Creating and maintaining a professional profile is essential for finding clients, and more importantly, for clients to find you. In today’s freelance market, the best talent is not always in a client’s backyard. The person with the right expertise can be located anywhere, and having an engaging and relevant online profile will help you stand out against the competition and find greater opportunities.
Whether on LinkedIn or a marketplace platform, your freelancer profile sets you apart by highlighting the kind of experience you can offer your clients. Some freelancers will create multiple profiles for different project types, specialties and platforms. Whichever route you choose, however, begins by defining what you offer and what types of projects you want to undertake.
Create a more compelling professional profile
What story do you want to tell? Think about what your clients are seeking, but also consider the direction you want to take with your freelance career. Begin creating your freelance profile by including elements that showcase niche skills, knowledge sets, professional achievements, qualifications and personal attributes.
Write a bio that creates a connection
Create a clear, concise summary of who you are, including your title, years of experience and your specialty. But be engaging—this is also the place in your profile to stand out and demonstrate the type of person that clients can expect to work with, especially for long-term engagements.
“I think as much as the client needs an expert to do the work, they want somebody that they feel comfortable to do the work with,” states Paro fractional accounting expert Leon L. “That’s where I try to show a bit of my background and my personality and what I really want to get out of freelance. For me personally, it’s to have that additional connection with clients and be able to build something with them.”
Articulate your value in tangible ways
Explain the value that you bring to clients. Avoid a laundry list of skills. Instead, illustrate how you solved a problem or achieved results. Decision makers can better visualize an outcome for their business when presented with proof points from a freelancer’s work. For example, you may include that you implemented a successful new process or shortened turnaround times by 15 percent by automating an accounting system.
Your value can also encompass soft skills. Find examples in your previous work that demonstrate important personal attributes, such as adaptability, curiosity or strong communication skills. Often, these soft skills can be just as important to success as your technical skills.
Provide enough context to paint a full picture
When highlighting your experiences, include information that can give more context to the scope of the work you’ve done. Include company names, technical information and other pertinent details. Leon advises professionals to include details such as industry, company size or the amount of revenue generated from a project.
Depending on the platform you use for your professional profile, you may also be able to include links to sample work, such as a business plan, writing samples or project plans through an online portfolio or website. Combing through your resume can help jog your memory for samples. Be sure to have these available upon request so that you can talk through and explain the problem you solved or the goals or targets you achieved for the client.
Approach your experiences from a new perspective
While a professional profile may feel very similar to a resume, you may not always approach it the same way. In a resume, professionals tend to list a role’s general responsibilities and key tasks. For freelancers looking for project-based work, it may be beneficial to break your career down into specific projects.
“Sometimes it’s difficult, because you think of yourself previously as having a [traditional] career. You didn’t think that you worked on any freelance projects,” states Leon. However, he explains that working with different clients at a previous firm or even working with different teams at your last company can be translated into specific projects with concrete results.
The approach you take should align with your goals. For freelancers looking to work on long-term engagements, consider how you can present your experiences and translate them into long-term value for your clients.
Show empathy to potential clients
Show clients on your freelance profile that you can meet their project needs and that you care and understand their pain points. Be sincere. Sincerity can open doors, place you in a competitive position and enable you to connect with clients in a more meaningful way.
“Whatever you do, it’s important that you show you can help people. They’ll come back to you. Communicate this in your profile and make this human to human to help you stand out,” says Leon.
Make it easy to contact you
Include an email, website or phone number if you’re comfortable so that clients can reach out to you without much work. This is also where you can add your LinkedIn profile and links to social media sites, such as Twitter, if you have a strong, professional following or content.
Exude warmth with a professional photo
Add a professional, current headshot to build credibility and serve as a positive first impression. Don’t be afraid to include one with a smile in order to exude warmth and approachability.
What experiences should you include and exclude?
After you’ve created your freelance profile, you may feel as though you included too much or not enough. Determining the experiences to incorporate into your profile should be considered a work in progress. Details can be added or deleted at any time to meet a prospective client’s specific needs, reflect your updated skills or show off new experiences.
This is also an opportunity to define yourself as a freelancer. Leon explains that your profile can also shape the direction you want to take. Make sure you communicate the industries you want and tell people about your passions. “For example, for me, I am in audit, but I would like to do my reconciling projects, historical clean-ups and things like that [as well]. I try to communicate that in my profile, telling people about my passion to solve their accounting puzzles,” he says.
How will clients find and use your profile?
Clients will most often find your freelance profile online through freelance marketplace searches, through a Google search or on social media. Similar to conducting your own job searches, clients do the same by typing in specific words and phrases online. These are referred to as keywords.
Once they find your profile, potential clients will review it to determine whether or not you are able to meet their job needs and solve their challenges. But they’ll also use your freelance profile to start a conversation and learn more about you.
Why keywords matter in your freelancer profile
Your keywords help platform algorithms detect your profile when a client searches for a certain term, such as a skill or an industry. The keywords you use should accurately reflect your experience and, when applicable, seasonal or trending project types that fit your expertise.
“Think of your LinkedIn profile. Keywords here are vital,” states Leon. Some keywords may be more popular than others on professional social media platforms like Linkedin. On marketplace platforms, keywords may already be set, and freelancers must choose which ones fit best. In these instances, using as many relevant keywords as possible—and updating keywords or tags as you gain new experience—will help you attract more traffic.
In addition, keywords can also come from your education, online courses, certifications, software and volunteer activities. Be selective with the keywords you include and think strategically. Put yourself in the client’s shoes. What terms will be most relevant to them when searching for an expert? These may be industry-specific keywords, skill-related keywords or project-related terms.
How often should you update your profile?
Your freelance profile is a living document, representing a snapshot in time. It’s important to regularly update it to show you’ve evolved by adding new skills, projects or industries. Keeping your profile up to date improves your chances of securing projects, getting noticed and discovering clients most suited to you, your skills and goals.
There is no hard and fast timeline for updating your profile. You may update your professional profile after every new project, on a monthly basis or following a platform update. Keep in mind that some freelancing sites deactivate or suspend inactive accounts, so remember to log in to your freelance profile regularly and respond to client communications quickly.
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