Freelancers may not have the luxury of time in building online communities around their brand and when resources are scarce, just how do you build one for yourself.. minus the help of a dedicated community manager? Successful freelancing is not about the size these days and no matter how you run a one-man (woman) team, creating your online presence is a must in building your social proof as an authority in your niche.
Six Strategies for Building a Community Around Your Freelancing Brand
Freelancers are no different from small business owners who are looking for ways to save on cost while expanding their reach for their products/services online. You know that the internet is changing drastically in how consumers interact and they are smarter than ever. You have to be flexible with your plans, where you have to think quickly on how to create that online presence that will establish trust among your potential clients. Here’s how you can do just that:
Find Your Uniqueness
Some may call it your unique value proposition or competitive advantage. What is it that you do better than anybody else? No amount of online marketing can help you if you look like a copycat. Do you have retainers who keep coming back for your services? It’s time that you flaunt the reasons why they stick to your brand. Identify what’s stopping them from jumping ship and use that as your selling point.
Be an Expert
Blogging isn’t dead; On the contrary, it offers a great opportunity for you to cold call prospects on the internet. One of the best ways you can attract your target market is by establishing yourself as an authority in your field. To do this, you can share valuable posts through your blog and insert call-to-action forms where they can subscribe to you, in exchange of their names and email addresses. You can also…
Participate in Forums
That is, forums that are related to your skills and services, or freelancing forums on the Web. Just make sure that you review the user guidelines, create an authentic user profile and read through posts before writing your first reply. Be careful about spamming and sending unsolicited messages as it can get your account banned. If you’re new, introduce yourself first and participate in discussions consistently. Some forums have designated places or discussion threads where you can show your expertise through writing a sound advice. Sites like Focus.com and Quora lets you answer questions related to your industry. You may also…
In this age of the citizen influencer, utilizing social networking sites to build your online community makes perfect sense. Major names like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Google+ are just a few of the choices. The key here is NOT to be everywhere, but to stick to sites where your target clients are most likely to hang out – so you can connect with them. Be mindful of your social etiquette when you do so. What’s great about these sites is that it helps you identify your audience and engage those who matter to your freelancing business.
Empower.. Don’t Interrupt
Along the way, it’s just tempting to promote yourself because it’s easier to do so with just a click. Don’t be tempted to do so! People still hate spam and if you’re not adding value to the discussion, you better leave these sites alone. In time, you will likely rub shoulders with influentials or thought leaders in your industry. Be proactive and participate in their cause. Did you know that a simple retweet is empowering? Appreciation is the most powerful tool of them all. If an influencer has replied to your tweet, thank him/her. You’ll be glad that you did!
Make Room for Feedback
I often encountered blogs that are written so well and I would have shown my appreciation to the writer, if only there’s a way for me to write a comment on the post. Community building is all about openness and sharing. Allow room for feedback, be it positive or negative. The more you restrict, the more backlash you will get. You can’t please everybody and the only way to deal with negative feedback is to give that person a permanent fix or simply, face it. By allowing people to express their thoughts, you allow your community to organically grow – which feels more authentic.
And why should you build an online community? Think of it as building an army of loyal fans who will spread the word about you on the Web.
Still, keep in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day.. and community building takes time and dedication to flourish. The challenge now is: How can you keep your people engaged with your brand? I would love to hear your suggestions.