What’s in a name? Everything. Yes, it’s that age-old adage again, but for freelance writers and journalists in this internet era, your name really is everything. It is your identity, business, brand, and life. In just a few quick keystrokes, employers, editors, and maybe even your mother can put together the pieces of your life story, whether you like it or not. It’s easy for readers to connect the digital dots and make your Twitter posts, bylines, YouTube videos, and Facebook page into a narrative about who you are and where you have been.
So what do you want that narrative to say? If you don’t take any steps to streamline your digital identity, then others will do it for you. Google yourself. Don’t be embarrassed. See what comes up. If this isn’t the narrative that you want, it’s easy enough to take control of the conversation by consolidating your digital identity with a few easy steps.
1. Facebook Face Lift
Don’t write off Facebook as simply a place to waste your time or procrastinate before a deadline. For freelancers, it can be an invaluable way to tell a little about yourself and get your clips read. Your Facebook page can be a useful tool for connecting with editors and distributing your pieces to new readers. First you need to determine the purpose of your Facebook page. Do you want it to be an intermixed venue where you mix your friends with your business contacts? Will it be a place where both your personal and professional life overlap? If you decide on the former, be cautious of what your Facebook activity says about you. How will your “likes,” comments and posts create an image of you?
If you’re interested in having a personal page that is separate from your public/business page, feel free to make a “Fan” page for your professional endeavors, or use a variation of your name for a personal page.
2. Domain Claim
As new social media sites spring up across the expanses of the internet, it is important to stake your claim with your name. As much as it may be fun to use a cute name or that AOL email moniker you grabbed back in the 1990’s, it’s important to use your real name on social media sites if you want to control your internet visibility.
Snatch up your domain name first, and if you really want to streamline your SEO, register some common misspellings of your name. Then stake a claim on social media and blogging sites Twitter, Linked In and Tumblr, as well as other media sites like Youtube, Vimeo, and Soundcloud. It’s important to snatch up these sites whether you’re going to use them or not. By doing this, you eliminate the chance that someone with the same name as you will publish a YouTube channel with your name that shows nothing but chinchilla dust bath videos.
3. The Name Game
Lastly, think about your own name. How can you get your own name to be noticed in a byline? If you have a very common name, consider adding an initial, or perhaps using your middle name as well. For women, consider using your maiden name. This will distinguish you from the million John or Jane Smiths out there. Your name is your brand, so you want to make yourself stand out. And above all, you want to be “Googleable.” It’s the internet existential crisis. If Google can’t find you, do you even exist?