As a freelance copywriter, opportunities are all around you. Your senses are heightened, and your awareness for potential freelance copywriting jobs is sharp. Every website you read–whether it’s pop culture, daily news, or sports-related–feels like a potential gig.
You see opportunities through your social media network of friends, former coworkers, and the extended network of acquaintances. Who do you know who might have leads? How can you best network? What you see online is a reflection of reality, and you make judgment calls based on the quality of the websites you encounter. It’s easy to discern which companies you want to work for and which you don’t.
The web is the best place to find potential freelance work. While you’re looking for work and applying for gigs, potential employers are also looking at you. What do they see when they find you?
The fun part about this is, for the most part, you get to decide what they see. How you present yourself can either be deliberate and curated or haphazard and random. You can guess which choice best serves you when gig-seeking.
This blog is about preparing yourself for the freelance copywriting job hunt, and it starts with not just your resume, cover letter, and portfolio but how you present yourself and your work online–whether intentional or not. We’ll introduce some key strategies to clean up your social media, streamline how you present yourself, and where to get your name out there so that potential gigs can research you as much as you research them. You can eliminate the unintentional effects of your online persona and purposely build a new one. We’ll show you how.
Let’s start with some key terms and definitions.
A public persona is the aspect of someone’s character presented to or perceived by others. In future courses, you’ll learn about marketing personas–which are ideal customers that businesses market to based on specific traits. A marketing persona is the generalization of a potential buyer. For this exercise, see yourself as that potential buyer a company wants to hire and how you can create a persona specific to you.
When you begin your job search, you must create your own persona, spotlight yourself among other gig seekers in a competitive economy, and streamline your persona over multiple platforms.
A persona is a consistent, cohesive presentation of yourself, not a false impression or a fake profile. Your goal is to highlight your strengths, not to recreate your online persona into something that isn’t you.
To reshape your persona, start with an inventory.
In the last lesson, we talked about goal setting and how to create a roadmap leading to the career you want. How you present yourself online is a big part of that roadmap. What does a potential employer see when they look for you on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter? Would you hire yourself?
Here’s an example:
Ray just graduated from college and seeks freelance copywriting jobs as a content creator. On Facebook, most of the pics of Ray are pretty old and show Ray as a pre-teen in pictures with family members. Cute kid! On Instagram, Ray’s images are all from the heavy-metal concerts Ray attended last summer and college parties. That looks like a really wild summer, Ray! On Twitter, Ray is pretty political and snarky. Seems to share conspiracy theories without much thought and tweets many comments to local politicians.
A potential employer’s first impression is that Ray appears young–perhaps way younger than Ray actually is now. Ray looks like a partier, too, which can be viewed as unreliable. And Ray’s snarky comments on Twitter make Ray seem like a petulant reactionary.
The potential employer then examines Ray’s cover letter, resume, and portfolio. It’s hard to tell it’s the same person. Who–really–is a potential employer hiring? Is the Ray on paper or the Ray online?
Start with some basics.
The image you want to present to a potential employer is specific to you and your goals. It should showcase your personality and highlight your strengths. If you Google yourself and see a wild discrepancy between the images you present, it’s time to streamline your persona.
What are some ways to do that:
- Pick a headshot you like of yourself. Not too stiff, not too loose. This is now your profile picture across all platforms and is the primary picture for your website, blog, and resume.
- Delete or hide from public view pictures and posts that might be seen as offensive. If you wouldn’t say it in an interview, perhaps it shouldn’t be said on your social media.
- If you’re no longer using a social media page–say, a Facebook account from junior high–go ahead and delete it. But don’t delete yourself entirely. If an employer can’t find you online at all, that can also be seen as a red flag.
- If you haven’t already, create a LinkedIn page, and grow your professional network.
- Connect with others in the professional space where you want to work. If you want to land gigs as a graphic designer, connect with other graphic designers.
- Google yourself. The goal is to achieve cohesion across all platforms so that a potential employer wants to hire you. You can’t immediately change a search engine results page, but you can start now to shape the image you want to present.
Move deliberately toward freelance copywriting jobs
If you want to land freelance copywriting jobs working for cutting-edge innovators, highlight ways you are also a cutting-edge innovator.
If your dream freelance copywriting job is to write for Bon Appetit, everything from your blog to social media should be sprinkled with culinary delights. That includes links to articles about food that you love, posts that flex your ability to write about great meals and even positive restaurant reviews. Write toward the goal, and streamline your persona in the direction you want your career to follow.
Your social media and online presence can’t be an accidental conglomeration of everything you’ve ever done. Use it to help you further where you want to be. In today’s freelance gig-seeking world, a paper resume and cover letter are secondary to the online image you share daily. Highlight what you’re best at, and move your career forward deliberately. Many of your colleagues have transitioned to freelance copywriting jobs. Join the Copywriter Exchange to connect with fellow freelance copywriters and learn about their strategies for balancing time, finances, and other resources to pursue their passions.
David J Ebner is the President of Content Workshop and an advisor to Copywriter Exchange. Before all of that, he was a freelance copywriter. David is the author of Kingmakers: A Content Marketing Story, a book designed to help writers leap into the content marketing world.