Why I Don’t Use Social Media for Freelancing

One of the “golden rules” of freelancing and anything related to contract work or entrepreneurship is that you must utilize social media to its fullest extent. A quick Google search will quickly pull up a quaint billion or so results on algorithm hacks, marketing tricks, and best practices on how to game the system, get your work out there, and reap unending rewards.

I say, nah, I’m good.

The “requirements” of business

As I said, it’s hardcore dogma to promote your work, whatever work you do, on social media. This is especially true for writers, artists, entrepreneurs, and creatives in general. Countless articles are written every second(?) about the miraculous benefits of social media marketing while showcasing the endless list of testimonials authenticating their claims.

I was no different. Years ago when the term social media marketing was new it was tough to weed-out the marketing crap from the real-life experiences of others trying to get their brands off the ground. Now it’s easy to see the overexposed and redundant information pouring out of the web. We’ve been inundated with an overflow of marketing about, well, marketing.

All in all, it was/is a “requirement” in today’s online environment to use these tools to bolster and ultimately benefit our efforts toward success.

The bandwagon of the new and shiny

Of course I, like everyone else, saw these new and shiny tools years ago as assets to get the word out about my freelance work. I was writing for several websites in the fitness industry and it only felt right to promote my work on all of my social networks. I would regularly link my articles all over Twitter, a Facebook Page I made, Google+ (when it was around), and even LinkedIn (yeah, I know, why right?)

I don’t have to tell you where that all went. Well, it went south pretty fast. At first my readers flocked to “like,” retweet, and share my posts. It began as the beginning of something big, I thought. But, very soon after organic reach started to suffer and the pay-to-play game started up.

Unwilling to play the game I quickly became sour over promoting my work on these platforms and soon let them wither. I couldn’t compete with the big boys.

Small vs large

Large companies started dolling out the big bucks to promote posts. This in-turn crowds out small guys like me as we are left with a sliver of reach. It’s a no-brainer that I all but abandoned the practice. Sure, I dabbled here and there. I would try to post something at the perfect time of day, write something witty to open up the post, and even used (gasp!) hashtags, but nothing seemed to budge. Money is what they wanted and I refused to give in.

Social media marketing is for big business. Period. I know many will argue over that stressing that I’m wrong, I’m just not doing it right, and I’m a fool for not using it more extensively, but I have my reasons and they extend well beyond metrics.

Why I Don’t Use Social Media for Freelancing

Why no more marketing on social media? Well, let me just first say this doesn’t mean I’ll never go back. Of course if something miraculous happens and something presents itself as too good to pass up I’ll try it out, but for now as things are I’ll have to pass for several reasons.

  • Little to no return. As stated earlier, there’s little return on my time and effort. I came into the game when it was more open to the little guy, so I have that memory to always draw on. It’s tough for me to keep pushing for something that really won’t matter in the long run.
  • Not willing to pay. I have relatively zero budget for social media marketing. Even if I did, I wouldn’t waste it on marketing. Large businesses have entire sections of budgets dedicated to this stuff.
  • Time consuming. To be honest, I can find many more important things to spend my time on. With a family, work, and writing at the end of the day social media is the last thing I have any motivation for.
  • Obsessive metrics. I admit that I obsess over metrics way too much. Always checking back to see how my posts are performing is an Achille’s heel of mine. In the big picture, it all doesn’t really matter all that much to me. In reality, it has very little value.
  • Feels shallow. Personally, social media all feels a little too shallow for me. Now, I’m not trying to bash those who use it to stay in touch with family or utilize others for support, but for promoting my work it just lacks any real depth.
  • Ephemeral. Now I know not all social media platforms are ephemeral in a literal sense, but for the consumer posts are seen for only a few seconds and then never seem to have any relevance after. In others words, it doesn’t act like a library of sorts where viewers will ever revisit a post.
  • Part of the problem. With all of the above said, I have a growing feeling that, at this point, I would be more a part of the problem than anything of positive significance. There’s enough out there being shoved down people’s throats and I don’t want to be a willing participant.

What do I do now?

For now, I’ll just write for other outlets and let them worry about promotion. The sites I work with have the budgets to spend and teams to tend to these things. In the mean time I’ll just keep writing on my blog and stay in my lane.

How about you? What are your experiences with social media personally and with business?

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22 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Use Social Media for Freelancing

  1. I wouldn’t want to pay for social marketing either. I would rather not promote or support social media at all because I think its net effects are not good.
    I don’t even like SEO for blogging. I don’t want to write for a search engine.
    But all my online stuff is a hobby; I’m not freelancing.
    Cal Newport, as you know, probably doesn’t promote on social media since he advocates against it in general.
    So far in my social media moratorium I started last week, I’m happier already. Better off I think.
    I’m trying something kinda new. Where I once doom-scrolled Twitter for infotainment but got too much negative stuff, I now started awe-scrolling! I have a very tiny number of photographers I follow on Flickr and scroll the feed where all I see are beautiful landscapes and nature! I figure if I fill my brain with visions of wonder, instead of strangers’ snarky harsh hot-takes, then I’ll be a happier dude.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, very cool! I’m looking forward to you writing about your social media moratorium one day. Yeah, Cal isn’t on any social media so he doesn’t promote at all. Plus places like Amazon and his podcast interviews do all the promoting for him.

      I’ve heard a lot about Flickr and was wondering is it even for those who just like to browse for inspiration?

      Thanks so much for the comment!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m not currently using Flickr for photo sharing or pursuing photography like I’ve done in the past…
        But I do find it nice for following favorite photographers whose pictures I like. I also follow certain Groups to see certain types of photos. I view it almost exclusively in the mobile app in the “Feed.”
        There’s also a Search/Discovery tab that is pure beautiful pictures: no ads or anything else.
        So I say one can just browse for any reason. There are ads in the free tier “Feed” but so far they’re totally fine. In fact, I see almost none, other than Flickr Pro info. They’re not the kind of ads that target you based on tracking data as far as I’ve seen.
        Also, no Influencers and no brands. Not like IG at all. But you can Like or Comment on photos, or Save photos to your Favorites album.
        If you do get into photography, Flickr is great. I always want to enjoy it more, but my time is limited.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Great to know, thanks for the info on it. I did read where Flickr was in a bit of trouble financially and was bought by SmugMug? After reading a little about their values I hope they make it and keep it niche.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Conversely, I’ve been trying to grow my social media presence for the exact reason of branding. My other accounts really are lacking, and I sometimes do think it’s a portfolio of sorts for this era. But these are some great points, so thanks for this, Brad!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Stuart, thanks so much for the comment and your perspective. I completely understand. This, as you know, is more of my unique stance and perspective. I was posting many years ago when social media was a bit more whimsical and “nice.” Now it’s so crowded and mostly full of the same stuff.

      Now I’m just too obsessed over metrics that it takes away from creating. But I do wish you good luck and I’m sure you’re more focused on it than I ever was.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Dear Brad and Stuart,

      I don’t bother much with social media for the reasons that Brad has stated. Rather, I concentrate on producing the best posts that can or will withstand criticism and the test of time. Should some of the posts, by mere chance or sheer quality, receive excellent reviews and good readerships, then so much the better! However, it is not always easy, straightforward or accurate to guess or predict what topics or which posts will resonate with readers. For example, one of my posts has an unusual title of The Quotation Fallacy “💬”. It has so far garnered about 230 comments and liked by nearly 680 bloggers, even though it is so extensive and academic that very few readers will ever have the patience and/or intellect to digest it in its entirety. Perhaps you might have some inkling about this seeming “contradiction” or “irony”.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you. I take much the same approach as you. Social media needn’t take much time, if you’re happy to do it badly – but then, what’s the point? To do it well is very time-consuming, in which case it’s likely to constitute a poor investment.

    My main marketing methods (for our communications agency) are simply (a) repeat business, (b) word of mouth, and (c) that hopelessly outdated thing, print.

    I’m not sure I agree with you about big business though. I think big business often gets social media wrong. Primarily by treating it purely as a ‘push’ medium for advertising.

    But my main point was simply to say: good post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I agree. Big business just pushes, but I guess my point was to just highlight these companies having big budgets to “crowd the room.”

      I do love your approach to marketing. Thanks for stopping by.

      Like

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