5 LinkedIn Features Every Freelance Writer Should Use - Make a Living Writing

5 LinkedIn Features Every Freelance Writer Should Use

Carol Tice | 37 Comments
Susan Johnston has advice on LinkedIn for freelance writers. Makealivingwriting.com

Susan Johnston

By Susan Johnston

Are you on LinkedIn yet? If not, what are you waiting for?

This professional networking site has progressed beyond its early roots as a job-hunting tool and resume directory into a vibrant community of well-connected professionals in virtually every industry.

Here are five features you may not know about—but they can help you build your network and boost the likelihood of landing new freelance projects through the site.

Most of these are available with a basic account, but Premium users get even more features and search customization options.

  1. LinkedIn Skills. Thousands of professional writers use LinkedIn, but LinkedIn Skills can help you get a leg up on the crowd by showcasing your specific skills. Do you specialize in writing white papers or nonprofit grants? Have you created video scripts or executive speeches? Are you a technical writer or a features writer? Whatever your specialty (or specialties), adding those areas of expertise to your profile through this feature allows prospective clients in need of their skills to find you more easily.
  2. Saved Job Searches. Although many of the jobs listed on LinkedIn are full time, occasionally you’ll see freelance gigs as well. Instead of checking back periodically for new opportunities, create a “saved search” for whatever keywords you’d like and LinkedIn will notify you via email when new opportunities with those keywords are posted. With a basic account, you can save a limited number of job searches by clicking the word “save” once you’ve typed in your search terms on the jobs homepage.
  3. Introductions. You may already know about InMail (LinkedIn’s messaging services) and recommendations (which allow you to include testimonials from clients or colleagues on your profile). Introductions are another handy feature. Say, for instance, you’re searching for editors at a trade publication and you see that someone from your writer’s group is connected to an editor you’d like to contact. Now that you know they’re connected, you could ask your colleague for an email introduction or you might request an introduction to that editor via LinkedIn, where the editor can see your credentials all nicely arranged in a polished format for instant credibility.
  4. Blog Integration. LinkedIn offers all kinds of cool apps that will automatically sync with your profile, such as Twitter updates, travel updates, and more. I’d be careful with those if your tweets err on the casual side (after all, LinkedIn is a professional network) or if you tweet a lot. But I think syncing up your blog to your LinkedIn profile is a great idea. There’s an application specifically for WordPress, but Blog Link (powered by Type Pad) supports all blog platforms.
  5. Resume Builder. What do you do when a client requests a resume but you haven’t updated it since you left the Land of Cubicles several years ago? As long as you’ve been updating your LinkedIn profile, there’s no need to update a separate doc because so you can use LinkedIn’s Resume Builder to easily transfer the contents of your profile into a polished resume that’s ready to share online, export as a PDF, or print. Resume Builder includes several different templates and allows you to customize the information or rearrange the order so you’re not starting from scratch. NOTE: LinkedIn no longer supports Resume Builder.

For more LinkedIn tips specifically for freelancers, check out Susan Johnston’s new book LinkedIn and Loving It, due out on September 21 through Rockable Press. (Yes, I got a sneak-peek, and I recommend and affiliate sell it.) Her writing has also appeared in The Boston Globe, Self Magazine, and on dozens of websites and blogs. She blogs at The Urban Muse.


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37 comments on “5 LinkedIn Features Every Freelance Writer Should Use

  1. Julie Mello on

    I have recently rejoined LinkedIn after closing an account years ago because I didn’t use it. Now, it doesn’t seem to be a choice. Without a LinkedIn profile, it’s as if you don’t exist. At any rate, in the past week or so, I’ve already started to enjoy it and look forward to learning more about how to effectively use all of the functionality of the site. I read LinkedIn for Dummies, and I enjoyed your tips here.

    My question: In your opinion, what’s the biggest cultural faux pas a person can make on LinkedIn. I’d like to avoid it if possible. Perhaps it’s saying, “faux pas?”

    • Carol Tice on

      I think without a writer website you don’t exist — but with no LI profile, you just don’t exist to the many great prospects who use LI as a big search engine for finding freelancers. 😉

      Just InMail people you don’t know and ask them for work — get you unconnected and reported to LI real fast.

    • Carol Tice on

      We didn’t have a call today! Our Open House call on earning from your blog is tomorrow (Thurs 9/20) with Derek Halpern, 12 PDT…see the link above at the bottom of the post.

  2. Madeleine Kolb on

    Thanks Susan and Carol, I didn’t know about the Skills feature either, so I added that and I also used the resume builder to complete my resume. I get the sense from you two that a small amount of time on LinkedIn can yield big dividends. Well done!

  3. CJ on

    Thanks Susan – like many readers, I updated my profile as soon as I read your piece. I look forward to hearing you tomorrow in the Den too – Carolyn

  4. Ayo on

    Timely tips Susan.

    I just updated my LinkedIn profile about a week ago. Now, I have a handful of tips to fully harness the connections on LinkedIn.

  5. Monika on

    I have to say that you really have a good tips and what a great article you have. Sounds like you need to do broader searches — I used to search nearly every day on ‘writer’ or ‘copywriter’ and find reams of listings.

    • Carol Tice on

      Yeah, same here. They’re mostly full-time gigs…but I like to hit those companies if they’re a good fit for me, and ask if they also use freelancers, which they often do.

  6. Stephen, the-freelance-editor on

    I’m coming into the conversation a little late, but another feature that I think has potential if used only sporadically is the update box. I’m just getting back into the freelance world after a couple of years off (not by *my* choice; LOL) but this Twitter-ish tool has proved good for drawing folks to my profile; then, if they don’t contact me directly, I use Ruth’s technique of backtracking who has viewed me. Thanks, all, for the comments and ideas.

    • Carol Tice on

      Feel free to jump in at any point, Stephen!

      I think keeping your status updated on LI at least once a week or so is important just so your profile continues to be updated and it seems like you’re busy and understand social media.

      I’ve also done well with reaching out to people who’ve viewed my profile. I mostly get fascination with how I knew they had viewed me. It has a pretty high response rate — think the novelty factor there is good right now.

  7. Josh Monen on

    Great article. It was funny because I was listening to a podcast by Dan Miller (author of 48 Days to the Work You Love) and he started talking about LI at the exact same time I started reading this post! I thought, hmm…I should probably invest a bit more time prospecting on LI. It is a great professional community.

    • Susan Johnston on

      Ruth, that’s a good one too! I had a lot of options to choose from, so that really ought to be #6. Thanks for mentioning. I’m curious how you use that information? Carol and I have chatted about her strategies, but I’d love to know if reach out to people who’ve viewed your profile.

      • Ruth - Freelance Writing Blog on

        I have reached out directly to some folks who were viewing my profile; especially if it’s clear given their industry that they are prospective clients and likely interested in content development. And I’ve had some success with that strategy, though I’m always sensitive to the fact that they are being ‘outed’ in a sense. It’s a bit Big Brother-esque, and the counter consideration is that I am careful about whose profile I view. I don’t want to seem like stalkarazzi.

  8. Fiona on

    I agree that LinkedIn is an incredibly useful tool. I’ve found several contacts and work prospects through the various groups. I’m always amazed when I hear writers saying that LinkedIn is of no use to the freelancer – to me, it’s invaluable.

  9. Marcia Frost on

    LinkedIn is great — until you have a problem. There’s been a glitch in my account for over a month and I can’t get past one tech person who has no concept of the English language and won’t pass my problem to someone who does! I have written to every LinkedIn email I can find (and tweeted) and no one responds.

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but LinkedIn is only good if it works perfectly because you will never get any help!


    • Susan Johnston on

      @Marcia: What a pain! I don’t work for LinkedIn, but I’m sorry you’re dealing with that. I know you’ve tried a variety of email addresses with no success, but have you tried joining the LinkedIn for Journalists group? http://www.linkedin.com/groups/LinkedIn-Journalists-3753151?trk=myg_ugrp_ovr Krista Canfield is head of consumer PR for LinkedIn and leads that group to show journalists how the platform works. She also does monthly (or thereabouts) call-in sessions to help familiarize journalists with LinkedIn features, so that might be a good time to ask about your issue. If not on the call, I think connecting with Krista would help get you some answers.

  10. Luana Spinetti on

    I’m a basic member on LinkedIn (for now) because I can’t afford the monthly fee with my current budget.

    However, LinkedIn has proven a great, professional and effective network for university and freelance contacts.

    I can’t get a clue of how Job Searches work, though — I never seem to find more than 2-3 ads there.

    • Susan Johnston on

      RE: Job Searches, maybe try expanding your search criteria? Sometimes clients are open to telecommuters so you don’t need to be in the same geographic area. Also, I heard from one of the recruiters I interviewed for the book that because LinkedIn charges for job postings, a lot of recruiters post opportunities in LinkedIn groups instead, so I’d recommend joining groups that are appropriate to your niche.

    • Carol Tice on

      Sounds like you need to do broader searches — I used to search nearly every day on ‘writer’ or ‘copywriter’ and find reams of listings. But I don’t screen for only freelance jobs. I often apply when I see full-time job offerings and ask if they need freelancers also. Got a great new market that way last year that I got a quick $1,500 of work from.

      I’m a basic member on LI too — I think you can get pretty far on there without going to a paid level. I get very high-quality leads from my profile alone…think I’ve connected with a couple of Fortune 500 companies just from being on there.

      • Luana Spinetti on

        Wow Carol! 🙂 Nice figures there!

        I get how it works now… Did a few experiments. Too bad companies in Italy look for too much detail when it comes to writers (degrees, previous experience, etc.). I will look up some international or US-based opportunities.

        Carol – have you ever written anything for the Smithsonian magazine?
        I found a small department today, on that mag, that pays $1,000 for a humorous story to be placed on the Last Page. It sounds nice enough to try.

        • Susan Johnston on

          If you’re finding that Italian clients aren’t receptive, then sounds like applying for opportunities in other areas might be a better strategy, at least until you gain the kind of experience that Italian clients want. I know that FreelanceSwitch.com (owned by the same company as Rockable Press, which is publishing my LI book) works with freelancers from all over the world so geography isn’t an issue there.

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