A guest post by Emma Lander

Freelance writing can be a tough career path especially when you’re just starting out. It can also be incredibly rewarding – you get to set your own hours and choose your own clients – essentially you get to work how you want, when you want.

Some of the difficulties freelance writers face are finding great clients, combating loneliness, struggling with niche choices and more.

The good news is there are tools and services available to you that can help you get through those challenging first few months and beyond.

In a previous post we explored where to find a freelance writing jobs, which talks about networking sites, job boards and so on.

Today I want to talk about LinkedIn – the professional social media platform that will help you on your journey to becoming the freelance writer that you want to be.

Here are five reasons why LinkedIn is the platform you need to explore.

Community

Freelance writing can be a lonely job. Usually you work from home by yourself, you might sometimes need to visit client sites, conduct interviews for your articles or jump on phone calls with potential leads, but most of the time it will be you, your laptop and your coffee … a pet if you’re lucky.

On top of this your family and friends just don’t really understand what you do. Whenever I tell my family I’m a copywriter they just look at me blankly – they try to understand but really, no one will get you like a fellow writer. They understand the client nightmares, the joys of great feedback, the perils of writer’s block.

LinkedIn provides you with a wonderful community of freelance writers at all levels of their career – some are just starting out and nervous about taking their first steps, others are well established and ready to hand out advice left, right and centre.

In my experience LinkedIn users are a wonderful bunch of folks who want to see you succeed. It doesn’t feel like a competition, it feels like collaboration – everyone is working to help everyone else.

For motivation, inspiration and helping hands you needn’t look any further.

Networking

LinkedIn is used by literally millions of professional people and a lot of those people are decision makers within their organisation. Those decision makers are sometimes looking for, you guessed it, writers.

In order to stand out you will need to fully optimise your LinkedIn profile, to do this there are some things you will need to consider:

Header Image – use your company name/logo to make your page personal, it’s a great idea to add your contact information to your header image too so prospects can easily get hold of you

Photo – a professional looking headshot is an absolute must in establishing yourself as a smart business owner. No photo makes it look like you’re not really using the site and a “fun” photo might just give off the wrong vibe.

Visible Niche – if you have a niche put it in your headline so it’s one of the first things people see when they view your profile.

People like information to be handed to them, they won’t spend time digging around to find out about you – if you don’t capture their attention they’ll be gone.

I have been using LinkedIn for five months now (since the start of my freelance writing career) and I have so far had five leads contact me directly via LinkedIn.

It might not sound like a lot but when you’re just starting out with no portfolio and no experience one lead coming directly to you each month isn’t too bad.

Here’s what my profile currently looks like to give you an idea of LinkedIn optimisation – for me this has been the perfect marketing tool and I’ve grown my network considerably so far.

Job Board

The LinkedIn job board can be great for finding freelance gigs. When I first started looking on here I didn’t see too much but recently the quality of freelance job postings seems to have gone up and I am sure it is only going to get better as more people realise it’s the place to be.

To use the job board click on ‘jobs’ which you can find at the top of your LinkedIn page                           

Type ‘freelance writer’ into the search bar and select your location (for freelance work you can select worldwide as some of the positions are remote)

As you can see there are almost 600 job postings. It’s true that not all of these will be ideal as many require you to work onsite for the duration of the contract but I have found some gems to apply to over the last few months and I’m sure you will too.

Samples

When you’re starting out one of the hardest obstacles to overcome is the dreaded ‘so what experience do you have?’ question. No experience and no portfolio doesn’t put you in a desired position but if you don’t get hired how can you build your portfolio?

LinkedIn Pulse is a publishing platform where you can write and submit your own articles which then appear on your profile.

I often write for tech companies so I published an article called ‘5 Copywriting Mistakes Tech Companies Make’ it hasn’t had a huge number of views but it did result in a lead contacting me about potential work and I now use it as a sample piece when I’m reaching out to possible clients.

Your portfolio doesn’t have to be made up of dazzling clients in the beginning, it just has to be made up of dazzling writing so your target market can get a feel for your style.

Personality

Lots of people think that LinkedIn is a dry social site for boring execs in grey suits or solely used as an online resume – lots of people could not be more wrong.

Using LinkedIn I have found it to be a place where I can truly be myself. I have shared personal stories, both good and bad, I have shared advice that has helped me and I’ve started to show my network who I am. It was intimidating over time but my confidence is growing every single day.

You will find, by doing this, that some people will gravitate towards you and some will run a mile in the other direction – this can only be a good thing because it means you are attracting like-minded folks.

Yes, you might push potential clients away but if that potential client doesn’t like who you are and what you stand for then it wouldn’t be the great working relationship you’re looking for.

When you show yourself on LinkedIn you’ll find the type of clients that come knocking are people right up your street – and isn’t that one of the reasons why you started working for yourself in the first place?

As a new freelance writer LinkedIn has truly helped me – I have found people in the same boat as me to talk to, I’ve found freelancers with years’ of experience behind them who have gone above and beyond to help me out, I’ve found clients and I’ve found a place where I can grow and show my personal brand.

Marketing your business is an absolute must and LinkedIn is a platform that, with a little effort and a lot of consistency, can really help you stand out above the rest.