Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast. When she’s not furiously typing away for publications like Social Media Examiner, her offline hobbies include photography, tennis, and exploring the great outdoors.
What got you started freelance blogging/writing? Have you always freelanced?
Freelancing was not something I thought about getting into –- it found me, or a client did at least. One day about a year ago, my first client emailed me and asked if I would consider writing the same types of posts I wrote for my own blog for them. They gave me the standard rate they paid their writers up front, and it was pretty impressive so I couldn’t refuse. I was fortunate that they also allowed me to include my bio with posts I submitted, so my first client also helped a lot of other clients discover me. It started as a side-income gig and turned into my full-time career.
What should freelancers or aspiring freelancers be doing on social media?
1. Freelancers should definitely market themselves as such. My client inquiries jumped dramatically when I simply added freelance writer to social profile bios. So definitely advertise the fact that you are a freelancer on every social profile that is public –- Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ are my favorites. Also, if you do a lot of guest posting or have clients that allow you to include a personal bio, definitely mention that you are freelancer in that bio as well.
2. Another thing freelancers should do is treat their public profiles partly like portfolios. Every now and again, include a status update that links to your latest project or piece of writing. You might be surprised that some of your followers would also be interested in hiring you. And speaking of portfolios, definitely have a separate website that is a dedicated portfolio for your work and link to it on your social profiles.
3. Last, but not least, if you have any other websites, let people know what you do on those as well. On my photography blog, I have an author bio that lists me as a freelance writer. I’ve received a few client requests from there simply because a person was looking at my photography on their downtime but also happened to work at a company that needed a writer. You never know where a potential client might find you –your blog, hobby website, Facebook profile, LinkedIn, or other online presence. Make sure that they all tell what you do!
Can you recommend any resources – freelance gig sites, training, portfolio sites, etc.
Sprout Insights published a post in December 2011 on 20 websites to help you find a corporate blogger. The sites listed are good ones for bloggers to find freelance writing and other job listings. As far as other resources, I would definitely suggest subscribing to Freelance Folder and Freelance Switch – their posts will lead you to a lot of great tools and advice for freelancing. And for freelance writers, I would suggest setting up a portfolio on Contently. They also have a content management system for publishers. This should give you more exposure for your portfolio since potential clients will be coming to the site to use the publishing platform.
If you’re just starting, how can you get your first gig? Where are the best opportunities?
I have a really hard time advising people how to find gigs because I have been extremely lucky in the fact that I really have only applied to two freelance jobs and the rest have all come to me. Some have been through my portfolio and social media profiles, and others have been simply from tweeting posts in my industry. Clients notice I’ve tweeted them, realize I’m a freelance writer, and that’s how they discover me.
So if you have some sites you would like to write for, definitely put them into your regular reading list and interact with them through social sharing and comments. Otherwise, try out the job boards – that’s where the people who are actively looking for freelancers go.
Do you need to have a niche, or can you be a generalist and earn well?
I believe there are certain niches that can charge more based on the topics they write about. I have noticed that clients for looking very general blog posts that almost anyone could write usually do not pay a lot, and clients looking for something very specific in a niche (like online marketing) will pay premium prices.
Tell us about the topics you cover and who for. Which ones do you think are going to be in the most demand in future? Which ones are losing interest?
I primarily cover online marketing topics – search engine optimization, link building, social media marketing, content development, blogging, and so forth. I’m not sure how other topics are doing in terms of popularity, but in general, more businesses are realizing they need content for their websites and finding little time to invest into creating content. Hence, freelance writers are definitely in demand, especially if they can write about topics that a business would be interested in posting on their blogs.
What do you personally most enjoy about freelancing?
I enjoy the freedom of freelancing. I can work from anywhere that has an Internet connection which gives me the flexibility to travel or move where ever I want to live. I also make my own schedule, so if I want to run errands all day and write all evening, I can, or vice versa.
What are the downsides to freelancing?
The biggest downsides to freelancing are lack of stability and supervision. If you like a steady paycheck and knowing you get paid on your days off, freelancing might not be the right job for you. And if you find you can’t motivate yourself to sit down and do the work, then freelancing might not be right for you either.
The flip side to both downsides is that at a regular salaried job, you could work 40 hours or 80 hours in a week and get paid the same. As a freelancer, chances are the harder you work in the week, the more you will make, assuming you are charging appropriately for your time.
Oh, and the other downside is managing taxes. If possible, it’s always best to hire an accountant or tax professional to help you minimize the dreaded “self-employment” taxes.
Tell us about your passion for photography. Where does it come from, what do you like to photograph?
Photography has always been a wonderful hobby for me. It could be partly because I have a terrible memory, so I know my only chance of remembering something years down the road will be to photograph it. I really love photographing animals, tiny details (macro), and urbex (urban exploration).
What are you planning next? Any big challenges coming up?
I have some big plans coming up, but they’re not quite ready to be announced just yet.
Photo above: Close up with a Chicken from Kristi’s photo blog Photostry Main photo: Jason Hines
Do you have a freelancing question for Kristi? Put it in the comments below.You can also find her leading the Blogging Networking Club at the Social Media Examiner.