Day 14: Develop an Online Identity

These days, most writers spend a lot of time online: most of us seek out work online, write for online venues and even communicate with our clients online. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we have solid online identities.

For a good indicator of just how useful your online identity is, run your name through a search engine. If your name is even a little bit uncommon, the search results should (hopefully) refer to you rather than some other person with the same name. If your name is more common, adding the word ‘writer’ should have the same results. If your name is Britney Spears and you aren’t the pop singer, you may be out of luck.

Search results are just an indicator of how strong your online identity is. They mean that you have some combination of the following:

  • A website of your own
  • Accounts on major social networking sites
  • Bylined articles and posts on various sites
  • A reputation that leads other people to link to your material

Such an identity comes in handy because it makes you much easier to find — and typically makes it clear that you’re good at what you do.

What’s the first thing that a prospective client (from editors to copy writing clients) is probably going to do after seeing your name in an email or hearing it in a conversation? She’ll pull up Google, pop in your name and see what happens. She won’t stop there, either — in order to make sure that you’re a good person to work with, she’ll click on those links. She’ll look at your website, see how professionally you behave on social networks and check out what other people have to say about you. That makes it crucial that you have a solid online identity that can satisfy the sort of due diligence clients will conduct.

You’re Already Ahead of the Game

As a writer, you’ve got a head start, especially if you’ve already written articles that have your byline listed. But you can take things a step further. You can build up your presence to reflect your expertise, as well as your past clients’ high opinions of you. And the more you write, the more of a presence you’ll have

Having a solid website of your own is a good starting point, and a blog (especially one that you’ve promoted and convinced other people to link to) can also help out. While I tend to avoid writing for free, if you have only a few written pieces published with a byline, providing some guest posts for other, popular blogs can also help. You can move your own site up in the rankings for your name by getting links from other sites. Something as simple as adding your URL to your bio for any articles you write can give your search result rankings a significant boost.

In order to make sure that prospective clients are seeing good information about you online, it’s also important to build up positive mentions of your name. If you aren’t writing material that is routinely displayed with a byline, it may be important to add to the sites on which your name appears: you can post to forums, offer up quotes for other writers, and build up your interaction on social networking sites.

If you search for yourself online, what do you find?

Just joining us? Check out where we started with Setting Your Goals!

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