How to Use LinkedIn to Build Your Freelance Business
Updated: Dec 7, 2022
Having trouble getting new clients? I know, I know. The struggle is real. Between job boards, cold calls, emails, and online applications, it feels like you spend more time scouting than you do writing.
Let me start by saying this blog isn’t a “get rich quick” formula. I’m not writing from a beach in Costa Rica with a mojito in one hand and a tablet in the other. I’m an everyday freelancer using the web to make a living—just like you.
But I have discovered ways to make gaining clients easier using a free source you already know about, but likely underutilize: LinkedIn.
This social media platform is a broad one, open to a vast array of new business opportunities. No more filling out applications to low-paying writing mills. No more thumbing through job boards while competing against hundreds of writers—if not more—for the same position.
You can pitch your brand, your expertise, and your business to potential B2B clients, and snag quality leads on your terms, at your rate.
Sound like a dream? Pull up a Google Doc, dust off those old login credentials, and let’s talk about how you can use LinkedIn to build your freelance business.
How Can LinkedIn Help My Freelance Business?
LinkedIn is more than just an online resume and job portal. It’s a networking powerhouse that makes connecting with the decision-makers for target clients easier.
Need a little convincing? Let’s start with some statistics on LinkedIn:
80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn
94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for content distribution because it works
46% of traffic to users websites comes from social media posts on LinkedIn
These aren’t rookie numbers! If you intend to just log on and start pitching your services, don’t expect to get far. In order to make LinkedIn work for you, you need a marketing strategy and fresh, persuasive content.
Which leads us to step one.
Essential Steps to a Killer Lead Strategy
What is your objective? How are you going to achieve it? Until you can answer both of these questions, you aren’t ready to pursue new leads on LinkedIn.
Like any good business, you need a marketing strategy. From your action plan to the content and presentation, make sure you prepare ahead of time.
Update Your LinkedIn profile
View your profile as a landing page. It is one of the first things potential clients will check out to see what you’re all about.
Beef it up with:
A current description of your services and experience
Links to writing samples
Recommendations from past clients
Any notable achievements worth bragging about
These things set you apart while promoting your skills.
Have Your Pricing Ready
Common sense, right? Yet a lot of people jump the gun. They start by pitching their services first, then panic when they actually receive a response.
Establish your per hour, per word, and flat rate pricing first. Make sure that it’s flexible enough to provide a custom quote based on individual clients’ needs so you can provide a quick turnaround time.
Never leave someone waiting hours or days for a quote or response. A delayed response is a forewarning to potential clients of what it will be like working with you. Make a good impression by following up quickly, especially if the request was sent during your regular business hours.
Update Your Website, Online Portfolio, and Social Media Accounts
If you don’t already have a website or online portfolio, make one. Having an online presence will give potential clients peace of mind and improve your credibility.
Establish a company page on LinkedIn, a business page on Facebook, and an official Twitter handle where you can engage your clientele and share news and expertise. You may be a one (wo)man show, and that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to be the face and voice of your business.
Brand yourself the way you want clients to see you—and stay active.
Templated messages are an absolute must for efficiency. While it’s always good to add a personal touch to every email or inquiry you send out, a template will help you churn out your messages quicker.
Create individual templates for introductory emails, follow-ups, and pricing requests.
As you do this, include any links to your writing portfolio, pricing, or services. This will help streamline your conversations as you start reaching out to potential clients.
Map Out Your Strategy
Create an outline detailing your strategy for garnering leads. As you do, ask yourself:
What kind of businesses will you reach out to?
What will you offer them?
How will you follow up?
Never fly by the seat of your pants. Make a plan and stick to it. Research and create a list of companies you want to reach out to, then see if you can connect with the decision-makers on LinkedIn.
Give yourself a quota, and make sure you follow up. Quantity and consistency are what yield results.
Make Professional Connections on LinkedIn
Networking online isn’t so different from networking in person. Introduce yourself after you make a new connection, take an interest in their business, and interact with their posts.
These connections will become your target audience, so don’t just start adding people at random. Focus on your industry and target client.
Make it a point to reach out to your old connections, too. Let them know what you’re up to and whether there is an opening in your client list for relevant services. You’d be surprised how often a simple update saying, “I’m available!” can reap new business.
Relationship > Sales Pitch
While you are ultimately on LinkedIn to churn up new business, every interaction shouldn’t be a hard pitch for your services. That gets old very quickly, and it turns people off from wanting to interact with you.
Instead, get involved. Post regularly. Join groups. Interact with your newsfeed. Also, be sure to publish links to your recent work, new client reviews, or news that is trending in your industry. Share relevant posts and comment on others when you can contribute something useful. By responding to a post with your professional opinion, you showcase your expertise while familiarizing them with your name.
The more familiar your connections become with who you are and what you do, the more likely you will come to mind when a need for your services arises.
How to Handle Direct Inquiries and Pitches
Okay, so you’re making new connections on LinkedIn when the CEO of a mega-marketing company just added you on Linkedin. Stellar!
Don’t wait a year to reach out. Introduce yourself. Let him or her know who you are and what you do as a freelancer. This doesn’t have to be an intense introduction. You can keep your message simple and friendly. Think of it as a digital after-hours networking event and just slide into their inbox and say hello.
If they’re interested, they will inquire about more information. If they aren’t, no problem! Still, make it a point to stay on their radar. You never know what opportunities may arise later on down the road.
Never be disheartened by the first “no”. You’re going to get a lot of them, so just accept that as part of the process, and keep in mind that a “no” upfront is not always a sealed door.
Networking is about building relationships. At some point, those relationships may lead to new business or new opportunities, which is why you should never underestimate a good connection.
Lastly, stay consistent on the platform. Don’t disappear after a few days or a few weeks. Schedule time into your day to touch base with your network.
I make it a point to cut 30 minutes out of my morning (usually over coffee) to catch up on my social media news feeds, reach out or respond to new connections, and share new content.
By being consistent, you remain in front of the eyes of potential businesses while branding yourself as an expert in your field.