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Getting freelance work via social media - my experience

Do people overstate how important social media is both personally and professionally? And are we spending too much time chasing dwindling returns?

There are some people who'll tell you that you must be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and goodness knows what else to ensure your business succeeds. And tons of us buy into it and spend quite a bit of time tweeting and updating, hoping we'll get lucky.

I did, but recently I've decided to concentrate on people around me rather than those in the virtual world. To put it simply, I'm doing so because that's where my work comes from.

I'm not exactly Lady Gaga when it comes to social media followers, but for what it's worth, here's a quick overview of how freelance jobs have mainly come my way:

        Twitter: 1 (with 1 more possibility)
        Facebook: 0
        LinkedIn: 0
        This website: 5+
        My other website: 5+
        Personal referrals and recommendations: 30+

To put that into perspective, the one job I got through Twitter was also a kind of personal recommendation, as were the majority of the jobs I got through my websites (i.e. somebody I either know personally or had previously worked with pointed a potential client to my website(s)).

I rarely get work from people who simply find me online. It's not unheard of, but I reckon it only happens a couple of times a year, if that. This year, so far, I've had one editing job from a very nice lady who found me online, and three other editing jobs from referrals.

Also of interest - to me, at least - is that the work that's come to me through personal referrals has, without exception, led to repeat work. This is far less true of work through my involvement in social media and blogs. In this respect, being social in person is far more effective than being social in the virtual world, including email.

I realise that I'm an experiment of one, but as people have asked how I get work I thought I'd share. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.


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