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.
The Professional Writers’ Alliance
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