Whether you are a designer, a freelance writer, a graphic artist or a company owner, it’s important that your online presence oozes professionalism.  This doesn’t just mean your personal or company website, but everything online that has your name attached to it.  And yes, that includes your social media pages.  Before you start hunting for clients or pitching for new jobs, it’s a good idea to get your online presence in order.  Luckily, this can be broken down into a few straightforward steps, though how long it takes to complete will depend on the damage already done.

Go Through Your Social Media Profiles Carefully

While nothing can truly be deleted online, it is possible to change the outward appearance of your social media profiles so that anyone searching for your name has a good impression of you.  Facebook is probably the easiest to sort out.  All you need to do is go into your settings and ensure that everything you post (and have posted) is only visible to friends and not the ‘public’.  After completing this, take a look through your profile pictures and ensure only the professional looking images are set to ‘public’.  You can view your page while not logged in to see how it appears to others.Social Media Profiles

If you have a Twitter profile, you can also make this private, although if you use this for talking about your industry, you may not want to.  Instead, you’ll want to go through all of your tweets and ensure there is nothing that could be deemed offensive.  If you’re unsure of what to keep and what to delete, an alternative option is to change the name on your page to something unrelated to you and set up a new page that you will only use for work-related means.

The trick with social media is that if you wouldn’t want your Grandma to read what you’ve written, it needs deleting or hiding so that people who may want to work with you can’t see it.  This includes all drunken photos, all embarrassing comments, and anything offensive.  You don’t have to totally remove your personality, but you do have to make what you publish appropriate.

Create a LinkedIn Account

LinkedIn is a social network that is mainly used by professionals.  It is especially useful for linking businesses and clients with prospective employees and freelancers, and so it pays to create a presence on the site.  LinkedIn functions in a similar way to a CV.  You can add your work history and experience, your qualifications, and your employment goals.  You can also ask those that you’ve worked with in the past to leave references and endorse you for certain skills.How-to-create-Linkedin-account

Once you have a LinkedIn profile page, you can take things one step further and reach out to others in your industry.  Form connections, enquire as to whether a company needs your services, and post articles that those in your industry will find useful.  It is very possible to create a powerful presence just through this one website.

Create an Online Portfolio

It’s relatively simple to create an online portfolio these days with websites like Format offering an easy to use platform specially designed for the job.  The Format online portfolio has been used by designers, photographers, artists, and illustrators for years, and you can find plenty of examples by their real-life customers on their website.

Upon signing up, you can choose a professional theme for your portfolio, which can then be fully customized depending on your needs.  The portfolio can be viewed on all browsers, and all devices, ensuring your clients can view your work history no matter where they are or what they are doing.  Better yet, upon sign up you receive unlimited bandwidth so you can add to your portfolio whenever you like, ensuring it stays up to date.  Format portfolios are also search engine optimized, helping you to be found in Google and Bing search based on the keywords that best describe you.  Check out the Format portfolio profile example here for an idea of what to expect.

Hire a Professional Photographer

You wouldn’t turn up for an interview wearing a tracksuit and a pair of fluorescent tennis shoes, so why would you add a whitewashed, filtered photograph to your online profile that screams amateur?hire-a-professional-photographer

There’s a big difference between a candid snap and a photograph taken by a professional photographer.  If you really want to emanate professionalism online, hiring a professional photographer could be a good idea.  A professional will know how to take a high-quality image of you that meets a client’s expectations.  They will understand what tone to project, what pose you need to pull, and how to make you appear capable of the job you are seeking to do.

Consider, too, that you may have a friend or family member with experience in photography who is able to do this for you.  It’s definitely worth asking around before spending big bucks.

Find Your Niche and Emphasize It

The internet has done a lot for job seekers, as well as those who want to work from home in a freelance career.  However, over the years, a lot of people have jumped on this and it’s meant the online job market is increasingly competitive; something that can make it hard to stand out.

In order to give yourself an edge online, you’ll want to find a niche and make sure to emphasize it.  For example, if you are a photographer, you could specialize in wedding photography, baby photography, or product photography.  If you are a writer, you could specialize in a specific industry, such as law or healthcare, or a specific type of writing, such as emails or newsletters.

By picking a niche, sticking to it, and emphasizing it online, you’ll be able to portray yourself as an expert.  You may not have quite so many jobs to apply for, but you’ll have a better chance of being hired for those that you do.  Many clients and employers would prefer to hire an expert than a middle of the road candidate.

Check Google Search Results

Unless you have an uncommon name, it’s likely that performing a Google search for yourself will bring up listings that are unrelated to you.  If this is the case, you’ll want to find a way to differentiate yourself.

For example, let’s say your name is Jack Brown.  A Google search for Jack Brown brings up listings of teachers, singers, and also, surprisingly, horses.  So now let’s try and find a way to differentiate you.  Perhaps you could add an initial to your name, and become Jack V. Brown online.  Or, perhaps you’d like to choose a new first name and become, for example, Vincent Jack Brown.  Once you have discovered a name that is unique, make sure to use this in all your online portfolios, social networking sites, articles, and anything else you publish online related to your industry.  This way, when a client searches for you, they’ll easily be able to find out more about you without having to search through tons of irrelevant results (some of which could paint you in a bad light).

Creating a professional online presence may take a bit of work, but it will almost always be worth it when you see the job requests flying in.