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.
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.
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
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:
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?