Now that you’ve decided to set up your own freelance business, you’re possibly thinking about your website and other social media channels, but have you remembered your LinkedIn profile?
Do you even have one? (Do you need one?)
Today, I am delighted to be restarting my 15 Days to a Successful Freelance Business series (after a wee break for the summer hols) and – inspired by the need to start promoting my business now that my main job between the hours of 8.30 – 3.00 isn’t childcare – I thought I’d start with a little post about how to create the perfect freelance LinkedIn profile to help you to stand out from the crowd and win you some work!
Taking a step back though, you might be wondering why you should even bother with LinkedIn in the first place, so here are a few stats for you to consider:
380 million people worldwide are on LinkedIn
It’s used in over 200 countries across the globe
56% of users are male while 44% are female
87% of users are 35+
Yeah but isn’t it more for people in the US?
Nope. 70% of LinkedIn users are outside the USA
But I’m already on Twitter and Facebook, do I really need to bother with LinkedIn too?
Aha, yes, here’s the biggie. I know that social media can be overwhelming and I also know that people want to keep it as simple as possible. What I’m suggesting though is that, as a freelancer, perhaps you might want to consider that LinkedIn probably isn’t the one platform to ignore.
Like I say, I’m not here to make life complicated for anyone but when you consider that 45% of people on LinkedIn are decision makers (as compared to only 25 – 29% on Twitter and Facebook) AND that the average household income for members on LinkedIn is higher than the other two social media platforms, then surely it’s worth considering? After all, it will put you on a platform where you have access to key decision makers who have greater spending power than on any other social media channel.
So, what am I saying?
If you’re running a freelance business and you want to work with medium to large scale businesses, then it may be better to invest some time on LinkedIn to begin with.
Of course, if your audience is in the 18 – 34 age range, then by all means focus your efforts elsewhere, but I’m guessing that most people reading this will want to sell their freelance services – or their small business products – to businesses or individuals who are potentially in the 35+ age group.
And if you’re providing a business to business service, then I’d say that you definitely need a LinkedIn profile.
OK, that’s the sales pitch over (not that I’m selling anything to be clear – and if you’d like more stats before making your decision, you can find more about LinkedIn here).
Now let’s get on to creating the perfect LinkedIn profile for your freelance business.
First of all, there are three things that you want from your LinkedIn profile:
1. You want it to make you easier to find
2. You want it to be eye-catching
3. You want it to tell people what you do and – more importantly – how you can help them.
All of which means, that before you even consider making it look beautiful, you want to make sure that it’s set up for people to be able to find you.
If you already have a LinkedIn profile, the first step is to check out your profile by clicking on ‘view public profile’.
Then, you want to sign out of LinkedIn completely, head on over to Google and search for yourself or your business.
Are you showing up in the searches under your LinkedIn profile (or anywhere else for that matter)?
If not, you need to enhance your profile to get yourself noticed more readily.
Your profile should communicate WHO you are, WHO you help, and HOW you help people.
What’s in a Headline?
Think of this as your ‘elevator pitch’. Use keywords in your headline and make it (and you) sound compelling. What you’re aiming to do here is to show that you’re an expert in your particular field.
Stuff your headline with keywords that you want to show up for. Like ‘Graphic Designer’ or ‘Freelance Writer’ – but for a really good headline, add in what you do and how you help people.
Instead of just listing your job title, think about answering this question:
You help who with what?
There’s a good article here with some examples of headlines – and you can hop on over to Laura Roeder’s how to post that shows exactly how to make those changes.
Make sure you have a proper headshot on LinkedIn. This isn’t Facebook.
People don’t want to see your cat. Or a selfie.
It shouldn’t be an image cropped from a night out or of you living the party life (unless of course, that’s what your brand is all about).
Get a proper headshot done. You don’t have to go to the expense of hiring a photographer. Just make sure the lighting is good, you look good and get someone who is halfway decent with a camera to take your photo.
That’s my Mum out of the equation. We have countless family photos where the entire family is headless thanks to her camera skills. Not that any of you were thinking of asking her anyway… 😉
You could make your headshot more interesting by showing you doing your job (if it makes for an interesting picture and, of course, depending on what you do. I doubt anyone really wants to see a dentist performing an extraction!)
What’s Your Background?
You can also make your profile more visually appealing by changing the background. Consider creating a custom background using PicMonkey or Canva to adapt images or your logo to fit the template LinkedIn require.
Get creative and grab attention.
You can find a few more tips on creating an eye-catching LinkedIn background in this article – and it’s definitely worth considering to make your profile stand out from the crowd.
In a Nutshell
Next, you want to make sure that you write a good summary.
It needs to be succinct, it should communicate what you do and how you help people (that old chestnut again) and it should include plenty of keywords that you want to be found for.
So if you’re offering social media management or content creation – say it in here (as well as in your headline). If you’re not sure what to include, you can get some inspiration from others who are doing a good job of it here.
(And here’s mine)
Showcase Your Best Work
My advice here would be to make sure that you don’t simply write down EVERYTHING that you’ve every worked on. Instead, you want to make sure that you showcase your best work.
List your top 5 biggest achievements that are relevant to the field that you’re working in right now. Highlight them and draw attention to the work that you are proud of and, more importantly, that you are looking to do more of.
Include any awards that you’ve won and mention any publications that you’ve been featured in or have written for.
There’s an option to include any media that you’ve produced or worked on – and it’s a great way of creating eye-catching content that you can link to.
So if you’re a graphic designer or video producer, for example, link to your work here. Or if you’ve featured in any publications, as I mentioned above, you can include links to the articles in here too.
I write for an entrepreneurship blog, and include links to the articles here as well as links to Apricot Ginger posts, so people can see the type of work that I’ve created.
There’s also a section on Membership of Professional Organisations – make sure that you fill that in too.
Only include relevant work in your work history section. Yes, LinkedIn will probably encourage you to fill out everything, but is it really relevant that you worked in a coffee shop after graduation?
Here you can link to any projects that you’ve worked on – so publications that you’ve written, blogs that you write for or other work that you’ve produced.
You could also consider adding in any links to any lead magnets (which is a short report that you produce in exchange for someone’s email address) under the projects section too. Try not to make it too promotional, but if you produce a giveaway that encourages people to join your list and that is relevant to the work that you do – or is a good showcase of your expertise (and if it’s not, why do you have it?) then link to it here.
I also include a link to my own lead magnet in my profile – which if you’ve missed is top right of this page – 10 Essential Steps to Launching Your Freelance Business
Now that you’ve made your profile look beautiful, you want to make yourself easier to find – which is how you are going to start to show up when you Google your name + LinkedIn in the future.
The easiest way to do this is to join groups that you’re interested in or that are relevant to your field. My advice would be to join as many as possible and then, once you’ve hung around them for a few weeks, you’ll start to get a feel for which ones you’re are most closely affiliated to (or most interested in).
Start commenting in the groups that you really like, and share any interesting links or start discussions in these groups.
DO NOT endlessly self promote.
You want to show yourself off as an expert by sharing useful content, not by boring people to death by talking about yourself all the time.
Start connecting with people in your LinkedIn groups – particularly those that you think you could partner with or who could become clients. Don’t make it too spammy though. Just send an inmail asking to connect, and say that you noticed they’re in the same group as you – or that you appreciated their comment or like about something that you posted (or that you liked one of their posts and why).
Start to view other people’s profiles that you’d like to connect with. They will notice that you’ve viewed them and may ask to connect up. Similarly, if someone views your own profile, follow up with them with a simple: ‘I notice that you’d viewed my profile, is there anything I can help with?’
You’ll notice that there’s a section on recommendations, so start to recommend your contacts and they may return the favour (or you could even ask them to). The best way to go about this is to only make recommendations where you really know that the person is an expert in this particular field – otherwise, you risk recommending someone who might not be as good as they say they are!
Use your status updates to post interesting, engaging articles that are relevant to your field. Relevancy is the key to making your LinkedIn profile as powerful as possible.
A really good way to improve your ability to be found is by getting published on LinkedIn Pulse – which is a way of sharing any content that you’ve created directly onto LinkedIn (instead of simply linking to your own website or blog).
Remember what I said about 380 million people using LinkedIn worldwide? Well, imagine those people having access to your content. Pretty powerful stuff.
It means that your content on LinkedIn is usually easier for people to come across that your own blog or website and will bring you to the attention of a greater number of people worldwide.
Now that you’ve made your profile look beautiful, you might want to read this article by William Arruda on 22 LinkedIn Secrets LinkedIn Won’t Tell You – which tells you how to really make the most of your activity on LinkedIn. It makes for good reading…
And that’s it. My top tips for creating the perfect freelance LinkedIn profile. Is there anything that you’ve found particularly useful or that has helped you to be found on LinkedIn? As ever, let me know in the comments below!