Looking to grow your freelance business with social media? Want to use it to promote your work, land new clients and add value to their projects?

Social platforms can be noisy, crowded places at the best of times and it therefore takes experience, trial and error, creativity and consistency for freelancers to build up (and benefit from) a strong online presence. 

Social media for freelancers is a topic that remains largely unaddressed and we therefore want to shine a light on the topic to help freelancers get the most from their social media accounts. 

In this weeks article, we speak to Freelance Club member Jola Sopek, about the value of having robust following on social media. Jola is a freelance graphic designer, illustrator and calligrapher who has over 70,000 followers on her Instagram account jolapictures

Jola Sopek Illustrator Graphic Designer

1. Do you invest time building your following on social media? If so, how do you build it up?

I have been using Instagram to promote my work for over 3 years now, so I have learned what kind of posts might attract more attention, although the algorithms change all the time – time-lapse videos used to be ‘the one’, but now it’s Reels which seem to gather most interest. I do pay some attention to these things, but I don’t plan my posts specifically with that in mind, because it can shift so quickly. In general, I do make a lot of work so usually, I will just share what I’m working on without much prior thought. However, I do intend to focus more on Pinterest marketing in the months to come, which requires getting used to.


2. Do clients find you and approach you because of your social media following? How much of your work comes from social media and as a direct result of your presence on various social platforms?

Jola Sopek. social media for freelancers, grow your freelance business with social media, marketing for freelancers

In my case, most of my work comes in because of my activity on Instagram. It is a very powerful platform, and a lot of people search for illustrators through hashtags and shared interest pages. I think the more active you are, the more potential work will come your way. Although the thing to keep in mind is that you should genuinely enjoy the content you are creating and sharing – if you do it purely just for exposure, it might become a chore. Sometimes you might get a lot of enquiries, at times – none. For me, it is important to keep doing what I’m doing regardless of the immediate results, just because I love it.


3. Do you always post the projects you do for clients on your social media accounts or does this have to be formally agreed upon before the job?

It depends on the project. Some people specify that sharing is not allowed until a certain point – perhaps if an illustration is to be used on a product that is not launching for a while. Others are happy for me to share snippets and work in progress scenes because it might help their exposure as well, plus it keeps things fun and sociable.


4. How important is it to have a strong following and engagement on social media as a freelancer?

The number of followers is perhaps less important than engagement, as I know of a lot of successful artists whose following is not huge at all. Although I believe some kind of a presence is vital, even if you post, say, twice a month. In my own view, I think the more active and approachable you seem, the better it is for your accountability and readiness for work. The reality is, these days when researching a new name, most people will head over to Instagram first; it’s worth keeping that in mind.


5. Have you been offered more freelance work opportunities as your social media following/influence has grown? If so, why do you think that is? How do you think your social media presence adds value to a client’s project?

Jola Sopek. social media for freelancers, grow your freelance business with social media, marketing for freelancers

Yes, it’s definitely been the case for me. I think it is a complex thing though – I believe the following grows because the work gets better over time. I personally feel more settled in my style (even if that will keep evolving) and I have a clearer vision of what kind of illustrations I want to be making. I think that growing clarity of vision paired with the following really helps. Some followers have been with me for years, and they see the progress I’m making – which creates organic bonds.

Apart from that, I think some clients who are also keen to use social media for promotion notice that I am enthusiastic about sharing my work online and find it to be an easy-going, fun process, rather than something overwhelming and daunting.


6. What piece of advice would you give to other freelancers on building and growing their following/ influence on social media in order to add value to their freelance projects?

Jola Sopek. social media for freelancers, grow your freelance business with social media, marketing for freelancers

I think sharing work in progress scenes shows that you are active, open to communication and willing to undertake new projects. Some people really value seeing the process behind your work because it makes it more approachable and shows other aspiring artists that putting the time and effort does bring results – it is not just ‘black magic talent’. I know that sharing a lot might not be suitable for everyone’s style or line of work, but for myself, it is important to keep my social media fresh, easy-going and fun. If it is not pleasant for me, I would find it very hard to keep it going.


Social media for freelancers is a must in 2021.

Whether you've been freelancing for years or you're just starting out, if you're looking to promote your work, land new clients or add value to your freelance work, it's time to reassess and potentially step up your game on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or whatever platform you feel works best for you.

These fantastic insights from Jola are a great place to start and will hopefully give you some encouragement and guidance on how to grow your freelance business with social media going forward. 


Liked this article? Want to learn more about marketing for freelancers? Check out our articles The Introverts Guide to Freelancing and Got a Freelance Business that No One Has Heard Of?