LinkedIn is probably most known for being the place where out-of-touch relatives praise you for your Microsoft Word skills. You might call it "Facebook for khakis" and exclusively use it to congratulate old coworkers on work anniversaries. If you're lucky, it may have aided you in landing a dream job. However, LinkedIn has another trick up its sleeve for freelancers: publishing on the platform can help you establish your brand and possibly even land a lucrative job.
LinkedIn publishing, as opposed to a LinkedIn post, which is a more polished, corporate version of a social network update, allows users to contribute their own long-form content of up to 110,000 characters. It's simple to use, gives writers control, and allows you to tap into an audience of people you already know.
While a LinkedIn byline can help you get your name out there, you'll have to play the long game to gain the full benefits of the site. Since 2014, Tom Popomaronis, a freelance business writer and contributor to CNBC, has been experimenting with his LinkedIn publishing methodology. "Whether you have 10,000 or 100 connections, [writing articles on LinkedIn] indicates that you're devoted to sharing insights with your network of peers and colleagues," he said. "It also serves as a fantastic portfolio builder," adds the author.
LinkedIn Publishing: Why You Should Consider It
When juggling a personal blog, website, portfolio, and paid clients, time-pressed freelance creatives may ask what the value of publishing on LinkedIn is.
Platforms like Medium, which allows self-publishers to make money through its partner program, may offer a speedier return on investment. In addition, Medium's top posts are curated and distributed across its platforms in ways that LinkedIn articles are not. Personal blogs provide writers far greater control over the appearance of their content, as well as the option to establish a following through their own website, which can aid SEO.
LinkedIn's professional cache, though, still has value. LinkedIn boasts a membership of 740 million people, with 90 million senior-level influencers. Your network is made up of second and third-degree relationships as well as people you know. So, if you self-publish, you're reaching out to more people than simply your college buddies and ex-bosses. If any of your contacts share or "like" your content, it may be seen by others with looser ties, giving you greater exposure.
It's also worth mentioning that LinkedIn is gradually allowing all users to generate newsletters directly on the platform. Subscribers receive a push, in-app, or email notifications whenever you post something new, thanks to this feature. This option—currently offered on an invite-only basis—is one approach to creating a committed readership for people who wish to produce articles for LinkedIn on a regular basis.
Popomaronis also appreciates the ability to choose which articles to highlight on LinkedIn. While every post is archived under your "activity" page, you can highlight your favorites so they appear first when someone visits your profile—similar to a pinned Tweet. You also have complete control over who sees your work. You can adjust permissions to your LinkedIn updates by selecting a subset of your connections in your settings. Public articles on public profiles cast the widest net, but you can modify permissions to your LinkedIn posts by selecting a subset of your connections in your preferences.
Keep in mind that LinkedIn isn't the only place where you can publish. You may always republish the same essay on multiple platforms, according to John Espirian, a copywriter who has written extensively about the professional network. Just be sure to change the headline and double-check that the content is appropriate for LinkedIn's professional environment. A 5,000-word op-ed about celebrity gossip could work on Medium, but it's probably not right for LinkedIn.
Identifying the problem
LinkedIn ultimately wants users to stay on the site, so it's not the best tool for directing people elsewhere. Aesthetics and branding are also limited, and the articles themselves appear to be uninteresting.
While LinkedIn articles can help you grow your network and identify yourself as a subject matter expert, don't expect them to change the world. "'Going viral' on LinkedIn, in my opinion, no longer exists," Popomaronis added. Your material has a huge potential audience, but because LinkedIn uses a sophisticated algorithm, not every connection sees every post in their feed.
To this point, your postings will gain more traction if they tackle themes that are relevant to your network. Popomaronis stated, "Creating relevant material is so much more crucial than the quest for virality." "It's basically a long-shot strategy." Not all writers are willing to devote so much time to their work.
Finally, when viewing someone's profile, articles can be difficult to locate. It can be difficult to tell the difference between articles and run-of-the-mill posts.
The best practices for success
It's a good idea to consider about LinkedIn as a supplement to your CV. The goal of your profile, whether it's producing an essay or showcasing your skills, is to find a job. If a nagging topic keeps coming up in your professional networks, a LinkedIn post could be the perfect location to answer it—and position yourself as a resource or authority in the process.
Even a single well-crafted piece can contribute significantly to this goal. "When you write an essay, you're establishing yourself as a thought leader on a particular area," he explained. But don't become too confident—building momentum requires dedication and perseverance. Every content should be shared with your network as a social media post with a call to action and three to five relevant hashtags, according to Popomaronis.
LinkedIn also keeps track of your articles' metrics for two months after they've been published. Writers get pageview analyses, as well as information on where your readers work, what job titles they hold, and where they live—all of which can help you better understand your audience and refine your messaging.
The LinkedIn algorithm can also help you figure out what kind of material you should write. Its personalized discover hub suggests sites, brands, and personalities to follow depending on your skillset, as well as hashtags to utilize when sharing articles to increase engagement. You should also have a look at LinkedIn's publishing guidelines and distribution advice. While LinkedIn publishing is wonderful for thought leadership, it isn't designed for overt advertising; the network has different offerings for that.
Understanding the benefits and constraints of LinkedIn publishing is essential to success. "You need to reset your expectations if you expect overnight fame and inbound leads," Popomaronis added.