Optimizing LinkedIn for Freelancers

This week I would like to share a guest post by Maeva Cifuentes, a location-independent consultant and blogger based in Barcelona, Spain. She ran this article on 1 August 1 2019. Although she is talking to translators, the principles for using LinkedIn apply to all freelancers. Just adjust it for what you do. I have reformatted the article for this blog, but changed none of the content. Enjoy!

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How to Optimize LinkedIn for Freelance Translators, by Maeva.

There’s a social media tool that so many freelance translators overlook: LinkedIn.

It’s such a powerful tool for sales, marketing, and personal branding. It’s literally where clients hang out, looking for opportunities to connect.

So you’ve just “uploaded your CV” and waited. And no results? Verdict: LinkedIn simply doesn’t work!

You’re. Doing. It. All. Wrong.

LinkedIn is a social media platform. Emphasis on social. Personally, when I outsource to translators and other copywriters, I almost never read their CVs. I look at their LinkedIn profiles.

Has it been taken care of? Is it optimized? Does this person share valuable content that demonstrates their expertise? Do they engage with other people in a meaningful way?

Most recruiters also look at the LinkedIn profiles of job seekers. Your LinkedIn profile is your personal brand and shows your efforts as a professional. This is not where you want to skimp on your efforts.

Here’s my guide to optimizing your LinkedIn profile for freelance translators.

Here’s what I’ll be talking about:

  1. Profile photo
  2. Background photo
  3. Headline
  4. Summary (+ keywords)
  5. Content creation

Let’s get started.

Breaking down myths about LinkedIn for freelance translators

LinkedIn doesn’t exactly have a bad rep, but too many professionals — at their own expense — fail to see the value in it. Over time, myths have been fabricated about the platform. Let’s tear these myths down:

LinkedIn is just an online CV.

It is far, far more than that. LinkedIn is a SOCIAL network, where you can meet people, share content, and establish your personal brand. It’s not a CV, it’s your whole story.

You have to be really serious on LinkedIn.

Yes, LinkedIn is a professional network, but you still need to show who you are. I know I keep rambling on and on about your personal brand, but it’s important these days.

If you’re working as a freelancer, it means you’re a one-person show. Big brands have personalities, and so should your professional ‘persona’.

There’s no reason that being a professional means you can’t show your personality. There’s no reason to be super serious if you’re always laughing normally.

Show your personality, it will help you find the clients that are aligned with you.

I already get enough work so I don’t need LinkedIn.

 LinkedIn is a great place to get clients. But even if you have enough (for now…always for now…) it should be used to establish your personal brand as a professional.

You shouldn’t connect with anyone you don’t know in person.

Really? Why? This isn’t Facebook. Have you heard of the law of 6 degrees of separation? It says that in theory, any person on Earth can be connected to another person through a chain of no more than five acquaintances.

Translation: the bigger your network, the better. You’re on LinkedIn for networking, not sharing your most recent heartbreak.

However, I have stopped connecting with other translators on LinkedIn (unless they send me a personal message that shows some kind of connection to me). I love connecting with them on Facebook or Twitter, but on LinkedIn I already have too many and the algorithm gets skewed now to only show my content to translators (I want executives to see it).

I want to see content from my target audience (so I know how they talk and what they’re talking about) and I want them to see mine. The algorithm shows you to the people you most interact with, so stop only interacting with other translators!

Nothing personal!

Now that you’re convinced, let’s look at the logistics of optimizing your LinkedIn as a freelance translator.

LinkedIn Profile Photo

I’ll take you down the transformation of my own LinkedIn Profile. Here’s what the header looked like to start. When you see the above, what do you think?

There are a few things to notice here:

  • Was your attention grabbed? Probably not.
  • The photo is old and doesn’t look like me anymore (you probably didn’t know that, but it still matters). This is important.
  • My arms are crossed in front of me which is a no-no, and the stance is a little too 90s business headshot style
  • This whole header is just boring and easily skipped.

Okay, so let’s start with yours. Your profile photo should be:

  • Recent (does it look like you now?)
  • Good quality (can be from a phone, but is it taken well, in good lighting, not pixelated?)
  • Close up (we need to see your eyes to establish a human connection)
  • Not covering your face (yes, some people have pictures covering their faces. Don’t do that.)
  • A snapshot of you – not just your face, but your personality!Does it convey your personal brand? Are you an open, friendly person, but look serious on your page?

Have you audited/updated yours? Good. Let’s move on to the next step. Your background photo.

LinkedIn Banner Photo

This is an example of the default LinkedIn banner photo. Is this what yours still looks like?

It’s time to move away from the default. It’s time to show you care, even if just a little.

People spend an average (or max) of 7 seconds on your profile before they decide to keep reading or not. That’s right. So even with the best “CV” (again, LinkedIn is not your CV) uploaded, the best-written summary, recommendations from Bill Gates himself, people might not even see any of that if the TOP part of your LinkedIn profile is not optimized.

Your background photo for your LinkedIn should serve a few purposes:

  • It should be eye-catching (but not overly obnoxious)
  • It should contribute to your story (do people get the right vibe?)
  • Choose an image that represents what you do or the industry you work in(if you translate sustainable energy texts, for example, maybe something from the sustainable energy industry instead of the Babel tower)
  • It demonstrates that you pay attention to details. Like a good translator should.

LinkedIn Profile Headline

Here’s what my profile looks like at the time of writing this. I update it all the time.

Last on the 7-seconds-or-under section is your headline, your title. This is really what’s going to capture the attention of others.

Use these 120 characters to show how you can benefit the reader.

Pro tip: Don’t write your headline in all caps. Please stop yelling at your readers.

If you’re reading this post, I assume you’re trying to best communicate your value as a freelancer and get the best clients. Maybe you’re targeting CEOs, CMOs or big-league decision-makers.

Make it easy to understand for everyone

So headlines like “ES/FR/RU>EN” are not something anybody other than translators understands. Please get rid of that.

Use your headline as a magnet. Not just as a way to tell your job title. It’s your personal headline, and it should be treated the same as the headline to an ad or a blog post.

Again, you have 120 characters. Use it to expand on the standard [Job title] at [Company].

Instead of just saying “Translator” (I know there are some of you out there), why not talk about the results you provide your clients?

Use it to draw people in.

LinkedIn Summary (+ keywords)

Okay, if they’ve gotten this far, it means they got past the 7 seconds and actually clicked on your profile! Tap yourself on the back.

If they think to click the ‘see more’ link, this is where you can really sell yourself. And by sell yourself, I don’t mean writing an essay about all the different degrees you have and companies you have worked for (unless you’re talking about results you got for them). I mean talk about how you can benefit your prospects.

In your summary (which should not be a big block of text – nobody is going to read your big block of text), you should answer the following questions:

  • Who are you?Introduce yourself briefly.
  • What do you do? e.g. “I translate prospect-facing communications from French into English for startups entering the British market”
  • Why do you do it? A bit about your passion, show your values here. Keep it to the point. Avoid any long blocks of text.
  • For whom? Write this so your target audience goes “hey, that’s me!”
  • How do you do it?Jargon-free, easy to understand, benefit-first language. By benefit first, I mean don’t write out all the logistics and features of your service. Write about the benefits (yes, I know it’s a ‘how’ section, but people are still better persuaded by benefits)
  • A bit about you:a small line about something personal
  • CTA:Call your reader to action. Tell them to follow you, get in touch, or visit a website (give them good reason to)
  • Contact info:Leave your email here so you’re easy to reach.

Remember to keep the lines short and sweet. I know it’s tempting to talk a lot. Resist that temptation. That’s what your blog is for. I have a blog cause I like to ramble on and on and it’s the only platform on which people actually respond to it. Your online profiles do not serve that purpose.

Content Creation & Engagement

Finally, the most important point of them all. Content creation and engagement.

I did a poll on Twitter a few days ago about LinkedIn posting activities. Seventy-seven percent of the people who responded said they never post on LinkedIn.

The thing is — once you’ve made a connection, nobody is going to go back to your profile. They aren’t going to remember you. There’s only one way for that.

You need to be present and keep reminding them that you’re there.

You probably post a lot on Instagram and Facebook. But most people won’t on LinkedIn. Why is that? This is where the money is.

Start by posting one thing. Then see if you can post at least once a week.

What you shouldn’t post:

  • Complaints about clients
  • Posts that are directed at other translators
  • Jargon-filled, translator-specific posts

What you should post:

  • Value-added content directed at prospects

I know that value-added is a loaded word. I used to want to bitch slap everyone who told me to provide value. What does that even mean?

Basically, value-added content will:

  • Give someone an idea that can help them improve
  • Give them an actionable tip they can implement straight away
  • Make them laugh
  • Give them useful stats

Make sure you’re targeting your CLIENTS here. Not other translators. Don’t know who your ideal client is? Well…that’s a topic for another blog post. You need to figure that out.

But I just don’t know what to say on LinkedIn!

Engagement is another way to stay fresh in people’s minds without creating content. If you really aren’t finding the juice to create your own content (which eventually I still recommend doing), start by commenting on other people’s comments.

Provide thoughtful responses that show you’ve read and appreciated what they wrote. Commit yourself to 10 comments a day.

I hope this helps. I recommend committing to a social media strategy. Even if only once a week.

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Enjoy Maeva’s posts on Business, Travel and Lifestyle. Click here: Maeva.

I’ll be back in two weeks. Next week, another story on jthine.com.

Smooth roads & tailwinds,

Jonathan

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