Every now and then, it’s a good idea to type your own name into the search box on Google and check out the results. You may be surprised by the type and amount of information about you that is readily available online. Why should you take this step and what does it have to do with looking for freelance writing work?
It’s quite simple: A current or potential client who wants to know more about you may decide to check you out online. I have been contacted by two clients who have done so. In one case, someone I had just started working with sent me a writer’s profile from a site I used to work for and asked if I was the same person. In the other situation, a client who wanted to find somewhere to post a job ad found FWJ (and me) as a result of his online search.
Both situations had a positive outcome, but I admit that I am very careful about what I put out in cyberspace. Not only do search engines index work that I have done under my own name, but they also pick up comments made on web sites and blogs. Do you use Twitter? Your tweets can show up in an online search. Same with your LinkedIn and Facebook pages.
Just as an experiment, I Googled my own name recently. Someone who wants to find out about me can see the items I just mentioned, as well as find out my age, where I went to high school, and what year I graduated. None of these factors should make any difference in whether I can do a job or not, but they do provide information about who I am.
It was an interesting exercise and one that I will keep in mind if I ever get the urge to go on a major rant online. As it is, if I wouldn’t want my mother or my children to read it, I don’t post it. Keeping it PG works for me.
Have you ever had a client check you out online (that you know of)? Do you look up your own name to see what comes up in the results?
Thursday Bram says
I think it’s very useful to search for my name fairly regularly — in addition to learning what prospective clients will see about me online, I’ve actually found some instances when people have been using my articles without my permission.
If you’re checking out your search results, it’s worthwhile to run your name through Yahoo and MSN as well — many people use these two search engines, and they can return very different results than Google.
I often use Google, along with the site: delimiter, to narrow my results. This provides publishers with a more current portfolio of my writing and reduces my need to constantly update my web site.
Gina-Marie Cheeseman says
Every now and then I Google my name. It lets me know what is being written about me.
Jenny B says
I did just that after I read your article yesterday. My first thought was how many of me are there? Quite a few, with my name. Even so, I was able to locate several comments that I had made and some that others bearing my name had made. I was relieved that my comments were presentable to my kids and family, as I would like them to be on the chance that a potential employer googles me too.
I had my ex husband’s LAWYER google me too. She began leaving comments on websites that I write for which was slightly uncomfortable explaining the situation to my editors.
I hate to bring up the negative, but people should know this too. If you have a particularly vindictive ex who is looking for “dirt” to be used against you in court…be extra careful what you write under your own name.
Yes, it can be good to have your name show up on a search; it can also be “bad”.
@ Michelle: That kind of behavior is unethical to say the least and may be a criminal offense. I hope you reported her actions to the appropriate Bar Association.
@Jodee…I’ve reported her before for other things she’s done which were pretty underhanded. Sad the things lawyers can do “legally”.
Seriously, they said there was nothing criminal about her comments. The bar association said they needed more info. Submitted “more info” and I’m waiting.
The whole thing really freaked me out though.
@ Michelle: It is sad. I’ve worked in a number of law firms, and not too much that you can tell me about lawyers would surprise me (unfortunately). I can understand your being freaked out.
Is there any way to erase a bad reference? If a business, school or a lawyer does this & refuses to do anything about it, can’t a person at least complain to Google?