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The freelance economy is at an all-time high with thousands of people leaving their regular 9-5 jobs and turning to working remotely.
While the pros of freelancing include flexibility, opportunity to take up a variety of work and be your own boss, the biggest challenge freelancers face is ensuring a consistent stream of work. As a freelancer, you are not just working on ongoing projects, you are also on the constant lookout for more work.
As per predictions, by 2027, freelancers could represent more than half of the total U.S workforce. Let’s face it, the competition is immense and with the boom in the freelance workforce, you need to ensure your profile and skill set stand out.
Well, the most effective way to get more clients is to market yourself successfully and what better way to start than on the world’s largest professional network: LinkedIn.
If you are not living under a rock, you are sure to be having a LinkedIn profile by now but how optimized is it to land you freelance gigs? If you have often wondered why your LinkedIn messages go unanswered or why your job applications get no positive responses, it might be time to reassess and refresh your profile.
So, here are 10 smart ways to spruce up your LinkedIn profile and win more freelance gigs, without having to spend a penny.
1- Professional Headshot
Your LinkedIn headshot says a lot about you. Make sure you don’t use awkward selfies or cropped images as your profile picture – this isn’t Instagram or Facebook. LinkedIn needs to be utilized for professional purposes and your picture needs to reflect that.
Having an appropriate headshot on LinkedIn is pretty simple. All you need to ensure is that you select a clear headshot wherein you are dressed professionally. Don’t go for busy backgrounds, sweet and simple (against a grey or white background) is much more appreciated.
A profile picture is meant to humanize your account and makes it more authentic. So, the worst mistake you can make is having no picture at all.
2- Impactful Headline
Along with your headshot, the headline is the first thing people see on LinkedIn. An impactful headline is one that compels people to view your profile.
If condensing your nature of work in 120 characters seems tough, start with listing down the keywords associated with your profession, for instance, content writer, graphic designer, digital strategist, photographer, IT consultant, etc. and don’t forget to incorporate the word ‘freelancer’.
A lot of people let LinkedIn take the default headline which is your current job title. So, if you are a freelance graphic designer and under ‘company’ you state ‘Self-employed’, the default settings will display your headline as ‘Freelance graphic designer at Self-Employed’. Not the most ideal headline, is it?
So, take efforts to customize your LinkedIn headline to truly stand out. It is also a good idea to include any notable awards or published work in the headline.
3 – Precise Summary
Now that you have enticed people to view your profile, chances are they won’t go through the entire page. So, why not hook them with a powerful summary right in the beginning.
Even though you might be tempted to write stories, stick to writing crisp and precise summaries that hooks the reader. No one has time for lengthy paragraphs.
The key is to sum up your experience and professional goals in a conversational manner, devoid of any jargons. Use relevant keywords and make your summary easily readable with bullet points and short paragraphs. You can also consider embedding as a SlideShare deck or a video that builds on your summary.
4 – Request for Recommendations
Being a freelancer, you need to work extra hard in building your credibility and maintaining a positive image. The best way to achieve that on LinkedIn is by asking for recommendations and endorsements.
There is nothing to be shy about when it comes to asking your clients for a recommendation. Make it a habit to ask every client to write you a recommendation as soon as you have completed their project as that is when their memory is still fresh, and you are more likely to get a response.
Here’s an example of an email you can send a client, asking for a recommendation.
If someone’s being stingy, why not write them a recommendation first – that should make them pay back the favor.
5 – Signal Recruiters
Did you know that you can secretly let LinkedIn know that you are actively looking for work?
All you need to do is open your dashboard, click on career interests and turn on the signal that reads ‘let recruiters know you’re open’. That way you signal recruiters that you are open to more offers without having to spell it out on your headline (which is a complete no-no).
6 – Showcase your Portfolio
If you thought LinkedIn was just about listing down your work experience and qualifications, you are mistaken. There is a lot more this platform offers you so do maximize it for your own good.
For instance, LinkedIn allows you to embed links, videos, PDFs, images and other rich media as a means of showcasing your portfolio of work. Along with embedding, you should also write a line or two describing the work done.
Whether you are a logo designer or a photographer, it helps to showcase your notable work on your profile. Similarly, if you are a freelance writer, you should also consider adding the books, magazines and articles that you have authored under ‘Publications’.
7 – Connect with Potential Clients
When you stumble upon a potential client you would like to work for, send them an invite to connect. The idea is to not bombard them immediately with your services but connect with them on similar topics and strike a conversation.
Now that they are part of your network, you can keep an eye on their status updates and shares to understand their interests and needs.
When the time is right, you can subtly express your interest to work with them or pitch a solution that could be of use to them. The key is to connect with the right people. For instance, if you are a freelance writer, you rather connect with editors or content managers whose work is in line with yours rather than CXOs who have bigger things to manage.
8 – Actively Engage
Having a profile on LinkedIn is not enough.You need to be active on it in order to make it work for you. You can look at posting your opinion, recent work done or even share an interesting article you came across on your page. You should also spend some time leaving quality comments on people’s posts.
By actively engaging on LinkedIn, you are strengthening your brand image and improving your recall value. Moreover, LinkedIn’s algorithm is such that it pushes your profile or content if you regularly engage with your network. So, make your presence felt and make it a point to post or comment on LinkedIn, at least thrice a week.
9 – Participate in Groups
LinkedIn Groups give you direct access to professionals sharing a similar line of work. Now, that’s a serious goldmine and the possibilities of finding new work and making connections are endless.
Use Groups to start healthy discussions, comment on other people’s posts and make connections. It is also a great place to get feedback on your work. As a freelancer, there are essentially 2 types of groups you should focus on: one that is filled with freelancers where you can share best practices, tips and learn from each other’s experiences and the other which has a mix of freelancers and clients which can be used to find new projects.
So, type the keyword associated with your field of work on the search bar, filter by ‘groups’ and there you have a list of groups that would be of interest to you.
10 – Publish on LinkedIn Pulse
Pulse is LinkedIn’s built-in news aggregation feed which allows users to create engaging content to enhance their reputation. This tool is especially beneficial for freelance writers and content creators who can turn to it for sharing original and engaging content.
It lets you highlight your services and strengths while expanding your reach to a wide professional network.
As per LinkedIn, in order to ensure your article gets featured on the Pulse feed and gets maximum visibility, you need to ‘write content that resonates with your connections, followers, and target audience. The most meaningful and high-quality articles will be promoted through member feedback, including views, likes, comments, and shares.’
It is also a good idea to subscribe to Pulse channels that are of interest to you and gain inspiration from articles that are performing well.
Remember, your LinkedIn profile is always a work in progress. Keep updating it regularly with new projects and developments. If used smartly, it can really prove to be a useful freelance-friendly tool that lets you build a strong online persona.
So, don’t stop at just having a profile, spend quality time engaging on the platform to market yourself well and land more freelance clients on a consistent basis.