Introductory and Summary Information
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Your online freelancing profile serves two basic functions: providing information about you to clients, and helping to convince clients to hire you. As such, the profile as a whole is part information, and part advertising. A big portion of the advertising aspect of the equation are introductory and summary information, which tell prospective customers at a glance who you are, and more importantly, what you can do for them.
You’ve probably heard busy executives say that they can pore through a stack of resumes quickly, assessing and rejecting many in a few seconds based just on what they read at the very beginning. Keep this in mind when you decide what approach to take in writing your profile.
In most cases, the summary information in your profile should be professional in tone and approach. You don’t need to be formal and stuffy; letting your personality shine through is a good idea. But at the same time, avoid being too cutesy or goofy: this is not a dating site. The exception to that recommendation would be for those who are in specialty fields where displaying a sense of humor or an off-beat wit can be advantageous. (If you are wondering if that applies to your work area, then it probably doesn’t.)
Some freelancing sites, such as Elance, allow you to set a short “tagline” under your user name: a phrase that you choose to describe yourself in a few words. Even though the tagline is very short, it can be a very powerful hook for getting clients interested in reading the rest of your profile. Hayden Jackson puts it well in her excellent e-book “72 Insider Tips for Elance Writers”, when she says: “Taglines are crucial to your professional image—that’s why big companies pay many thousands of dollars to have the perfect tagline developed for them.”
You don’t need to spend big bucks to get a perfect tagline: you just need to spend some time thinking clearly about what you want it to say. Remember that the tagline is the first thing a client is going to read when bringing up your profile, and that it has to be very brief. The idea should be to convey a single idea or concept that you feel best represents what you are about as a freelancer—what you bring to the table. It should tell clients something that will help them both figure out quickly if you’re the sort of person they might want to hire, and encourage them to read more of your profile.
Good taglines express something essential and enticing about you and what you can do for the client. This is one place where it’s okay to brag: if you’re an award-winning designer, then feel free to say so in your tagline! You can also use the tagline to indicate a specialty, such as a particular niche where you are an expert. Or to express a fundamental truth about how you run your business that might catch a client’s eye, in the same way a bakery might use a phrase like “made from scratch”, or how manufacturers try to encourage sales by emphasizing that they use local labor to make their products.
My main caveat about taglines is to avoid clichés. It may be tempting to use a tagline like “We’re the best option for your business needs” or “We put customer satisfaction first!”, but these are actually poor choices. Everyone says things like these, so they don’t differentiate you, and don’t give the client any reason to want to read more of your profile. My tagline at Elance used to be “Superior Solutions with Satisfaction”. I chose that when I first started out and do not consider it to be a good tagline.
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The Online Freelancing Guide (http://www.FreelancingGuide.net)
Last Site Update: January 30, 2012
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