Originally published May 16, 2018 on The Original BritishPandaChick blog. I made tweaks to the original post so it would work for Code Newbie.
It is time for part two of the online presence and personal branding guide. Part two is all about maintaining your online presence. Today's post will help you set up your personal brand on social media and begin building your online presence. You'll be updating your profiles on all your social media platforms and online tools.
This post will wrap up Skillcrush 300's lesson on online presence. I'll also be including information that wasn't included in my talk from Moms Can Code as well as what I've done with my own online presence. Feel free to look at any of my social media profiles to see how I use different platforms as you begin updating your own social media profiles.
The freelancer's secret to maintaining online presence is consistency.
Consistency might sound like an impossible thing to accomplish. The thought of keeping your social media profiles on a variety of platforms consistent can make you feel overwhelming. This is the secret all freelancers know and use on social media.
A consistent online presence doesn't just allow freelancers to manage and control their online presence. Consistency allows freelancers to be much more confident because they are always aware of what their online presence looks like. Remember your online presence is going to grow as you get more experience, add new social media platforms, or just regularly use social media.
As you do more on social media, it can become harder to keep track of. If you aren't careful, you could be sending mixed messages to your ideal clients. The wrong signals can make or break a potential client's decision to work with you.
Now you don't have to go crazy checking your online presence every day. However, doing the checks regularly as the ones mentioned in part one will help you see if everything consistent with the voice and feel of your personal brand. When you do these checks, put yourself in the shoes of a potential client.
If they visited one of your profiles, what would their first impressions be? Always thinking like your ideal client is going to help your online presence stay consistent and cohesive over time.
What Do I Need?
Before you can start updating your profiles, it is important to get all your bios you wrote during part one and notes you might have taken on the online presence you have now. This includes all the platforms you are using from your personal website to your Facebook profile. If you are starting to build your online presence, below are some of the suggestions Skillcrush and I both recommend students use for building your online presence.
If you still need some help, I recommend googling and looking at other social media influencers in your niche. These influencers can be other freelancers or just people you admire in tech. Pay attention to their branding to see what you can replicate for your own platforms as well as how each person shows his/her personality on the web. I also recommend using Skillcrush's checkpoints mentioned in part one to help you with this portion of this blog post.
1. Personal Website
The first piece of your online presence is your personal website. This is the most important part of your personal brand and the place where your ideal clients are going to go to first. If you don't have a personal website, you can make a simple web page using one of the tutorials from Codecademy.
Although there are website builders available (i.e. Wix, Squarespace), keep in mind these website builders have limited customization. If you want a fancy website, you'll have to build your own.
What do I use?
My personal website is my portfolio site. My personal website is a constant work in progress but reflects how much progress I've made as a front-end web developer. I've used a personal domain and hosting as well as using professional tools like CodePen for my personal website.
Right now, I have been using Github Pages for my personal website. I made the website using HTML & CSS. My plan is to make my portfolio website mobile responsive using the strategies from the Grow with Google coursework I'm doing right now.
2. Social media
Most people think of social media as a way to stay connected with family and friends or look at cat pictures. However social media is an important tool for freelancers since this is where they drive traffic to your website. There are so many social media platforms that it can be tempting to just sign up for all the social media accounts just to show you are being current.
This is actually a terrible idea since certain platforms can be irrelevant to your brand. It can also be harder for you to maintain if you are trying to juggle all the social media platforms on the web. Before you start signing up or deactivating social media profiles, here are some of Skillcrush's tips for how you should approach these social media platforms.
- Where does your niche like to hang out? Where are they most likely going to engage you and be looking for someone with a specific service?
- Start small. Skillcrush recommends starting with one or two social media platforms then expanding as you get more experience.
- Separate business and professional accounts. Keep these accounts separate by making different profiles or making certain content you don't want clients to see private.
What do I like to use?
LinkedIn is a must for anyone regardless of what kind of freelance work you are interested in. Despite the controversy Facebook has been receiving lately, it is still a popular way for freelancers to connect with ideal clients, network, and market themselves. I have my personal Facebook profile and a Facebook page specifically for content for both of my blogs.
My favorite social media platform is Twitter. Twitter is a favorite for developers and designers since it is a way to connect with each other, share content, and more. You might often see me participating in Twitter chats on my Twitter account or participating in coding challenges.
Finally, I use Pinterest and Instagram. I prefer Instagram over Pinterest since Instagram is where I share my crafts I make for Needlework Kits. My Pinterest account has evolved over the years. For now, my Pinterest profile is where I pin mood boards I like, stock photos I get from different e-mail newsletters, and resources I want to try in the future.
3. Professional Tools
Social media isn't the only way to drive clients to your website and spread the word about your brand. There are several tools that freelancers (especially web developers and web designers) use to share and talk about the work they have made. These tools are also great for networking and getting support on projects you are working on. You can even link these tools to your social media and portfolio.
These tools are different from social media since they are public and give ideal clients the expectation that you use these tools. Some of the popular professional tools for developers and designers are Github, Dribbble, Behance, and CodePen. Before you start signing up for a bunch of professional tools, I recommend thinking about your niche as well as the kind of services you want to offer. The professional tools you use need to be consistent with the services you plan on offering.
What do I use?
Github is quickly becoming a requirement for anyone web development to have. It is seen by many developers as an extension to your portfolio. Anything you don't have on your portfolio site needs to be on Github and you need to be actively seen using it. Therefore, most of my time is spent on Github.
I do have Dribbble and Behance accounts, but I rarely use these accounts. I have dabbled in some visual and web design, but I tend to spend to focus more on web development. If you are interested in design, Dribbble and Behance are two great resources you can use regularly.
It is time to update!
Once you have done your check-up on your online presence and made a list of all your social media profiles, it is time to make decisions on where you should focus. As you move through this list, take a few minutes to think about how you use these social media platforms. If there are any that you don't use, delete them! For those that want to make separate personal and professional accounts, make these accounts now or change the privacy settings.
Now it is time to update your profiles! The goal is to make each profile match your personal brand. A personal brand is going to be different for every freelancer so Skillcrush provides students with some questions to help them see if their profiles match their personal brands. Some of these questions are:
- Do the profile pictures match your brand? Would a professional picture best fit these tools or can you make do with a selfie?
- What imagery are you using on these profiles? Skillcrush recommends having 3-5 photos to represent your brand throughout different social media platforms and tools. Think of ways to add imagery to your profiles.
- Think about the username you are using. Does it fit your brand and niche? Are you using the same brand name across all platforms?
- Take a look at the colors and fonts you are using. Are they consistent on every platform? Although specific platforms are limiting when it comes to customization, a little bit is going to make you stand out more than you think.
- Is your bio and positioning statement current and consistent? Add your bio and positioning statement you have been working on to these profiles and make revisions if needed.
- Add a link to your website! Make sure you test to see if your link works because potential clients will be clicking on links published on your profile.
So what do I do with all these platforms?
The main goal of a good personal brand is to be noticed and found by your ideal clients. Ideal clients aren't looking for the best expert, but they are searching for someone who is an authority on the thing they need the most and visible. Developing a personal brand is similar to telling a story and developing characters.
Therefore you have to be very strategic in order to show your personality in a consistent, cohesive, and quick manner. Remember the internet is full of a lot of digital noise so you need to make your copy easy to absorb for your ideal clients so they can pay attention to what you have to say. One of the best ways freelancers use social media is by simply starting conversations and providing value to others.
A successful brand isn't just about creating the best work possible. A lot of popular brands have three important values:
These values appear in the conversations freelancers have with their clients. They help them solve their problems.
Starting a conversation on social media can sound tricky, but there are many ways you can start.
One of the easiest ways is to ask a question. This can be asking for help on a specific problem you might be having or getting recommendations from other people in your industry on a service/product you might want to offer. Another way to start a conversation is just simply asking for feedback on a project you are working on. Sharing your work is an important part of being in tech since it shows how you are applying the skills you are learning.
One of my favorite ways to use social media is through Twitter chats. There are lots of Twitter chats you can participate in depending on your interest. Tech has many Twitter chats.
One of my favorites is Code Newbie's weekly chat on Wednesday nights. Just visit #CodeNewbie to see what others are talking about in tech and even join in the conversation. Hashtags such as #CodeNewbie are a powerful way to reach out to others in your industry and increase your visibility online.
You don't have to be active every single day on different social media platforms. However, it is important that you are active every so often on these profiles so you can stay top of mind and show your passion. Everything you do online is going to help paint a picture for your ideal clients and connect with them so they get the solutions they are looking for.
That's the end of part two! This post was all about maintaining your online presence and putting the work you did in part one to use. Social media was the subject of today's post with lots of tips on deciding what social media platforms to use and what you need to think about as you update your profiles. Finally, I shared some ways on how you can use different platforms to begin growing your online presence and establish yourself as an authority in your niche.
Interested in learning more about portfolio sites? Portfolios are the next topic in the Skillcrush 300 series. We are on lesson five which is all about portfolios.
A portfolio is a must not just for freelancers, but anyone in tech. This post will go over everything you need to know for updating your portfolio and why you need to add a case study to your website.