Carol Tice recently became my writing mentor. My goal is to work closely with her over the next year and become a fulltime freelancer by the spring. (Just in time for the so-called end of the world. Timing is everything, I guess.)
Anyway, Carol spoke to me on the phone for a two-hour initial session and gave me vast amounts of writing and marketing advice. One question she seemingly just tossed off the cuff really resonated with me: "How long since you've updated your web page and networking profiles?"
I checked. I won't embarrass myself by giving exact dates. Let's just say that for more than a few of them, the second Bush was in office and 9/11 was just a nasty gleam in Osama bin Laden's eye. A lot has changed in my writing career since those days. I have all kinds of new clients and credits, and the work that I listed back then is so dated you can't even find it online anymore.
Last week, I made it my project to update all of my old profiles, using the following tips that I gleaned from Carol and from several marketing articles:
1. Use First Person
When I wrote my earliest Internet profiles, writing in the third person ("Debra did this," or "Debra did that") was all the rage. But times have changed, the Internet has become less formal, and what once made me sound like a professional now made me sound like a prig. I changed the person and tone on all my profiles, and it immediately made a huge difference. I sounded human now, like someone a client might actually want to work with.
2. Use Keywords/SEO
If you're looking for gigs as a freelance writer, a ghost writer, a proofreader, a copy editor, or whatever, say so. Be sure to use those words and phrases like them prominently and regularly. Clients can't hire you if they can't find you.
3. List Clients Judiciously
Even if you still write for the mills--and I do sometimes, when cash is low--it's better not to include sites like Demand Media and Suite101 on your Internet resume. Most legitimate editors do not respect these sites, nor do they respect the people who provide them content.
4. Add New Accomplishments, Awards, and Publications
If you had looked at one of my old profiles a few days ago, you'd have thought that my most recent pieces of writing had been published in a small travel journal back in 2002 and on a now-defunct Internet site in 2001. The truth is, I've written hundreds of pieces since then and have a reasonably impressive list of online publications to my name. I went into my profiles and added my most recent writing, so that anyone looking for a writer won't assume that I'm no longer in the business.
I'm still waiting to see if revamping my profiles actually brings me new customers. At the very least, though, it's given me a fresh appearance online and made me and my writing easier to find, and those are always good things.
How often do you update your profiles?