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  • Lisa Kissane

Can you Succeed as a Freelancer Without Constantly Posting on Social Media?

Updated: May 8


I wrote this post when I first started exploring freelancing in March 2023. A lot’s changed since, including how I use social media. I’ve left my day job to freelance full-time, which was the catalyst. It felt like this post needed an update, so here goes, with added wisdom:


Can you succeed as a freelancer without constantly posting on social media?


If you're anything like me, you hate social media, for the most part.


But I've learned over the past 12 months that social media is one of the cornerstones of my freelance writing biz.


Without social media, I'd be reliant on community boards and (puke) my own in-person networking skills to grow as a freelance business owner.


A chronic introvert, social media is the bridge I stand on to talk about my business without the discomfort of eye contact and body language. Without the sheer awfulness of being asked, to my FACE, “So, what do you do?”


To answer the titular question of this post: no, I couldn’t succeed without socials. I say this with hindsight and deep self-awareness. Many people can and do succeed without socials, but for me, it’s been crucial. Perhaps not for the reason you’d think.


How my social media use changed when I went freelance


I chose LinkedIn for my social media efforts because I'm a writer and wanted to meet like-minded freelance people. Twitter/X was never for me; I felt a bit lost there and my words are better when left to sit for a while (which isn’t compatible with Twitter’s post-like-you-talk vibe).


I’ve tried posting on multiple platforms but it really doesn’t feel good at the moment. I’d love to outsource some day, but for now it’s just me. I’ve stuck with one I like (LinkedIn), and I do everything there. (Note: I also have my website, business blog and personal blog, so I’m not beholden to one source of visibility).


LinkedIn is text-first, which means the most important element of any post are the words you write. Images, video, carousels, polls; they’re all great additions, but the main focus of your post is the text. This works for me because I’m forever writing down ideas and notes to ‘flesh out later’. Before LI, most of these ideas remained skeletal. Now, I jot ideas into Notion and once a week I sit with them and turn floaty musings into helpful (I hope) and/or silly posts for LinkedIn. Scheduling in advance also means I can post & ghost (the alternative being to haunt my post for likes and engagement). Then, I’ll access LI like any user and chat to people wherever it’s most interesting. A bit like Facebook.



A white square, at the top is a screenshot of Lisa's LinkedIn profile banner (a green background with the text 'Copywriting and Strategy Support for Wellbeing People'. Below is a sign with the text 'This isn't Facebook' and to the left is a green troll looking vexed

It’s all about you, babe


Remember to consider your clients and where they hang out, but choose a platform that suits you first and foremost. If you hate posting on social media, you're going to struggle. Only do what feels right and sustainable - forcing something you detest has only one outcome = resentment.


I’ve dabbled with the main platforms and found my flow with LinkedIn. That might not be the right choice for you, so I’ve given a rundown below of the features of each based on my own trial and error.


Here's my short guide to choosing a social media platform that works for you and your business:


🏢 LinkedIn: primarily a text-based platform, there are two sides to LinkedIn; the hussle bro corporate side, or the freelance community side. Curate your feed so you see more of what you like and less of what you don't. Use images and videos to boost engagement and stand out, but stick to text for the most part.


Great for: finding community, peers and adding a bit of light fun to your online life.


📷 Instagram: if your business is visual, this is where you want to be. Photography, graphic design, video - these mediums shine on Instagram. The visuals must also work on their own because text is secondary here. Not everyone will read the caption.


Great for: showcasing visual skills, reaching new audiences (particularly with video, so I’m told).


📘 Facebook: works best for people who have a strong network of family and friends and don’t mind tapping into it for work. Video and images work well, and the beauty of Facebook for business is the groups.


Great for: anyone who already uses Facebook, doesn’t mind hitting up friends for business, has wisdom to share in groups.


🎥 TikTok: best for anyone under 40. Lol jks. I don’t understand TikTok, sorry. It’s like Instagram Reels but with more advertising. Maybe.


Great for: other people.



An old photograph of a woman sitting at a typewriter, in black and white. Lisa's head has been photoshopped onto the body so it appears she's typing.
"How do I get on TikTok with this thing?"


Of course, there are many, many other platforms. YouTube, BeReal, Threads, X, MySpace (a little throwback for my 40-somethings). By the time I post this, there’ll probably be a few more.


It’s impossible to keep up with every new trending app or topic, so I don’t even try. I write about things I find interesting, intriguing and inspirational. I probably won’t post a cutting-edge retrospective on the next Baby Reindeer the day after release.


Scroll down to read the original post and marvel at how my opinion has changed over a year! ⬇️



*****


Have you posted to your socials today?


Not me. I only post on social media once in a blue moon.


NEWBIE IN THE HOUSE


As a new freelancer, it’s overwhelming to scroll through Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter and see just how prolific my competitors are in their content output. Most of my favourite voices are posting and commenting multiple times a day - and it’s all powerful stuff.


Sometimes the posts are short and sweet, quick copy tips that can easily be assimilated and stored away for later reference. Others are much longer and require clicking the expand arrow (+engagement), or guide the reader to links in the comments (++engagement). I simply can’t spit out that much content, and I don't want to. So I got to thinking - is it possible to be a successful freelancer without using social media?


OK, I LIED


Truthfully, ‘not using social media’ is a lie. Of course I do, otherwise how would I see all these quality posts from other copywriters? But scrolling and creating are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Scrolling requires no more effort than swiping my finger over the screen every now and again. Whereas creating quality content involves planning, writing, research, editing etc etc. And as a newbie, I simply don’t have the time or the brain power to do all of that as well as ensure my clients are getting the best of me.


Writing is part of my DNA. I have to write every day and many seasoned writers will agree it’s a compulsion. It’s difficult to explain, especially to the many people who don’t find writing pleasurable. But for me, writing is as important as breathing. Creating social media posts is not writing. It’s a different skill set entirely and for some platforms, e.g. Instagram, it means creating stunning visuals. This will inevitably involve words too, but it’s about design and colour theory and font size. All things that take me away from the thing I really want to do which is write.


I’ve tried (oh how I've tried) increasing the amount I post online, but it doesn't come naturally. When I consider the things in life that bring me joy and happiness, social media isn't even on the list. I’ve lived with anxiety my whole adult life, and social media makes it worse. It has its benefits, I’ve learned a ton of copywriting skills and tips through socials and wouldn’t be the copywriter I am without them.


BUT LET'S LOOK AT IT A DIFFERENT WAY


Think about what a day off work looks like to you. You might be a social media manager, a content creator or a marketing executive. One thing that probably resonates is that on your days off, you don’t create content for social media (and I’m not talking about a quick photo post of your dog, or beach holiday hot dog legs). Quality content is strategic, well-thought-out and evidence based. That’s hard work. Writing, on the other hand, is something I do more of when I’m not working. I journal every day, I devour books like I'm at an all you can read buffet. My me-time is all about the words.


That’s the difference between being a social media creator and a writer. To create excellent content, I need my laptop, or at the very least a phone or tablet. To write, all I need is a pen. A notepad is a bonus, but if I’m suitably inspired I can write on the back of a napkin. And that happens wherever I am and whatever day of the week it is.


Last time I went on holiday with my husband, I took my laptop. I asked him if he minded (it’s only polite, I didn’t really care if he did). His response was that of course I should because it would allow me to write to my heart’s content, something I don’t do at home because I’m exhausted by my day job. My 9-5 isn’t writing related; I’m an Account Manager and my day to day is more about building relationships, dealing with internal processes and having strategic conversations. Very little writing involved, and that’s fine because it pays the bills and gives me the opportunity to flex different parts of my brain. Marketing, strategy and connection are important to me too. But they don’t give me the same buzz as writing. I can fall into ‘liquid state writing* with little preamble and with absolutely no resistance other than my own fear of success.


GET TO THE POINT


I suppose my point is that, for now at least, my energy is going into producing crisp proposals and quotes, and then throwing myself right into the task at hand. Perhaps in future when this all comes a bit more easily, I'll feel the pull of posting on socials to grow my personal brand. Interestingly, since I started writing this post a week or so ago, I’ve slowly started to dip my toe into the waters of Linked In connections. It’s nice. But I’m still not ready to post anything yet.


I help wellbeing businesses reach more people. Extroverts: book a Discovery Call with me to discuss your next project. Introverts: skip the awkward face-to-face and fill out my Discovery Form instead.




*Liquid -state writing is a term from the incredible book The Way of The Fearless Writer by Beth Kempton which I recommend to anyone who wants to cultivate a soul-nourishing writing life.

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