The gig economy is clearly booming. The International Labor Organization estimated that in 2020, over 40% of the adult population in the United States participated in the gig economy to some degree. Of course, most of us don’t need an expert to tell us that — nearly everyone you talk to has some form of a side hustle, whether it’s parents driving for Uber while the kids are at soccer practice, or artisans picking up contracts to make and sell certain goods.
However, with all of this activity in the gig marketplace, it can make it harder for those trying to break into the market to find their niche and attract customers. Although freelancing has numerous perks such as being your own boss and setting your own hours, it can be exceptionally hard to be profitable. Expanding a customer base can be even more challenging.
Today, many people are turning to social media to promote themselves as gig workers. Marketing yourself in this way can be a powerful opportunity not only to get your name and your skills out there, but also to build a brand and reputation people will come to trust. It can take a bit of footwork to get underway, but the benefits stand to far outweigh the extra effort.
Building a Personal Brand
The first step to really marketing yourself using social media is to build a personal brand. Branding is a cornerstone of all businesses. A positive, recognizable brand is one that most people are going to choose over the unknown. Great branding and marketing will drive customers in, while poor branding may actually do more harm than good.
It all starts with determining what exactly you want to portray about yourself and your business. From there incorporating some graphic design work including a color scheme, logo, and basic brand messaging will help people begin to recognize your brand and understand what you’re really offering. You have a lot of leeway here to tell your story and create a message that is uniquely you — make the most of it!
Next is to take your new branding out on the street. It involves showcasing your work regularly on all of your social media channels and it requires work. In addition, you need to ensure that you are effectively using your brand when creating and implementing a marketing strategy. Having consistency throughout your marketing cycle not only ensures that you can sell your services and your personal brand well, it also means that your audience has a solid understanding of who you are.
Creating a reputation as a hard worker, generous community member, and well-connected gig employee is hard work, but the effort may eventually start to snowball into something much, much bigger.
Personal vs. Professional — Is There a Difference?
One of the most difficult balances to strike as a gig employee marketing yourself on social media is the line between personal and professional. For many, that line is exceptionally gray and they find themselves marketing and advertising themselves in the same social space where they are interacting with friends and family. This ultimately has some major potential positives and potential negatives.
A major benefit of keeping your professional and personal lives tightly linked on social media is that you have a ready-made group of followers. That is, all of your friends, family, and random acquaintances that you’re already friends with on social media. Having this base in place can provide a strong platform to begin marketing yourself and have it feel more organic.
For some companies, especially those that hire influencers to market their products, this more personal, real-life feel can be invaluable. Chances are, if some of these friends don’t already have a need for your skills they might know someone who does.
Of course, for every positive aspect there is a negative one too. Many business professionals strongly recommend keeping your personal and professional account separate. There are a number of reasons for this, including:
- Damage to professional relationships when clients start seeing you more as a friend than a business contact,
- Loss of clientele for posting personal, political, or religious beliefs that they don’t necessarily agree with
- Harassment by clients or former clients if they decide they don’t like you for whatever reason.
Ultimately, the choice to create a professional account for your gig work is up to you. Weighing the potential costs and benefits before making this decision is valuable as your gig business could depend upon it. In the end, one of the golden rules is don’t post or share any information that you wouldn’t talk to your potential customers about openly.
Catering to Your Audience
As you become more comfortable marketing yourself in the social media sphere, another question is likely to come up — who exactly are you trying to reach? Finding your target audience is the crux to gig success and you’ll probably be surprised by the answers when you really stop to think about who your customers really are.
Quick answer: your audience isn’t everyone.
In reality, there is probably a specific demographic of people that are most interested in the skillset you are offering.
For instance, if you are a freelance photographer, you might be more interested in connecting with young couples and families that are interested in having professional photos of major life milestones like getting married or having a baby. Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t attract other customers. It just means you might put more effort into appealing to your specific niche audience on social media, whether through your social networking, business specials, or other marketing tools.
Social media is a powerful tool for marketing yourself and your gig skills to a broader audience. Building a strong personal brand, creating connections, and finding your target audience are great first steps to really putting yourself out there and getting hired.