You need a LinkedIn profile if you’re serious about freelancing. Here’s why: I recently did some digging into my students’ success stories. And you know what?
The successful ones all have a LinkedIn profile.
I also did some poking around with my colleagues and peers. Same thing… they all have LinkedIn profiles. Now, these profiles might not be cutting-edge current. They might be like ahem mine, which is to say… set up a while ago and then pretty much neglected.
But they exist.
There seems to be a solid connection between level of professionalism and minimum-viable presence on LinkedIn. In other words, you can do the bare minimum (like me) and just set up a profile for it to work. You don’t have to go all in with a full-bore LinkedIn strategy.
Either way, I’m drawing a line in the sand and saying you, the aspiring and/or growing freelance writer, need to be on LinkedIn.
Unless, of course, doing so will cost you a current job that you need to keep the lights on. If that’s you, this blog post isn’t for you.
But for everyone else, LinkedIn is a valuable tool that works for you in multiple ways, depending on how you want to swing the hammer.
7 ways LinkedIn is a valuable marketing tool
- It can serve as a resume.
- It can serve as a portfolio.
- It can serve as a publishing platform (where you can publish your clips!).
- It can be a place to find and apply for writing gigs.
- It can be a place to research businesses to pitch.
- It gives you legitimacy, credibility, and authority when done right.
- It brings interested prospective clients straight to your inbox when done right.
How do you make your LinkedIn profile effective?
So, it’s that whole “when done right” thing that can cause problems. Your LinkedIn profile, when NOT done right, will reflect poorly on you and repel prospects who would otherwise be interested in working with you.
You should approach your profile with your ideal reader in mind. Who are the people you want your profile to “speak to” and what kinds of things would those people want to see? Hint: think like a marketer.
This is especially powerful if you have a niche, because you can tailor your profile to that niche and become much easier to find in the LinkedIn search. If you don’t have a niche yet, though, don’t despair. There are always things you can do to improve your chances of getting found.
In fact, I’m still getting prospects from a profile I set up last year and haven’t really touched since.
Your LinkedIn profile intro
The top section of your profile is the Intro. You have your picture, a banner image, your name, your Headline, and your current “position,” which for most of us freelancers actually isn’t a position because we aren’t employees.
When you edit your Intro, put in your name, location, etc. You can also include your industry, if you have one; otherwise, select Writing & Editing.
Like your Facebook profile, you need to have a nice, clear headshot as your LinkedIn profile. It needs to be just you, and mostly your face.
Also like your Facebook profile, you can have a banner at the top. The strategy is much the same: have a capsule summary of you, what you do, and your email or URL.
You can also include compelling emblems — maybe site logos where you’ve written, certifications you’ve earned, a membership, etc. You could also put a plain picture of a keyboard or a vista.
If you don’t want to mess with it, go into the settings and pick a premade one. If you’re design-challenged like me but you don’t want premade, go to Canva and use one of their templates. They have some nice ones and it’d probably take you 5 minutes.
Next, look at your headline. This is extremely valuable. Here you say WHAT you offer, to WHOM. If you want to have something good enough but not special, you could say something like “freelance writer for hire” with the divider line (shift-backslash) and the types of stuff you write (e.g. blog posts and web content). This is clear and straightforward.
Another formula is [niche] freelance writer for hire.
If you’re feeling more daring, you could expand your headline to offer a lot more information. I’ve seen a lot of copywriters and freelancers do this.
Your LinkedIn profile About section
Next part is the About section. This is where a lot of people get into trouble. They basically start monologuing about all the stuff they’ve done and all the stuff they like.
Don’t be that person.
Remember to think like a marketer. How do I present this product (in this case, YOU) in a way that will appeal to the ideal reader? What does that person want to know? What are they looking for? What’s in it for THEM?
If you have a niche, whether it’s an industry or a service, make sure to include those keywords in the About section.
Don’t be afraid to layer your About section with some personality. If you want to work with interesting people, be interesting! But also be informative. If you want to work with serious people who are concerned with custom modalities and driving revenue, be serious.
Whatever you do, make sure it points to whatever outcome THEY want. It’s not about you, it’s about them and what you can do for them.
Your LinkedIn profile Experience section
After the About section comes Experience, which is where you can put your work history if you want. If you just want one entry that says you’re a Freelance Copywriter from [start date] to present, that’s totally fine.
If you have some longer-term clients, you could include each of those as separate entries. And in the descriptions of each of these, you can load more keywords or add details about the work you’ve done.
Put in any education, even if you have a degree that’s not relevant. Can’t hurt, right? You might make some alumni connections.
Don’t worry about getting endorsed for skills and whatnot. I don’t think anyone takes that seriously anymore, because it’s been a long time since I’ve heard about it.
And once you’ve got that all set up, you’re done!
If you’re dedicated to a LinkedIn strategy, don’t be afraid to come back to your profile and tweak, revise, and optimize here and there whenever you want. As you spend more time on the platform, you’ll see how others are using it and that may inspire ideas for your own stuff.
If you’d like to learn more about leveraging the platforms you like to get the clients you want, then check out my course Booked-Out Writer. I have a module on getting clients just through LinkedIn.