You are what Google says you are.
Whether you like it or not, your online presence says a lot about you – your hobbies, friends, preferences and even personal beliefs. If you wish to build a strong personal brand as a freelancer, invest in your online presence.
Pay attention, though. This doesn’t mean you should build yourself a freelancer fake profile. Focus on highlighting your skills and strong points, without lying about yourself.
Your personal online presence is the key to effective networking and to get more gigs as a freelancer. That’s why it’s important to keep a balance between what you are and what Google says you are.
If you’re an authority in your domain, make sure Google knows that. As a freelancer, you want to be visible if people are looking for your areas of expertise. However, if you’re still building your career, be honest about it. People will eventually learn the truth. And there’s nothing worse than a false online image because it creates expectations you won’t be able to meet.
Check these seven simple steps that will help you optimize your personal online presence for effective networking.
#1 Ask Google Who You Are
The first step towards building a better online presence starts with a Google search. You need to know where you stand, in order to improve your online image.
Start by typing your name. Then research using different keywords:
- your name plus your blog
- your name plus your job
- your name plus your hobby
- your name plus your hometown
Try several combinations. You’ll be surprised at how results change once you add these new keywords.
If some of the results don’t match your current status, then you should try to change them or move them down in the search results, in order to keep them away from page one.
If you find outdated information about you in various publications, you have the right to contact the owners and ask them to correct the errors. In some cases, you can even request them to remove the data. Or, you can ask Google to remove the website from search results.
If you have no substantial reason to ask for changes, you can still do something about it. Bring newer and better results to the first page.
#2 Build or Update Your Freelancer Website
The most efficient method for optimizing your online presence as a freelancer is to build a website. Personal websites or resume websites are a professional way of telling people who you are and how they can work with you.
If you already have a website, make sure it’s updated and still reflects who you are and what you do. Update your working status, publish recent photos, and add information about your latest projects. Your website is the perfect place to showcase your skills as a freelancer.
If you start from scratch, you can use a CV website template to have your website ready in less than an hour. You need to come up with great content, though, to make it to page one in Google searches.
Pay attention to these four major elements:
- Design – choose a simple layout, with a minimalist design and a neutral color scheme. The more colors you use, the harder it is for your readers to keep their attention on what you say. Look at other personal websites for inspiration. There’s plenty of free templates you can use to make your resume website look like the one that you admire.
- Grammar – edit your content to keep it error free. No one likes to work with people who don’t pay attention to details. Grammar is essential, whether you are a financial consultant or a graphic designer. You can use an app, like Grammarly, to polish your texts.
- Visuals – publish your photos, when you can. If you aren’t able to come up with creative illustrations, then use stock images for free. Don’t download the first photo you find on Google. In most cases, it belongs to someone else, and you don’t have the right to use it without attribution. Use images for free from stock photo sites, instead.
- Examples – the best website design and texts will not help you to get more people reaching out to you if you do not demonstrate your experience. Show what you have done as a freelancer. List some previous clients and maybe even ask them to provide some quotes. This will help to build trust with all those prospects.
Web hosting is essential, so choose a reliable provider. Make sure your website will load quickly and will support a large number of visitors at once. Choose a web hosting that offers content distribution network (CDN), as this will increase your visibility for search engines.
#3 Optimize Your Social Media Presence
Almost 2.5 billion people use social media on a daily basis, and the number will grow by 2020. People like sharing information on Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, and other social media channels.
Effective networking means being where people can connect with you quickly. So, you need to be on social media to get in touch with potential business partners.
Not all social networks work the same. Identify the right places where you can start selling yourself. Then do some social media optimization to increase your visibility online:
- Link your social media channels to your website. This way, people who find you online can get to your Facebook or LinkedIn profiles with a click. This simple trick makes communication in real time easier.
- Publish relevant information on a regular basis. Social media post have a short lifespan. Your posts get onto newsfeeds fast, but they’re easy to forget with the consistent flow of information. Update your statuses often, on various social networks.
- Interact with your audience. Answer messages and comments. Find time to deliver accurate information when people ask for your help. The way in which you treat your connections says a lot about you.
- Use branded images. Just like for your website, on social media you need to publish high-quality visuals. A picture speaks 1,000 words, and most people pay more attention to your photos than to your text.
- Include keywords in your updates. Most social media channels have integrated Search buttons. With the right keywords, you can increase traffic on your page.
Don’t waste your time building optimized pages on all social media. Focus on those that can help you develop an active network. If you’re a graphic designer, for example, focus on visual channels, such as Pinterest or Instagram. If your target is professionals, then invest your resources in LinkedIn.
Facebook is also a good source for traffic when you’re looking to engage a broad audience. A Google account can help you build a better online reputation, so consider the opportunities of joining Google+.
#4 Update Your Profiles Periodically
No matter what channels you use, make sure you have a fully updated profile. Ensuring profile completeness can help you gain trust, as it shares all the information people need to know about you.
Use your full name, give your updated contact information and publish a recent photo of you. The image you share on your profile gives people vital clues about who you are. So, no matter how much you love your pets or your car, don’t publish their photo where people expect to see your face.
Don’t ignore photos you’re tagged in. Most of them are public, and you risk sharing too much from your private life with people who connect with you for professional purposes.
You can restrict access to some personal posts if you think that’s necessary. Keep an eye on privacy rules and set your accounts to give yourself some private online space, away from strangers’ eyes.
#5 Maintain a Singular and Authentic Voice
You can’t be a Republican on Twitter and a Democrat on Facebook. Public posts should all express the same values. Yours. Be authentic, don’t try to create a fake image online. People appreciate honesty and authenticity in both personal and professional lives.
Double honesty with politeness. There’s a fine line between being honest and being rude. Don’t try to impose your beliefs on people as though they are absolute truths. And make sure you express your opinions as opinions and don’t deliver them like facts.
Learn to write as you speak. When you meet someone for the first time, you don’t talk about special offers or prices. It’s the same when people open your website or your Facebook page. Tell them a story before asking them to buy anything.
Try to use the active voice in your web content of any kind. This way, your message will be stronger, and people will be more motivated to engage with you.
#6 Publish High-Quality Content
Content is king when we talk about optimization. You need good content to become visible online and rank higher on Google. What’s more, great content means a substantial portfolio that tells potential employers or clients about your skills.
Invest time and energy in crafting informative articles. Try to give accurate answers to questions people ask online. Whether you publish guest posts or you write for your website/blog, deliver the best piece of content you can come up with.
Always create original content. Google algorithms (and internet users) penalize duplicate content and plagiarism. This doesn’t mean you can’t use other articles as sources. In fact, having good, credible sources is an excellent technique to boost your SEO. It only means you can’t copy and paste content and promote it as if you’ve created it.
Your content should help people. Wrap it in an easy-to-read structure. Add visuals – relevant photos, infographics – and videos, when you can. Then make your content easy to share online, to reach higher audiences.
#7 Connect with Important People
Influencers and experts in your niche can help you optimize your online presence. Get involved in conversations on their pages, add relevant comments and try to come up with useful information to help other users.
Being connected to professionals gives you the possibility of learning new and useful things in your field. And this helps you get noticed. If one of these experts also mentions you online, Google will see it, and it will show up in search results when someone’s looking for you online.
Being social and investing in outstanding content are both essential steps when aiming to optimize your personal online presence as a freelancer. However, an optimized online presence doesn’t happen overnight.
You need to create a kickass online presence – a good-looking and functional resume website, social media accounts, and guest posts on blogs in your niche.
This way, high-quality content written by you (or about you) will reach page one on Google searches. You can control what people find about you online, as long as you’re willing to spend the time boosting your online image.