Freelance Marketing on LinkedIn

Before you start this learning track, I recommend you complete Introduction to Social Media for Business so you’re clear about where LinkedIn sits in your social media strategy.

As we saw in the article on social media demographics, LinkedIn is the best place to be if you’re dealing with a business to business (B2B) audience. But don’t write off the business to consumer (B2C) potential there either. It’s also got an international audience, with around 70% of its audience outside the US. 

Though over the years it’s taken on more and more traditional social media features (it’s got hashtags, voice messages and stories), it’s still seen as more of a professional network. Right now, I would say that LinkedIn is my TOP social media site for finding new clients, and if you’re clear about who you’re looking to attract, it can work for you, too. 

If you already have a LinkedIn profile feel free to skip forward. But as you do, assess your profile with fresh eyes and see if you’re really making it work for you. You may need to edit your headline and about section, connect with new people, and join new groups to focus on finding freelance writing clients. And you may want to change the content you share so it enhances your reputation with potential clients.

Activity 1: Create/update your LinkedIn profile

As a business owner, you’re likely already on LinkedIn. If you’re not, now’s the time to start. Think of your profile as your online resume. In addition to the summary, fill in your last few roles (anything in the last 10 years) and highlight key achievements. 

Key parts of the LinkedIn profile are:

  • The headline – a great place to give a quick overview of what you offer and the kind of clients you want to attract
  • The “about” section – where you can tell your story in more detail, keeping the clients you want to attract in mind
  • Experience – where you list past roles and achievements
  • Recommendations – testimonials for your freelance services

You’ll also need a profile image and a cover image. Here are some resources to help you:

 

Key LinkedIn terms:

  • Connect: form a two-way connection with someone so you see their updates and can message them
  • Follow: a one-way connection where you see someone’s updates but aren’t necessarily connected to them
  • Recommendation: a written testimonial about someone’s services
  • Endorsement: a one-click recognition of someone’s skill in an area

 

Assignment: Set up your LinkedIn profile

Now WATCH:

Alternative assignment: update your LinkedIn profile

  • Does your LinkedIn profile represent the freelancer you are today?
  • Does it showcase your best recent examples of work?
  • Does it let people know what kind of clients and businesses you most want to work with?
  • Have you included links that showcase your best work?

Now WATCH:

Activity 2: Follow key people

LinkedIn is about networking, so start building your network. One way to do this is to import your contacts to the platform. I’ll leave it up to you whether you want to do this. For me, given that at one stage Gmail stored anyone I’d ever emailed, that made my contacts unwieldy, and I chose not to do this.

However, if you have a clean contact database, or are prepared to go through imported contacts manually, it’s a good way to cement the connections you already have.

But LinkedIn isn’t just about who you already know; it’s about expanding your network. That means getting to know new people. There are a couple of ways to do this:

  • Look through your contacts’ connections and ask for an introduction to anyone you’d like to connect with. You can do this by sending a quick message through the built-in messaging system. READ: Searching Your Connection’s Connections
  • Use LinkedIn’s search features to find people in different roles and industries you’d like to get to know. READ: Searching for People on LinkedIn

One rule: don’t ever use the default contact request.. Take the time to craft your own message – people are much more likely to respond. It doesn’t have to be long. Just make it human. 

Actually, make that two rules. The second thing is that if people accept your request, don’t try to sell them your services in your first message to them – that’s just bad marketing. Instead, try to form a genuine connection. One of the best ways I’ve seen this handled is with a personalized message, voice note or video to say thanks. It’s easy to do, and can make a good impression.

Note that people will also ask you to connect. It’s up to you whether you connect to everyone, or you’re selective about the connection requests you accept. My own policy is to be lightly selective. I refuse requests where the profile isn’t filled out properly and where I suspect the person is about to hit me up for an MLM scheme. And I prioritize connecting to people who are:

  • In business areas I’d like to work in
  • People I actually know
  • Fellow freelance professionals

Assignment: Identify 5 new people you want to connect with and send connection requests. Send a personal thank you to those that accept.

Activity 3: Ask for recommendations

One profile feature that makes potential clients trust you is recommendations from previous clients. The LinkedIn recommendation feature is a powerful way to provide social proof. It’s a public testimonial that backs up your own claims about your skills and abilities. 

If you’ve been on LinkedIn for a while, you’ll likely have a lot of connections, but it pays to be selective when picking someone to recommend you. Avoid asking people you barely know for recommendations. If they don’t know you well enough, their recommendation will be bland, and won’t help you. Choose someone who has an in-depth knowledge of your abilities instead, and send a recommendation request. Again, take the time to customize it. 

It’s worth knowing that sometimes you GET good recommendations by GIVING good recommendations.

Here’s how you can do that:

Assignment:

  • Request three recommendations from people who have used your freelance writing services
  • Give one recommendation to a favorite client

Activity 4: Share an update

LinkedIn lets you share text, images, or video in an update. When sharing on LinkedIn, always remember you’re contributing to your professional presence. So use updates as a chance to show your expertise (that doesn’t mean selling), raise awareness of your brand, or help people to connect with you as a person. 

When you share something, give your opinion or summarize talking points (I’ll admit that I don’t do this myself every time). Or ask a question to get discussion going. 

There’s plenty of information out there on LinkedIn best practices, but you’ll find, over time, that you know what your audience is most interested in. For example, I get most engagement on posts where I share stories people can relate to. Article links with my opinion and a key quote also work pretty well for my audience. 

To get more information on the types of information that work on LinkedIn:

 

Assignment: Post at least three LinkedIn updates this week: 1) ask a question 2) share a relevant resource or article 3) tell a story from your freelance business that has a key takeaway

Assignment: feature an update on your profile

Activity 5: Write an article on LinkedIn

LinkedIn includes a blogging platform. This can be a great place to post original material. Use the guidance from the blogging bootcamp to write a new article related to your business and include a call to action to send readers back to your website. For example, here’s an article I did about marketing to show my skills in writing about this topic: Using Scarcity in Offline Marketing.

You can also syndicate content you’ve already written that you have the right to repost. It never hurts to ask the blog owners for permission to do this. For example, this article: 5 Blogging Habits You Need to Stop Now is a repost of this guest article I did for IZooto: 5 Blogging Habits That You Need To Drop Right Now. I changed the headline and intro slightly. 

Assignment: create or syndicate an article on LinkedIn. 

Activity 6: Join a LinkedIn group

Groups are another great way to extend your network. LinkedIn lets you share content specifically for groups. When choosing a group, look for one that’s related to your business and active, with a reasonable number of members. You might find it difficult to stand out in a group with 100,000 members, but there may not be enough activity in a group with 100. The key to making groups work is regular participation. I ran an experiment with blogging and groups:

Assignment: Join a relevant LinkedIn group (remember, related to your writing niche). Visit the group at least three times a week to respond to others’ posts. Post at least weekly within the group.

Additional reading:

As a Black freelancer writing about anti-racism and diversity, I tend to go against LinkedIn best practices because the algorithms suppress that kind of content. Here’s what I’ve learned:

That’s it! Don’t forget to check in with me via the drop in sessions if you have questions.