Are you missing a trick if you don't use TikTok to market your freelance business?
My guest today is Chloe Barnes, a freelance copywriter at The Write Chloe who successfully operates a TikTok-first marketing strategy for her business. Chloe shares her top tips for navigating the platform and makes creating “real person TV” easy and effective, including:
And since we had SO much to talk about, there are not one but TWO bonus clips in the 15 Minute Freelancer newsletter (previous issues listed here too): 15minutefreelancer.substack.com
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Louise Shanahan is a freelance health and medical copywriter. She's on a mission to help others build a freelance business that feels easy and works for them – in weekly snack-sized bites.
LinkedIn: Louise Shanahan
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Welcome to 15 Minute Freelancer, your snack size guide to being your own boss and building a business that works for you. I'm your host, Louise Shanahan. I'm a freelance health copywriter and on this podcast I take you behind the scenes, so you can borrow from what's worked and what hasn't as you grow your own freelance business. We'll also have some practical tips and tactics from special guests along the way, so you can skip a few steps on your own freelancing journey. So without further ado, let's get started with today's episode. If you enjoy it, hit follow so you don't miss the next one.
Louise: Here's a question, are you using TikTok to find freelance clients? My guest today has had massive success doing this and she's very kindly agreed to share her top tips with us. Don't worry, we're not going to make you learn any dances, I hope! I'm joined by Chloe Barnes, who is a freelance copywriter at The Write Chloe. Hi, Chloe, thank you for joining me.
Chloe: Hi, thank you so much for having me.
L: I'm really excited to hear what you have to say about TikTok, because I'm pretty sure everyone's probably heard of it, but I think a lot of us don't really know that much about using it as our platform to attract clients, so maybe we could start there. For those who don't have a clue what we're talking about, can you explain what TikTok actually is and why should we be using it?
C: TikTok just sounds really intimidating when you first come across it because it has a reputation for being kind of like the teenager dancing app. But it has had massive changes and really it's just a short form video based social media platform. The thing that is so amazing about it is that it's still in a massive growth stage. It's been around for a couple of years now but the community on it has grown so much that it is no longer just for teenagers. In fact, I'd say teenagers actually make up quite a small part of it now and it's got everyone of all ages and all kinds of niches and industries and careers. It's just so amazing.
L: It's interesting that you mentioned community there, because actually, I had a TikTok account, but I found myself getting sucked into a bit too much so I ended up deleting it. But what's interesting is you have this feed of videos don't you that you kind of scroll up and down but you don't see a feed of videos for your friends, unless it's changed since I had an account. You have this For You page which is basically the algorithm showing you videos that it's guessing that you'll like, and it seems to be quite accurate because we get addicted to it. So that feels quite different to other social media platforms, because that to me feels like it's a bit less about community and more about sharing content. Do you think that's right? What's the community element like?
C: It has actually changed quite a bit, it now has three different feeds. You have the For You page which is algorithm based content and is based purely on what you interact with, what you like, what you watch, and rewatch, more importantly, and the types of things that you save. So that's very much influenced by your activity and your behaviour on the app. But then you have a following tab, which is purely the videos of the people that you follow. But also more recently they've brought back a friends feed as well. Your friends are not just people that you follow, but they're people who follow you back. So it comes down to your intent when you open the app and you can either be engaging with people in your community who follow you back, people who you enjoy watching, and then maybe when you're looking to expand your horizons a little bit more and branch out some new stuff you can hop onto your For You page.
L: How does that fit in to your business then, how do you find clients on TikTok?
C: It's not so much that I find clients, it's that they find me. That's the part that surprised me a lot about it, that purely by going on there and starting to make videos and talk about the sorts of things that I like in copywriting, the things that I find useful and interesting, giving tips and things like that. The more that I was talking about these things, the more people were just finding me organically based on what I was talking about. I actually got my first client off TikTok when I had 29 followers, so you don't need a lot of people to be following you to be able to have an impact and reach the kind of people who might be interested in engaging with your content, and even clicking through to your profile and seeing what kind of services you provide. At that point, when you don't have 1000 followers you can't have a link in your profile, so it took some work for them to actually reach out to me and get in touch and say hey we're interested in working together, could you tell me more about your service and what you offer. The more you get on there, the more videos you make, the more you talk about what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it, the more opportunity you have for people to discover you, and then start building that whole know, like, trust factor where they actually feel comfortable reaching out and saying, hey I'm interested in working together, what would that look like?
L: What kind of content are you creating, then, are you talking about your work, are you sharing examples, is it all kind of dancing? What does that actually look like?
C: There's a real mixed bag. TikTok for me is all about experimenting and sort of following what is doing well and adapting your content strategy to the platform as it evolves. Because it’s a very sophisticated and fast-moving platform as far as trends are concerned. There are trends that are more like dancing or lip syncing, and that's really more focused on the entertainment side of things. But there's a lot of trends that you can actually adapt to your niche. In the beginning, I did a lot of that type of content, because I found it really easy and it kind of fit my personality to be kind of goofball, but also educational. So I really focused on that in the beginning, but where my content really started to evolve, and I guess attract a more engaged audience, was when I really just started trying to help people. Helping them try and make sense of the platform, the social media landscape, trends and how that relates to content strategy, as well as copywriting and how to learn how to do it better as a small business. And also what the benefit is of working with someone like me when you are a small business and you're trying to market yourself, and wear all the hats and do all the things.
L: I guess in that sense, it's not that dissimilar to other platforms where you're thinking about your audience and the kind of content that they want, and thinking about how you can help them, and the information that you want to get across and making it really nice and easy for people to digest. Do you think there are a particular services or particular industries that this is maybe better suited for?
C: I actually don't, because I have seen massive success with huge brands like Ryanair. Ryanair were basically king, or queens, of TikTok for a really long time and you never ever saw a face of somebody working at Ryanair, all they did was use a specific TikTok filter with photos and videos of their planes and it was absolutely hilarious. Their entire account is absolutely amazing, if you go and check them out on TikTok you'll go down a rabbit hole because they're very, very good, same with Hootsuite. Most freelancers have a personal brand and personal branding is something that is really, really, easy to work with on TikTok because people are really wanting to hear from real people. That's something that is so unique about the platform, I call it real people TV because it's such a refreshing change from the fakeness that you can get on other platforms. Like LinkedIn where it's all about everyone posting their wins all the time and it gets to be this really toxic positivity environment, and you get a lot of bro-marketers and people who are really just all about the wins and the extreme highs, and they rarely post the lows, and that's just not realistic. Same with Instagram, where everything has been about this beautiful aesthetic and it just it starts to feel really fake after a while. But TikTok you can show up as yourself and still be a huge success and there's something that's really awesome about that.
L: Yeah, it is a bit less polished, I guess. If someone's thinking about getting started, have you got any tips? What's worked for you, what kind of content should people think about starting off with?
C: I think that you should first teach the algorithm the sort of content that you want to be seeing, which means that you do need to dedicate some time to browsing through the For You page and teaching it what you like by engaging meaningfully with the content that you want to see more of. Once you've got an idea of what the algorithm wants to be showing you then you can start paying attention to what you're seeing. Then I would recommend observing what the top creators in that kind of niche, in that kind of space, what are they succeeding with, and then trying a bunch of different things to see what works best for you. Because you don't know what kind of content you're going to enjoy creating most and what's going to be most successful until you just start doing it. At the beginning it can be discouraging because you are just performing for an echo chamber, there is emptiness, you're kind of screaming into the void and your video might be shown to a couple of 100 people and not get anything, no likes, no comments, no nothing, but you persist past that and it gets so much better and it gets better really fast. You just have to be persistent and keep experimenting because TikTok is the place for experimenting, the reach that you can get on Tik Tok compared with any other social media platform is just incredible.
L: And what's the typical call to action, are you trying to keep people on the app and ask them to DM you, or are you sending them to your website, or something else?
C: I generally try to keep people on the app because that is what TikTok wants. I am experimenting with a lot more longer form content and the call to actions aren't so much about asking people to do something, it's more about asking for their thoughts and opinions based on the topics that I'm talking about. If I'm doing a tip or something I might ask them if they have any questions about what I've just talked about, or if they want to see a specific example. Often asking for that type of engagement will give you further comments that you can then reply to with a video, and it creates another opportunity for you to respond in a video, create that content, and help someone in the process. I've had a lot of success with being able to give specific examples that are tailored to someone else's business and from someone seeing that on their own For You page has helped get me a client.
L: It helps you build that connection, doesn't it?
L: Are you planning out what videos you're going to create? I'm just curious about how you fit this in alongside your other work. Is this something that you plan out each day, is it something you do a few times a week, can you use scheduling tools for it?
C: I'm sure you can use scheduling tools for it. I do not, purely because the best content for me has always been in the moment, I've seen something and I've either responded to it or I've had an idea, filmed it in that moment, and posted it while I still have the energy. I feel like the energy that gets put into that video is so much more authentic, and it comes across as being a lot more spontaneous. And I think people respond really well to that so that's the type of content I tend to do. I have sort of content pillars that I work within and anything that doesn't really fit in those pillars I tend to put into my stories, because TikTok now has stories too which disappear after 24 hours like Instagram.
L: How does TikTok fit into your broader content marketing strategy are you using other platforms as well?
C: I operate on a TikTok-first strategy for my content. Because TikTok is where social media trends begin for the platforms that I use, which are TikTok and Instagram, to a lesser extent YouTube shorts, I'm starting to dabble in YouTube videos as well. But those are my trifecta, and TikTok I find is the one that drip feeds into all of the others. There's a kind of a running joke that if there's a trend on TikTok, keep an eye out for it, in two months time you'll start to see it on Instagram. So I take TikTok content and I repurpose it and put it into Instagram Reels. Sometimes if the video doesn't make sense for Instagram because some things are very tailored for TikTok I might change it into a carousel or take the key points and put it into a graphic and then upload that on to Instagram instead. It really just depends, but everything comes from TikTok to begin with.
L: I feel like I could ask so many more questions, but I don't want to take up too much more of your time. Thank you so much, Chloe, that was such a great whirlwind tour of your TikTok strategy. Of course, before we wrap up I have to ask, if people want to come and find you on TikTok and see what you're up to where can we find you? What's your handle?
C: My handle is @thewritechloe, I'm on Tiktok and Instagram under those handles, so come and say hi.
L: That's brilliant, thank you, and thank you to everyone for listening. Just a wee reminder that if you've enjoyed this and you feel like sharing it with a friend or leaving a review, I would be eternally grateful as that helps more freelancers hear from wonderful people like Chloe and build a freelance business that they love too. Thank you very much, until next time, happy freelancing.
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