Last month I spoke to the Triangle Area Freelancers on how to use social media to market yourself.  The group is primarily freelance writers and they had some excellent questions including:

  • Should I get on Twitter?
  • Where do I start with social media?
  • Blogger or WordPress, which is better and should I pay to host my site?

I have to keep reminding myself that there are still many people out there that are new to social media and interactive technology.  With the rapid pace of change it can be scary and hard to get started with confidence that you are heading in the right direction.  Even tough the mainstream media keeps blasting out stats like Facebook is the largest country on Earth, there is still a huge majority of people dipping their toe into the water.

Based on these questions and my presentation I thought it would be a good post to create the five starting points to marketing yourself on the web and creating an online presence.

  1. Create a web presence that you own. Whether you decide to create a blog or just a simple site to direct online traffic to learn more about you and your craft, own your own site.  Many people use Blogger and WordPress free hosting and even though this is a great, low-cost entry into creating a web presence there is a downside.  Google and other free hosting sites legally own your content according to the terms of the agreement.  Therefore find a reliable hosting provider that can host your domain and site.
  2. Create a Twitter account even if you don’t want to post. There is valuable information on Twitter including many people asking for some to provide services that you may offer.  Even if you don’t want to chat on Twitter, create an account so that you own your name or brand name and you have the ability to listen.  Use search to create listening agents and investigate possible opportunities.
  3. Create and manage your LinkedIn profile. Many business users are on LinkedIn and not Twitter.  They don’t use Facebook for business so LinkedIn is the main business social network.  Over the past year LinkedIn has really added interactive features and functionality that allows users to profile their work and cross-reference other sites.  Look for people asking questions that you have expertise in and answer them.  The interaction may lead to a job or lucrative project.
  4. Understand the medium. After being a PR and marketing writer for the past 18 years, I Discovered that blogging is much different form of writing.  When I wrote for trade journals my article length was 1,500-3,000 words.  Blog posts tend to be 500-1,000 words.  Use Google to search for web sites and blogs in your subject matter and begin looking at them.  Find the ones you like and pattern your presence after theirs.  Add your personal flavor and opinion and let your site visitors appreciate what you bring to the conversation.
  5. Define your goals. Determine what you want out of your web and social presence.  Do you want to capture leads? Do you want to increase awareness?  Are you looking for a business partner? Establish baselines and track your metrics from that point forward.  Be realistic and revisit your objectives every few months, revise and keep momentum going forward.

There are many other starting points and advice but I wanted to stick to the key points.  Many times we find ourselves consuming too much information and losing focus of building the foundation properly so that we can add to it later.  Thanks to Kristy Oberlander Stevenson and the Triangle Area Freelancers for inviting me to speak.

Brian McDonald

Brian McDonald started Square Jaw Media to document strategies and techniques he had used over his experience working in marketing and communications since 1990. During this time Brian wrote about many of the exciting Raleigh social media events where great knowledge was being shared and tries to share some of the tips and tricks. . Read Brian's full bio.