Where do you turn when you need a freelance writer for your marketing communications, public relations, or Web content project? After asking for a referral from a colleague, LinkedIn should be your next choice.
Why? LinkedIn is a great resource for finding a freelance copywriter, technical writer, Web content writer, case study writer…someone for almost any type of writing you might need. So good in fact, that I recommend using LinkedIn before turning to the search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) or Internet directory sites.
Conducting a search on LinkedIn offers these advantages over searches, directories, and most freelance marketplace sites:
- The “someone who knows someone” factor. By following the search strategies I describe later in this article, LinkedIn can serve as a quick and easy referral service. You can find a writer based on who your connections know, either directly or through the chain of their connections. And because even the extended connections (2nd degree or higher) are likely to be trusted sources, you can have the same confidence in the list of potential writers you find as if a colleague had said, “Let me ask around for you.”
- A more relevant list of candidates. On LinkedIn, search results will show which writers have some kind of connection through your network of personal contacts or LinkedIn groups. Consider your reaction to this list in comparison to the long list of undifferentiated names produced by the search engines or directories.
- Screening candidates quickly. Scan the list of results produced by your LinkedIn search, looking especially at the person’s summary statement. When you find someone of interest, click on the name to view the profile. If the writer has done a good job, the profile should present useful information for your quick screening such as a client list, project types, location, subject knowledge, and previous job and freelance experience.
- Viewing the writer’s recommendations immediately. In search engine results or even on a writer’s own website, you may not see a candidate’s client references. With LinkedIn profiles, most freelance writers will post recommendation statements from clients on their public profile page. Caution: Don’t rule out a writer who has only a few recommendations or none at all. It may be a sign that the writer is very busy. Instead, look for the relevance and quality of those recommendations.
LinkedIn Search Strategies
How can you search LinkedIn more effectively? Use the “Search People” box at the top of every LinkedIn page. Although most often used to find someone with a specific name, this tool is a great way to find freelance writers or other consultants on LinkedIn.
Enter a keyword phrase such as “marketing writer” or “white paper writer” to narrow the search, but expect that any search may produce a large number of people. However, LinkedIn first shows those with whom you have a connection, either through one of your own contacts or a LinkedIn group.
If you need or prefer to work with a local writer, enter the city or area in the search criteria box. However, don’t dismiss the potential for working long-distance with a freelance writer, especially if you need specialized knowledge or skills, such as those offered by a technical copywriter.
Evaluating a Writer’s LinkedIn Profile
Assuming your LinkedIn search was successful in finding one or more writers of interest, take a look at the following items on each candidate’s profile:
- Profile completeness and polish. You should be able to get a sense of whether the writer is a good match for your needs based on his or her LinkedIn profile. The profile should be carefully crafted, reflecting the writer’s experience, personal writing style, and talent for engaging readers. It should be free of errors and include a working link to the writer’s own Web site or blog. You will want to visit the Web sites of your top candidates to gather more information during your evaluation, especially to view samples and other content that can’t be accommodated in a LinkedIn profile.
- Look at your mutual connections. Do they include someone you can contact for a reference about the writer’s work?
- Recommendations. Look for the quality of any recommendations posted for the writer, not the quantity. Positive feedback from current or past clients count the most; also look for recommendations that describe projects or industries similar to your focus.
- Group memberships. A writer who keeps up with relevant industry groups, such as those on LinkedIn, is likely to bring current strategies and insights to your projects.
Stay Connected to Good Writers
When you have found a good writer or other freelance creative, LinkedIn is a great way to maintain your list of resources. Simply use the “Add [name] to your network” or “Send Invitation” functions to invite the writer to become a connection. Then, when you need a writer in the future or you want to provide a referral to a colleague, it’s as simple as looking at your connections list. Even better, regardless of whether you or the writer change locations, companies, or interests, your LinkedIn relationship follows automatically.
See more helpful ideas about finding, choosing, and working with freelance copy writers in an article on the WriteSpark Insights blog.
About the Author: Janice King is an award-winning freelance technical copywriter for global technology companies and author of the book Copywriting That Sells High Tech. You can view Janice’s LinkedIn profile at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/techcopywriter