Chicago’s Luvvie Ajayi reaches a pop-culture savvy audience of black women and others with her blog Awesomely Luvvie, and some of the nation’s biggest brands have taken notice. Comcast hired her to host a “Scandal” viewing party during the 2013 Blogalicious conference in Atlanta. McDonald’s had her take over its 365Black Twitter account during the Essence… [Read more…]
The emoji diversity gap may be closing and the taco emoji is finally in the keyboard, but one group of individuals are still unrepresented: curly haired individuals. To offers emoji lovers curly haired emojis, Dove Hair has launched “Dove Love Your Curls Emojis,” which features pictographs of curly hair women and girls. The emojis are part… [Read more…]
By ERRIN WHACK
For journalists working in newsrooms, their brand is attached to that of their employer. But freelancers are their own brand, and promoting themselves and their work is an essential part of the job.
Whether you’re a freelance writer, editor, photographer, graphic designer or social media manager, here are a few tips to help build your brand.
*Think about all that your journalistic expertise means. Do you only want to write, or can you also edit? Have you covered a topic for long enough to make you an authority that others would want to hear from in a different setting (i.e., as a speaker, panelist, or pundit)?
*Be clear about the things you want to do and start identifying how to present yourself and whom you need to make aware of your goals. You’ll need an efficient delivery at the ready, whether you’re meeting people for coffee, at a networking event, or through an e-mail connection.
*Your introduction should be enough to pique the interest of a potential client, but your business cards and website must also clearly and cleanly communicate who you are and put your best work forward. They should leave people with a lasting and memorable impression of you and prompt them to want to know more about you and your work — and hopefully how they can hire you!
*On both cards and your site, clutter is the enemy. Ask yourself: What’s most important for people to know, and what’s the best way for me to tell them? Obey the rule of quality over quantity if you want to grab and hold people’s attention. These are investments, so you don’t want to sell yourself short!
Remember: Both are designed to make you more money, and if they look cheap, people will assume that you are as well.
The good news is, looking the part doesn’t have to be expensive. There are excellent, affordable resources available. You can buy your domain name for as little as $10. Site hosting can be equally inexpensive. You can find quality business cards (with free, professional templates and nice paper stock) for the price of a decent pair of shoes.
One of the best parts about freelancing is the freedom to chart your career: Picking and choosing the stories you want to tell, following your passions instead of the needs of an employer, and working on projects and issues you care about. But part of branding is positioning yourself to take advantage of opportunities — including the ones you may not even be looking for.
If you don’t know who you are, you can’t tell the people looking to hire you. As a freelancer, your professional identity is one of the most valuable things you have, because it is the vehicle that allows you to do what you want!
Errin Whack is an award-winning politics and culture writer based in Washington, D.C. She has recently contributed to outlets including NPR, Politico Magazine, NBCBLK, and EBONY. Follow her on Twitter @.
Editor’s Note: Last month our careers columnist Benét Wilson wrote about fixing gaps in your resume. This month we’re going to focus on how to repair negative results that may appear when employers plug your name into search engines such as Google or Bing.
With more companies utilizing online tools, it’s easier for potential clients or employers to find negative content on potential employees, making it more difficult to find jobs.
A study conducted by Microsoft, owner of search engine Bing, found that 79 percent of U.S.-based human resource professionals research a prospective employee’s online reputation, but only 32 percent of prospects take their online reputation seriously. The company also found 42 percent of Bing users search their name as a precaution.
Sabrina Clark, executive director of marketing for BrandYourself.com, said search results are typically an employer’s first impression of a person.
“It’s your resume, business card and reputation all rolled into one,” Clark said during a webinar on combating negative search results. “Most people don’t come across as good online as they do off line. One or more negative results coming up from your name can have a massive impression on anyone who’s looking you up.”
Negative search results aren’t always images that show people in compromising positions, Clark said, but can include negative press, blog posts or business reviews as well as revenge porn or, in the case of BrandYourself co-founder Pete Kistler, mistaken identity.
“In college, he was being confused with a criminal in Google search results with a similar age range and similar location,” Clark said. Kistler founded the online reputation management company in 2010 after being mistaken for criminals when job hunting.
Clark said while the negative results are damaging, there are ways to combat them.
Ask the website owner or user to take down the content
There are different approaches to asking depending on whether it is a smaller site or larger one. If it’s a smaller site, Clark suggests contacting them directly through the contacts listed on their web page.
“Some smaller blogs like to talk to you and their user base will openly provide contact info,” she said. “If you can’t [reach someone] you might be able to use their domain (to look them up).”
Clark said using who.is is helpful when finding more information on the website. Just type in the domain name and it will give the information it has on the site. If a person is still unable to find what they are looking for, they may have to contact the hosting provider, which may be listed on who.is as well.
Larger websites usually have their own terms of services and a team of people dealing with these issues, Clark said. She also said writing a clear explanation with screenshots makes it easier for websites to handle this issues.
While this is a more common solution, Clark added that a few issues may come out of this: The person who posted it doesn’t have to take it down and if the post is taken down they are archived in search results, which may not disappear immediately. Also, other sites may have the same content posted.
File a legal complaint with Google or a Digital Millennial Copyright Act (DMCA) Takedown
If the first approach is unsuccessful, Clark suggests going to support.google.com/legal, which will have information about filing a complaint.
Copyrighted content or images being used without consent is typically investigated, along with postings containing personal information such as credit card or social security numbers, Clark said. Google won’t, however, remove embarrassing information or content just because a user doesn’t like it.
If unsuccessful with Google, another legal route is to file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act take down notice. The DMCA was passed in 1996 to protect copyrighted material online. In this situation, users have to make sure the material is copyrighted and that they own the copyrighted content.
If the information is false, call a lawyer
If a DMCA takedown request is denied, the next step may getting a lawyer. This is most helpful when dealing with defamation suits in which false information is posted about a person in an attempt to diminish their character. According to abine.com, an online privacy blog, a person could get a court order declaring content as defamatory if the claims are presented as facts, are proven false and/or negatively affects their reputation. Abine.com also advises speaking with a First Amendment attorney who specializes in Internet defamation.
Going the legal route is not an easy fix, but for some it may get less complicated. Last year a European Commission ruled online users had the “right to be forgotten,” meaning users can now ask Google to remove irrelevant or inaccurate content regarding them. The ruling applies to companies in the European Union as well as U.S.-based companies operating in the EU, including Google and Facebook. But Google has created an online form that even U.S. citizens can now use to ask the search giant to remove links or posts containing personal information.
Build your online presence
“The only effective way to combat negative results is to actively build a positive online presence,” she said. “It will safeguard you from negative results.”
Since the goal is to build a positive reputation, she recommends that online users create a personal website using their name as the domain name. Clark also suggests using WordPress since it’s free and easily guides users through the process of search engine optimization for websites.
Next, she said to get on relevant social media, particularly ones pertaining to a person’s professional field, and to share professional content. Clark also encouraged starting a blog since they help people stay active on the web while producing good content.
“[Blogging] is simpler than you think,” she said, “adding sites such as Medium allow you to very easily start blogging from day one and share interesting content related to your industry, which would only add credibility to you as a professional.”
By RAISA HABERSHAM
Sean Gardner could be called the king of social media. Gardner was crowned No. 1 social media influencer by Forbes Magazine in 2013 after his foray onto more than 2800 Twitter lists (he has more than 760,000 followers) and more than 500 LinkedIn connections.
Gardner shared a few of his secrets on his social media success in a webinar hosted last Thursday by The National Association of Black Journalists’ Digital Task Force, AllDigitocracy.org and The Diverse Social Media Editors and Digital Journalists.
Here are a few tips he gave during the broadcast, but if you want more insider information, Gardner’s book, “The Road to Social Media Success,” is available for download on Kindle.
1. Don’t be afraid to build a following
Gardner said numbers matter and your reach depends on what you’re doing through social media. He urges reaching out to people outside your field. Some followers may become too familiar with your brand and become bored. Extending your reach allows you to rebrand while gaining a new following. Also, don’t let follower counts interfere with connecting. You never know who that person may know, so reaching out won’t hurt.
2. “Cross posting” helps
Though there are some who prefer certain social media platforms (Gardner prefers LinkedIn and Twitter), Gardner says “cross posting,” or link sharing, allows you to reach multiple platforms in a day without compromising your preferred interests. He added the best time to post for international reach is 2 a.m. EST, since the eastern United States will soon rise, and much of the overseas market will be waking up, in the middle of, or just ending their day.
3. Be a “go-giver”
Generosity is also a part of your success, Gardner said. If someone is sharing your posts, liking your statuses or retweeting your tweets, don’t be afraid to return the favor. It could build your social media reach as well. You don’t have to like and retweet everything, he said, but do make sure what you share benefits the source and your followers. You can risk losing a few followers over retweets (or even tweets) that don’t benefit them.
4. Dare to be different
Gardner said he didn’t get to his success by always playing by the rules. One thing he did to separate himself from the pack was rewrite his LinkedIn summary to include key accomplishments and goals, leading users to contact him for social media advice. He saw similar results after inserting “Keynote Speaker” into his Twitter bio. Gardner said sometimes the typical “best advice” isn’t always for your brand or business, so don’t hesitate to pave a path that works for you.