6 Steps to Creating a Freelance Profile That Wins Business
March 24, 2016
When was the last time your freelance profile was the primary source for winning business? If you’ve never had this experience, it’s time to kick things up a notch.
More and more people are going freelance every day, which means that the competition to land freelance gigs is getting fiercer. If you’re like a lot of freelancers who are looking for projects on freelance job networks and job boards, your profile can mean the difference between finding lots of new business – or losing every pitch.
There’s a saying in the digital marketing world: content is king. This includes your profile.
A heap of experience and glowing references are powerful. But if your profile doesn’t have strong copy, it won’t shine to its fullest potential. That means clients overlook you – and even choose a lesser qualified candidate – all because you didn’t choose the right words.
To help you create a winning profile, we’ve developed a simple six-step process. In today’s post, we’ll walk through these steps and provide examples of how to put them into action.
Step 1: Create an Effective Headline
Your headline should be clear, concise and straight to the point. We recommend keeping it to one line. Don’t get bogged down with jargon or superfluity. All you need to do is state three pieces of information:
- Position title
- Years of experience
- Your Specialty
With these three key elements, you’ll be able to communicate your basic qualifications and expertise – which is often enough to help you move past the initial glance from job posters.
Step 2: Upload a Professional Photo
They say a picture is worth one-thousand words. When it comes to portraying yourself to potential employers, this is definitely true.
A professional photo is an important factor when making a first impression.
This doesn’t mean that you have to head to your local photo studio and purchase headshots. Simply find a blank wall in your home and have a friend with a good camera snap a few shots of you. Don’t forget to smile! A friendly smile and a warm expression will do the trick.
If you don’t want to run a photo of yourself for personal reasons, you can consider another type of photo, image or avatar that appropriately reflects you and the service you provide. For example, if you’re an illustrator, an attractive illustration could work. If you’re a graphic designer, you could upload a professional logo that you’ve designed for yourself, rather than a headshot. However, it’s definitely preferable to have a photo of yourself whenever possible.
Step 3: Open With Your Qualifications and Experience
Cut right to the chase. Immediately open your profile by telling the potential client why you are a qualified freelancer. This is your one shot at a first impression.
Tell them what they need to know to prove that you are qualified for the project. If you hit all of their checkpoints, they’ll add you to the shortlist.
Open your profile with:
- Position title (e.g. Senior Graphic Designer)
- Years of experience in the field
- Areas of expertise and/or your specialty
- Technical skills and program knowledge
- Industry expertise (if applicable)
Employers will quickly glance at numerous profiles to identify the best candidates. A strong opening should make them want to keep reading more of what you have to say.
Step 4: Backup Your Qualifications With Your Academic Background
Clients often like to know you have formal training and education in your field. If you have academic credentials, mention them immediately after your qualifications and experience. Your academic background can either be related to the field you are freelancing within, or to the overall industry.
For example, either of the following academic backgrounds and experience could apply to a freelance business writer:
- A post-secondary degree in journalism or English or creative writing, along with an established portfolio of published work with several business publications
- A Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Business Administration or a related field, along with extensive knowledge in specific industries
If you don’t have an impressive academic background, do your best to make up for it by focusing on the relevant experience you bring to the table.
Step 5: Always Include Your Contact Information
Many clients are drawn to hiring local talent. By mentioning where you are located, you could get the upper hand in local projects.
Clients also want to be able to reach you.
The easier you are to contact, the more reliable you will appear. After all, reliability is one of the most important factors for clients when hiring freelancers.
Keep in mind, the terms of many freelance job networks require you communicate within the platform. If that’s the case, don’t include outside contact information to avoid getting penalized or banned from the site.
Step 6: Prove How Great You are With Samples and References
Clients want to know that you are capable of completing their project successfully, so prove it to them by showing them past successes.
If you’ve worked for well-known companies or organizations, this is the time to name-drop. Even if your previous clients are small to medium-sized businesses, the client wants to know that you’ve been hired before.
In the body of your profile, you can begin listing each of your major projects, starting from the most recent and working your way back. Include the client’s name, the project scope, the timeline, and the budget if applicable. If you encountered obstacles during the project, explain how you overcame them.
If you received fantastic feedback from the client, include it in your profile. Using testimonials from the clients themselves is one of the best ways to show a potential client that you are worth hiring.
What Shouldn’t be in Your Profile
By following these six steps, you’ll know what to include in your profile. But it’s just as important to know what not to include.
The main thing to avoid is fluff. Fluff refers to weak or unnecessary sentences, such as sentences where you talk about your communication skills, your ability to work hard, and your personality. All of these are things that your client expects of you anyway or would come across in your profile.
For example, if you’re a great communicator, your profile will speak for itself. And if you have a winning personality, that will come across too.
But remember, the things your client cares about most are covered in the six steps. If you’ve done a good job there, you don’t need to add anything else.
Turning Poor Profiles into Winning Profiles
To show you how to put the six steps into practice, we’re going to look at two profiles that are based on real ones we’ve seen posted on job sites. We’ll examine each—what they’re doing right and wrong—and then show you how we would improve them.
SAMPLE #1: JANE
$100/hr – Hours: 3000 – California – Last Active: Oct. 25, 2013
I am a people person even though I started programming computers when I was still in elementary school. I have over 30 years of experience as a programmer. I know when I need to sit in front of my computer and program until the early hours of the morning, but otherwise I am fun to talk to and easy to get along with.
In green we’ve highlighted what Jane did right. She included her location as well as having over 30 years of experience. However, Jane also focused too much on the fluff and we don’t know enough about her technical abilities and skills in order to hire her. Jane also hasn’t told us what certifications or formal education she has completed, and she hasn’t mentioned any of her previous projects or clients.
SAMPLE #2: STAN
Experienced Magento Developer
$35/hr – Hours: 450 – Sweden – Last Active: Oct. 20, 2013
I do not have experience working with Joomla and WordPress. My expertise is within Magento and other web applications. Within the last five years, I have investigated Magento internally and achieved fair results. I have passed both Magento certifications. I am available if you need to customize your store or repair unexpected Magento behaviour problems.
In green, we’ve highlighted everything Stan did right. He mentioned his country, his areas of expertise, years of experience, and qualifications. In red, we’ve highlighted areas where he took a wrong turn. You should never mention the areas in which you are not an expert, or do not have skills within. Also, never undersell yourself by saying you achieved “fair results.” Lastly, always ensure the spelling and grammar in your profile is flawless. Where Stan has written “you store,” it should say “your store.”
Magento Developer | 5 Years of Experience | Expertise in Magento & Highly Loaded Web Applications
I am an experienced Magento Developer with 5 years of experience in investigating Magento from the inside and have achieved solid results. My qualifications include successful completion of both available Magento certifications. In previous projects I have rectified unexpected behaviour within Magento and implemented customizations for client stores, such as MB3 Cosmetics and Orion Dry Cleaners. Please contact me to discuss your project in detail and determine how my skills will be a perfect fit for your requirements.
Do You Have a Winning Freelance Profile?
For freelancers, your digital profile is the equivalent of a resume in the “real world.” If you want the big online payments, you’ve gotta have the profile to back it up. It’s what makes a first impression, gets you the interview and makes you stand out among competitors.
Each of these six steps is imperative for a well-rounded profile.
What can you implement this week to develop a stronger profile? Do you have any other tips that you’d like to add to the list to help your fellow freelancer? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.
about the author
This is a guest post for the FreshBooks blog. FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.