Your guide to using LinkedIn as a freelancer

by Rachel Smith
13 August 2021

If you’ve ever wondered what you could be doing better on LinkedIn, or what you could be doing more (or less!) of, Jillian Bullock from LinkedIn Ninja Down Under is the woman to talk to. She’s a certified, award-winning LinkedIn specialist with wide-ranging marketing and direct marketing experience. In this Q&A, we chat to Jillian about using LinkedIn as a freelancer, how to approach new clients, what not to do and much more.

LinkedIn is a bit of a unique social media platform, isn’t it…

Definitely. Some describe LinkedIn as the professional person’s social media. Most conversations revolve around a person’s professional life and the content is more text-based conversations. To explain the differences, I’d say this…

Instagram – “Drinks with friends at gorgeous Palm Beach”
Facebook – “Catching up with friends…”
LinkedIn – “Seeing this gorgeous sunset last night made me reflect on the friends and colleagues I haven’t seen for a while. The risks we took starting our businesses all those years ago and the journey we each took. Some succeeded, some didn’t. But I’m sure all would agree that they were incredibly valuable lessons. If you had your time to start your business from scratch again, would you do it the same way?”

You see, the story is fleshed out a lot more to encourage reflection and conversation. This builds relationships which in turn leads to conversations that convert.

There’s quite a hilarious Twitter account called Crap On LinkedIn. Do you think LinkedIn deserves its reputation as the more cringey social media platform?

There is definitely some garbage on LinkedIn. I’ve followed two similar Twitter accounts for years as well as the one you mentioned. These are @StateOfLinkedIn and @BestOfLinkedIn which sure do give me a laugh.

However, if people design what they want to see within their feeds they can eliminate all this stuff quite easily. I mercifully don’t see any of the content that is on these Twitter accounts.

We often see journalists or other creatives being a little desperate on LinkedIn. They might do a post about how they’ve lost all their clients suddenly, and are open about wanting people to take pity on them and give them work. What’s your take on this type of marketing strategy?

I understand where they are coming from but people can smell desperation a mile away. The old saying, ‘give the job to a busy person’ is really how LinkedIn works for most people. When people are posting about being in action, it makes others to be a part of it or get in on the action. This is definitely harder during Covid and Lockdowns, but that’s why the hashtag #ThrowBackThursday was invented!

How can you stay visible and relevant on LinkedIn, without being one of those eye-rolling members we all love to hate?

Genuine content of your journey. What you are up to, what you are reading, what you think of what you are reading/ watching. There really is no destination so it’s the journey that counts. Visibility is up to each person and the frequency of their content. LinkedIn’s direction is to post around four times per week, but just keep in mind you can demote a post doing really well if you post again too quickly. You also need to consider the size of your network.

What are some better or more effective ways to market yourself and bring work your way using LinkedIn?

One of the best and easiest ways to market yourself on LinkedIn is posting effectively on topics that you know. Subjects not just about your work life, but also subjects you care about.

But content alone won’t be enough. The algorithms today on LinkedIn aren’t particularly generous so it’s really hard to get your content in front of your desired audience through posts alone. Therefore, a solid messaging strategy is also a must.

If you’re reaching out to potential clients on LinkedIn, how should you do it? What approach should you take and is there a script you use that’s particularly effective?

This is a question I get a lot. My answer is somewhat unconventional in that I never ever recommend you script messages. How do you feel when on the receiving end of templated stock messages? It’s boring, right? So why do this to others in your network?

Every person on the planet wants to be noticed, wants to feel unique and special. Scripted messages and templates are the complete opposite of this. They send the message, ‘You weren’t important enough to me to do an ounce of homework before I sent this’.

Each message should be based on the previous conversation or if the connection is just starting, there’s probably plenty of content they have posted, or text from their profile you can refer to, to start the business relationship off on the right foot.

Should journalists / copywriters / content writers and other creatives be publishing on LinkedIn – using it almost like another blog? Can you put your blog content on there in the hope of getting extra eyeballs on it, or is this a no-no? Especially for SEO?

Yes, you definitely can put your published content on LinkedIn. I encourage everyone to do so. In the very least each piece of work can be added to the Publications section with the URL link to where the blog/ article was originally published.

If you want to take it another step as I do, I also cut and paste that content as ‘Publisher’ article on LinkedIn. Many are reluctant about doing this because of duplication concerns with SEO, but according to many Google Experts I’ve interviewed one duplication isn’t a problem especially when you link it to the original source. The duplication problems occur when you copy content at least 40, 50 or even more times. Once or twice is actually considered amplification not duplication.

What a common mistake you see freelancers making over and over on LinkedIn?

Not giving context to your work when you share it on LinkedIn. Many freelances write on a handful of topics. As an example, let’s say you just wrote an article for a financial magazine about taxation. You may post the link up on LinkedIn, but as if people reading the post were already interested in taxation and had a financial background. The publication it was for was niche and the readership was specific, but LinkedIn has people from all walks of life and we need more context to even consider if the article is relevant. So always include that context when you post.

I know LinkedIn is rolling out newsletter functionality to selected members. How long will be until everyone has the ability to syndicate a newsletter on LinkedIn, and what could it do for their readership?

I’d love this feature too, but I have not read anywhere that it will be rolled out for everyone. If it is it won’t work anyway. I have +17,000 connections and there is no way I would follow all of their newsletters, just like now I don’t follow and read all of their articles. I strongly suspect LinkedIn will only roll this out for a selective few and how they chose that is anyone’s guess. Although I have noticed those that do get offered it are already using their Publications section frequently.

Is there anything else that’s important to mention about using LinkedIn as a freelancer?

Don’t underestimate the power of images. ALL freelancers should be maximising their ‘Featured’ section and either pinning important posts to it or featuring important literary accomplishments. Another visual component to a freelancer’s profile is the background cover image. Please don’t leave it as the boring default template. With approximately 65 percent of the population being visual learners, this is like a giant and dominant billboard to your audience. What is important for them to know about you or the benefit of working with you right up front, then represent that in bold technicolour!

To find out more about Jillian and the customised LinkedIn corporate training she does, visit her on LinkedIn or head to her website. She also shares LinkedIn news and tips on Twitter.

Over to you, readers: have you found that using LinkedIn as a freelancer has brought you new clients? Kept your pipeline full? Or do you find it a bit of a waste of time? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Rachel Smith

2 responses on "Your guide to using LinkedIn as a freelancer"

  1. Hi Rachel,

    I’m guilty of posting a link to my latest work with not much context. That’s an area I have to work on. Great blog post, more on LinkedIn please!


  2. Rachel Smith says:

    Thanks Melissa – I think it’s definitely great advice to provide that context (sometimes we’re rushing and it’s easy to just chuck something up there, I know)

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