LinkedIn is a funny old tool that I never really got to grips with before I noticed how valuable it can be to a freelancer writer’s career. Naively, I assumed that it was only used for people looking for new full-time jobs, and that nobody on there really cared about what I might have to offer.
Oh, how I was wrong! After setting up my profile to see what all of the fuss was about, I started to get regular leads coming through my inbox from content marketing managers of companies that I’d love to work for. The best news? It wasn’t a hugely complicated process and setting up the system took only a few minutes each day.
Now, LinkedIn forms a crucial part of my freelance business’ marketing strategy and I receive around three high-paying, targeted clients through it each and every week by following these steps:
1. Optimise your profile
Once you’ve set-up your LinkedIn profile, you will want to make it clear to anyone who stumbles upon your page that you’re a freelance writer available to take on work.
This can be done by mentioning your freelance writing niche within your introductory section, as well as your full name to aid with branding yourself online. By connecting your full name and the words “freelance writer” on your LinkedIn profile, your name is more likely to pop into the head of somebody searching for your services once you’re connected.
Think about the introduction of your profile. It’s similar to an About page on your website that tells somebody instantly what you’re all about, but making it interesting enough is crucial. Don’t forget that you only get one chance to make a first impression. If you’re a freelance writer and want to convince someone to hire you, take some time to craft an interesting and compelling introduction to sell yourself and show your writing skills.
The people browsing LinkedIn are busy professionals and are unlikely to have a lot of spare time. Make your bio punchy whilst explaining the services that you offer for the best results.
In my own profile, I have done this by giving a brief run-down on the publications in which my writing has been published. I’ve also given a short list of services that I offer and given a method of contact for people to get in touch.
You should also fill in the your LinkedIn profile to promote your experience with writing, including titles of areas where your work has been published, if appropriate.
Let’s say that you’re a writer who specialises in sharing career advice for young professionals. Curate a list of your career-focused samples and include titles of relevant, highly authoritative publications in which your work has been featured.
You can do this using the ‘Accomplishments’ section, creating your own portfolio with clickable links to live work.
2. Share your samples
As you already know, the first thing a prospective client will seek is proof that you can actually write. Include relevant examples of your work that relate to your niche.
I’m a freelance marketing writer and I share samples on my profile that are along a similar vein. Then, when it comes to connecting with other people, they can clearly see that I’m knowledgeable about the topic (and they don’t have to contact me directly to see my work!).
This was a method that worked really well for me, even after I’d completed the connecting process. I managed to gain two clients who had blogs within the digital marketing niche who found me through searching for “freelance marketing writer”, viewing my samples on LinkedIn and asking me if I was available to write for their website.
Not only does sharing live samples on your LinkedIn profile make it easier for the potential client to view your work, but it filters out clients that may not be suitable for the writing services that you offer.
I do this by copying some of my blog posts and publishing them on Pulse to reach a new audience. This then shows on my profile like this:
3. Connect with other people
Once your profile is fully optimised, it’s time to start building your connections!
Start with searching for companies that you’d love to write for. If your niche is technology, try to find technology companies that have an inactive or unfulfilled content strategy (hint: start with their blog!).
With my writing niche being digital marketing, I did a Google-search for local marketing businesses. I made a list of those that didn’t have a regular blog posting strategy on their website (or any at all), and looked around the company’s website for on-site content pages that I thought I could improve or build upon.
Then, I took a look around LinkedIn and find the content marketing manager who worked at each company by searching for the business’ name along with “content manager” or “content executive”.If you're not using LinkedIn as a freelancer, you could be missing out! Click To Tweet
I then sent them a personalised connection request, subtly mentioning that I was a freelance marketing writer who noticed that their blog could lead to them missing out on traffic and/or customers. I also explained the simplest method to get in touch with me, and referred them to my email address if they had any more direct questions since I’m able to reply quicker.
Although your connection introductions may not result in an instant response, you can build a rapport by regularly posting LinkedIn updates about what you’re working on and the pieces you’ve published. From articles on your blog that focus on your niche to a piece that a current client is happy for you to share, ensuring that you’re regularly posting relevant updates to LinkedIn helps to stay at the forefront of a prospective client’s mind and puts you ahead of the competition for when it comes to hiring for their freelance opportunities.
As you can see, finding clients through LinkedIn doesn’t have to be a long-winded strategy. Although it’s not an instant-results form of pitching, investing time can be worthwhile in the long-term!
Now, LinkedIn forms a crucial part of my pitching strategy and with just over four months being highly selective on the content I share, the connections I make and the way I brand myself, it is now bringing in almost half of my weekly enquiries.