A U-turn on social media advertising

Earlier this week, I wrote a post going through my experience with social media advertising.

My overall point in that post was that it wasn't really worth it. In three months, and $342, I’d landed one client through my advertising, who hired me to do a small job for $300. At first glance, this seemed straightforward: I was $42 behind. Not exactly a winning proposition.

This conclusion was flawed, so I'm pleased to say I've reversed direction. But I didn't get there on my own. I shared my post with a Facebook group - NZ Tech Startup Ecosystem. And that’s where I got some different perspectives. Turns out, there were quite a few things I hadn’t thought of. Here’s some of the greatest hits:

Repeat work

This is rather obvious. I can’t think of a single client who has hired me for just one small job. They either work with me on one big job that takes a few weeks or months, or they hire me for multiple small jobs. This makes intuitive sense - I can't imagine why someone would need exactly $300 worth of work. The $300 of work I did for that one client wasn’t the only piece of work. It was the first piece of work. And since I'm only $42 in the hole at the moment, it's not going to take much to get me back into the black. 

Referrals turn snowballs into avalanches

The majority of my work comes from two sources:

  1. People who I’ve worked with in the past

  2. People who have been referred to me by people I’ve worked with in the past.

This means there’s a leverage effect to advertising on social media. If social media advertising connects me with one client, and that client goes on to connect me to another client, then that makes the initial advertising spending much more valuable. Again, this shows that the value of the social media advertising is well above my poorly-calculated $300. 

It really doesn't cost that much

If I calculated the time I spent on each of these posts, and put it against the hourly rate I'd charge a client, then each post would be worth a few hundred bucks apiece. Just because I'm not paying that in cash, doesn't mean it's not a cost - it's time that I could be spending doing paid work, that I am instead spending on unpaid work. 

If we ballpark each post at $300 worth of time, and figure I do 3 posts a month, that's $900 just writing the posts in the first place. Another $100 on top of that is really not much, especially when it gets those posts in front of people who would not otherwise see them.  

If I was really sharpening my pencil on advertising costs, I’d stop writing blogposts - but that would be foolish, because this blog is a really useful marketing tool. So as long as I’m spending time writing these posts, it’s worth it to spend just a little bit more to promote each post. That’s the advice I’d give a client in this situation, and it’s advice I should be following too.

It ultimately is worth it for me

So that's my U-turn - where previously I said that social media advertising wasn't worth it, I've now decided that it absolutely is worth it.  Each new client has potential to send me repeat work, and refer me to even more clients. When you compare that to the very reasonable costs, it’s a hard proposition to decline. So for now, I’m going back to my adventures in social media advertising. I'll check back again in a few months and let you know how it's going.