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Work For Free But Only Once
<br>September 2, 2011 by Alexis Grant
Alexis Grant is a journalist and social media strategist. She tweets as @alexisgrant and recently launched an e-guide, How to Build a Part-Time Social Media Business.
Inside the social media bubble, it seems like everyone knows how to use Twitter, Facebook and Google+. But the truth is, while most businesses and organizations realize they would benefit from having an online community, many don’t know how to grow one or lack the time to do it.
If you’re awesome with online tools, this is a huge opportunity. Whether you already have a job and want to earn some cash on the side, or need a stop-gap income while you look for the right position, this demand for social media help can work in your favor — if you’re bold enough to step up to the plate.
SEE ALSO: Do You Have What it Takes to Be an Entrepreneur?
Here are a few tips for how to start making money using your social media skills.
Put a Value on Your Skills
Don’t be one of those clueless “gurus” who have given social media consultants a bad rap. But don’t underestimate yourself either. This is often a bigger problem for people who have ideas and skills that deserve a price tag. If you know how to use social media strategically, work it. Chances are somebody out there wants to tap into your knowledge.
Work for Free (But Only Once)
To prove you’re awesome at growing online communities — both to yourself and to potential clients — find a cash-strapped small business or non-profit organization and offer to do it for them for free. Not only is this a great way to build your resume, self confidence and knowledge, you’ll also grow your network, and hopefully come out on the other side with a client who’s willing to recommend you.
The best part? No one will know you did it for free.
Land Your First Paying Client
Use your experience working for free to solicit paid work. This is most difficult at the beginning, but once you have one client, you’ll be able to land others more easily. Hopefully, each client will tell her friends, who will tell their friends. If you do a great job for your clients, they will market your business for you.
SEE ALSO: 15 Case Studies to Get Your Client On Board With Social Media
So how do you sign that first client? It usually happens through your existing friends and contacts. That’s how it happened for me, and that’s what my readers tell me works for them. Tap your networks via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and your blog. If you’re just starting your career, check out your parents’ networks, too. Those can be gold mines for this type of work. Tell everyone what you’re available to do. You never know where the first few leads may come from.
Don’t feel bashful about asking your friends and network to help you spread the word, especially in the beginning. They’ll likely be more than happy to do it. After all, your friends want to see you succeed.
Determine Your Services
Define your offerings beyond saying you “do social media work.” Do you teach people how to use Twitter and Facebook? Or create blog strategies for companies to implement? Maybe you even grow online communities for your clients. That practice is sometimes shunned, but there’s often a case for outsourcing social media, especially when the client doesn’t have the know-how or the time to do it herself.
Then consider what types of clients you want to work for. Individuals? Businesses? Organizations? Can you narrow those groups down by topic? The more specific you can be, the better your chances of connecting with the right people.
When a new acquaintance asks what you do, be prepared to explain in layman’s terms, using examples. “Social media” can sound vague and even daunting to newbies, and your target client may not be social-media savvy. Explain your services succinctly, and word will spread quickly about your offerings.
Decide What to Charge
Prices for social media consulting run the gamut, from free to several hundred dollars an hour. No matter what you decide to charge, some people will think you’re too expensive, and others will think you’re a steal. The challenge is finding the sweet spot for your skills and experience.
The beauty in figuring out what to charge, especially when you’re just getting started, is that it can vary from client to client. Think one client can afford to pay more? Offer a higher per hour or project quote. If you’re worried a potential client will lose interest once you reveal your prices, offer several tiers of service with different price tags attached.
Figure it out as you go. Whenever we leap into something new, we have hesitations. But you will learn by doing, so long as you have the guts to get started.
SEE ALSO: Creative Social Media Resumes, by Brian Hernandez<br>
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