How to Build an Instagram Strategy

Today I’ll show you the basic outline for building an Instagram strategy. At least enough to get you started.

Today I'll show you the basic outline for building an instagram strategy. At least enough to get you started. And yes, this is a how-to!

Do you want the ebook that goes along with this training? It’s a free download in my resource library. Pop your email in the form below and I’ll send you the password.

Once you’re in the library navigate to the social media section and look for “How to Create an Instagram Strategy ebook.”

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How to build an Instagram strategy

Everyone’s saying you need to build an Instagram strategy but it seem like no one is saying how, right?

I get it. The thing is, it’s hard as well as personal.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all photo-creating money-making Instagram strategy you can copy and paste into your marketing plan.

I mean, people may tell you that and may even try and sell you that but I’m telling you, it’s something you have to build and customize to your specific brand.

BTW marketing plans, social media strategies and branding are whole other discussions.

But before the Instagram strategy: WHY should you use Instagram?

At this moment one third of Internet users have an Instagram account so there’s an excellent chance your target audience is here.

This is an opportunity to showcase and promote your services and brand to people who may not yet know about you and all you have to offer.

Instagram is an ideal tool to build a visual identity, telling your brand story through beautiful images, intriguing captions, and appropriate hashtags.

When executed well, Instagram can help you develop a deeper connection with your audience.

How to build an instagram strategy ebook - free download.

Do you want the ebook that goes along with this training? It’s a free download in my resource library. Pop your email in the form below and I’ll send you the password.

Once you’re in the library navigate to the social media section and look for “How to Create an Instagram Strategy ebook.”

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General Posting Strategy

As a brand (and yes, if you sell something, you’re a brand), it’s important to follow a posting strategy to help your audience know how to think about you.

  • Why should they follow you?
  • How will you engage, inspire or motivate them?
  • What are some ways you can deepen your relationship with your audience through the images you post?

Think about these questions and jot down some answers.

The best way to create a strategy is by focusing on one area of your brand; choosing a niche.

When choosing a niche ask these types of questions:

  • What can you do better than your competitors?
  • How about what will your audience find interesting, inspiring or motivational?
  • What is important for your audience to know?

Find these answers and you’ll have your niche.

Once you’ve brainstormed a few ideas try writing a paragraph about your brand.

Here’s my (current) write up as an example

I’m a professional writer with blogging, marketing and tourism experience. I also have a bachelor of journalism and diplomas in media and communications and biblical studies.

Unlike most business writers, I spent a decade working as an in-house writer, marketing manager, and audio producer at an international non-profit. Aside from working in a variety of roles, and with a range of personalities, this experience taught me how creating authentic marketing messages can build meaningful relationships and make emotional links with constituents.


I recommend thinking this through before asking a social media marketing strategist to help you create an Instagram strategy.

You know your brand and goals best and by getting clear on your goals and who you serve ahead of time, your chances of creating a laser-focused strategy are that much more likely.

If you want to learn more about this process check out my article on positioning.


Create an Instagram strategy

Once you have your paragraph, think about what your Instagram posts should feature to showcase who you are and what you do.

In my example, I aim to promote things I’m working on (freelance or personal), things I love (new discoveries, funny stories, interesting ideas, books I’m reading) and exclusive tips (for the freelance writer).

When thinking about what types of photos you’ll post keep in mind every post should drive people to your business. Also remember that your Instagram content is a reflection of your brand and core beliefs. Your feed tells a larger story of who you are and what you stand for.

Jot down a few photo ideas before moving on. Don’t worry, these are still brainstorms for now.

Still stuck? Here are a few questions to help you

  • What drives your business?
  • What are your biggest takeaways?
  • How will what you share enrich your followers’ lives?

HOW should your posts look, sound, and feel?

At all times your Instagram posts should speak to your audience, appealing to their interests. Your posts should engage them using thoughtful language intended to interest, inspire, or motivate them to take the next step with you.

If you are promoting an event or contest take care to craft your caption in a way your audience will respond best—focus on the benefits instead of the promotion.

WHERE should you focus?

Your Instagram posts should focus on what your users will find interesting, inspiring, and motivational.

  • What makes you or your business/services special and unique?
  • What is there to discover?
  • And what would your audience be interested in seeing?

WHEN should you post?

Posting consistency is more important than how often you post.

However, Monday and Thursday are higher use days for Instagram in general so these are good days to aim for.

Once you have your strategy in place use a free tool like Iconosquare or Websta to analyze your followers and learn what days and times they’re more likely to use Instagram and adjust your posting schedule as necessary.

Extra reading: Schedule Social Media with These Free Apps and Services

WHAT should your posts consist of?

All posts should contain a photo, a caption, and hashtags.

  • Your photos must be high quality, with good framing, and interesting content. Photos should be planned and edited with third-party apps
  • Captions should tell your audience a story. At every step, take the opportunity to draw your audience in and point back to your strategy.
  • A good practice is to create a list of 10-20 hashtag relating to your business, brand and products and reference several from the list each time you post

Using hashtags is a critical part of your posting strategy.

By finding and using the most relevant hashtags for your updates, your posts will be exposed to users in your target audience who don’t yet follow you.

You should mix brand-specific hashtags with more general hashtags. Instagram uses hashtags to organize and categorize content so by not using or misusing hashtags your posts could go unnoticed.

Would you like free writing tips? Sign up for my weekly tips & tricks, from one writer to another at robynroste.com/writing-tips.
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Follower strategy

The best way to gain followers on Instagram is by having a great profile. Here are the elements.

  1. Description. Your profile description should reflect your niche and give the user enough information to be motivated to follow you
  2. Portfolio. When a new user visits your Instagram account s/he will often view your photo portfolio before choosing to follow you. You want to make sure your portfolio is not only filled with beautiful images but reflect your niche. If the user visits your portfolio and your portfolio is off topic or contains weak/poor images, it could prevent new followers
  3. Photos. Your photos should reflect your brand’s online voice and emotion related to it

Before taking a photo ask the question, “what do I do better than anyone else?” Find or take photos supporting your answer.

Before posting a photo ask the following questions:

  • Does this photo showcase my talent?
  • Is this photo interesting?
  • Is this photo on-brand?
  • And is this photo beautiful?

If the answer is yes, post away! If you’re not sure, don’t post the photo.

Posting quality images is more important than posting often. Beautiful images increase your brand value in the user’s eye while weak/poor images decrease your brand’s value in the user’s eye.

Follower tactics | How to build an Instagram strategy

Once you’re clear on your target audience, and have your profile description, portfolio, and photos in line then you can begin following other users.

Follow

Search Instagram and find as many people in your target audience using keywords. Aim to follow 100 or 200 people to begin. Many will follow back out of courtesy but even if users don’t follow back you have gathered a pool of users to draw photo ideas from. Try to find new people to follow every time you log on to Instagram.

Like and Comment

Another way to gain followers is by liking and commenting on photos. A good strategy is to like and/or comment on three to five photos every time you log on to Instagram. Try to be encouraging, positive, and upbeat.

Also remember to respond to your followers comments on your photos. A quick “thanks” goes a long way. Remember to @ tag the follower you’re posting to.

Repost

Reposting other users’ images is a great way to showcase your brand without having to come up with all your own content (or your own social media manager!).

Not only do you highlight and support Instagrammers but you add beautiful images to your portfolio extending your brand.

You can use repost apps, take screenshots and repost yourself, or save the image on your computer and manually add it to your mobile device before posting. Just be sure to give credit to the user you’re reposting (@ tagging) and add relevant hashtags.

Hashtags As part of an instagram strategy

Adding popular hashtags to every post will expand your reach. Also? It will expose your images and profile to new users.

Adding brand-specific hashtags to every post and encouraging followers to use it in their posts. It also helps you create community and cultivate loyalty.

When your followers use your hashtag it exposes your brand to their audience, with the added bonus of the user’s advocacy.

Cross Posting

Cross promoting your Instagram posts on your other social media profiles like Facebook or Twitter exposes your followers there to your Instagram feed.

You can also use your Instagram feed to encourage users to find you on your other profiles. This is provided you are using beautiful images with an interesting caption to relay the message.

Conclusion for how to build an Instagram strategy

There is a learning curve to Instagram, but by following a posting and follower strategy will get you a long way.

As well, learning a few basics about photography, utilizing third-party apps and filters and reposting will help you create an engaging portfolio as long as you stick to your niche and showcase the best of your brand.

How to Build an Instagram Strategy ebook. Everyone's saying you need one but no one's saying how, right?

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Today I'll show you the basic outline for building an Instagram strategy. At least enough to get you started. And yes, this is a how-to!
Today I'll show you the basic outline for building an Instagram strategy. At least enough to get you started. And yes, this is a how-to!

How to Be Productive Even When You’re Unmotivated

Setting goals and dreaming big is well and good but figuring out how to be productive even when you don’t feel like it is key to a thriving freelance business.

How to be productive

How to be productive even when you’re unmotivated

When you’re the one juggling all the balls and keeping your business going, there are times when you might wonder if it’s all worth the effort.

No one said running your own business would be easy but sometimes it’s harder than you imagined. So what do you do when you have no motivation?

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Tip 1: Stop Making Excuses

If you find yourself blaming outside forces or other people for why you’re not more productive it may be time for some honest reflection.

There will always be obstacles and reasons why you can’t work on your business. Stop making excuses and figure out a solution. Keep moving forward.

Example: I can’t market my business, I’m awkward/introverted/etc. Nope. Get over it. You have to market your business. Figure it out.

By the way, here are some marketing ideas for people who hate marketing.

Tip 2: Celebrate the Victories, Big and Small

While you were analyzing your freelance business did you stop to celebrate the small wins? Take a moment now. You’ve worked hard, you’ve had some good times. Acknowledge it.

No matter how small the accomplishment, give yourself some credit. Savour it. Pat yourself on the back. Being a business owner is tough, whether you’re a plumber or freelance writer. You’ve earned this moment of celebration!

When we’re stressing about how to be productive and worrying about how far we still have to go it’s easy to miss the progress we make. Try to see it. Try to feel positive.

Once you’ve found a few victories write them down and remind yourself of your progress every time you’re feeling down. Use the small wins to spur you forward.

Tip 3: Ask for Help | How to Be Productive

Just because you’re an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to do everything by yourself. If you’re feeling stressed, overworked or under pressure it might be time to ask for help.

Sure, you may have a time management issue and if there are systems you can implement and changes you can make to your routine then you should do it. But it also may be time to ask for help. Outsourcing isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of growth. Finding the right strategic partners could make all the difference.

If this sounds like what you’ve been looking for, learn more here about marketing and SEO agencies.

How to Be Productive Even When You’re Unmotivated

Tip 4: Analyze and Evaluate

Rather than digging in and pushing harder, it might be time to take a step back and take stock of your situation.

Give yourself some space, evaluate where things are at compared with where you want to be.

Here are a few questions to consider.

If your business financial health is in question, it may be time to dig out last year’s reports and take stock of your actual numbers. How did things go? What’s changed?

Once you have a good idea of where things are at you can re-evaluate where you’re going. Take a look at your road map and adjust as necessary.

Setting goals and dreaming big is well and good but figuring out how to be productive even when you don't feel like is key to a thriving freelance business.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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Setting goals and dreaming big is well and good but figuring out how to be productive even when you don't feel like is key to a thriving freelance business.

How to Create a Digital Business Card

Think of your email signature as a digital business card. It’s a perfect opportunity to promote your business through everyday communication.

How to create a digital business card for your freelance writing business

What if you had a digital business card that you could pass out to all your friends and colleagues to help you get paid work?

When you’re a hungry freelance writer it’s difficult to know where to look for work.

Things like job boards, Craigslist, and cold emailing queries are what people lean towards but these are (in general) low paying, competitive, and an exhausting hustle.

Your chances of landing solid clients are low so your pitch rate has to be high.

If you’re wondering how established freelance writers generate leads they’ll tell you most of their work comes through warm leads (existing relationships) and referrals.

Even if you’re just starting out these options are available to you too. The trick is letting people know what you do and that you’re available so they think of you when an opportunity comes up.

Today we’ll focus on one of the easiest yet most overlooked way to put yourself in front of warm leads and set yourself up for referrals.

Creating a digital business card for your freelance writing business

It’s your email signature

We do almost everything by email so this is a golden opportunity to add a little bit about yourself and your business.

No, this doesn’t make you look desperate. Think of your email signature as a digital business card. It’s a perfect opportunity to promote yourself and your business through your everyday communication.

Here’s what a good email signature can accomplish.

  • Makes you look professional
  • Advertises your expertise
  • Lets people know you’re available
  • Lets people know how you want to be contacted
  • Serves as free marketing
  • Is professional and shows you’re serious about your business
  • Makes it easy for people to contact you

Convinced? Great, let’s do this.

Already have one? Wonderful! Take a few minutes to review your email signature and adjust as necessary.

Would you like free writing tips? Sign up for my weekly tips & tricks, from one writer to another at robynroste.com/writing-tips.
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What should your digital business card include?

Best practice recommends between four and seven lines for an email signature (although I say less is more here), so pick and choose the information you will include.

Some suggestions include the list below.

  • Your name
  • Your title/type of writing you do
  • Company name (if relevant)
  • Contact information (How do you want people to contact you? Remember including your email address is redundant)
  • Website address (link here to your professional site or the site you want prospective clients to see—where they can learn more about you and your services)
  • Tagline (what sets you apart from your competitors) or marketing message
  • Social links (if relevant, and only if you want your prospective clients to see)

Avoid adding images—most people have image blockers or read email on phones these days. If you feel you need your photo, logo, or social icons then use a service that will embed it into your email signature like Wisestamp or Hubspot.

Another tip is keep your email signature brief.

There’s no need to list every social platform. Dial back your contact information to the best way people can reach you and your best website, which will give people more information about you and your services.

I’ve linked instructions for adding your signature to your email below.

  • Adding your signature in Gmail
  • Adding your signature in Outlook

And don’t forget about your smarphone!

  • Adding your signature to your iPhone
  • Adding your signature to your Android

Be brave, put yourself out there!


Other articles about marketing

Think of your email signature as a digital business card. It’s a perfect opportunity to promote your business through everyday communication.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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Think of your email signature as a digital business card. It’s a perfect opportunity to promote your business through everyday communication.
If you’re wondering how established freelance writers generate leads they’ll tell you most of their work comes through warm leads (existing relationships) and referrals. Even if you’re just starting out these options are available to you too. The trick is letting people know what you do and that you're available so they think of you when an opportunity comes up. Today we'll focus on one of the easiest yet most overlooked way to put yourself in front of warm leads and set yourself up for referrals. It's your email signature. We do almost everything by email so this is a golden opportunity to add a little bit about yourself and your business.

Freelancing for Beginners | 4 Simple Ways to Make Great Money

When you research freelancing for beginners all sorts of tips and tricks pop up.

It’s a bit overwhelming, I know.

You wonder how people get started, how it works and if it’s possible to make a living writing.

Freelance Writing for Beginners

Want to work from home as a freelance writer?

I was interviewed about writing for the Publishing for Profit podcast. If you’d like an introduction to what earning a living from writing can look like make sure to check it out.


Freelancing for beginners

I landed my first freelance gig by accident. I had blogged for a while, for fun, and one day I received an email asking if I would help promote a movie by writing a preview on my blog. It paid $35.

By the way, if you’re curious what that looked like, here’s one of my first paid posts.

Because I didn’t understand, well, anything about freelance writing and didn’t know anyone who was freelancing I continued blogging for fun and taking freelance writing gigs as they came to me.

Over the years I became savvier and joined professional associations I thought would help me figure things out.

It has taken a while but the pieces are falling into place and I believe there are more opportunities than ever for people who want to get started freelance writing.

Don’t Let Technology Hold You Back

These days you can launch a blog or website in an afternoon, get YouTube famous with a couple viral hits and apply for remote gigs from your smartphone. So why not give it a shot?

Launching a successful freelance business is an entrepreneurial venture like any other, and requires a good deal of hard work, focus and discipline.

By the way, I’ve created a worksheet to help you answer some important questions about your freelance business. Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password for my resource library.

When you’re there, navigate to the freelancing category and download the “Freelancer Positioning Worksheet.”

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Here are a few quick tips for getting started.

Four tips | Freelancing for beginners

1. Create a writing portfolio

When you don’t have experience it’s tough for potential clients to take a chance on you.

Writing samples are the freelance writing industry’s version of education and/or experience. In lieu of samples, consider writing blog posts and using those to demonstrate your skill until you build your portfolio.

Here are a few other ideas for getting writing samples for your portfolio.

  • Offer to write for local charities
  • Guest post on other websites
  • Submit letters to your local newspaper

Anything that shows that you’re a capable writer is worth displaying in your writing portfolio.

Extra credit: As you gain experience, collect testimonials from clients. This will help build trust with future prospects.

2. Market yourself as a freelancer

Even if you land a retainer client on your first at-bat, consistently marketing your freelance business is one of the best things you can do.

When you’re just getting started, your marketing will be more outbound than inbound.

Think outreach, pitches, cold calls/emails, etc.

As you build your brand and establish yourself in your niche your marketing will be more inbound than outbound.

Think books, podcasts, interviews, referrals, etc.

Extra credit: I believe in the power of marketing to transform people’s careers and businesses. Here are three marketing ideas for writers who hate marketing.

3. Set up a website and optimize it for search engines

While you can certainly get started freelancing without having a website, this is an excellent way to put yourself out there.

Having a website also sets you up for inbound marketing, which is vital if you ever want to scale your business.

Think of your website as your digital business card, you resume and your writing portfolio all in one. This is the most important resource in your toolkit and worth spending time creating.

If you take time to optimize your website for specific keywords, you’ll increase your chances of prospective clients finding you.

If you’re looking for some SEO help, here are 6 simple steps to ranking well on Google.

Although it’s not mandatory to have a website before you can land a paying client, having even a simple site with your name and contact information on it will go a long way to giving you credibility and status.

Extra credit: Wondering what goes on your website? Here are essential freelance writer website elements.

Freelancing for beginners | Final tip

4. Turn up each day, and do the work, whether you feel like it or not

As writing can be seen as a creative job, people sometimes leave their work until inspiration strikes.

However, freelance writing is a job, not a creative exercise.

It’s important to turn up each day and do the work, whether you feel like it or not. In no time you’ll be on your way.

Extra credit: Setting goals and dreaming big is well and good but figuring out how to be productive even when you don’t feel like it is key to a thriving freelance business.

When you research freelance writing for beginners all sorts of tips and tricks pop up. It's a bit overwhelming, I know. You wonder how people get started, how it works and if it's possible to make a living writing.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
When you research freelance writing for beginners all sorts of tips and tricks pop up. You wonder how it works and if it's possible to make a living writing.

Five Tips for Optimizing your Social Media Profiles

Optimizing your social media profiles is important! You want to ensure potential clients know who you are, what you do, and why they should hire you.

Optimizing Your Social Media Profiles

These tips are available as a free download in my resource library. plug in your email address below and I’ll send you the password.

Once you’re in the library, navigate to the social media section and download the ebook called “Social Media Optimization.”

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Optimizing Your Social Media Profiles

When you’re a hungry freelance writer or getting started in the industry it’s difficult to know where to look for work.

Things like job boards, Craigslist, and cold emailing queries are what people trend towards but these are (in general) low paying, competitive and an exhausting hustle. Your chances of landing solid clients are low so your pitch rate has to be high.

If you’re wondering how established freelance writers generate leads they’ll tell you most of their work comes through warm leads (existing relationships) and referrals.

Even if you’re just starting out these options are available to you too, the trick is letting people know you’re available so they think of you when an opportunity comes up.

The best way to let people know you’re available is by saying you’re available.

It’s easy to look at your social media profiles as places where friends and family connect with you, so there’s no reason to talk about your business (don’t they already know what you do?) but what better place to find referrals than your friends and family list?

One More THing…

And don’t assume they’re aware of what you do or even understand it.

Do you know the details of your entire network? I don’t. Take assumption out of the picture and optimize your social profiles for your freelance writing business.

Lay it out for them so it’s easy for them to think of you when they hear about someone looking for a writer.

Another reason to optimize your social media profiles is because your reach is wide on social.

A potential client is more likely to run across you on Twitter or LinkedIn before ever seeing your website. You want to ensure you tell any potential clients who you are, what you do, and why they should hire you.


Optimizing your Social Media Profiles ebook

These tips are available as a free download in my resource library. Plug in your email address below and I’ll send you the password.

Once you’re in the library, navigate to the social media section and download the ebook called “Social Media Optimization.”

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Five tips for optimizing your social media profiles

1. Choose a professional/standout profile picture and cover photo

Your profile photo should be high quality, square, reflect your brand, stand out in news feeds, and be a picture of you.

Your cover photo (on applicable platforms) should be high quality and represent the core values of your brand.

The more consistent your images are across platforms, the better.

2. Make it easy for people to know who you are/what you do

If you want to capture leads from your social profiles then use your full name or business name.

Nothing cute here.

A great social media bio explains who you are and what you do, shares your personality, and targets your niche audience with keywords. Think of it as an amped-up elevator pitch.

Five Tips for Optimizing your Social Media Profiles

3. Link to your website

Some gurus teach linking to your professional Facebook page and if that’s where you prefer doing business I won’t stop you. But don’t leave the URL section blank.

Think about it this way, where do you want your prospective clients to go? Send them there.

I want them to go to my website so I can showcase the best of my work on a property I own and control.

4. Include keywords about your services

If someone is searching on Twitter for someone like you, what will they search for?

Make sure those words show up in your profile in a non-spammy way. Avoid buzz words, use terms your ideal client would use, be concise, and mention the benefits of what you do.

And my favourite tip for Optimizing your Social Media Profiles

5. Be clear on your location/contact info

If you work from home you may not want your address listed for the world to see, but how about your city or region? Adding your location helps potential clients discover you. And what about your contact details?

Make it easy for people to get in touch, but only share what you’re comfortable with. Adding a phone number may be too much, but what about your work email address? If you want people to contact you with work, tell them how to reach you.

Conclusion

When you’re a freelance writer, figuring out how to be present and active on socail media can seem like a waste of precious resources. However, social media can be a wonderful discovery tool. And if you optimize your profiles well, they will stand out and attract your ideal clients.

So give it some thought and see if you can’t optimize your social media profiles a bit.

Get out there and be social!


By the way, these tips are available as a free download in my resource library. Plug in your email address below and I’ll send you the access code.

Once you’re in the library, navigate to the social media section and download the ebook called “Social Media Optimization.”

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Other Marketing Posts

Optimizing your social media profiles is important! You want to ensure potential clients know who you are, what you do, and why they should hire you.

The best way to let people know you’re available is by saying you’re available.

It’s easy to look at your social media profiles as places where friends and family connect with you, so there’s no reason to talk about your business (don’t they already know what you do?) but what better place to find referrals than your friends and family list?
Optimizing your social media profiles is important! You want to ensure potential clients know who you are, what you do, and why they should hire you.
Optimizing your social media profiles is important! You want to ensure potential clients know who you are, what you do, and why they should hire you.