How to Create a Great Profile

Jul 18th, 2010 | By Allison | Category: Freelance Writing, Social Networking

The home base of any social networking presence is your profile. Every networking site is different. Some, like Facebook, ask you for tons of information. Others, such as Twitter, greatly limit the information you can input. Many sites fall in between. Regardless, here are some steps for creating the best social networking profiles possible:

Photographs

This is one of two pictures I use for *most* social networking sites, unless a professional photograph is requested. It’s inviting, since you can see that I’m a normal person at home, just like you, while still being classy (ie, there are no drinks, parties, etc in the background and I’m not making a funny face).

You want your friends/followers/whathaveyou to identify with you as a person, rather than just seeing you as this faceless professional writer. That’s hard to do if you’re just a question mark or silhouette. Instead, include a picture of yourself, preferably a headshot. It doesn’t have to be professional in the sense that you paid for the photograph. In fact, pictures like that may alienate the reader. It should, however, be professional in terms of content. That photograph of you bonging a beer at your college frat is better left offline!

I like to use a single picture on all my social networking sites. It ties them together. Of course, I’d been accused of looking like completely different people in every picture I take, since I change my hair color often and wear glasses only some of the time.

Link, Link, Link

Social networking is all about promoting your work. Include hyperlinks in your profile when at all possible. Although your individual pieces might be linked if the site has a social bookmarking function, people who see your profile will be interested to know all of the places where you write.

Journey Out of Niche

Some social networking/bookmarking sites are niche-specific. For example, I used to be a member of Ball Hype, since I wrote for a  football blog in the past. That doesn’t mean your profile has to be exclusively about sports. Whatever the niche, focus on that topic, but at the end of your profile, note that you are also “a freelance writer covering other topics like relationships, green living, and business…” or whatever the case may be. Include links. You might not get tons of hits that way, but every click counts, and if you have the profile anyway, you might as well promote all of your work.

Your “Home Base”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – as a freelance writer, you need to have a website. It’s just sloppy if you don’t. While your website my not get a ton of traffic every month, you need one place that aggregates all of the work you can do for clients, rather than any niche-specific work you do. I call this the “home base” site. Mine, for example, is ABContent – and it talks about all of the different kinds of work I can do. This appeals to a wider audience than just promoting After Graduation or any of the other sites where I work. Your home base website is what you should link most on your social networking profiles.

Think about it. Say there’s a client who sees me tweeting about video games, one of the writing niches that I commonly cover. He thinks, “Wow, I have some game-related writing work, I should contact this girl.” Through my profile, he finds ABContent – and that opens up a whole new world for him. He thought I was only a gaming writer, but now he knows that I write about tons of other topics, and he’s interested in even more work from me in many different areas. Moral of the story, promote your home base.

Customize

You need to be unique – just like everybody else.

Haha, that saying always makes me laugh. I’m a freaking goober. But I digress. The point it, your profile should at least be customized a little, even if it just means changing a few colors on the page so that you aren’t using the site’s generic colors. It shows that you’re actually a presence on the site.

A word to the wise, though – stay away from customization that makes your site hard to read, causes music to play automatically, or includes tons of moving gifs. Yes, I’m talking to you, MySpace users.

Log In

Many social networking sites tell visitors to your profile when you’ve last logged in. Sure, you may get all the messages from people sent directly to your email, but that doesn’t mean you should never log in yourself. I try to log into my social networking profiles at least once a day so that I’m seen as an active user.

The more active you are on a social networking site in general, the better your profile will be. You’ll have more messages from friends, and most sites track things you’ve done or stories you’ve submitted and bookmarked somewhere on your profile, making your profile more interactive.

Share your own profile tips with a comment below!

A version of this post, written by me, was first published on b5media’s Bizzia website. It is reposted here with permission.

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  1. interestingly i was going to ask u (before the i read the post) , if u think its better to have a website in place before launching a freelance business. my dilemma with giving a link with my twitter profile (@maverika) is this. i dont have a website, my blog stands defunct as of now, im not too sure if i should give my linkedin profile link.

  2. Yes, I would totally create a website if you want to start a freelancing business. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a bit about your services, and online portfolio, and your contact information. If you don’t have the money for a domain name and hosting, you can even set up something on a wordpress.com blog - just do pages with all the relevant information. Until you make a website, I would probably give out your LinkedIn profile link before Twitter. It just looks more professional.

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