I believe I have the right (or write) chops for a new potential freelance assignment, and only need to make the client realize that I’m perfect for the job. A tight resume, some solid writing samples and I should be good to go. Right? Yet as I started looking at the best ways I could truly position myself for this great opportunity, I realized my online presence needs upgrading.
For starters, why isn’t this very blog showcased more throughout my various profiles? After all, it allows me rewarding work with a talented partner, I get to have a unique connection with other writers and it sharpens deadline and research skills.
What about even the basics, like making sure my LinkedIn page is updated on a regular basis and feels fresh? Could there be other networking sites and social media avenues I haven’t considered for my own writing—maybe ones that aren’t always obvious targets for writers, but that are becoming more crucial to bolster cred?
Ironically, I have experience brainstorming content and creating successful social media angles for several clients and projects in the past. I’ve seen the kinds of powerful results that can be achieved by spending just a little time fine-tuning strategies. Why, then, is my own profile feeling lackluster?
I checked with a couple of colleagues to see if they have been diligent about maintaining and expanding their own online presence, and found many of them to be in a similar boat. These are all talented, engaging writers. Just a little time and brainstorming and they could have a dynamic profile worthy of their body of work. Yet they haven’t been giving their social media platforms the necessary attention.
Perhaps despite how creative writers are in general, we aren’t always the best marketers of ourselves. Come up with a catchy slogan or strategy to elevate awareness for a brand or a client? No problem. That’s a daily occurrence for many writers, especially those with agency or communications backgrounds. Yet being a savvy advocate for one’s own work? Not so much.
I believe there are several reasons for this. There’s the often critical nature of the writing (and rewriting) mind—and who easier to be critical of than oneself? It’s harder sometimes to find the things that truly shine in our own backgrounds than it is in the work of others. Another factor is we are just too close to the material—even memoirists might balk. Still, perhaps the biggest culprit is time itself —or at least, how we perceive we should use our time.
Whenever we do get a moment to improve our writing profile, we usually think of writing our next story or article. Making sure our bios and webpages are current (and as dynamic as they could be) is not always at the top of the list. While it’s true that having a dazzling social media presence with little actual substance is a worthless endeavor, setting aside a little “personal marketing” time may be just as important as carving out our actual writing time.
So what’s a busy writer to do?
Award-winning freelance writer Carol Tice offers LinkedIn tips on her great blog Make a Living Writing, and notes the importance of using key words to enhance a writer’s profile. Tice also reminds us in her article that LinkedIn can be a great resource for staying connecting with editors. She reached out to an editor via LinkedIn that she hadn’t worked with in several years, and ended up getting a referral to a new client.
Blogger and communications specialist Jessica Lawlor offers a terrific two-part article on The Write Life. Lawlor’s first post provides some quick tips for using Facebook, Twitter and Periscope (including creative ideas like sharing live broadcasts of writing sessions). The second part looks at ways for writers to enhance their personal brand using LinkedIn, as well as more unusual suspects like Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest (with suggestions like turning writing portfolios into creative Pinterest boards). Lawlor also reiterates the importance of using the right kinds of hashtags, as well as just the right amount of tags, to maximize the impact of your posts.
Lucy V Hay showcases four key platforms that have worked well for her in a post on her blog Bang2Write. In addition to Twitter and Periscope, she also suggests Quora and About.me (you can even check out her own profile). Hay’s article not only estimates how long it takes to set up these various platforms, but also what amount of time you should devote each week for their upkeep.
What’s particularly inspiring in Hay’s article is that even though widening networks make take some time, the actual maintenance can indeed be manageable. Just minutes, really. And that makes it easy to become a habit.
So now as I prepare to apply for this new opportunity, I’m going to be marketing myself with the same level of creativity and enthusiasm that I’d give to any other client. After all, with so much time spent working at my writing, why not have my social media platforms working a little harder for me, too?1