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Does Your Profile Need a Facelift?, President’s Post by Laura Stigler

01 Jul 2019 8:04 PM | Cynthia Tomusiak (Administrator)

No, this is not about the profile we all examine critically in a 3-way mirror. (I do, anyway.) I’m referring to the profile you have posted on IWOC’s Online Directory. The one that is your business’s calling card, posted to capture clients from all corners of the globe who are in search of professional independent writers in Chicago. The one that could make a difference in hiring you – or someone else. Far be it from me to be critical of that profile either. But I’d like to suggest a few places where you could nip and tuck that may help you optimize your opportunities for garnering more work – tips taken from analyzing the profiles of those who get work through IWOC. And lots of it.

First, you must know...

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1000 times. But it bears repeating for the 1001st: Clients don’t necessarily know who you are, or that you even exist. (Brutally stated, but true.) So when they go a-Googling for freelance writers, they won’t be entering your name. They’ll be entering such keywords/phrases as “Chicago freelance writers” – or variations thereof. When they do, IWOC will come up on the very first page, if not in the top 3 rankings. They’ll then go to www.iwoc.org, click on “Find a Writer,” and enter a specialty or field of expertise. If it happens to be one of yours, your name will pop up. Amongst the millions of writers the world over, clients will be reaching out to you. No cold calling needed on your part. That’s called a “warm lead.” Cool!

So now that clients are eyeballing your profile, ask yourself: Is it attractive enough? I don’t mean in the glamour-puss sense. I mean in the business sense. Will it attract them? Make them feel that you’re the writer who can save their day and then get them to contact you? Following are points to ponder that may very well raise your chances of getting them to do just that.

1). You oughta be in pictures.

That headshot of yours. Is there one? Or if so, is it one of those generic “silhouettes” that look like you’re in a witness protection program? Why the mystery? Post a real picture. Doesn’t have to be shot by Annie Leibowitz. Just make sure it’s of good quality. Clear. And that you look professional – but approachable. It’s been scientifically proven that words accompanied by pictures are far more likely to be read. The same, I would venture to guess, would be true for your profile.

2. The “Summary” section

Consider this to be your elevator speech. On a 3-story elevator ride. You have about 30 words to grab potential clients by the collar. So cut out the fat and make sure every one of those words carries its weight in gold. Thoughts to consider:

  • What kind of writing do you do? Summarize it in sharp, concise terms. Think of your words as hors d’oeuvres. Small bites that pack a tasty wallop.
  • What is the biggest benefit you can offer clients that would separate you from the pack?

3. The difference is in the “Details” section

Here’s the section where you get to flesh out the “Summary.” Several thoughts:

  • While “business speak” is never a mistake, it also never hurts to let your personality shine through. If you want to inject some humor, why not? Use an unconventional adjective? Go for it. You’re a writer. You’re allowed!
  • The wall of copy. Nothing can be more daunting to a reader than seeing a solid copy block that’s as long as a train of CVS coupons. Without any breaks in between. Break it up, kids! Into more easily digestible paragraphs.
  • The Details section is not for merely slapping up your résumé. Nor is it making the best usage of the space by just entering a laundry list of what you already have listed in your listings! This is your first chance to showcase your writing ability and form a narrative that flows. (NO TYPOS, PLEASE!) Here is where you get to put meat on the bones, expanding for instance, on what you offer, your strong suits, ways in which you’ve helped clients solve problems, etc. As for your résumé, consider attaching it to your profile as one of your samples – and mention that.
  • • Afraid to sound like you’re bragging? It’s ok. It’s not bragging if it’s true! You’re just being confident about your accomplishments, abilities and problem-solving savvy. For the record, clients love confidence. It puts their mind at ease.
  • • Here’s a BIG secret: If one of your areas of writing isn’t on the Expertise or Specialties list, state it in the Details section. Example: Let’s say one of your specialties is writing about pet care. Include it in your narrative. If a client does an “Advanced Search” under the “Details” field and enters the word “pet,” your name will come up. Ka-ching!

4. If you’ve got links, flaunt ‘em.

Post the links to your Social Media platforms, blogs...but especially, to your website, where clients can really drill down into who you are and what you do. And speaking of websites, if you’re going to direct clients there, be sure your site looks clean, contemporary, is up-to-date and easy to navigate. Your website is what will most likely motivate a client to get in touch.

5. As for sewing up the deal...

That’s out of IWOC’s hands -- and in yours. But at the very least, through a strong, engaging online profile, you’ve increased your chances of attracting a client’s attention and bringing them to the table. The potential for landing more business? Lookin’ good!

- Laura Stigler

* "Life in the Freelance Lane: Business Basics for Freelance Writing Success" is presented regularly at various venues throughout Chicago and surrounding suburbs. Regular speakers are Jeff Steele and Laura Stigler, along with alternating presenters George Becht, Sally Chapralis and David Steinkraus. If you'd like to join our speakers roster or host a presentation at your venue, please contact president@iwoc.org or scribsteel@ameritech.net

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