On Getting Clients

On Getting Clients
By Michael Stahl

So I made the decision to be a social media manager. As a freelance writer in the Internet age, it seemed ideal. I needed income that wasn’t going to tax my body in the process of earning it, the way bartending—my prior means of procuring supplemental funds—did. With the magic of Facebook-post-scheduling software and Tweet queues, I would be able to carve out a schedule that made my desired lifestyle possible with relative ease. I could write when I wanted and have time for pitching and reporting. Plus, my jammies could be on all day.

But that meant I needed clients.

One client that I was able to get was a local restaurant called Queens Comfort. Situated in Astoria, New York, it is a great Southern food shack with chefs who are not shy about giving their recipes an original twist. The dining room plays indie rock and features a plethora of old school toys from every ’80s boy’s youth, as well as framed ancient horror movie mags hanging on the walls. I was a regular there and had interviewed the owner, Donnie, for a piece I wrote on the crazy week-that-was in Astoria restaurants after Hurricane Sandy. My familiarity with the establishment would prove invaluable.

I knew that a place like Queens Comfort would not be able to pay much because of its humble mom-and-pop stature. However, there are more important things than money, and I felt that Queens Comfort and I would be a perfect match.

First, I did my research. I looked at their social media networks and could tell that Donnie handled them personally, sometimes posting a half-dozen times in one day, but not at all on others. A minority of those posts included menu details, but I knew from being a frequent patron there that Donnie tweaked the menu daily, often adding a handful of new dishes that might never return to the kitchen. Therefore, it was clear that Queens Comfort had a legit need for a social media manager.

I figured that the potential content on his social media networks would not need to be too plentiful, especially on Facebook where he only absolutely required one post a day to highlight the new menu options. But that played right into my hands. I knew that I could not walk into the shop and demand a king’s ransom, so I structured a package and price that I thought would be appealing to Donnie, while worth my own time too. Given the quirky, charming ambiance of the dining room, I felt that there were endless possibilities of fun stuff I could post to make the quantity a bit more robust, while minimizing suspected frivolity, making his customers tune out. Furthermore, I was confident Donnie would be up for social media games too, thus creating an impetus for his patrons to Friend and Follow.

It took time to finally begin work for Donnie, he’s a busy guy, hence the need for a social media manager, and as expected, we’d agreed on a modest sum of compensation. But money’s money and the work is enjoyable. Donnie’s easy to talk to and we seem to get along great, exchanging jokes and gentle ribbing while contriving new social media contests that are equal parts fun and savvy. And because I approached him with an awareness of the realities of potential financing and acted accordingly, Donnie knows I’m not trying to just take money out of his pocket and put it in my own. There’s a trust there, which, as I mentioned in last week’s blog, is more important than just about anything.

I’m free to be creative and, yes, fail from time to time, in finding out what posts work best. Marketing on social media is, if nothing else, fluid. It’s every day (usually) and repetition gets tiresome for both follower and manager. So, find a client that will recognize this, promote open and constant communication, and simply be a joy to work with. You don’t want a situation where, when they text you (as Donnie just did as I began this sentence), you dread what their request might be. Instead, it’ll feel like a partnership where the client and you, the social media manager, are on equal, and comfortable footing.

Michael Stahl is a journalist, social media manager & strategist. Hailing from Astoria, New York, his articles and essays have appeared in several online and print publications. He is currently accepting new social media clients, so if you’d like to procure his services, contact him at mrstahl7@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter too @MichaelRStahl.