The Ultimate LinkedIn Profile for Freelance Success This Year
Over the past few years, a LinkedIn profile has become a powerful tool in helping freelancers get steady, high-paying clients. More and more clients are using LinkedIn to find freelancers, and to check us out before contacting us about freelance work. Also, colleagues are using LinkedIn to check out freelancers before they make a referral.
In my 2021 survey of how freelancers market their services, 96% of freelancers who use social networks for business use LinkedIn. And 68% of the freelancers who use LinkedIn say it’s “important” or “very important” in getting clients.
In 2021, the use of LinkedIn to find and vet freelancers is growing. That’s great news for freelancers.
Because it’s so much easier when clients find us than when we have to find and market to them.
Also, when a client is searching for a freelancer or a colleague wants to make a referral, the client needs freelance help now. When we reach out to clients, up to 90% of the time, they don’t need freelance help right away.
How to Get Your Share of the LinkedIn Freelance Pie
Here’s how you can develop a LinkedIn profile that will help you:
- Rank high in search results when clients search for freelancers
- Impress clients who click on your profile
- Get more referrals from colleagues.
Develop a Complete, Client-Focused LinkedIn Profile
If you develop a complete, client-focused LinkedIn profile, then you’ll rank higher in search results.
When LinkedIn generates search results, profile completeness and relevant keywords in the headline are at the top of the search algorithm criteria. Other key criteria are your skills, common connections with the person who’s doing the search, connections by degree (1st, 2nd, or 3rd), and your activity.
Let me walk you through how to develop a complete, client-focused LinkedIn profile.
Complete Your LinkedIn Profile
Only 51% of LinkedIn users have complete profiles. So you’ll outrank almost half of all members just by completing your LinkedIn profile. If you have an All-Star rating, your profile is complete. To get an All-Star rating, you need to include the right content and have at least 50 connections. The right content is:
- Industry and location
- Profile photo
- Current position (under Experience)
- Two past positions
- At least three skills.
Create a Compelling Introduction Card
The top part of your profile is called the introduction card. The introduction card includes your:
- Profile photo
- Banner image
- Current position
- Contact info.
Your introduction card is the first thing clients see when they click on your profile. Make your headline compelling and your photo and banner image professional and clear.
Focus on Your LinkedIn Profile Headline
The most important part of your LinkedIn profile is the headline. You can use up to 220 characters to attract clients and make them want to learn more about you.
Clearly say what you do and how you help your clients. Use relevant keywords to rank higher in search results, especially “freelancer” and “freelance [writer, editor, etc.]” and your services. You can also include the type of clients you work with or other key information.
You don’t have to use all 220 characters. The old LinkedIn limit of 120 characters is usually plenty for a compelling, client-focused headline.
Here are a few examples of dull headlines and compelling, client-focused headlines.
Lori De Milto
President at LDM Company
Lori De Milto
Freelance medical writer of targeted content, on time, every time
Independent business owner
Freelance writer specializing in helping financial services companies attract and retain customers and clients
Freelance editor, delivering clear, accurate content to help small businesses succeed
Use Professional Images and Include Your Contact Info and Industry
Make the right first impression with a professional photo and banner image.
Look Your Best with a Professional Photo
Experts say that people with profile photos get 14-21 times more profile views than people without photos. And having a professional photo on your LinkedIn profile makes it much more likely that clients will take you seriously.
It’s best to hire a professional photographer to take your photo, which you can also use on your website. If you don’t hire a pro, don’t use a selfie. Make sure the background for your photo is neutral and clean. Make sure your face is centered and there’s a little space over your head. Don’t include your pet or kids in your LinkedIn photo.
The photo size is 400 x 400 pixels, with a maximum size of 10MB.
Use an Effective Banner Image
The banner image, sometimes called the cover photo, is the bar at the top of your profile that includes your photo. Your photo is on the left in the banner image on computers and centered on smart phones and tablets.
The default banner image is fine. If you use a custom image, make sure it’s clear and looks great as part of your profile on computers, smart phones, and tablets.
The banner image size is 1,584 x 396 pixels, with a maximum size of 4MB.
Include Your Contact Info
Make it easy for clients to contact you by including at least your email address and, if you’re comfortable, your phone number in Contact info and again in About. Also include your website in both places. This is basic, but freelancers often forget to do this.
Include Your Industry
Your industry is a key part of LinkedIn’s search algorithm. If you want to have a complete profile and rank higher in search results, include your industry.
Engage Clients in the About Section of Your LinkedIn Profile
The About section is the second most important part of your LinkedIn profile after your headline. And the first 220-270 characters with spaces count most. That’s what shows before clients 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.
Here are a few examples of the beginning of About sections that will bore or drive away clients and what do to instead.
Boring or Worthless
I’m actively seeking clients who need someone to write their medical documents. I work on . . .
Count on me for medical content that engages your target audiences. I help healthcare marketers and health organizations effectively communicate with patients, providers, and other audiences. (192 characters)
Boring or Worthless
I own MyLastName Company. I have skills that are rare among freelance writers and am passionate. . . .
Irresistible content helps businesses attract more clients and customers. As a freelance copywriter, I write irresistible websites, blogs, and other online content to help you build your business. (196 characters)
Boring or Worthless
I have been working as a freelance editor since November 2014. I enjoy editing . . .
As a freelance editor who specializes in working with small businesses, I deliver clear, accurate content that will help you impress your clients and customers—without spending a fortune. (189 characters)
Use the Right Keywords in Your LinkedIn Profile
Continue to use the keywords that clients are likely to use to search for a freelancer like you throughout About. Clients often look for keywords related to titles, so use “freelancer” instead of “freelance services,” and “freelance medical writer” (or “freelance ADD YOUR FIELD HERE”) instead of “freelance medical writing.”
Use other keywords related to your services that people will search for, like the type of clients you work with, your key services, and industry-specific keywords.
Include Just Enough Key Content
Focus the rest of About on how you help your clients meet their needs. 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 some samples of your freelance work under Media.
Include a Call to Action
A call to action tells 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 a call to action, with your contact information, at the end of About.
Show Your Best Work in the Featured Section
The Featured section lets you display your best work to anyone who looks at your LinkedIn profile. Below About and above Activity, you can use Featured to display your:
- Work samples
- LinkedIn posts or articles
You can add, delete, or edit the order of content in Featured. If you had any media in About before, LinkedIn moved them to Featured. Review what’s there and revise as necessary.
If you don’t have samples or anything else that’s relevant to add yet, that’s okay. It’s better to have no Featured section than one that doesn’t make you look good.
Social Media Examiner provides instructions on How to Use the LinkedIn Featured Section on Your Profile.
Highlight Your Experience, Education, Skills, and Projects
Under Experience, list your freelance business as your current position. Include “freelance” in your title followed by what you do (e.g., freelance writer or editor). Repeat some of the information from About here, including relevant keywords.
If you’ve had professional jobs before becoming a freelancer, list at least two of them here. Focus on what’s most relevant to your freelance work and your target clients.
And if you haven’t had two other professional jobs, include other relevant work experience here, such as college internships or part-time work.
Include Education, Skills, and Projects
Your education helps you highlight your expertise and experience. LinkedIn says you need at least three skills for a complete profile. People with at least 5 skills get 17 times more profile views than people without skills, say some experts. And listing skills is another way to rank higher in search results.
Adding relevant projects that you’ve worked on lets you highlight your skills and experience and helps you rank higher in search results. You can include projects from school here, which is helpful to recent college graduates.
Include Other Relevant LinkedIn Profile Sections
Other sections of your profile that are also helpful for freelancers are accomplishments and interests. The Accomplishments section is for these accomplishments: Projects, Organizations, Courses, Publications, Certifications, Honors & Awards, Patents, and Test Scores.
The two most relevant types of accomplishments on LinkedIn for freelancers are projects, covered earlier, and organizations. Under organizations, add your professional associations and your role in them. If you volunteer, including for professional associations, mention your volunteer work. This is especially helpful if you’re a recent college graduate with little or no work experience or a new freelancer. If you’re a recent college graduate or a new freelancer who’s taken relevant courses, add some courses too.
If you have other accomplishments that fit these categories, include them. But don’t worry if you can’t add more information to this section.
Interests include the influencers, companies, groups, and schools you follow. This section isn’t crucial, but it can be helpful to follow relevant people, groups, and organizations.
Make the Most of Your LinkedIn Profile
As you’re finishing your profile, proof for errors and visual appeal, create a custom URL, and make sure your profile is publicly visible. Proof your LinkedIn profile carefully for errors. Make sure it looks great on smartphones, tablets, and computers.
Make it easier for clients to find you with a custom LinkedIn URL. This also makes you look more professional.
If you want clients to find you on LinkedIn, then make sure your profile is switched on for public visibility.
Learn More About How to be a Fearless Freelancer
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