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, can’t see the point of having one, think the platform is daggy or are not sure how to present themselves on it. I’m here to tell you that 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
A few years ago, I was amazed to see that some of the high profile freelance writers I knew and respected weren’t actively using LinkedIn.
They didn’t update their profile, didn’t regularly connect with new contacts and didn’t comment on, share or like other people’s posts.
I’m happy to say that in the past couple of years I’ve really seen a change, with so many freelance writers recognising 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 there.
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, high-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 know I’m taking you back to basics, but 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 who do, but it hasn’t been updated 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 and many are searching for someone to help them with a business problem they have.
They are probably not going to type in “Copy ninja” or “Wordsmith extraordinaire” when looking for a freelance writer or copywriter, so stick to the language of how you would describe yourself and what you do. My LinkedIn profile has my name and then “Freelance food, travel and lifestyle writer”. This has changed over the time I’ve had my account 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 and you’ve only got a little over 200 characters to capture what you do, so use it well.
This isn’t always crucial, but I’ve definitely found that people in my area have connected with me (and this has, on occasion, led to discussions about 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.”
2. Write your summary from a client’s perspective
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see freelance writers make.
They fill their LinkedIn summary with all their qualities – why they are so good at what they do, how efficient, hardworking or skilled they are in particular areas, which is all good, 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
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
Most of us have free LinkedIn accounts (as opposed to a premium, paid account), but that means we still get to see who has viewed our profile. Just under your profile picture there’s a ‘who’s 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 request.
I’ll always send it with a message, saying something like:
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 the point of LinkedIn is to expand your network.
For me, 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”.
Now, depending on what you’ve recently been using LinkedIn for you might get recommendations that don’t exactly 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 or 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 less 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, commenting on posts or articles my connections shared and just generally looking for opportunities.
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 were going to want freelancers to help them create content.
I reached out to her and four months later had my first article commissioned. I still write for that company and although I haven’t run the figures I think I’ve probably earned over $80K 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?