Written By David Masters

Writing Jobs from LinkedIn: This Will Change Your Life.

If you want to be a freelance writer, this article will change your life. Why? LinkedIn is one of the absolutely best ways to build a solid base of freeance writing clients, so you can have a steady income, and build a sustainable writing career.

How do I know this? I’ve found LinkedIn is a reliable source of work. That’s not to say I get all my clients from LinkedIn. I have lots of different ways of generating leads and starting conversations with potential clients. But if I wasn’t active on LinkedIn, I would have missed out on some great jobs.

I know that other freelance writers have had a similar experience on LinkedIn. [Editor’s note: This isn’t just for writers: One of my close friends earns his full time living from LinkedIn connections as a graphic designer. Listen to what David has to say. His advice is very valuable.]

In this article, I’m going to share strategies for finding freelance writing work using LinkedIn. These are strategies used by freelance writers – including myself – to connect with potential clients and start a conversation about work they have available.

As I share these strategies, I’ll assume you have moderate computer knowledge and can navigate your way around a social networking site. This isn’t a how-to guide on the basics of LinkedIn. Rather, I’ll show you how to use LinkedIn strategically, in a way that will help you pick up work.

Before we dig into the strategies, let’s take a quick look at what LinkedIn is.

LinkedIn is a social network for working professionals. It’s like Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus, but instead of helping you stay in touch with your friends, LinkedIn is a way of maintaining links with people you’ve worked with in the past. It also provides tools for networking and making connections with new people. With over 250 million users, it’s one of the biggest social networks in the world.

The fact that LinkedIn is a professional network makes it ideal for reaching out to potential clients.

Keep talking about your writing services on Facebook, and you’ll quickly alienate your friends. People go on Facebook to hang out and have a good time. They’re not there to talk about work.

On LinkedIn, people expect you to be more open about what you do for work. That’s not to say it’s okay to be pushy, or solely use it as a promotional tool. Rather, it’s a way of networking, which gives you access to the hidden jobs market.

Most freelance writing jobs never get advertised. They’re not listed on Craigslist, or posted in online forums. How, then, do people who need freelance writers find the right writer for them? They ask around. They look to their network of connections to see if they know someone who can do the job. That’s where the hidden jobs market comes from.

Here are several LinkedIn strategies you can use to access the hidden jobs market.

Strategy 1: Join LinkedIn and Complete Your Profile. This sounds like an obvious strategy, but if you’re not signed up to LinkedIn, you can’t use it to find work. Once you’ve signed up, LinkedIn guides you through filling out your profile. This is similar to writing a resume. You’ll include a summary of your abilities, and you’ll list your work experience. On top of that, you can add extra modules to your profile such as Publications or a Creative Portfolio. Both of these provide a good way of showcasing the writing work you’ve already done.

Recently, LinkedIn added a module called Skills & Experience. Here, you can list your skills. I recommend breaking down your writing skills into the different services you offer. For example, if you write blog posts as a service to clients, include “blogging” as one of your skills. If you’re a dab hand at press releases, list” press releases” as one of your skills. The more skills you list, the more likely that potential clients will come across you when they’re searching LinkedIn for help with a writing project.

What if your writing is a part-time gig, and not your main source of income? In that case, you’ve got three options.

First, you can use LinkedIn under your real name to promote your writing services, and leave the rest of your professional life off your LinkedIn profile. The advantage of this is that it’s likely to be more attractive to prospects who want to hire you as a writer. The disadvantage is that if your main employer connects with you on LinkedIn, they may question why you haven’t listed your current job on your profile.

Second, you can use LinkedIn under a pen name. This allows you to stay anonymous from your work colleagues. The problem with using a pen name is that it is against LinkedIn’s terms of use. If LinkedIn finds out what you’re doing, you could have your account suspended. Additionally, you may find it more difficult to collect recommendations when using a pen name (see strategy 2).

Third, you can list your main work and your writing business jointly as your current job. This has the advantage of transparency, a fact that makes this the best strategy for most people. Transparency has an added advantage. Being open about your main line of work could help you find clients, especially if they’re looking for the type of expertise you’ve got from your professional life. The key disadvantage to this approach is that you’ll struggle to stand out as a writer on LinkedIn.

Strategy 2: Collect Recommendations. If you’ve read even a little on marketing your writing services, you’ll know the vital role testimonials play in helping you pick up new clients. Testimonials act as a form of social proof. In other words, when potential clients see that others people have benefitted from using your writing services, they’ll be more likely to hire you.

Recommendations are LinkedIn’s tool for helping you collect testimonials. You can ask anyone in your network for a recommendation. Once they’ve written the recommendation, you choose whether or not to display it on your LinkedIn profile.

What I particularly like about recommendations is that it’s totally normal to ask for them on LinkedIn. While it can feel awkward asking a client for a testimonial out of the blue, once you’ve connected with someone on LinkedIn, then asking them to leave you a recommendation is par for the course.

If you need a recommendation to highlight a particular skill, there’s no shame in asking about that. For example, when I started promoting my freelance writing business on LinkedIn, I reached out to my university classmates asking them for a recommendation. I explained that as a freelance writer, I’d particularly appreciate if they focused their recommendation on my skills in research, writing and meeting deadlines.

Recommendations come with an added bonus. When you ask a previous client for a recommendation, you’ve kickstarted a conversation. Once you’ve got talking, you can find out if they need any more of your services (see strategy 3).

Here’s the template I use when I’m asking for recommendations:

Hi [Friend],

How are you?

I’m updating my LinkedIn profile, and I’d be honored if you’d write a recommendation for me as a university classmate.

As I’m working as a freelance writer, the skills I’d like to highlight are research, writing, meeting deadlines, making complicated ideas simple, and being an all-round good person to bounce ideas off. I’d be great if you could comment on some of these in your recommendation.

I’ve copied a couple of sample recommendations below in case you need help finding inspiration.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks in advance for helping me out, and please ask if you’d like a recommendation too.


[Sample recommendations here. Find some recommendations you like on other LinkedIn profiles, and share them here]

Alternatively, if you don’t feel confident asking for recommendations, just start giving recommendations to others. You’ll find that lots of people return the favor.

Strategy 3: Talk to People. LinkedIn is a social network, so people are expecting that you’ll talk to them. Honestly, who doesn’t like to see their inbox light up with a message from an old friend or even a new acquaintance?

Talking to people in my network has been the most effective way I’ve found of finding clients on LinkedIn. I never act salesy, and I’m never pushy about my services. All I do is message people to find out how they’re doing. In particular, I message people when they first connect with me on LinkedIn. This shows I’m someone who’s willing and available to talk, and that I’m approachable. Often, it leads to a conversation about my services.

When someone connects with me on LinkedIn, they’re either a new contact (someone I don’t recognize) or they’re a connection from the past.

If someone I don’t recognize adds me as a LinkedIn connection, I drop them a message to say thank you for connecting, and ask how they came across me. Usually, one of three things happened:

  1. They remind me how we know one another. This is a little embarrassing. I reply to let them know it’s great to be in touch again.
  2. They explain that they’re growing their network, and I seemed like a good person to know.
  3. They say they’re curious about my services, or they’re thinking of hiring a writer. In this case, I find out more about what they need. If I’m a good match for their needs, I offer to quote for their project.

When someone I recognize adds me as a connection, I send them a message to thank them for connecting. If they’re someone who might be interested in my services, I let them know that I’m a writer, and give a short overview of my services. Again, this has led to conversations about how I might help them, and to me being hired as a writer for their project.

Strategy 4: Connect With People. The final strategy I’ll outline in this article involves reaching out and making new connections yourself.

Whenever you make a new contact in the real world, or online, connect with them on LinkedIn. By adding them as a LinkedIn contact, you professionalize your relationship. What’s more, it’s a subtle way of selling your services. Instead of having to give an in-depth explanation of your writing business to people you meet – which can be intimidating and feel like you’re being salesy – add them on LinkedIn. Then, if they want to, they have the option of looking at your profile and checking out your services.

When someone accepts my request to be a new contact on LinkedIn, I drop them a message as I would in Strategy 3. This starts a conversation, which as you know by now, can lead to work.

Should you add people who are already your clients? Is there any reason to do this, when they’ve already hired you? In answer to both of these questions, I give a resounding “yes!”

Adding your current clients helps you in a number of ways:

First, you can ask them for recommendations.

Second, by hooking up with them on LinkedIn, you’ve established a long-term connection with them. When your current contract finishes, LinkedIn provides an easy, no obligations way of staying in touch. You’re more visible on their radar, so if they need your services in the future, they’re more likely to hire you again.

Third, by connecting with clients on LinkedIn, you become part of the network of all their connections. These are called 2nd degree connections. If you’ve been reading this blog recently, you’ll know that these 2nd degree connections, also known as “weak links”, are one of your best bets for finding freelance writing work in the future.

To conclude, whichever strategies you use to find clients on LinkedIn, always use them with a smile on your face. Being a beacon of positivity will make you more attractive to potential clients. We all love working with people who brighten our day.

Now, go back and read this article again. This time, as you read, put the strategies into practice.


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