Today I want to talk about LinkedIn as a networking platform for writers. Think it’s just for corporate types? Think again!
Bit of a confession: I find networking the most nerve-wracking thing in the world. I HATE talking about my writing and trying to big myself up. It’s excruciating! But I’ve learnt to do it over the years because it’s necessary. And LinkedIn has been my saviour. I get headhunted on the basis of my LinkedIn profile. I don’t have an agent, I don’t even have a website (specifically for my writing), and yet I get hired.
So today I want to help you create your own writer profile on LinkedIn to help you learn to market yourself (and hopefully get hired too!)
If you have been writing for a while, want to take yourself seriously as a writer and sell your work, I urge you to create a LinkedIn profile (if you haven’t already). LinkedIn does a better job of raising your profile than if you created your own website. And of course, creating a website costs money, a lot of time AND you have to figure out how to market it. So my advice is start with LinkedIn and see how you get on.
Getting Started with your LinkedIn Profile
You need to set aside a chunk of time to do it well. It’s not something you can get done and dusted in an afternoon. It will take you more like 4-6 weeks. But it’s time well spent, in my opinion, as marketing yourself is all part of the job, whether we like it or not.
(Quick tip – if you don’t have loads of free time and you can’t find time to both write and work on your LinkedIn profile, consider pausing your writing until your profile is done. You may not want to, but… There’s no point in writing endless pieces of work if we never get around to marketing ourselves).
Firstly, your LinkedIn profile should just be for your writing. Don’t bundle it in with your day job, as others won’t consider you a professional writer.
If you absolutely must have another LinkedIn profile for your day job, set up a new profile just for your writing career. You’ll need to use a different email address to do this. Use a different photo too, to keep them really separate and this also gets across that this is a different persona, if you like.
Fill in all aspects of the profile in as detailed a way as you can. Don’t skip anything. The more information you have, and the more people you’re connected to, the better your chances of being found and getting hired.
Start with your job title – be specific, within your field. If you look at my LinkedIn profile, you’ll see that I don’t just call myself a ‘Writer’, I call myself multiple things: –
Screenwriter | Pre-school Animation Writer | Writing Coach | Pick Up Your Pen
I do it this way because I want to make it easy for people to find me. If I simply called myself a ‘Screenwriter’, that’s a huge umbrella term. Anyone searching for a screenwriter will come across thousands of screenwriters – so how do they choose one? They can’t scroll through every profile.
Think about how you can stand out. What specifically do you write? What sort of writing do you want to be known for (and hired for)?
Before I started concentrating on animation, I used to write a lot of comedy and romantic comedies, sketches and feature films, so I made sure to include those things in my job title (briefly) – just to help people find me if they were searching for someone with that expertise.
However you describe yourself, please don’t use the word ‘aspiring’ or anything similar. Even if you haven’t had anything published or produced, you want people to take you seriously. So, bite the bullet and call yourself a writer. If you write, you’re a writer.
Along with your name and job title, don’t forget to add your photo. This is important as it helps people connect with you if they know what you look like. Try to use a decent close up. I often ignore connection requests if there’s no photo, or just a logo. It doesn’t feel like a real person. If you really hate the idea of using a photo, could you get someone to do a caricature or illustration of you? It can be a fun alternative.
Next comes the ‘About’ section – which is basically your Bio in prose. There’s no one way to do this, so I’m not going to be too prescriptive, but here are a few tips: –
- Take your time with this as it’s important. Do multiple drafts. Get feedback if you can.
- Add plenty of detail, but don’t waffle.
- Be clear, concise and compelling. Try to find the right words to describe you the writer: give a sense of your style, tone, genre, themes, if you can. But briefly.
- Make sure you re-use the words that you used in your job title. Using the same words is great for the LinkedIn algorithms, which, once again, helps people to find you. When you use the same words repeatedly, it also helps to get across the idea that you are experienced in that field. So, if you describe yourself as a comedy writer, for example, mention that again in your bio and go into detail about the sorts of comedy you have written.
- If you’ve had any success – such as being short listed or winning awards – anything you can think of – include it here in the bio (also repeat it anywhere else in your profile that’s appropriate. Make sure it’s not hidden).
- I also list all my ‘skills’ in this area – in other words, I list everything I can do, from Screenwriting to Brainstorming to Pitches to Bibles to Sketches etc etc as I want to give a sense of having a broad range of expertise within the field of writing.
- I give a brief overview of my produced and published work, but I save the complete list of my portfolio to the section which comes later, called ‘Experience’. However, as I said, there’s no right way of writing a profile page, I’d recommend you analyse a handful of other writers’ LinkedIn profiles, especially if you think they’ve done a good job with their profile, to see how they’ve done it. Here’s mine!
The next section is called ‘Featured’ and this is a great opportunity to share some images. So if you’ve had any work published or produced, if you’ve given readings or attended screenings of your work, include a lovely photo here along with a few words. Beautiful visual content will make your profile stand out from others and it also breaks up the text nicely.
In the ‘Experience’ section, you would list all your jobs in a more traditional field. So, this is where I list all my screenplays and books, even those that have never been produced or published. And of course, I also include any useful details about them, especially any success I’ve had.
Next comes ‘Education’ – make sure you include any writing courses you’ve taken. Do also fill out the Accomplishments and Interests sections. Join groups that are relevant to your area of writing and also write posts and comment on other people’s posts. It all helps.
Finally, connect freely with other writers and professionals in the writing industry all over the world. And, be very open to accepting LinkedIn connections that are sent to you, as you never know where a connection might lead, even if it’s not obvious from someone’s profile. The more people you’re connected to, the easier it is for others to find you, which is ultimately what you want. (Feel free to connect with me if you like!)
Reasons I ignore a request include: no photo or if it seems like the person is just trying to sell me something. Otherwise, I’m fairly open-minded.
Make sure you include a very short note when you send an invitation.
The amazing thing about LinkedIn is that even very senior people are open to connecting in a way that they perhaps wouldn’t be outside of LinkedIn. So be brave and connect! Just make sure you’re professional (and very concise) when sending a message.
I could talk about LinkedIn for hours (and I do with my clients!!) It’s such a powerful platform – so I urge you to use it if you are trying to market yourself and your work.
At the end of the day, you still need to be able to write, as you’ll have to share writing samples and prove yourself if you get a commission. But if you’ve done the hard work of writing and editing your writing (and had plenty of feedback) and you’re ready to put yourself out there as a scribe, I hope you find these suggestions helpful.
If you don’t know where to start, or find the prospect really scary, this is something I work very closely on with my writing clients – both the nuts and bolts of creating a profile, as well as the emotional blocks associated with ‘selling yourself’.
Do get in touch if you need some one-to-one help. I’m happy to have a free 30-minute ‘Power Chat’ with you and answer any questions.
Is there something else in your writing that you’re struggling with? Get in touch as I might be able to offer a useful suggestion in a future post. You can also just say hi, give me some feedback, share a tip, or tell me how your writing is going – I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for reading!
I’m Katy Segrove – animation writer, children’s author, writing coach and mum to cheeky 2-year old Otto. I help committed writers & screenwriters overcome blocks and procrastination to get them writing & selling with confidence.
To find out about my one-to-one coaching check out Pick Up Your Pen or send me a message to set up a free 30-minute ‘Power Chat’.
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