I Can't Believe He Said That

This week, we’re talking about things writers should watch out for on the path to the writer’s life.

Yesterday, we talked about avoiding shiny objects.

Today, I want to talk about your online reputation.

We know that anything we do or say online can now be public knowledge in a matter of seconds. But how does this affect our writing careers?

If you’re careful, it can be very positive. If not, it can ruin your career.

Take, for example, the manager from Chipotle, who posted: “Soo just ran over a white cat on my way home … oops!!!” on her Facebook profile. She also posted: “lol..one less cat..don’t like ‘em.”

Within days, her post was headline news and causing a PR nightmare for Chipotle. Even now, a Google search will return numerous blog posts about Chipotle’s poor handling of the situation.

If you’re a freelancer, your mishaps might not be so public, but depending on what potential clients find while researching us, they may use that information to back up their decision to hire us or not.

Here are five things to watch out for as you build your reputation online:

1. Stop, read it again, and think.

If you’re considering writing something you’re not proud of on a blog, social network, or website, stop and think about how you’d feel if a potential client found that comment. If it’s something that would cause them to find another writer, it’s not worth posting.

Remember, if you use your real name or email address when commenting, that can appear in search results. Even if you have a pseudonym, sometimes you can still be identified. Better safe than sorry.

2. Watch what you share about clients.

Sometimes, it can be tempting to post all over the Internet when you land a big client. But it’s usually a bad idea. Even if the client gave you permission, other potential clients might not know that and assume you have a big mouth and steer clear.

Always think about how you want your potential clients to perceive you. Ideally, you want them to know, like, and trust you.

3. Be careful what you say about clients.

Saying negative things on the Internet about companies, clients, employers, or even your peers will get around.

You may want to rant if a client doesn’t pay on time or is difficult to work with, but this will only cause other clients to avoid working with you.

4. Always act like you’re job hunting.

Being a freelancer requires you to maintain a level of professionalism that most other people don’t have to because at any time a client can be searching for you. So remove embarrassing pictures and unprofessional posts from social media profiles.

5. Evaluate your online friends.

It’s said that a person is the average of their three closest friends.

What do you think your clients will think about you based on your friends?

Are they professional and respectful? Or do they post profanity and inappropriate photos on your wall?

I prefer to block “friends” that do this kind of thing. But if you’re not comfortable, remember you can change your social media settings so your potential clients can’t see everything.

Once you change your settings, log out of your profiles, clear your history, and then do a Google search on yourself. Click on the links on the first few pages to see what pops up. Remove anything you’re not proud of if you can.

If you can’t, comment on websites and blogs with high page ranks. These comments should show up higher in the search results. Content on your own freelance website and writing guest blog posts will also give your potential clients plenty to look at.

So what about you? Have you had to overcome negative issues with your online reputation? Tell us how you did it here.

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Published: October 9, 2012

7 Responses to “I Can't Believe He Said That”

  1. Thank you for contributing this article. I really enjoying reading it.

    These days, prospective employers and potential clients alike are scouting the internet to find out more about you.

    The internet has opened up a whole new can of worms: if you have any skeletons in the cupboard, they are going to come tumbling out sooner or later.

    However, perception matters more than anything else, because the way you perceive what you write may not be the same as how others perceive it.

    You may have written an article or expressed an idea in good faith, but that can rub a lot of people up the wrong way.

    Perception is a tricky task-master and not always clear cut and well defined.

    Archan Mehta

  2. As a person moving from the Disability Ghetto to the Ability Market, I have a swamp of conflicting emotions.

    I feel the need to honour those where I have come from ( and quite frankly, have not left). But the discrimination of Disability drives me crazy!!! So many people want to see me down and keep me down.

    You can see me travelling the world and enjoying life on Social Media; but you cannot see the pain & price I pay for it. I am condemned on both sides for showing a vibrant positive existence.

    Branding is important, but so limiting. As a salesperson and copywriter, I understand a client wants a caricature in the first filtering. Such is life.

    So far I have been trying to show an objective perspective of my life ( see my website). But, I get it. This is business. The client's perspective is what counts.

    Is there a course in AWAI in building a depth of marketable persona on the web?

    P.S. Writing SocMed in Notepad+ helps in preventing bad posts.

    Colin Noden

  3. Very well put. All who use the internet should alway watch what they put out for everyone to read as it could come back to bite you. I have made great strides in having everyone I work with trust and respect me. If everyone would work towards those goals in their business, it will make youself feel proud, but give you acomplishment within yourself.

    Guest (JG1224)

  4. I'm so glad you chose to raise this topic, Christina.

    Whenever someone had issues with me professionally, these 2 steps always seemed to help:

    1. Find At Least 3 People To Vouch For You. Perception is who people think you are. Character is who you truly are when no one is looking. Getting folks to stand up for you goes a long way to allay clients' fears.

    2. Do Your Work. No one can argue with results. So roll up your sleeves, keep your mouth shut and let your actions do all the talking.


  5. Great post Christina,

    This furthers my growing theory on social media, specifically Facebook, that questions whether there's any advantage to using the platform at all. It seems, & I've seen it happen, people can do more harm to their reputation than good. FB has turned into a "look at me" platform, I wonder if it has any positive effect on anyone professionally. I'm sure there are cases where it has, but probably moreso the opposite. And many successful freelancers use it sparingly, if at all.

    Guest (Jim )

  6. Great post - I see a lot on Social Media that often puts me off dealing with some people. I also know some that are lovely in real life but have no idea how they come across online. I often find that when I want to rant - which can be often - I will write the update then delete it. I feel like it's out then. Thanks for sharing on Bizsugar.com

    Guest (Sian Phillips)

  7. I definitely put my digital foot in my mouth way too often. Good reminder to stop and think. Now I'm more like Sian where I write something sarcastic and dirty - then I think twice.

    Guest (Kasey)

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