10 tips for an online identity as a freelance creative

This post originally appeared on DesigingLULA and has been cross posted here.


As a creative freelancer, your website is your key marketing platform. It needs to be clear, intuitive and really speak to what you do.

Here are 10 easy tips to creating a full-fledged online identity (that works!) in a digitally minded world:

1. URL. Make sure your URL is relevant to what you do, and make it simple and easy to remember. Your name alone is great—like alxblock.com or a mix of your name and trade like theluladesigns.com. Short and sweet is the key here.

2. TITLE. Remember that we are trying to make your site work for you, so we want people to be able to find you with a simple search. Make sure your name, trade, and location appear in the title of your site:

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This is an easy thing to do with by implementing the <title>REPLACE THIS WITH YOUR NAME, TRADE, AND LOCATION</title> tags in your header.

3. KEYWORDS. This is about selling YOU. You need to make sure that not only is your online portfolio a good representation of your work, but that it is fully visible. Your portfolio should include keywords that will allow the almighty Google bots to find you. Use keywords in the header by implementing the <meta name=”keywords” content=”INSERT COMMA SEPERATED KEYWORDS HERE”/> tag on each portfolio page.

4. CONTENT. Google likes dynamic over static. Make sure your site is built in a way that allows you to update it often with new content quickly and easily. Having a blog on your site is ideal because you can post something new every day, making your site much more interesting and allowing you to come up in the search results more often.

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5. BACKEND. I’m a huge fan of WordPress and use it on almost every site that I build (even this site is built completely on WordPress—portfolio and all.) With all of the plug-ins being created by developers worldwide, it gives you the largest selection of cool things to add to your site. The best part is that you need little-to-no technical knowledge to use it. It’s simple and effective. Make sure that the CMS that your site is built on is something that you can manage. Make sure it achieves your goals.

6. USABILITY. What good is an online portfolio if you can’t navigate it? Make sure your links are set-up in a way that is clear and intuitive. You always want to give your visitors somewhere to go next. As soon as they reach a dead-end page on your site, they are out of there and onto the next. Be as clear and bold as possible with your navigation.

7. AESTHETICS. Dude. Make it pretty. You’re a creative and this is the impression you are going to make on people. Make sure your images are clear, your type is clean, and your grammar is correct. People will judge your work based on how your site looks, so be sure that it’s as awesome as your work is.

8. NICHE. It’s impossible to appeal to everyone. Think long and hard about the people that you really want to target. If it’s non-profits, then be sure to include examples of your work done for non-profits. If you’re after agencies, then be sure to include a well rounded array of collateral materials. Make your portfolio relevant to your audience.

9. CONTACT. So now that someone has landed on your site, make sure that it is super easy for them to get in touch with you. Try having your email in the footer of each page. I would also recommend a full page dedicated to the ways people can get a hold of you. This could include badges to your social media profiles like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIN, or just a simple contact form for people to fill out:

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10. BRAND. As a freelance creative, you are the visual expert. Your site must be clear, effective, have a streamlined look and feel all the way down to the language that is used in speaking to your audience. Make sure that your fonts appear the same way on each page, the colors all work together, your logo is clear and present everywhere that they look, the language is consistent and that it all represents what you do.

I’m not trying to imply that these are the only things that make a successful site. Good traffic and a profitable return on your hard work can take some time. Be patient. Build that strong community by following these tips and the business will follow.

-Alx

http://alxblock.com

How to find and use your Facebook Status feed

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Update:
This method no longer works. It was certainly fun while it lasted.
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So I think that I’ve answered this question enough times now to warrant a little how-to on the topic.   Feeds are pretty useful things.  You can plop them anywhere and update the world without too much thought.

Why would you want to use your Facebook Status feed?

linkedin-facebook-twitterIf you’re like most people these days, you are totally into Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN and any other social network under the ether.  If you’re like me, you feel like you can only keep track of one or two at a time.  Why not make it so that when you update your status on Facebook, it automatically Tweets?  Why not let everyone who’s “IN” know what’s on your mind?  Getting all of these media integrated is the key to making them work for you.  Or the key to making you not look so lazy.  Either way, integration is a great idea.

How to find your feed

I haven’t quite figured out an automatic way to do this, but there is a quick manual trick that works perfectly well.

1) Go to: http://www.facebook.com/notifications.php when you are logged into Facebook.

2) In the right sidebar, there is a button called “Your Notifications.” It has a little RSS icon next to it.  Well.  Click it.

3) Up will come your “notifications” feed.  Here is where the manual part comes in.  Change the word **notifications** to the word **status**

4) Follow the new link that you created.  It should look something like this:

http://www.facebook.com/feeds/status.php?id=yournumber&viewer=yournumber&key=b19ce192ce&format=rss20

And that’s it!

You can now use your Status Update feed anywhere.

There are pleanty of services out there like Twitterfeed or Ping that will walk you through using your feed on a variety of services.

Good luck and happy feeding!

-Alx

Interacting With the World

What does interacting with the world mean?

Each of us lives our lives with some purpose.  Each purpose is different for each person.  We often get caught up in our own little worlds and forget that we are made up of our interactions.  We are who we play with.

Interacting with the world is another way of saying that I am made up of more than just me.  I am complete only with the actions and ideas of others.  Your innovations.  Your genius.  Your caring.  Your intelligence.

Since this concept is as macro as a concept can get, I have decided to embrace this idea and roll with it as much as I can.

Here are a few of my tools for interacting with the world:

In future posts I will explain just how to use each one to interact with your world.  It’s all about harnessing the power of Social Media to build your space.

-Alx