As an independent professional who consults clients on brand building and communication, I have realised that I must have a unique brand too. After many years of treating social media as any regular employee, a rant here and a meme there, it is a bit of a challenge to develop an authentic narrative that reflects my own voice as a consultant and writer. But it is also a good learning process.
Here I share some practices that have helped me score projects and audience in the exciting few months that I have been an independent professional. Play around with these or leave your suggestions and tips and tricks in comments.
Whether you are a writer or a designer, Instagram lets you tell eye-catching stories about your work. Use the right set of hashtags so you can be found easily, share relevant pictures and tell stories, and be sure to include a ‘Link in bio’ for call to action wherever possible. Illustrators like Indu Harikumar and Alicia Souza and travellers/travel writers like Lakshmi Sarath and Abhinav Chandel do a stellar job of showcasing their work to an already engaged audience on Instagram. Watch and learn.
I have lost count of the number of times my Twitter network has popped up interesting assignments, useful reads, and conversations that teach a little about working independently. Even as the daily outrage of Twitter gets exhausting, there are coteries of people who encourage meaningful conversations. As a writer, these conversations help me see different sides of a story and build nuance into my articles about work and life. Twitter has also proven to be a good way to get discovered or make first contact with editors you plan to pitch to.
From relevant groups where jobs are posted and lessons are shared to quick and easy first contact with potential clients, Facebook and LinkedIn hold great potential for independent professionals. Make sure you post relevant organic content on Facebook and LinkedIn so it doesn’t get lost on the platforms’ now excessively cluttered feeds. Facebook also lets you do more with videos unlike Instagram, which allows only 60 seconders. Stream your coaching sessions and workshops whenever possible. And tempting as it might be, seeing the kind of excessive response WhatsApp forwards posted on LinkedIn get, steer clear of them if you want to be found by the right kind of clientele.
The quick virality of Medium has not ceased to surprise me. From building relevant networks sooner than you know to bringing relevant content to inspire you, Medium is by far one of the best platforms for budding writers.
Now, even publications like The Establishment, The Writing Cooperative, and The Matador Network are hosted on Medium. So your work, once approved by the publications’ editors, can appear among the right communities, backed by the credibility of known media brands.
One of the best things about social media in my opinion is that it gives a platform to anyone who has a voice and something to say. The onus is upon us to raise the bar for what is considered good content on social media. Besides impeccable language and nuance, authenticity is also essential for independent professionals looking to build a brand on social media.
More importantly, conversations are the holy grail of the web. Don’t wait for your articles to be up or designs to hit the online store so you can use your handles to publicise them. The key to building a social media brand and an engaged audience is consistency. Engage in meaningful conversations about the kind of work you do, contribute to your community of independent writers and other professionals, and most importantly, exchange ideas. This not only helps you develop a well-rounded social media brand but also brings learnings from outside limited offline networks.