Optimize your LinkedIn profile as a freelancer: A step-by-step guide to boost your brand and network

Freelancing means making the most of the myriad digital landscapes that allow you to show off your skills to your best advantage, and LinkedIn is by far one of the most valuable places to do so.

Your LinkedIn profile is an opportunity to sell yourself and your expertise at a glance – and when crafted well will ultimately speak volumes about who you are and why someone should work with you before you’ve ever even exchanged a word.

We’ve given insights previously on personal branding, and if you haven’t checked out that article yet, we recommend you do so here – as personal branding is a first step to crafting a LinkedIn profile that is guaranteed to get you noticed. Having a strong personal brand is extremely important as a freelancer, as it allows you to stand out from the crowd of freelancers flooding digital platforms.

Fortunately, leveraging LinkedIn- the largest network of professionals with over 590 million members, is a great way to bolster your personal brand while making yourself more discoverable and building your network of potential clients.

Step 1: Keyword optimize your LinkedIn profile

Keyword optimization isn’t just for personal websites. Getting found on LinkedIn more easily means making use of keywords on your profile-particularly words like “freelance” and “consultant,” so you can avoid being approached by recruiters seeking full-time in-office employees. Consider what your target client will be looking for and include those words in your bio. Bonus? LinkedIn has high domain authority with Google search as well.

Keywords for linkedin

Step 2: Grow your network

Ideally, LinkedIn profiles should have a minimum target of 500 connections. Seem like a lot? Search using filters that narrow down your ideal connections- industries you’d like to work in, companies you follow or want to work with, regions that you will be able to easily find clientele in.

Also, when making a connection request, always include a personal message. Random clicking and requesting isn’t likely to yield any actual business opportunities.


Step 3: Include your skills, and ask for endorsements

A quick glance at a user profile on LinkedIn will let you know right away what someone’s perceived strengths and experiences are- and the more endorsements a user has, particularly from within their field, the more weight those described skills will have to an observer. Ask your prior colleagues and others in your existing network for endorsements and your profile will immediately come across as more legitimate.

Step 4: Optimize your headline

Outside of your profile picture, the first thing prospective network connections or clients will see on your LinkedIn profile is your headline. This defaults to your job description if you choose not to edit it, but it allows you 120 characters to describe who you are and what you do. Leaving it at “Consultant” or “Freelancer” alone is skipping out on a great opportunity to boost your visibility and personal brand.

Step 5: Create your own LinkedIn company page

As a freelancer, you’re working for yourself. Making a company page that is consistent with your personal brand allows you to maximize ways for others to find you, allows you to set your current workplace as a specific space with your branding, and allows you to include information about all of the brands/ clients you’ve worked with while driving more business directly to you. Make sure to make use of keyword optimization here as well to really drive search results your way.

Step 6: Create original content

Creator profiles are one of the best opportunities for freelancers to show off their expertise and start conversations that will allow them to build their network.

Creating original content in the form of short insights, topical discussions, and tips you’d offer your potential clients builds engagement drives more members to view your profile, presents another opportunity to make use of keyword optimization. Not big on writing? Not to worry. Infographics, videos, presentations, images- all are original content and opportunities to get engagement.

Step 7: Take advantage of Publications

According to LinkedIn itself, Publications is one of the most under-utilized elements of LinkedIn profiles, and it’s a great chance to give your thought leadership some verifiable heft.

Have you written insights for your company’s blog? Published articles on Medium or helped write an eBook? The Publications section allows you to link to these assets- and make you stand out more in the crowd.

Boosting your LinkedIn profile by taking these steps maximizes your chance of standing head and shoulders above other freelancers in your field who aren’t making use of LinkedIn’s many advantages. As a social network designed for professionals, freelancers, in particular, should be taking advantage of every opportunity to increase their visibility on this platform.