How to Power Up Your Freelance Writer Profile and Portfolio
You need another fingerprint.
This “fingerprint” is what will make you stand out in a swarm of freelance writers. This is your unique selling proposition, your most unforgettable quality, your signature.
In a Huffington Post article, this is called “author brand.” The post stresses the importance of building a brand for yourself as a writer by using Woody Allen as an example: When you step into a theater to see the latest Woody Allen movie, you’re expecting to watch something quirky and character-driven. If instead you found yourself bombarded by car chases and fiery explosions, you would be confused and perhaps a bit annoyed.
In fact, your brand is an essential element in promoting yourself as a writer or in marketing your book, blog, or website.
Today, we will discover the ways to determine, explore, and promote your brand.
How to Find and Establish Your Brand As A Freelance Writer
1) Identify your tone.
Which do you prefer more, logic or emotions?
The Wheaton College describes tone in writing as your attitude of delivering your lines. This attitude can be: objective or subjective, logical or emotional, intimate or distant, serious or humorous. “It can consist mostly of long, intricate sentences, of short, simple ones, or of something in between.
To be sure about your tone, you can imagine a situation in which to say the words being written. For example, if you are writing an academic paper, how would you “talk” as if you are giving a speech at a school conference? How would you talk to professors, deans or the board of directors?
2) Describe your voice.
According to an article by The Writers Digest:
Your voice as a writer is the authorial personality you assume. You put on different roles throughout your day, as the occasion demands: parent, boss, employee, friend, lover. Who are you when you’re writing an article? Some writers choose to play the savvy insider, the tout; others put on the mantle of teacher, instructing readers almost as though in a classroom; still others step up on a soapbox, wagging an authorial finger as they make their points (this last voice is one I don’t recommend for most occasions). Maybe you’re a bit of a wise guy when you write. Or perhaps you’re a kindly grandparent (whatever your actual age and family status), patiently explaining things to a younger generation that could learn a lot from you if they listen.
3) List down 3-5 topics you like writing about the most.
What topic excites you the most because it is something you are knowledgeable about and willing to explore more? What topics suit your tone and voice? What topics are in your comfort zone?
4) Describe yourself using three adjectives
By reviewing numbers 1 to 3, you can now describe yourself at least by using three adjectives. Writer Jeff Goins, in his blog, suggested this as an exercise to help you find and understand your voice.
5) Share a story.
You can tell a brief story about yourself or your career as a writer to people you meet, in your blog, or in an interview. This will help them remember you and see you in the image you want to portray. Are you the lively, witty Goldilocks of the blogosphere? Or are you the The Sage in the field content marketing? Who are you as a writer? How do you want people to remember your realness?
Moreover, you can also sail through the competition by emphasizing your brand in your profile and portfolio that you usually present or submit to clients.
There are three ways to promote your profile. It is based on the requirement or preference of your prospect.
1) Resume / CV
When you are applying to become a contributor of a magazine or newspaper, you are usually requested to submit your resume and sample works.
According to a Freelancers Union article, the style of a writer’s resume should remain traditional. Your first option can be the chronological style, with a list of your recent work experience below your freelance experience. The second option can be organized by skill/function and then chronology. “This means you’ll first give a list of 4-10 your skills and projects/titles by that skill. Something like this:
- Increased FishFriends membership by 4,000 members in 3 months
- Developed community guidelines for all 40 SuperFishy franchise Facebook accounts
- Designed new graphic strategy that increased click-through by 39% at GuppyMobile
The tips are to constantly document every project you accomplish and accompany it with a one-sentence description and to pick the projects or clients that are most relevant to the project you are applying for.
Your cover letter should summarize your work achievements and skills that match the requirements of the client. You should be able to explain the things you can provide them instead of simply describing yourself. Attached to the resume is usually the compilation of your sample works.
2) Built-in Profiles
There are sites with built-in profile forms that you can fill out, such as the staffing platform Elance.
According to its blog, the five most important areas of the Elance profile are Skills, Portfolio, Keywords, Service Descriptions, Groups and Photos/Logos. For skills, the site has Skill Tests and language skill tests that can add credibility points to one’s profile. As for the skills, Elance suggests starting the section with a paragraph introducing your accomplishments before listing them all in bullet points.
For the portfolio, you can showcase at least two articles and two visual design pieces if you are into content writing and graphic design.
Meanwhile, one is encouraged to upload a profile photo. Elance explains that “Clients are looking for online talent with qualified skills, but despite great collaborative tools available (like Workroom messages) a human connection can ease their concerns about remote work.”
These are their recommended profiles that you can use as guide and inspiration:
- Nix Solutions (Web & Programming)
- Jenifer Toussant (Admin Support)
- The NetMen Corp (Design & Multimedia)
- Synapse India (Web & Programming)
- The Write Genie (Writing & Translation)
- Media Financial Consulting (Engineering & Manufacturing)
- Rebecca742 (Writing & Translation)
3) Social Media Profiles
With the rise of social media, it has become one of the fastest way for freelance writers to attract clients. The three most popular sites that writers can turn to when they want to build their social media presence are LinkedIn, Twitter, and blog.
This site can actually help you get new clients because you can connect to key individuals, companies, and agencies that can hire you for content marketing and other writing assignments. To make an opportunity out of every connection, it is important for you to power up your profile. This means showcasing your skills, work experience, and sample works.
Here are five tips on how to make your LinkedIn profile stand out:
- Create an unforgettable headline, the lines that the audience would see beneath your name. Do not just say “I’m a freelance writer.” Add some adjectives, the services you offer, or the topics you write about. This is the chance to apply the tips from our discussion above about building your author brand. For the construction of the headline, you have to avoid the ten most overused words in LinkedIn profiles, and use those that fit your expertise. Aside from adjectives, you can mention an achievement that will capture the interest of the companies or write something that focuses on the benefits they can receive when they hire you.
- In the body of your profile, make sure that it is keyword-rich, contains your biggest achievements, and has the skills that most companies are looking for, such as communication skills.
- Use a profile photo that seems natural yet professional-looking. Avoid using logos or artwork. Companies would be happy to know that there is a human behind the name.
- As for the portfolio, you will find features in LinkedIn that allow you to: display your visual work, like published articles in newspapers, magazines, or websites, list the titles of those articles, your books, and other publications you’ve worked for, and share the different projects you’ve accomplished, those you consider as your key achievements in your freelance writing career.
To attract clients using Twitter, you have to make everything in your account focused on that goal. Your Twitter handle (your Twitter name) should already scream about what you do (e.g. @WordFairy, @Grammarnut, @MamaBlogger). It should have the keywords that define your service or your identity. Then, your Twitter profile should, like your LinkedIn headline, be filled with words that either show the things you can do for your clients or enhance your credibility (e.g. “Social Media Queen, Writer for Royal Companies” or “Social Media Enthusiast, Blogging Guru, Wordsmith”).
Use a photo of yourself. Avoid using the cartoon version of yourself as most spammers already do that. In your profile, you can also add your email address or put a link to your website, LinkedIn, or Facebook page. This adds credibility to your Twitter profile and assure clients of your being an established writer.
c) A writer’s website / blog
There are many reasons why a freelance writer like you should have a website or blog:
- It serves as a proof of your credibility and competence.
- It can be a compilation of your accomplishments, sample works, and testimonials.
- It may be your venue to practice your writing skills more.
- It can build your professional network.
- It will be the go-to of your busy clients when they want to know your services.
- It can serve as the hub of your contact details for interested clients.
- If you have a blog, it can help you show your expertise about the topics you write.
To achieve these, you need to make sure your author brand is seen and felt throughout your site. Here are some tips for you:
1.Keep the design of your website neat. Using more than three colors might send mixed messages about your brand, and then to your readers. Keeping the content of your website organized will help clients navigate through your profile smoothly. If you are not an expect on web design, you can actually hire technical support.
2. Make your contact information clear and accessible. As much as possible, your contact information should be visible in every page so wherever the client lands, they can easily contact you for hiring or queries.
3. Create an engaging headline or a tagline for yourself. This shares the same principle with forming a profile description for LinkedIn. Keep it focused on the benefits clients can receive by hiring you, on your expertise, or your style. For example: “Allan Cooper: Your Social Media Astronaut”
4. Use a professional photo and a short line about who you are. The caption will be an extension or an explanation of your headline.
5. Write a compelling About Me page. This page may contain any or all of the following:
- The pain, problem, or issue you can solve for the client through your writing skills
- Additional benefits you can provide your client
- Your background and achievements as a writer to establish credibility
- A quick overview of your website (what it is about, what the audience can find, or how to browse it)
- A list of your services
- Two to three testimonials
- Photos, images or videos showing the best highlights of your career so far
Adding testimonials will serve as evidence of your reliability and competence.Make sure to add the name, the position, and the company of the one who wrote the testimonial. You can also mention the services or materials you provided them.
- When you post an article on your Facebook page, Twitter, blog or LinkedIn, make sure it is not always about promoting your product, services, or your brand. Write about topics that will show you are an expert on them. Be generous with ideas, strategies or even stories that can help or inspire others. Readers, especially potential clients, get more attracted to that kind of content. By writing them, you will be seen as a source, a reliable writer, an asset. This kind of strategy will justify how you describe yourself in your profile.
- Connect with like-minded groups and the experts in your industry. By doing so, you will grow as a writer and it will give the impression that you are one of the trusted people in the field. Thus, an additional point to your profile.
- It may be easy to decorate your profile with words, but keep in mind that the best profile is always anchored on the quality of your output and how you relate to your clients. Consistency is the key.