The goals are simple for freelance writers: Find work, write a killer piece of content and get paid. Yet, the blogosphere complicates the process. Less talented, indifferent writers have been able to crowd the freelance marketplace, drowning out the voice of quality writers like you.
Take a look at these strategies to help grow your personal brand and ultimately, your online authority.
1. Measure your social influence.
Shared content lives in a way that printed content never could. A large, active social following means steady and fresh eyes on your work. These social scores are not the end-all be-all for your digital reputation. However, they can spur ideas for your improvement.
Score Calibration: 0/100
Differentiator: Rewards influencers, the first social influence score
The Klout score launched in 2008 and looks at more than 400 signals from eight social networks. The company recovered from a minor backlash over their scoring algorithm by adding a content dashboard to their platform. Users can now log in and see recommended content to share.
Score Calibration: 0/1,000 Influence and 0/12 Outreach
Differentiator: Most transparent score, accounts for real-world accomplishments
The Kred dashboard gives you a layout of top communities, mentions and activity. The advantage of the Kred model is transparency. Curbing your social behavior around their rules will boost your score and will likely cross over to other social scores.
2. Track your reputation.
Succeeding in the digital content world means treating your personal brand like a fortune 500 company. You’ll be searched not only by possible clients but also by possible followers and influencers. Your results should reflect what you want to accomplish, be it freelance writing opportunities or being known as a topic expert.
Check your rep with a Google search of your name in quotes. In my case, you’ll find a flock of old and deceased people. This represents a common reputation problem, other people with your same name. Using initials to differentiate yourself can be effective.
Another issue is negative results or results that you don’t want to be seen first, like a pre-historic MySpace page. Eliminate these by deleting old profiles or using a pseudonym. Ultimately, your digital reputation will come down to execution of your content strategy.
3. Create a content strategy.
Content strategy is now a pillar of digital marketing but in its simplest form, it’s a major part of your Internet identity. Your authority in any industry or on any topic is more difficult to display without contributions and a personal or company blog. Don’t just settle for getting content out there, identify high-quality publications that reach your desired audience and get a good amount of shares.
Content Marketing Institute advocates a career content strategy and says, “content is a form of currency in your career journey and should be managed with the same diligence you use to manage your money.”
If you’ve identified target sites, connected with the publisher and created unique and compelling content ideas, the next step is to deliver the right content at the right time.
4. Stay alert.
Call in the web crawlers to help you manage your digital presence. Google Alerts is a simple yet powerful tool for personal branding. Customize your alerts to get email or RSS updates once a week, once a day or in real time. To start you’ll want to set an alert for your name or trademark for welcomed interactions.
Alerts can work to make you into an authoritative hero who saves the day. Set up discussion alerts like “How * Personal Brand” or “Why * Personal Brand.” Directing people to your fresh post will earn traffic, mentions and links.
It’s tough to follow your personal brand if you’re still building your digital history. Alerts are ideal for job seekers as well. Nab fresh job postings by tracking questions like “write for us” and “contribute” along with keywords related to your specialty.
If you have a website to establish, go one step further and utilize Fresh Web Explorer by Moz. This service tracks mentions for link earning opportunities but also records which content gets the most social love so you can adjust your content strategy. Alerts are alerts, but Fresh Web Explorer converts alerts into data you can analyze and build on. A Moz Pro account is required for complete access but a 30-day free trial is available.
5. Network online.
Valuing engagement is social media education 101. Those with large followings are constantly participating in conversations, i.e., retweeting, replying and holding hashtag hours. The Twittersphere is great for harvesting a network, but LinkedIn is where you’ll see the benefits.
Networking with LinkedIn is not a race to 500+ connections, it’s about how much value you can get from those connections.
The brilliance of online networking is the ability to expand your network from your seat. Find people that could be be potential clients or business partners and see if you have any degrees of separation with Twitter and LinkedIn. This way you can request an introduction and get things rolling.
6. Optimize your profiles.
LinkedIn, Twitter and your previous work form the digital resume. First make sure your photos are the correct file size and pixel dimensions for each social platform. Twitter headshots need to be clear on smartphone screens. Google+ headshots were removed from search results; however, a link to your profile is still included with your work. Make sure you’re set up with a professional headshot for reader familiarity.
Twitter pages need to be visually distinct with legible profile information. Don’t let the banner photo blackout your URL or location. According to Buffer’s data, tweets with photos get 150 percent more retweets than bare tweets.
The total number of photos/videos posted in the new profile display could impact a potential follower.
7. Study your competitors.
Lastly, cut out the algorithms, scores and diction and take a commonsense approach. Discover some successful personal brands and see what they’re doing. You can incorporate these lessons into your analysis.
Here’s where to start:
- Social score: Find out their score and compare. Who are they following? Who are they engaging?
- Reputation: What are their Google results? If you can find their social profiles and URL with a quick and easy search, take note of their methods.
- Content strategy: Check their Google+ find and find out where they contribute. For instance, freelancer Kristi Hines has more than 75 publications listed. This cuts research time in half.
A fortified personal brand will help you achieve those writing goals. Finding work is easier when you keep tabs on your social score, set up relevant alerts and constantly network. You can negotiate more pay by monitoring your reputation, following a content strategy plan and analyzing your competitors.
What’s left? Just do the work!