While Facebook and Twitter are considered the big boys of social media marketing, don’t make the mistake of neglecting other useful and rewarding networking sites to market your freelance writing services.
In fact, Google+ is the second largest social media site out there – and growing every day. The best thing about Google+ is that it is perfect for freelance writers. If I could design a social media networking site specifically for freelance writers online, it would look something like Google+.
Fortunately for everybody involved, a tiny start-up called ‘Google’ got there first. (What? Oh, you’ve heard of them?)
(What follows is not a step-by-step guide to setting up your profile on Google+. This post is about exploring the features of this platform and how you can use these to market your freelance writing services.)
Create, curate and make Google love you
More than just a grown-up Facebook, Google+ is used by savvy online marketers, freelance writers and anybody else who wishes to be seen or heard online. You can ‘Circle’ people (follow them, basically) and people can Circle you. Then you can choose to share your content publicly or just to those specific Circles.
Google Search uses Google+ to improve its results by delivering online content that’s relevant, consistent and of high quality. Google’s aim is to provide content within its search results that best meets a searcher’s enquiry. The search engine giant uses it’s very own social media site (that’s Google+) to help determine just what that might be.
How this can be used to market your freelance writing services
Becoming established on Google+ is all about creating and curating valuable and relevant content. If you want to attract readers (read: writing clients) to your blog or writer’s website, you first have to build a reputation as somebody who creates and/or shares valuable content that’s relevant to your niche.
When you start to build a reputation, more Google+ users will share and ‘+1’ your content across the Google+ platform. Social shares improve your chances of Google ranking your content highly in their search engine results. That’s why the +1 button is so important – it’s social proof of what people like and find valuable online.
It’s a bit like when you have lots of websites linking into your own – Google and the other search engines (yes, I’ve heard there are others) see this as proof that your site is an authority in its niche and trusted by others. Why else would everybody be linking to it, right?
It’s the same with shares and +1s on Google+. If your content is getting shared a lot, it will grow in authority and you’re more likely to rank highly in Google’s search results, getting you in front of potential new clients.
How to use Google+ most effectively
There are many features of Google+ and if you want a more in-depth guide to each one I suggest you get a copy of Guy Kawasaki’s book on the subject: What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us. (Amazon affiliate link.)
For our purposes as freelance writers online, here are a few principles to bear in mind when creating, sharing and promoting content across the Google+ platform.
Focus on visual content
Like most social media sites these days, Google+ is a visual platform. Images, photos and videos are an intrinsic part of content sharing across the network. Full-sized images with vibrant colours attract the most attention, but other images and videos also fare well.
+1: If you’re sharing a blog post where the image automatically comes up as a tiny preview next to some text as per the below image, save the picture to your desktop, insert it manually so that it instead fills the width of the post, then create your own description and insert the link. More effort? Yes. Better results? Yes again.
Be informative and educational
I know you already know this but I’m going to go ahead and state is anyway:
Google+ is not Facebook.
There’s much more of an educational and informative edge to Google+. People on Google+ are looking for (and have become used to) deeper and more insightful content than you’re used to sharing with your friends on Facebook.
+1: This doesn’t mean you can’t be entertaining and informative, but please, please save the cute cat pictures for your private Facebook account.
Post regularly and consistently
You may get used to posting a few times a day on Google+ or just stick to one update per day. Be prepared to experiment and see what works well and brings in more links to your writer’s website and/or blog.
+1: Even if you don’t post huge volumes of Google+ updates, you should still post and interact with people on a regular basis. If you leave it too long you might find you become ‘out of the loop’. You don’t build a community, trust and a reputation from sporadic postings on any social network, but on Google+ in particular, you need to be consistent.
Be an active member of relevant Communities
The Communities on Google+ work in a similar way to Groups on Facebook, in that once you join a community you can post updates and share other people’s content within it. Unlike Facebook, it’s a bit more grown up though. I find the Communities on Google+ to be useful, engaging and inspiring places to meet fellow writers and share content.
+1: Communities are a great way of interacting with people if you aren’t included in many people’s Circles yet. Like with any social media marketing, you get what you put in and therefore you should always aim to share more of other people’s content than you do your own.
Nobody likes a spammer.
Include a Google+ sharing button on all your own content
Include a Google+ sharing button on the key pages of your writer’s website, and particularly on any blog posts you write on there. This is a no-brainer for encouraging readers to share and +1 your content.
+1: I use ‘Jetpack’ from WordPress.com for my own social share buttons and as an added bonus there’s an option to display my Google+ profile button underneath the usual sharing icons. This means people can easily follow me at the end of each post if they’re signed up to Google+ too. If you scroll to the end of this post, just beneath the usual sharing buttons you’ll see an image like this:
Click the ‘Follow’ button (no, not the one in the image above!) and I’ll be in one of your Circles! (I solemnly swear only to share relevant and useful freelance writing tips with you.) I also have a larger version of this in the side bar to the right of the screen.
Use Google+ Hangouts
Google+ Hangouts are live video chats that can be used to interact face-to-face with your clients and peers. You may wish to use Google+ Hangouts for webinars, question and answer sessions, or just for sharing your most valuable content in an interactive and sociable way.
+1: Hangouts can be public or private, and you have the option to record and upload them to YouTube if you wish. (You know Google owns YouTube, right?)
Make effective use of hashtags
Hashtags are pretty much universal throughout the social media sphere now. Started on Twitter and now used by both Facebook and Google+, hashtags help categorise content. This enables people to discover and (hopefully) share your content. It also means you can take advantage of trends and hot topics.
+1: One of the many useful features of Google+ is that it automatically suggests hashtags on your behalf when you post an update. Handy, eh?
Harness Google Authorship
If you have your own blog you can link it to Google+ using some code. This will help rank your website higher in Google’s search results and display your photo next to those results. This helps build authority and trust within your readership. If code ‘aint your thing, you can easily link your site to Google with a WordPress plugin called WP Google Authorship. How do you think I do it?
+1: Whenever you post a link to your content publicly within Google+ (i.e. not just to a specific Circle or Community) you make it visible not only within the social media platform itself, but to Google’s main search results.
As the second most actively used social media network out there, online writers can’t ignore Google+ for long. Used effectively, it has the potential to raise your profile as an online writer and drive potential leads to your website.
While you need to be aware that Google+ is completely different to networking on Facebook, you can still have fun with your content creation. Just ensure your Google+ updates are super-useful, entertaining, informative and contagious – and don’t forget to make them visual too.
True value combined with a dash of creativity and imagination always triumphs, no matter what the platform.
This topic is covered in the Earn a Living as a Freelance Writer Online course. It also reveals how else to market your freelance writing services using blogging, Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest – yes Pinterest – to attract writing clients.
For more details on this Freelance Writers Online course, click here now.