Oliver: Please let us know a bit about yourself, where does your social media knowledge and interest come from?
Paul – Hi Oliver. I’m a freelance social media manager and i’ve been helping small businesses with their social media strategies for around a year now. I’ve always had an interest in digital marketing even during my time in senior management, this coupled with my desire to work self-employed led to me channeling my passion and eventually setting up Social Colleague. I’m an honest, open and patient guy by personality and I try and use this traits in the relationships I have with my clients (I hope they would agree).
Oliver: I noticed “offers discounts and promotions” if I sign up to your newsletter, how important do you feel these kinds of promotions are online in marketing?
Paul – It all depends really. I like to reward visitors for taking the time to find out more about me, hence the aforementioned newsletter sign up is available around that area of the site. I find it a useful way of keeping tabs on leads who may not wish to avail of my services at that point – but who knows, they may in the future with a little reminder (and discount).
Oliver – You have a blog on your website, how has it helped you, what made you add a blog to your website that is about services for others?
Paul – There are a number of reasons why I have a blog really. First and foremost I enjoy writing and always have done. Secondly a blog is important in the industry I work in as it’s an ever-changing space and there’s a constant stream of changes and trends which are important to communicate. That being said I do not blog about every new feature Facebook adds, I do tend to pick and choose based on what I believe to be relevant to my visitors at any given time. It’s also nice to give some free advice from time to time and know i’ve helped someone.
Oliver: What tips would you give to any other people considering freelancing online?
Paul – The biggest single tip I would have for anyone is don’t give up the ‘day job’ until you’re ready. It’s a fine balancing act and difficult to judge at what point you would make more money by pursuing freelancing full-time. By the same token, it’s always going to be a gamble no matter when you give it a try. So have a plan in place and set yourself clear, specific goals over the short, medium and long term. Review them monthly, adjust and move on. >
Oliver: Do you need to be an expert or a registered business to work as a freelancer?
Paul – I’m a registered sole trader with the HMRC, and whilst I don’t consider myself an expert (there’s always so much to learn in social media and digital marketing) I am confident in my abilities and the services I provide to be value for money. Honestly, if you’re serious about freelancing go and study your chosen topic, spend the hours doing the training and gain the knowledge to mean you never have to think about sites such as fiverr and can start making a consistent living doing something you love.
Oliver: I noticed that you are very approachable, you offer skype and other communication, do you think this is important in offering freelance work online?
Paul – It’s very, very important for me to be accessible to my clients (and potential clients) and I try and offer a number of ways to keep in touch such as Linkedin, Skype, Google+ and Twitter along with the traditional telephone and email options. However, it’s also important for me to ‘practice what I preach’. Would you really hire a social media manager that had a website but no social media accounts?
Oliver: What is your favourite Social media tool around?
Paul – There are so many to choose from, I guess it really comes down to budget and what you are willing to spend. However their are also a number of free tools also. I would have to one of the most useful is www.socialmention.com. A simple but effective search tool which acts as a listening device for your keywords across many social networks.
Oliver: What is your best social media tip?
Paul – Forget about numbers, too many people and businesses are hung up about how many fans or followers they have. 10,000 Facebook fans means nothing if they’re not interested in your content or engaging with you. There is nothing more important than engagement.
Oliver: How important is it in having a website to accompany your freelance work?
Paul – Plenty of freelancers I know don’t have a website at all, they seem to do ok. I personally think it’s important for me to have a base for me to refer traffic to from my social media accounts or other forms of promotion.
Oliver: How do you get people to your website, and how do you get people > interested in your services?
Paul – A number of ways, but naturally social media is very important to what I do. Pinterest drives the most traffic, Twitter the most relevant visitors and Linkedin, above all others, finds me the most business. SEO is also important and i’m currently trying to improve the site in this respect. From time to time I also use Google Adwords.
Oliver: How important is social media in business? Should all business’s use social media? Do you need to use all social media to compete? > > > More importantly can social media help every or any business if used correctly?
Paul – This may sound like i’m doing myself out of business, but social media is not vital to all businesses. The chances are, in the future, it may be relevant no matter what industry you work in. However, I don’t see a need for a plumber to be registered on Twitter. A solicitor does not need a Facebook page. Not every business needs to be on every social media platform. It’s important to look at your target customer demographic and research where they spend their time, and in what frame of mind are they in when they use that particular social network.
Oliver: If say, I were a 17 year old guy or girl who’s used social media all their teenage years, could I sell social media services to small businesses?
Paul – I would say there is a big difference between using Twitter and Facebook (for example) socially and using them from a business point-of-view. An understanding of marketing, specifically digital marketing, is useful and would help compliment your knowledge. There are plenty of people offering just that with little or no experience or attempt to learn their trade by gaining qualifications, that doesn’t mean they’re earning a living, so my opinion is no, unless you have an exceptional knowledge of marketing it’s not going to happen that easily. I would guess this is probably not the answer your readers want to hear but it’s good to be honest. I would suggest that you practice using social media for business purposes and get experience that way.
Oliver – A very good method to try is: www.youngwebbuilder.com/how-to-build-your-own-twitterfanpage (Get started here).
Oliver: Thanks Paul, good luck with all of your future projects, I hope you get lot’s of lovely work, I really appreciate your time in sharing your knowledge and opinions.
Cheers – Paul
To learn more about social media and what Paul does, (he has a nice website too) visit www.socialcolleague.com.
If you would like support in selling freelance services visit our friendly forum.