5 LinkedIn Features Every Freelance Writer Should Use

Susan Johnston

By Susan Johnston

Are you on LinkedIn yet? If not, what are you waiting for?

This professional networking site has progressed beyond its early roots as a job-hunting tool and resume directory into a vibrant community of well-connected professionals in virtually every industry.

Here are five features you may not know about—but they can help you build your network and boost the likelihood of landing new freelance projects through the site.

Most of these are available with a basic account, but Premium users get even more features and search customization options.

  1. LinkedIn Skills. Thousands of professional writers use LinkedIn, but LinkedIn Skills can help you get a leg up on the crowd by showcasing your specific skills. Do you specialize in writing white papers or nonprofit grants? Have you created video scripts or executive speeches? Are you a technical writer or a features writer? Whatever your specialty (or specialties), adding those areas of expertise to your profile through this feature allows prospective clients in need of their skills to find you more easily.
  2. Saved Job Searches. Although many of the jobs listed on LinkedIn are full time, occasionally you’ll see freelance gigs as well. Instead of checking back periodically for new opportunities, create a “saved search” for whatever keywords you’d like and LinkedIn will notify you via email when new opportunities with those keywords are posted. With a basic account, you can save a limited number of job searches by clicking the word “save” once you’ve typed in your search terms on the jobs homepage.
  3. Introductions. You may already know about InMail (LinkedIn’s messaging services) and recommendations (which allow you to include testimonials from clients or colleagues on your profile). Introductions are another handy feature. Say, for instance, you’re searching for editors at a trade publication and you see that someone from your writer’s group is connected to an editor you’d like to contact. Now that you know they’re connected, you could ask your colleague for an email introduction or you might request an introduction to that editor via LinkedIn, where the editor can see your credentials all nicely arranged in a polished format for instant credibility.
  4. Blog Integration. LinkedIn offers all kinds of cool apps that will automatically sync with your profile, such as Twitter updates, travel updates, and more. I’d be careful with those if your tweets err on the casual side (after all, LinkedIn is a professional network) or if you tweet a lot. But I think syncing up your blog to your LinkedIn profile is a great idea. There’s an application specifically for WordPress, but Blog Link (powered by Type Pad) supports all blog platforms.
  5. Resume Builder. What do you do when a client requests a resume but you haven’t updated it since you left the Land of Cubicles several years ago? As long as you’ve been updating your LinkedIn profile, there’s no need to update a separate doc because so you can use LinkedIn’s Resume Builder to easily transfer the contents of your profile into a polished resume that’s ready to share online, export as a PDF, or print. Resume Builder includes several different templates and allows you to customize the information or rearrange the order so you’re not starting from scratch.

For more LinkedIn tips specifically for freelancers, check out Susan Johnston’s new book LinkedIn and Loving It, due out on September 21 through Rockable Press. (Yes, I got a sneak-peek, and I recommend and affiliate sell it.) Her writing has also appeared in The Boston Globe, Self Magazine, and on dozens of websites and blogs. She blogs at The Urban Muse.

Want to learn more about LinkedIn? Leave a comment or question below — or ask Susan live on Wednesday at 12 PST/3 EST…she’ll be giving members of Freelance Writers Den a free training on LinkedIn’s fine points on this week’s Den Meeting call.




  1. I’m a basic member on LinkedIn (for now) because I can’t afford the monthly fee with my current budget.

    However, LinkedIn has proven a great, professional and effective network for university and freelance contacts.

    I can’t get a clue of how Job Searches work, though — I never seem to find more than 2-3 ads there.

    • RE: Job Searches, maybe try expanding your search criteria? Sometimes clients are open to telecommuters so you don’t need to be in the same geographic area. Also, I heard from one of the recruiters I interviewed for the book that because LinkedIn charges for job postings, a lot of recruiters post opportunities in LinkedIn groups instead, so I’d recommend joining groups that are appropriate to your niche.
      Susan Johnston recently posted..Gretchen Roberts on Part-Time Freelance Writing

    • Carol Tice says:

      Sounds like you need to do broader searches — I used to search nearly every day on ‘writer’ or ‘copywriter’ and find reams of listings. But I don’t screen for only freelance jobs. I often apply when I see full-time job offerings and ask if they need freelancers also. Got a great new market that way last year that I got a quick $1,500 of work from.

      I’m a basic member on LI too — I think you can get pretty far on there without going to a paid level. I get very high-quality leads from my profile alone…think I’ve connected with a couple of Fortune 500 companies just from being on there.

  2. Marcia Frost says:

    LinkedIn is great — until you have a problem. There’s been a glitch in my account for over a month and I can’t get past one tech person who has no concept of the English language and won’t pass my problem to someone who does! I have written to every LinkedIn email I can find (and tweeted) and no one responds.

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but LinkedIn is only good if it works perfectly because you will never get any help!

    Marcia

  3. Fiona says:

    I agree that LinkedIn is an incredibly useful tool. I’ve found several contacts and work prospects through the various groups. I’m always amazed when I hear writers saying that LinkedIn is of no use to the freelancer – to me, it’s invaluable.

  4. Great tips. Just went and added my skills to my LI profile. My favourite feature is definitely that you can see who has been viewing your profile!
    Ruth – Freelance Writing Blog recently posted..No Expertise? No Problem! 5 Reasons Why You Can Still Be Successful at Freelance Writing

  5. Josh Monen says:

    Great article. It was funny because I was listening to a podcast by Dan Miller (author of 48 Days to the Work You Love) and he started talking about LI at the exact same time I started reading this post! I thought, hmm…I should probably invest a bit more time prospecting on LI. It is a great professional community.

  6. I’m coming into the conversation a little late, but another feature that I think has potential if used only sporadically is the update box. I’m just getting back into the freelance world after a couple of years off (not by *my* choice; LOL) but this Twitter-ish tool has proved good for drawing folks to my profile; then, if they don’t contact me directly, I use Ruth’s technique of backtracking who has viewed me. Thanks, all, for the comments and ideas.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Feel free to jump in at any point, Stephen!

      I think keeping your status updated on LI at least once a week or so is important just so your profile continues to be updated and it seems like you’re busy and understand social media.

      I’ve also done well with reaching out to people who’ve viewed my profile. I mostly get fascination with how I knew they had viewed me. It has a pretty high response rate — think the novelty factor there is good right now.

  7. Monika says:

    I have to say that you really have a good tips and what a great article you have. Sounds like you need to do broader searches — I used to search nearly every day on ‘writer’ or ‘copywriter’ and find reams of listings.
    Monika recently posted..Read Ultimate Gynemax Review Before You Buy!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Yeah, same here. They’re mostly full-time gigs…but I like to hit those companies if they’re a good fit for me, and ask if they also use freelancers, which they often do.

  8. Timely tips Susan.

    I just updated my LinkedIn profile about a week ago. Now, I have a handful of tips to fully harness the connections on LinkedIn.
    Ayo @ Business Owners’ Bible recently posted..Revelations From Writing a Simple Business Plan

  9. Bryan Howell says:

    Thanks Susan! I didn’t even know about the Skills feature on LinkedIn, and I use the site all the time!
    Bryan Howell recently posted..Blind and Blinder

  10. CJ says:

    Thanks Susan – like many readers, I updated my profile as soon as I read your piece. I look forward to hearing you tomorrow in the Den too – Carolyn

  11. Thanks Susan and Carol, I didn’t know about the Skills feature either, so I added that and I also used the resume builder to complete my resume. I get the sense from you two that a small amount of time on LinkedIn can yield big dividends. Well done!
    Madeleine Kolb recently posted..Elder abuse in the news. Again

  12. Deb says:

    I missed the call today…and am a member of the Freelance Writers Den. Will that call be available in the CLASSES area?
    Thanks!
    Deb recently posted..WORD as a Web Page Design Tool

    • Carol Tice says:

      We didn’t have a call today! Our Open House call on earning from your blog is tomorrow (Thurs 9/20) with Derek Halpern, 12 PDT…see the link above at the bottom of the post.

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