Sophie Byrne shares her LinkedIn skills, explaining the 'how to's' of social media for writers.

Social Media for Writers: LinkedIn Edition

Elle Hunt from The Guardian Australia wrote a piece calling LinkedIn ‘the worst of social media’, and it can be hard to argue with that statement. At its worst, LinkedIn can feel like a bleak corporate landscape where everyone describes themselves as a ‘disruptor’/’thought leader’/’integrative holistic life specialist and consultant’.

So, why exactly would you want a LinkedIn profile?

LinkedIn has an unexpectedly big user-base: there are over 300 million users worldwide and 3,600,000 users in Australia, which is surprisingly higher than the number of monthly Australian Twitter users (2,800,000).

HR managers and recruiters use it regularly and the practice of being approached for work or head hunted on LinkedIn is increasingly normal. A well-maintained profile gives you some professional street cred, an online resume/portfolio which you can send to someone quickly. Plus, the built-in blog function allows you to share your work, so it can be a useful platform to help you get paid gigs as a writer if you use it right.

Keep it updated

It might seem unbearably dull to spring clean your LinkedIn, like taking out the recycling or sorting out your Tupperware situation, but if you’ve set a profile up at some point in your life people will find it. For potential employees or collaborators, coming across a sad and neglected LinkedIn profile can be more damaging than not having one at all.

Network with ease – but no spam thanks

I find networking to be one of the more painful things in life, up there with watching gifs of bad high fives.

social media for writers
It hurts my heart.

So one of the benefits of LinkedIn is the ability to ‘connect’ and ‘network’ without the awkward chit chat – but beware of spammy behaviour. It’s great to connect with editors and other writers, but write a professional and friendly personalised message going out when you connect. No one likes getting a ‘Hello, your year 10 netball coach would like to join your professional network’ email. Add a friendly message and it will be a happy surprise for the person you’re contacting. Similarly, don’t go in for the hard sell for a job every time you connect. Offers will come naturally if your profile is updated and people can see for themselves how amazing you are.

Link away

LinkedIn can be great for your visibility on Google because as opposed to Facebook, linking to your work on LinkedIn adds to your content count and boosts your online presence. If you’ve been published, as well as automatically sharing it on Facebook and Twitter, pop it on your LinkedIn!

Low maintenance = social media bliss

One of the best things about LinkedIn is that compared to other social media platforms it’s extremely low maintenance. You don’t need to post twice a day, or even once a day. You’ll find what works for you, but investing an hour or so a week will see you through, not least because you’ll always have those trusty emails coming to keep you updated. Put a little time into your LinkedIn and you might just get a lot out.

Key Tips:

  1. Keep your work experience current.

  2. Write a two to three sentence headline that captures what you’re all about in an easy to read, approachable style, including all the keywords for you as a writer (I am a freelance writer, author, copywriter, editor etc. No buzzwords!)

  3. Include links to your Twitter and website in your contact information.

  4. A headshot is important (nothing blurry, no awkwardly cropped photos where your ex boyfriend’s shoulder is still visible, definitely no cute animal pictures or a photo of a flower).

  5. If you’ve published a book, include ‘author’ in your employment history – without an end date because that gig will be continuing into the future!

  6. Unless you’re actively job seeking or are the CEO of a huge company, it’s not worth paying for the premium account.

  7. Have a look at who is looking at your profile and see if there are new connections to make. One important caveat, if you’re a guy trying to pick up on LinkedIn by stalking people’s profiles and sliding into their DMs you can get in the bin.

Further Reading:

Elle Hunt, LinkedIn is the worst of social media. Should I delete my account? The Guardian Australia

Carol Tice, 10 Ways Writers Can Use LinkedIn to Find Freelance Gigs, Make a Living Writing

The 20 Essential LinkedIn Groups for Aspiring Writers, The Graveyard Shift

Want to learn all things social media? Register for our free hour-long short course on Social Media for Writers with Patrick Lenton (Wednesday June 28th at 8 pm). All you need is a working internet connection and if you aren't able to watch it live, register anyway and we'll send the recording straight to your inbox. To register for Social Media for Writers with Patrick Lenton, go to our short courses page and click 'get online course'. These courses have generously been supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.

Sophie Byrne's picture

Sophie Byrne

Sophie is the marketing and communications coordinator at the Arts Law Centre of Australia. Originally from Adelaide she previously held marketing and administration roles at Brink Productions, Vitalstatistix, Radio Adelaide and the Adelaide Festival. Sophie also managed the National Young Writers’ Festival in 2014 and 2015.