at some of the photos of myself during my jewelry days, I kind of cringe. I have always loved colour and sparkly things, but I think I sort of lost my own personal style at times, as I became slave to ‘the style of the season’.
Now I have learned more about what I really like to wear, and what feels comfortable and age-appropriate for the occasion. I used to get very dressed up for events like school functions, where I thought that maybe I could network with other parents and then perhaps sell some jewelry. And many times I did. But now I realize that my personal style is more boho-denim-casual-chic-minimal-but-meaningful-dressing. I hope that people recognize my own style as a reflection of me personally, rather than as a role that I am playing.
The other part of the style equation now is that I have more important things to worry about. I have kids whose dreams I am paying to help fulfill, and University tuition doesn’t seem so far away. The latest necklace, tunic or booties don’t seem so necessary any more.
Network Like A Boss.
Networking has changed. You can do a lot of networking from your couch, smartphone and online. While I still love connecting with people personally over coffee or a glass of wine, you can find many people with like interests very easily in online groups. Facebook groups are the new networking group, where you can form relationships, tell people your story and genuinely serve others with your knowledge. The old ‘shout it from the rooftops’ all over all of your social media pages, is over. Our newsfeeds have become so noisy, that everyone is craving to create personal connections. Network like a boss and serve others first: post an empowering article, help someone else with their problem with your knowledge, or just reach out and tell them how fabulous they are. That’s how to network like a boss.
No One Has to Get What You Do. Except Your Clients.
Sometimes figuring out how to explain exactly what you do and how to sum in up in 15 words or less is hard. And people that aren’t necessarily your clients don’t need to know exactly what it is you do, but perhaps just a broad overview. Like I might describe myself as a ‘freelance writer and I do web stuff’ to someone like a relative who would never need my services. However to someone that could potentially be a client I would say:
“I am creative story-teller and problem-solver. I can make your brand look good through writing, styling, and social media strategy.”
The same goes for social media – not everyone on my personal Facebook profile or Instagram account needs to know what I do for freelance work on a frequent basis. Honestly, I am much more diverse and interesting than that! People get bored with seeing you hock your wares or talk about your business stuff over and over. Be yourself on your personal social profiles, and either create separate business ones that are more focused, or create ones solely for the business of fun.
We are all navigating our way through using our social media to brand ourselves, and it’s important to keep yourself more interesting than what you are selling in the moment. The same with features like Facebook Live on a business page – it shouldn’t be used for showing people your breakfast unless you are a food blogger or something. All of your behind the scenes life stuff, are more suited for platforms like Snapchat.
Map out your actions, be authentic, and know that there isn’t really a finish line. It’s okay to muddle your way through and make errors and bluffs along the way, and even change direction if you like. What freelancing has taught me is that there is nothing better than just digging deep and being yourself.