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corporate writing

Boost your LinkedIn profile in 5 easy steps

By April 22, 2020 28 Comments

Despite LinkedIn being one of the most useful platforms for freelance writers, many people are overwhelmingly ambivalent about it.

Every week I hear from writers who say they don’t have a LinkedIn profile. They can’t see the point of having one, think the platform is daggy or they’re not sure how to present themselves on it.

But if you are a content marketing freelance writer (or want to be one), LinkedIn is one of the best tools around.

It’s quick, free and best of all – it’s super effective.

5 quick and easy ways freelance writers can improve their LinkedIn profile

I am constantly amazed to see some of the high profile freelance writers I know and respect aren’t actively using LinkedIn.

They don’t update their profile, don’t regularly connect with new contacts and don’t interact with other people’s posts.

But due to coronavirus, it seems so many freelance writers recognise the importance of LinkedIn.

You don’t have to be on LinkedIn constantly or even have an enormous presence on the platform, but there are definite advantages to being active.

I’m sure it goes without saying but LinkedIn is free advertising for you and your business, and even better, unlike Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, people are on the platform to do business.

Some of my best, highest-paying and most faithful corporate clients have come through LinkedIn.

So whether you’re new to the platform or just want to make sure you’re on the right track, here are some of the best ways to optimise your LinkedIn profile.

Boost your LinkedIn profile

1. First things first

Okay, I’m taking you back to basics.

You would be surprised (and maybe even a little horrified) at the number of freelance writers who don’t have a profile on LinkedIn.

Or maybe some writers are on LinkedIn, but they haven’t updated their profile for a few years.

You need to make sure your profile has:

  • A decent headshot

    This doesn’t have to be a professionally taken headshot, but make sure your face is fully visible and is not obscured by sunglasses, hats or another person (again, you’d be surprised …)

  • Use accurate keywords to describe what you do

    Remember that 250 million people are using LinkedIn every month. Many are searching for someone to help them with a business problem they have.

    Potential clients are unlikely to type in “Copy ninja” or “Wordsmith extraordinaire” when looking for a freelance writer or copywriter.

    Stick to simple language describing what you do and for whom.

    My LinkedIn profile has my name and then “Freelance food, travel and lifestyle writer”.

    This has changed over the time and that’s totally fine.

    The best thing is you can play around with it and see what resonates with your target clients.

    Remember that this is some of the most valuable real estate on LinkedIn.

    You’ve only got a little over 200 characters to capture what you do, so use it well.

  • Your location

    This isn’t always crucial, but many people in my area have connected with me, and this has sometimes led to work.

    If you’re comfortable putting in your location, do so.

  • Pay attention to your profile banner

    Technical copywriter (LinkedIn guru) John Espirian recommends ensuring that your profile banner image is on brand.

    “If you don’t have a visual brand identity yet, keep the banner simple,” John says in this LinkedIn guide. “Even a flat colour with your name or service description would be better than leaving the default banner in place.”

    I used Canva to create my profile banner in about 10 minutes, so there’s really no excuse to leave yours as the default.

2. Write your summary from a client’s perspective

This is one of the biggest mistakes I see freelance writers make.

Writers fill their LinkedIn summary with all their qualities.

They talk about why they are so good at what they do, and how efficient, hardworking or skilled they are in particular areas.

That’s probably true, but clients know this already (or at least, they assume it).

What clients really want to know is:

What problem do you solve?

Most clients will engage a freelance writer for one of two reasons:

To get rid of a problem they have, but don’t want

or

To get a solution they want, but don’t have

So write your summary based on how you help your ideal client.

Do you translate high-level concepts into easy-to-understand ideas, do your words engage, convert or entertain?

It’s not enough to simply write about your skills and attributes.

You have to communicate why and how your skills and attributes help clients.

3. Connect with people who have viewed your profile

Many people have free LinkedIn accounts (as opposed to a paid account), but we can still see who has viewed our profile.

In the section labelled “Your Dashboard” there’s a ‘Who viewed your profile’ section.

Click on it and you can get more information about exactly who has been looking at your account.

It doesn’t always show you everyone who’s looked at your profile or all their information.

But generally, if the person looks like they could be a potential client or good connection, I’ll take a look at their profile and then send a connection request.

I’ll always send it with a message, saying something like:

“Hi X,

I noticed that you took a look at my profile; I’m wondering if you’d like to connect?”

More than once, this has resulted in finding a new client.

4. Connect, connect, connect

I know that some freelancers feel bashful about sending connection requests to people they don’t know in real life, but don’t.

The point of LinkedIn is to expand your network.

The best way to do this has been to go to the section titled “My network” and look at where it says “More suggestions for you”.

Depending on what you’ve recently been using LinkedIn for you might get recommendations that don’t fit with your current client or area focus.

That’s okay – I’d still encourage you to click “connect” with anyone who looks like:

a) they could be a potential client at some stage

b) has a description similar to yours

c) works in a field that you work in (e.g. if you are a medical freelance writer and they work in communications in a hospital).

My general advice for anyone getting started on LinkedIn is to make sure you have at least 500 connections.

Any fewer than this and it signifies that you’re a sporadic user of the platform and I’ve found that people are less likely to engage/connect with you.

5. Be active on the platform

When I was ramping up my business to full time freelancing I spent about 15 minutes on LinkedIn throughout each day.

I was connecting with people, sending them letters of introduction or commenting on posts or articles.

I was generally looking for opportunities to connect and build relationships.

Don’t underestimate the importance of being active on LinkedIn.

One of my best gigs ever (and still is) was found through LinkedIn.

I saw a connection had commented on a post where a communications manager was starting a new platform at her company.

It didn’t say that she was looking for writers, but I had a quick look into the business and knew from their other verticals that it was likely they would want freelancers to help them create content.

I reached out and four months later had my first article commissioned.

I still write for that company and I think I’ve probably earned over $100K from that company alone.

Yes, it was lucky that I was LinkedIn just at that moment, but luck plays a huge role in freelancing. And it’s something you can harness.

Do you use LinkedIn regularly? What other ways do you use the platform?

28 Comments

  • Thanks for the shout, Lindy! I hope your readers get something valuable from my starter guide 👍🏻

  • Lauren says:

    Long time reader.
    This is very helpful! I definitely need to update my profile.
    I’m curious, how many bylines you had before jumping into content writing?
    I’ve had a blog ( currently parked) and have one byline ( in Spanish)+ a byline in my local paper from 15 years ago.
    I know I’m capable but I get shy and nervous about jumping in. Any tips?

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Hi Lauren, thanks for your comment. I’d have to check but I think I had been writing feature articles (sporadically) for a couple of years before I started working with corporate clients and producing content for them.
      It can be really nerve-wracking when you’re approaching clients, especially when you feel like you don’t have a lot of ‘proof’ to show them, but I do think the more you do it, the easier it gets.
      Could you find an accountability buddy, someone who is at a similar level as you and both set some targets? These targets would be about what you will do (not the results you’d get).
      Does that help?

      • Lauren says:

        Hi Lindy,

        It certainly does help!
        I also forgot to mention that I wrote e-newsletters and website copy for a non-profit for a year so I have more writing samples. I’m still building my confidence and realize I need to create a doc with all my samples (for myself) so I remember all that I have done ( when self- doubt comes in), including my long time blog.

        • Lindy Alexander says:

          Ah that’s great Lauren. As long as you have a couple of pieces to show potential clients, then you’re well on your way.
          I love the idea of you creating a document for easy access to pick which samples to show clients, but also to prove to yourself that you can do this!

  • Shelley says:

    Thanks for this post Lindy – I just recently signed up for linkedIn and getting to know the platform. Some useful pointers here 🙂 Thank you x

  • Jen says:

    Thanks so much Lindy. A great reminder to update my background photo (finally!).

  • JoAnna says:

    Great article, Lindy! I’m on LinkedIn quite a bit and tweak my profile on occasion. I usually don’t check out the people who viewed my profile, so that is something that I can get into the habit of doing.

    LinkedIn has been my primary marketing tool, so I am conscious of posting content that aligns with my brand and making sure my profile is client-focused.

    Even though I have a lot of connections, I’m wary of accepting a lot of connection requests (especially if the person don’t add a personal note to the request) or sending out a lot of connection requests at this point. A large number of connections looks good, but it makes it difficult to maintain meaningful connections with so many people.

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Hi JoAnna,
      Thanks for your comment. Sounds like LinkedIn is a great tool for you already. I know what you mean about accepting lots of new connection requests. I probably should have added that I don’t just accept anyone willy nilly – I always prefer if they add a note when their request, but I do connect with others who are in my industry.
      I’ve found that with lots of connections, my opportunities (and luck) have increased exponentially.

  • Martina says:

    Great article Lindy!! I’ll follow your lead 🙂

  • Nick Allan says:

    Thanks for the tips Lindy,

    Unfortunately I’ve been neglecting LinkedIn, which is a shame because it really looks like it’s a great tool for freelancers.

    I’m going to challenge myself to being more active on the platform, and see what happens.

    Out of curiosity, do you pay for the premium version or is the free version sufficient for your needs?

    Nick

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Hi Nick,
      Thanks for your comment. I think LinkedIn is invaluable for freelance writers (especially if you’re a copywriter or content marketing writer).
      If we’re not already connected on LinkedIn, reach out and add me to your list of connections!
      I don’t pay for the premium version of LinkedIn – I’ve found plenty of job leads and information from the free version.
      Look forward to hearing how you go –
      Lindy

  • Thanks for the tips Lindy! I definitely don’t find LinkedIn as intuitive as other social platforms. I agree that it’s essential to have a presence there though, even if it’s just as one of the touch points in a prospective client’s journey to hiring you. I like the idea of connecting with people who’ve viewed your profile, I’m going to give this a go.

    • lindyalexander says:

      Yes try that Charlotte and let me know how it goes. I agree that it’s not as intuitive, but I think it’s one of the most useful ways to scope out potential clients.

  • Hi Lindy,
    I’m at the beginning of building a foundation for blogging and freelancing and found this quite helpful! Thanks!

  • Hi Lindy,
    Thanks for this reminder to keep checking in with Linkedin. It has been somewhat neglected. So I’ve set it up for a 15minute monthly review. I’ve even sent you a connect request. Aiming to get from 30 to 500.

    • lindyalexander says:

      Thanks Richard, great to connect on LinkedIn! Definitely aim to get your numbers up – I’m sure you’ll find it’s pretty easy to hit 500. Thanks for your comment.

  • JoAnna says:

    Great article! LinkedIn has been a major source of clients for me. I started posting on LinkedIn weekly a few years back; this has been my main marketing strategy, and I’ve been able to maintain my posting consistency. Being active on LinkedIn has helped me grow my network and my business, so I love it. 🙂

    I hadn’t thought about using Canva for my background profile. I’ll definitely check that out!

    • lindyalexander says:

      Thanks JoAnna, sounds like you’re onto a winner. Yes, definitely have a look at Canva for your background profile – it’s super easy to use (effective too!)

  • Lana Wildman says:

    Lindy, can you give me an idea of how you manage to keep your LinkedIn activity to 15 minutes a day? I want to be active and meaningful, but I tend to skip LI because I struggle to not get sucked in. It feels like I’d have to have my shares pre-planned…which also takes time. Thanks

    • lindyalexander says:

      Hi Lana,
      That’s a good question. I actually don’t feel like LinkedIn is as appealing as some other platforms, so I actually have no issue limiting my time there! I think you could probably just set a timer (I do this with Facebook). I tend to have a document where I put great articles into when I see them and then I share them on LinkedIn and Twitter when I’m on. Hope that helps?

  • Ivy Carruth says:

    Thanks so much, LIndy. As always- so thoughtful and useful. I look forward to your posts!

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