In this digital age, perception is reality. The best way freelancers and professionals can market themselves is online, but this kind of marketing needs constant updating to be effective. You may have up to a dozen different profiles, so it can get complicated trying to keep track of them. Keeping things streamlined and updated can also take up a lot of time - time you aren’t being paid for and time you might not have. Of course if you run your own business, the foundation of your online presence is your website, which then branches out to your social media profiles and preferred freelance platforms. If you're a career professional it's inevitably LinkedIn. There's a skill to making sure these profiles are all in sync with each other, but there are also some good reasons why you should make the time to manage your online presence and keep your profiles fresh and updated.
1. First Impressions Count
When someone lands on your home page, LinkedIn profile, twitter, Facebook or Instagram feed - to name a few - the first things they see start to form their first impression. The colours, the images and the volume of content all feed their initial thoughts. Because they don’t get to meet you in person to see how well you present yourself, or bask in your fabulous smile, they need to get a sense of these things through your online profiles.
If you can create a clear, concise and simple experience for them, they will be more likely to engage further with your online presence. You should pay attention to things such as making sure your images are the right resolution, that your profile photo is engaging and professional and that you're clear when talking about what it is you actually do.
If you have blurry images, too much detail, confusing or conflicting information, links or plugins that don’t work or incomplete sections, they'll become distracted and simply click away to somewhere else.
“Creating amazing worlds through human collaboration” does not tell someone you're a web designer, anymore than it tells them you're a medical researcher. It just gives them a vague notion about nothing specific that you think sounds impressive. They need to dig further to find out more about you, and in most cases they won’t and they'll be annoyed they even had to dig.
2. Perception Is Key
The first impression a prospective client gets, feeds into their overall perception of you as they read further. If they start at your site and make one judgement, then click through to somewhere else and make another, the experience this gives them will determine whether they perceive you in a positive or a negative light. Your profiles should reinforce your message and brand over and over again.
How your profiles are managed also contributes to their perception of you. Blank or incomplete sections, old work samples, broken links, lack of recent blog posts, links to unused social media accounts, all tell them you are either too busy, or too lazy to make this a priority. So how do they know you will be engaged and motivated enough for them as well?
The best way to build a strong first impression is to duplicate the same information across your profiles. This way they recognise they are still with you and don’t have to sort out what is new information and what is the same information, just presented differently. It also helps you with managing it regularly. When you have a new work sample, prepare it for the web then upload it across all your platforms in one go, rather than updating each profile individually, every few months. I use my LinkedIn profile as my primary source and update everything else, every time LinkedIn gets updated.
3. Personal Branding Matters
We're all trying to wade through the deluge of content every day, so if you can in any way make that easier for someone, you'll have the upper hand on your competition. If a client can land somewhere online and get a good impression, then follow a clear path and know they're still in the ballpark, their perception is strengthened and they'll stay with you to keep looking for what they need.
The visual experience should be positive and the content should be engaging, and together these build a brand perception around you that helps influence their decisions about you. The key to personal branding is consistency. Using the same name, tagline, profile photo and cover photo across all of your profiles is a simple strategy, but an extremely effective one. Information that is reinforced repeatedly and consistently has a much better chance of being retained in our memory.
4. Telling Your Story
This is where you demonstrate your point of difference. This is why clients will choose you over someone else. Everything you write, post, or share combines to tell the story of your brand – who you are and what you do. Don’t be unprofessional - you should share something of yourself without getting too personal, but talk about your work most of all. It’s one thing to list the skills you have, but being clear about what those skills are, duplicating them across your profiles and giving examples of how you did those things for different clients, will show them how you work, rather than just tell them. These examples build the story.
Be thoughtful about what you share on your profiles too. If you're sharing a lot of viral content that doesn't align with your brand or your work, then you're not engaging with your online profiles properly and will tell the wrong story about yourself. The approach of ‘throwing things at the wall to see what sticks’, is lazy at best. Refine your story, know who you are and the detail of what you do and then tell people about it repeatedly, in new and interesting ways.
5. Staying In The Game
While you're busily updating your profiles, another freelancer is doing the same thing. Keeping your work samples, skills, experiences and plans up to date, keeps you profiles fresh and current and ensures you remain a player in the game. Additionally, as you update your profiles, you may take the time to check out some other profiles too. It never hurts to see what the competition is doing. You can see where you have gaps to fill, what your strong points are and learn what other people in your industry are doing. These are all key to staying in the game!
Maintaining your online profiles can be time consuming, but freelancers always need to be marketing themselves and looking for work so it's one of those tasks in perpetual motion. This is a task that you will always need to do and will always need to make time for, to do it well. People across the globe are searching for people like you online while you’re asleep. If they can’t see what they need fast, they are just one click away from hiring your competition.
This is an edited version of a post previously published on twago.com