How Clients are Finding Freelancers on LinkedIn: What You Need to Know

If you want more clients to find you on LinkedIn, write a client-focused headline and About section and use a professional photo.More and more clients are looking for freelancers on LinkedIn. That’s the good news. But you only have 3 seconds to impress those clients with your profile, says LinkedIn expert Melanie Dodaro. That’s the bad news.

You also need to be able to impress clients who check you out on LinkedIn after being referred to you, meeting you, or getting a direct email or response to an ad from you. And clients will check you out online before deciding whether to contact you about freelance work.

“Your LinkedIn profile is your first online impression,” says Dodaro.

Sixty-two percent of freelancers who use LinkedIn say it’s “important” or “very important” in getting clients, according to How Freelancers Market their Services: 2019 Survey.  That number is an 11% increase over 2017, when 51% of freelancers said they get clients through the #1 business social network.

Make Your Profile a Client Magnet

In a list of search results, clients see your headline and photo. If they click on your profile, then they usually read your About section. That’s why your headline, photo, and About section are crucial.

A client-focused profile will help you attract and impress clients on LinkedIn. Your headline needs to use the right keywords and say how you help your ideal clients meet their needs. Your About section needs to go deeper into the needs of your clients and how you can meet need those needs.  And your photo needs to be professional.

Here are tips from Dodaro and me on creating a magnetic LinkedIn profile.

Use the Right Keywords on LinkedIn  

More clients will find you if you use the keywords they’re searching for. And more clients will stick around and read your profile if you use the keywords that they use in their work.

“To choose the correct keywords to optimize your profile for, you need to know your ideal clients,” says Dodaro.

The goal is to identify the search terms your ideal clients use to look for freelancers like you. If you do your homework, then you’ll be able to include enough of the right keywords to be found often. You need to understand the industry(ies) you work in and different types of clients (target markets) within that industry(ies). Professional associations and web-based resources can help you learn more about your industry(ies) and target markets.

If you visit some of the websites of your ideal clients, then you’ll learn the language they use. Look for common language used by different clients in a target market. Then use this language in your profile.

Here’s an example. I used to call myself a healthcare marketing communications writer. But when I was visiting the websites of some of my target clients a few years ago, I noticed they use the terms “content,” “content marketing,” and “healthcare content marketing.” So I revised my profile to include these terms.

Since clients often search LinkedIn by title-based keywords, you need to use the right title, and use it often. The right title for a freelancer always includes “freelance” followed by what you do, like freelance writer or freelance editor. Other keywords include:

  • Industry-specific words or terms
  • Your services
  • The type of clients you work with and their target audiences.

Include the right keywords in your headline, About, Experience, and Skills. Use the right keywords often, but make sure that they feel natural. Don’t “stuff” so many keywords in your profile that it’s awkward to read.

Write a Compelling, Client-Focused Headline

“The role of your LinkedIn headline is to get your ideal clients’ attention and make them want to learn more about you. Your headline will determine whether they will click on your profile to learn more or leave,” says Dodaro.

Your client-focused headline is the most important part of your LinkedIn profile. It can be up to 120 characters with spaces. This is plenty to write a headline that shows up in search results and compels clients to learn more about you. Clearly say what you do and how you help your clients.

Show the Benefit of Working with You

The benefit part of your headline—how you help your clients—is what makes clients click on your profile. After all, they’re going to have hundreds or thousands of freelancers to choose from.

Let’s use my headline as an example:

“Freelance medical writer | Targeted Content to Attract, Engage, and Motivate Your Audiences | On time, every time”

Freelance medical writer is my title. The rest of my headline shows some of the benefits of working with me and gives clients more information about what I do. The benefits are:

  • Targeted content
  • Attracting, engaging, and motivating their audiences
  • On-time delivery.

Paint a Compelling Picture

Your About section, up to 2,000 characters, is the second most important part of your LinkedIn profile.

And the first 220-270 characters with spaces count most. That’s what shows before people have to click “see more.” On mobile devices, about 102-167 characters show.

Make sure the first 220-270 characters build on your headline and offer a clear, concise client-focused message. Put as much of your key message as you can in the first 102-167 characters to attract clients viewing your profile on a smart phone or tablet.

“Paint a picture that helps people viewing your profile start to get to know, like, and trust you,” says Dodaro.

Focus on Your Ideal Clients

Don’t make About all about you. Show your ideal clients how you can help them.

Briefly summarize your services, and your relevant experience and background. Use bulleted lists for your services and anything else that works well in a list.

Include a call to action to tell clients what you want them to do. The call to action can invite clients to call or email you, visit your website, connect on LinkedIn, or any combination of these. Include your call to action, with your email address and if you’re comfortable, your phone number, at the end of your About section.


How to Write a Client-Focused Profile

Ultimate LinkedIn Profile Checklist for Freelancers


Show that You’re a Professional

Along with your headline, a professional head and shoulders shot helps you make the right first impression. Having a professional photo shows clients that you’re running a business, and that you’re worth the money they’ll pay for your services.

It’s best to hire a professional photographer to take your photo, which you can also use on your website and in other marketing. A professional photographer will make you look your best, even if you’re like me and hate to be photographed.

If you don’t hire a pro, then don’t use a selfie. Make sure:

  • The background for your photo is neutral and clean
  • Your face is centered and there’s a little space over your head
  • The clothing that shows in your photo is professional.

Don’t include your pet or kids in your LinkedIn photo.

Photo size

400 x 400 pixels

Maximum size 10MB

What Else Attracts Clients on LinkedIn  

While your headline, photo, and About section are crucial, other things are important too in helping you rank high in search results and impress clients on LinkedIn:

  • Other parts of your profile
  • Having a complete profile
  • Having a large network
  • Being active on LinkedIn.

Other key parts of your profile are:

  • An effective banner image
  • Contact info
  • Industry
  • Location
  • Education.

LinkedIn’s search algorithm ranks complete profiles higher. A complete profile has:

  • Industry and location
  • Profile photo
  • Current position (under Experience)
  • Two past positions
  • Education
  • At least 3 skills.

Your LinkedIn network and activity

Having a large network and being active on LinkedIn also help you rank higher on search results. In ranking high in search results, LinkedIn’s algorithm looks for:

  • Common connections with the person who is doing the search
  • Connections by degree (1st degree are strongest and 3rd degree are weakest).

Aim for at least 500 connections. Once you start actively building your network and engaging with the right people, it’s not hard to reach this level.

Being active on LinkedIn means sharing content and engaging with other people on your content and their content. You can do this in less than 2 hours a week.


How to Use LinkedIn to Attract Clients

Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Freelancers

Learn more about to how to write a complete, client-focused profile and how to be active on LinkedIn without wasting time.


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