Talk to any successful freelancer about whether he or she frequents online forums and the answer is going to be a resounding “Yes”. Even if they don’t use them as often any more, many freelancers admit to using forums to establish their business and form long-lasting connections. Clearly the reason online forums have managed to survive the blogging evolution is because of the benefits they provide.
Below we will explain to you 8 awesome benefits you will get by joining forums and actually interacting with their members. The post also comes with tips and forum suggestions, so don’t miss out on this chance to know about them. Enough said, enjoy the post and sign up a forum today!
1. Networking opportunities
Freelancers attend networking events to market their business, get leads and generally put their name out there. These events are either a day, a weekend or maybe even a week long affair. No matter how long these events are for they always come to an end. Once you’re home, there’s no way to keep in touch with your leads. Sure you gave them your business card, and send emails to follow up with them but you’re back to square one if they don’t respond.
Unlike networking events, online forums provide a networking opportunity 24/7. If you’re active in your chosen forum and interact with people then that’re all the networking actions you will need.
Just showing up and talking to people will help you get your name out there. Folks whose thread you reply to will remember you and will be more receptive to your message when you approach them for something. Most importantly, your thread will remain there forever unless intentional cleanup happens, and any people might try to contact you if they found your ideas or solutions helpful.
2. Gain ideas
One of my favorite things to do when I’m stuck for ideas to blog about is to go through the topics in my favorite freelance forum. I keep my eye open for any questions that people are asking, hot debates happening and anything else that I think will be a good topic for a blog post.
Whether you need ideas or just want to test the viability of your own idea, forums are the perfect place to go. Online forums allow you to tap into the pulse of all things happening in your niche. The more people there are talking in the forum, the more potential there is for you to gain ideas.
3. Increase knowledge
Let’s suppose you’re a newbie. You’ve just entered your field and feel like you’re flapping around like a fish out of water trying to make sense of everything. You know you have a lot to learn but you can’t afford a business coach or an advisor.
Then you join a forum and all of a sudden you see people asking the same questions you have. Better still, people are answering those questions! You’ve just hit jackpot and suddenly what was bound to take you months to learn become something easy to learn with few mistakes; you’re learning fast and avoiding common pitfalls at the same time!
So again you’re a newbie and in serious need of help. You have no money and no resources but you’re desperate to have someone mentor you. Someone whose advice is tailored specifically for you so you can not only avoid common mistakes but actually become successful in half the time it would take you otherwise.
An online forum is an excellent way to get established freelancers to mentor you – for free, and some of them are even industry elite! Remember when I said that a forum increases your knowledge by allowing you to ask questions and get answers? Well that’s your free mentorship too. You’re getting all these amazing advices for free!
If you network it right, bide your time and prove to be an overall helpful, smart and talented freelancer, other established freelancers are going to notice you and will be more open to taking you under their wing.
But remember, the key to mentorship is that you have to do all the legwork. Your mentor will only give advice and direction; it’s you who has to prove to them that their time was not wasted on you. If not, they’re not going to provide you free advice for long!
5. Build relationships
No freelancing business is successful without building strong relationship with clients and peers. If you don’t have a relationship with them, they won’t trust you, they won’t refer you and they certainly won’t hire you.
Forums have proven to be an excellent source for relationship building because freelancers aren’t the only ones who hang out in them. Potential clients do too. After all, where else will they find trusted freelancers? No one likes to put out blind ads and hire a freelancer they don’t know.
The good thing is that relationship building doesn’t take any extra effort. If you’re active in a forum, are networking and engaging with other members, are going out of your way to lend a helping hand, then you’re automatically building relationships.
6. Establish expertise
As a freelancer, claiming you’re an expert at something won’t get people to hire you – showing them that you know your stuff will.
Online forums provide an excellent way to establish your expertise. Look for threads that deal with your particular niche, or start one yourself. For example, let’s say your ideal clients are in the finance sector. You can start a thread related to common writing issues you see in the articles or website copy of financial institutions and state ways to make it better.
This way, you are not only making potential clients aware of the problems in their copy, but also providing them solutions. Now of course if they were a copy whiz, they’d fix it themselves, but they’re not and nor do they have the time. They still want their copy to be fixed though. Who do you think they’ll hire? The freelancer who claims to have written for xyz clients in the sector or the one who has already shown how he can make their copy better?
7. Increase traffic and sales
If you’re a freelancer with your own blog and product that you advertise and sell to create a passive income, you need online forums to help drive traffic to your blog. Fill out your entire forum profile and add a small description about yourself and what you do. Keep it relevant to your work. Add links to your website, blog and social networks you frequent.
This way, every time you start a thread or reply to one in the forum, people will see details about you. They’ll know who you are, what you do and where you can be found online. If your posts are relevant to them, they’ll click on your links to check you out. They’ll visit your blog, go through your posts, and leave comments and if you have a product page, they might even buy from you.
The more you interact, network and build relationships, the more traffic and sales you’ll get. You won’t need to convince them with sales copy. These people already believe in you and accept that you’re an authority. Granted, the sales won’t be phenomenal but they’ll slowly add up. Besides, some sales are better than none, right?
8. Making the most of online forums
The only way to make the most from online forums is to be a sponge. Soak in everything. Don’t disregard something just because it wasn’t meant for you. If it’s related to you in any way, pay attention. Even if it’s not and it’s related to a potential client, pay even more attention.
Just remember a few golden rules of online forums: Be respectful, be active, be engaging, be helpful, provide value and above all – don’t spam. Oh and don’t stalk either. At least not openly!
Designer And Freelancer Forums
So you’ve decided to join a forum, what’s next? Get to know some awesome forums! Below is a list of forums dedicated to make your skill and life easier. For more helpful forums you can refer to our post, 17 Forums Web Designers Shouldn’t Missed. Also do share your favorite forums and spread the love!
Welcome to the SitePoint, a resourceful forum discussing everything about web design and web development.
It’s not just about CSS, but also other web development topics like jQuery spread over the CSS Beauty.
Designers and developers in ThemeForest forum are constantly discussing the best practices and latest development of the web design.
Everything about art can be discussed in DeviantArt’s forum.
Seeking for a higher level of art satisfaction? ConceptArt Forum is for you.
Dynamic Drive is a great script resource for web developers, and its forum is all about making your script better.