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How can freelancers can boost their visibility, draw in additional clients, and develop a personal brand? Simple. Become an influencer.
Now, we get it. It’s a pretty hard area to crack within your career. Instagram is a great marketing tool for freelancers, with more than 1 billion monthly active users. The platform also contains tools that allow users to get creative, showcase their skills, and build a community. But, as influencers go, the market is pretty saturated.
If you’re a freelancer and you’re not using Instagram to your advantage, you’re missing out.
Luckily for you, we have the answers.
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1. Identify Your Niche
The first step to becoming an influencer on Instagram is to identify your niche. It’s far easier to focus on a niche than to be a jack-of-all-trades.
When choosing a niche on Instagram, think of the area you are passionate and most knowledgeable about. This is, more often than not, your freelancing niche, too.
When you package yourself as an authority in your chosen freelancing field, you can expect more clients to come to you. Besides, if you pick your Instagram niche according to your interests, it will be easier for you to create content. The more consistent you are with this content creating, the faster you can build your brand and become an influencer on Instagram.
When picking your Instagram niche, you should also consider how popular the niche is on Instagram. Remember, the more saturated your niche is, the harder it is for you to stand out as an influencer. Choose a less competitive niche from those areas that interest you.
There are many niche areas you can focus on. Some of them include traveling, fashion, health and wellness, sports and fitness, photography, lifestyle, food, and business.
2. Create High-Quality, Visually Appealing Content
If there is one social media platform that is designed for hosting visually appealing content such as pictures and videos, it is Instagram. Building a sizable following on Instagram and establishing yourself as an influencer in your chosen field requires producing high-caliber, aesthetically pleasing content.
To become an influencer on Instagram, take time to research the type of content your target audience likes to consume. Knowing what type of content they engage with will help you create content that resonates with them.
If your freelancing niche is in the visual arts, you can just post your artwork on Instagram. After all, you also want to promote your freelancing services to land clients.
Check out the Instagram profile of freelance photographer Allan Schaller:
Whatever visual content you post, it should be eye-catching and clear. Don’t forget to include a caption to give context to your work. You should include hashtags, too (which we’ll talk more about later).
You should also experiment with different content formats: you might want to leverage Instagram Reels, for example. Or, you can try combining photos and videos in your content to keep things fresh and engaging. If you’re not a freelance visual artist yourself, you can engage the services of freelance photographers or graphic artists who are within your budget.
In terms of posting frequency, it’s important to find a balance between maintaining consistency and not overwhelming your audience. Start by posting at least once a day. You can adjust this frequency based on your audience’s subsequent engagement levels and the amount of content you’re able to create.
3. Engage with Your Followers
Although a step in the right direction, posting high-quality Instagram content is not enough. You still need to engage with your audience.
After all, if you don’t interact with your audience, you don’t give them a reason to come back. Audience engagement is critical to building a strong brand on Instagram and ultimately achieving your goals as an influencer (and a freelancer).
If you don’t have followers just yet, don’t worry. You can try other means to get Instagram followers. For instance, if you have a personal website, promote your Instagram account there. You can also ask your email subscribers to follow you. Just include social media icons in your email to make it easier for them to take that action.
Once you do have your followers, check for and reply to relevant comments on your post and their direct messages. This shows that you value audience engagement and are interested in building a relationship with them.
You could also ask questions that you believe they will be interested in answering. Check out this post by Lynda Aguocha, a freelance marketer, who uses the LivewithLynda account:
In addition, share the behind-the-scenes of your work in real-time through Instagram Live. While you’re making your next graphic artwork or creating your new website design as a freelancer, your audience can ask you questions whilst you’re creating.
Giving your audience valuable freelancing advice using the Instagram Stories feature is a good tip to follow, too. This is what freelance copywriter Colleen Welsch does:
The good thing about Instagram Stories is that you give your audience the impression that you’re personally talking to them. That helps to elicit audience engagement.
You can also create interactive quizzes for your Instagram followers. The quiz, however, should be related to your freelancing niche. This will help ensure you target the people who are more likely to ask for your freelancing services.
4. Utilize Hashtags
After working hard to create content, you should get as many members of your target audience to see it. This is where hashtags come in. When you incorporate hashtags into your content, you increase your chances of your post being found when users search for that specific hashtag.
You need to use hashtags that are relevant to your niche, content, and target audience. So, to get an idea of what these are, check out popular posts in your niche and see the hashtags used.
For instance, if you’re a freelance writer, just type in #freelancewriting on Instagram’s search bar. You’ll get the most popular Instagram posts related to that niche. This is what I get when I click on one of the most popular Instagram posts on freelance writing:
See the other hashtags? You have the hashtags #contentwriting, #copywriting, and #freelancewriter you can incorporate into your freelance writing posts, too. You can also use hashtag tools such as Hashtagify and Keyhole.
Consider creating a hashtag that represents your personal brand—just make sure it’s easily recognized by your followers.
You could also look for hashtag campaigns related to your niche and participate by using the designated hashtags in your posts. This can increase your visibility and help you connect with other influencers and brands. Don’t forget that you still need to use hashtags in moderation.
5. Leverage Collaborations and Partnerships
Collaborate with a different influencer or brand to co-create content pertinent to both your niches, then post it on Instagram (if you didn’t co-create Instagram content). Such collaborations will help broaden both your audiences, and help you become an influencer on Instagram.
For example, Jon Contino, a freelance graphic designer, partnered with Ebbets Vintage, a vintage sportswear brand, to come up with this “Born Free” jacket. Check out the engagement here:
Modern eCommerce and even SaaS marketing budgets have a portion set aside for influencer marketing campaigns. All you need to do is search for these brands and make your pitch. Make sure to partner with relevant brands that will help you achieve your influencer (and freelancer) goals.
Partner with other influencers and cross-promote each other’s content, too.
6. Be Authentic
When trying to establish yourself as an influencer on Instagram, originality should be one of your watchwords. Once your target audience notices that you repeatedly try to fake your personality, it will likely slow your growth as an influencer.
There are several ways you can achieve this authenticity.
Let your followers get a glimpse of the real you. So, tell them your story. Be honest about your setbacks, difficulties, and struggles as a freelancer. You can even be honest about what you’re going through in your personal life. Your followers will value your openness and be able to identify with your experiences.
You can also offer your own opinion on subjects pertaining to your freelancing niche. For instance, if you’re a freelance writer, you might want to offer your two cents on the Oxford comma debate.
But don’t just parrot what other people are saying. State your own opinion and stand by it. You should, of course, really believe in your chosen stance. Otherwise, you won’t be able to defend it when people start asking you about it.
As a freelancer, becoming an influencer on Instagram takes deliberate effort. It starts with properly identifying your Instagram niche. Then, you should invest in creating high-quality and visually appealing content.
You must make it a habit to constantly engage your followers. Research and utilize relevant hashtags on your posts, too. Also, don’t forget to leverage collaborations and partnerships with fellow influencers and brands. Last but not the least, be authentic.
Follow these tips, and you’ll become an Instagram influencer in no time (and get more clients, too).
Want to be recognized as an expert in your field? At Twine, we have dozens of top-quality jobs being posted each and every day. There is a job waiting for your skills in everything from design to marketing, development, and copywriting. Join the marketplace of diverse creative talent here.