SoooOOooo,  you want to make money freelancing? Great! I often have writerly friends ask how I started (and this is where I explain my start as a freelance creative writer) but after that question another quickly emerges: How can I make money freelancing?

I’ll answer this question to different people depending on where they are currently in their “career” as a writer. Some people have lost a job and need to make money. Some people have had a powerhouse corporate career and are taking time to raise their kiddos and want to earn a little money on the side. Other people want to blast into the world of writing and take control of the reigns with a full-fledged business.

Today’s post is talking directly to the super-newbie, the rookie writer, the green freelancer. And here is the big shocker piece of advise: Get your online presence in order.

No, seriously. I schedule a monthly media day where I just move around my web presence and inspect things, make sure things are ticking and working and most importantly working for me and my business.

So when you’re new to freelancing, you have to know that when you say to your next potential connection (even if it’s your mom’s friend at the salon) that you are starting a freelance writing business or you’re contracting…they will google you if they have any interest in hiring you at all.

Therefore, step #1 is: Get serious about LinkedIn

  • Profile picture: Get a professional photo in business attire. Now I realize that some industries don’t necessitate the business look (I have a link who is a personal trainer so he’s lifting weights in his profile picture…makes sense [until he no longer wants to work at a gym]). No tank tops, no pictures with your kids (or someone else’s child like one of my links does). No sunglasses or goofy faces…save those for Facebook.
  • Be honest: In the summary part…honestly describe your abilities and what you are looking for in your next client. Be clear, be succinct.
  • Follow: Follow companies and organizations that align with the kinds of places you want to work or the brands you care about…they can be as big as Coca-cola or as small as your neighbor’s pizzeria. Follow inspiring people. Loved a TED Talk, follow that guy…loved a CEO’s commencement speech, follow that woman.
  • Join Groups: Join professional groups that make sense for your industry and that inspire you whether it is small business owners or professional women or your local branding agency.
  • Link: Spend 30 minutes and link with people from your email address book. Think about the people you’ve worked with in the past and make connections. Search LinkedIn. And once you start linking you can check out your link’s connections and then the world opens up.
  • Recommendations: Ask for them and write them. Write a recommendation and then ask for the favor to be returned to you. (PS: Six months ago I accepted a request from someone to write a recommendation for him and since he promised he’d write one for me I took the time and wrote a glowing note. He posted it on his LinkedIn profile and….nothing….I don’t hear from him….I write after three months to see when my recommendation would be coming…nothing….he reaches out to me for a project so we work together and I ask again for a reco…then I just found out you can delete a recommendation you’ve written so that’s what I just did.)
  • Link to your work: I know…you’re new, you don’t have any work. But you might. And believe me you can start blogging and boost your “past work” section pretty quickly. Ever written a poem? An article? An op-ed piece? Ever edited a brochure, written a grant, researched a brand? This is all juicy fodder for boosting your LI presence until you can update with actual work.
  • Engage: Ugh, is that word overused or what? But I guess it is the best word to use for this next piece of LinkedIn boosting advice: engage with the community. Read posts, like or comment. There are 332 MILLION profiles on LinkedIn…this isn’t an Iowa cornfield…just because you shaped up your LinkedIn profile doesn’t mean people just start writing you checks. In a calm, non-crazy way, pay attention and show your face in circles that matter to you on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn actually makes it pretty easy to get your profile shaped up. They’ll recommend people for you to link with, they’ll let you know who is interested in your profile, they’ll suggest how to improve your profile, etc.

It really is the place to go for the most up-to-date virtual resume. Once your LinkedIn account is nicely shaped and tells the story you want to have told about you…announce it to the world. Include it in your email signature and start sharing it.

LinkedIn has helped me learn about a CEO before I conducted an interview with him. It has landed me coffee dates that led to long-term writing work. It has helped me stay up on where clients move (because people change careers a lot!) so I can be clear about where they work and what they care about professionally. I’m also inspired by what I read on LinkedIn and see it as one of many vital tools for making contract writing work for me.

I just perused my own LinkedIn profile (with a vanity URL…did you get one? Get one: linkedin/com/in/clairedeberg) and I already see things I want to update and need to revise. I can’t wait for my media day to shape it up! It truly is ongoing…

The next phase of rocking your freelance writing career is the biggie: identifying your brand. I’ll share my little dramatic writing business story another time.

Until then…how has the LinkedIn community helped you?

What are YOUR thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: