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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Rules of Freelancing #6: Use Social Networking Responsibly

Social media can be a blessing and a curse for anyone—including those running a standard business or trying to sell their freelancing services. Social media through Twitter, Facebook and a variety of other platforms can help you connect with potential clients and existing customers. However, you may want to separate your personal life from your public life when it comes to posting on these sites. Sometimes potential clients can be turned off by the smallest things. Maybe they don't like cats and wouldn't want to see four posts about your cat everyday. More likely, they will be looking for posts you make about your business, issues that affect your business and your other clients. You should always tread lightly since a seemingly innocent post can turn off a client, such as telling them how hard you partied last weekend and now your hangover has you behind on your work. They may not like that. Another taboo post is badmouthing a client for whatever reason. Your potential clients want to know that you will deal with project issues in a private, professional manner instead of telling everyone how annoying your current client is, or how they are late on paying you.

You also don't want to rant about anything on social media. Political opinions, your parking ticket—unless all of your followers are your best friends, a constant stream of rants will turn off even your most dedicated followers—some of which could have been potential clients.

Do I rant on social media? Occasionally. Do I post all about my personal life, including my cats? Personal life—yes. Cats—no, I'm the one who is annoyed by the post of your cat in its Halloween costume. Send it to your mother--I'm allergic. And a dog person.

I do know that constantly offering political opinions, hating on websites and other harsh posts may not be great for business. And yes, I have complained about nonpayment by clients, but always kept at an anonymous level. They don't know I'm talking about them—of course, if they aren't paying me, then they should know exactly who they are! I have in recent weeks backed off posting about client issues. I do not get jobs through my social media accounts, but some of my jobs are in social media, so I know that clients are reading it. My political opinions and posting random pictures of food? Those may stay for awhile longer. I am human, after all.

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