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LinkedIn is the best place you're not hanging out at
100% serious y'all
Hello friends! Welcome to Freelancing With Tim, a newsletter designed to help you navigate and thrive in the industry. If you like what you’re reading, please consider a paid subscription. Paid subs get access to all past and future paid-only posts, the full archive of recorded Zoom workshops, a roundup of what a bunch of publications pay freelance writers, tips for diversifying your freelance income, 50% off all Zoom workshops, and much more. Click here to see options to subscribe!
There was a time, many internets ago, when Twitter was the end-all, be-all network for journalists. In some (decreasing) ways, it still kind of is, but I think we’ve all come to the conclusion that ... it just kind of sucks now. What used to be a fun place to meet other journalists, find work, network, and just goof around has become something very different.
But what you probably don’t know — or have written off — is that LinkedIn has become the new hot spot. It has everything: jobs, gigs, networking, weird personal life posts that feel oddly intimate, life and career updates from people you actually know, and a place to make genuine connections with others in the industry. This is a tune I’ve been singing for years, but I really mean it. (Also hi let’s connect, here’s mine!)
This sounds weird! I realize that. LinkedIn still hasn’t fully shed its 2013-era reputation of being a lame place where middle-aged guys post motivational quotes and self-righteous soliloquies. But I promise it’s not that. On top of being an absolute gold mine of full-time positions and freelance work, it’s a place to find news in real time, make connections that actually pay off in ways that Twitter never did, promote your work, and, practically speaking, drive real traffic to a story. I worked in audience dev for years, and my secret weapon was always LinkedIn.
So how can you use it to your advantage? Here are four things I always advise:
Update your profile
If you’re like most journalists, you probably set up a profile years ago and haven’t changed it much since. It’s time to fix that! A current, engaging profile is one of the most important things you can do to get yourself out there and find work.
A few things: Your profile pic and header. Friend of FWT Kaitlyn Arford has a fantastic pic/header combo — check it out here. Her profile has a specific visual identity that aligns with her personality, and it fits well into her other online profiles, including her website. Having a consistent visual identity screams professionalism, and it’s worth the effort. (If it’s in your budget to hire an illustrator for a few images, go for it.) I do the same on mine.
Aside from visuals, update your profile with your skills, recent experience, clips you want to show off, and services you offer. This not only helps anyone who finds your profile, but it will also help you surface in more searches that people conduct around your areas of expertise. Updating all of this is super easy: Just click View Profile from the top-right dropdown menu, and explore everything you can. Be sure to drop in a bunch of keywords that align with your business anywhere you can. (Also, make sure you update your Basic Info section with some keywords, too.)
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Don’t be shy about advertising what you can do
Look at this post I made a few days before I was on a panel about LinkedIn last year. It’s literally one sentence, and from that I got seven or eight DMs from people interested in hiring me for those services. It really is that simple. It can feel weird, but the only way people will know that you’re available is if you tell them. No one is paying attention to your career as much as you are, so let them in on your skills.
Network network network!
Something I always say: Networking is only weird if you make it weird. Just think of it as making friends with other folks in your industry. It’s perfectly fine to request someone you admire, want to work with, or just want to be industry friends with. Those connections may end up leading to more and more work. Include a little note with your request if you want, too, but no more than a sentence, otherwise it feels like an email.
Engage with your peers
Conversations on LinkedIn are, while often corny, exponentially kinder and more civilized than anything you can find on Twitter these days. People are actually sincere! Imagine that! Those in your network want to hear from you, and they can be a great resource of feedback or just general discussion for you, so take advantage of that. It’ll never be as silly as Golden Age Twitter, but it can be just as fulfilling.
See you on LinkedIn!
Oh, a few other things …
• I offer one-on-one coaching! Need help developing an idea or sharpening one you already have? Or want to talk about careers and building your freelance business? I gotchu! Book a one-on-one coaching session to talk about pitch reviews, story development, editing, and anything else you might need help with.
• I’m going to start doing Q&A posts in the newsletter to answer all of your questions, comments, and thoughts about freelancing and journalism in general. Drop any and all questions in the comments section below this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I may feature it in a future newsletter. Let’s hear it!
• Friend of the FWT Mandy Hofmockel offers one of my favorite journalism newsletters around: Journalism jobs and a photo of my dog. It’s a wonderfully comprehensive — and hand-built — listing of journalism jobs all over the country. If you’re in the market and looking, read and subscribe here!
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