Most new prozers, and also some old members, simply ignore the fact that their profile pages are probably the best place to get them new clients. This is due to the fact that many similar websites' profile pages usually don't attract any traffic. However, your Proz.com profile page is different.
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Actually this profile page has many functions that are built to promote! As long as you have enough patience and study it carefully, you will see how these features can help sell your services:
1. Personal Photo
It's almost universally recognized that profiles and CVs with personal photos usually give readers a positive impression regarding you as a real person out there. Furthermore, when you are posting in the forums and get featured on Proz.com home page as a Platinum member, a good personal photo will stand out more clearly among so many colleagues.
2. Your Real Name
Of course, not all of us like to pin our real name up in public places. But if you want to get more professional looking, consider displaying your real name on your profile page.
3. Your Tagline
A tagline is your logo, your service mark and your catchword. Something simple, fresh, crisp, impressive and easy to remember to represent and reflect your personality and your service quality. I believe many people understand how important Just do it is for Nike. So is your tagline for you. Make it stand out and let it be yours.
4. Your CV
By CV I mean the blocks of text you are encouraged to enter into your profile, such as your areas of specialization, info about you or your agency's accomplishments, pricing, etc.
I know everybody is busy and I've seen some really lazy guys just leave those parts blank or scribble something there sporting typos. I wonder whether they really want to use this profile as their professional presentation.
In fact, filling in these fields won't take you more than half an hour if you seriously want to introduce yourself to clients.
My opinion is that this is the most important part on your profile page. This is your content.
Many clients have heavy workload and they can't always afford to write to you for more information. So put some of your basic information here first. Furthermore, remember your profile page will be automatically indexed by search engines. Those engines send out robots to crawl the whole site of Proz.com as they are instructed. A good profile page will get you additional traffic from outside searches such as Google, MSN among others.
It is the logic of those search engines that if you don't have content on your page, they regard it as less important or even not important at all. After a few visits, if you don't put more content on it or never change it, they will probably stop indexing your page. Even though they do index it, your page will never show up in popular searches as its importance is too low to rank high.
5. Your Keywords
This is related to your content of course. As I said, if your keywords are right but they don't repeat themselves in your content, then those search engines won't index your profile page in your favor.
Remember you should choose your keywords carefully. Never think that you can do it yourself. Everybody thinks about the same thing a little differently. In this case, what you think is less important than what the potential clients think. Try to put yourself in your clients' shoes and ask your colleagues and friends to help you find the best keywords that may be used by clients to search for your services.
6. Upload Your CV
Is this still necesssary since your profile page is already full of information? It really depends. Some people like to read your profile page, other people may be used to reading your uploaded CV or like to save a copy to their harddisk and conveniently print it out later.
But if you put it up there, search engines may also find it following the link on your profile page and index it. Then you have added chance being found on those engines. No worries about your PDF CVs; they are also indexed if you don't secure them too much.
7. Your Credentials
Do you have a credential? If you are not a platinum member, at least you should report it so you have the qualification to bid on a job that requires a credential. If you are a paying member, have your translation related credentials confirmed will add more luster to your credibility as a professional.
While credentials can't guarantee you are a good translator, having them there will never hurt you.
When a potential client searches for a freelancer, your name will stand out if you have a confirmed credential as represented by a gold-colored star symbol. Reported but unconfirmed credentials only have a larger outlined star, which is paler.
If a client specifies that she/he only wants freelancers with confirmed credentials in their searches, your profile may suddenly catches her/his eyes, as in some language pairs not many people have confirmed credentials or even reported ones.
8. Verify your ID
A verified ID is yet another way to prove that you are someone real. And this also adds to your reliability. Nobody wants to assign an important job to someone who claims to be there but suddenly disappeared when delivery time has passed. Again, a verified ID can't guarantee you anything, but it is better than nothing. Getting your ID verified and making clients feel better is always advisable!
9. Working Languages
Set your working languages so that your clients know if you are the linguist they want. A word of warning, never play with it and set too many pairs than you can professionally do. You are supposed to provide professional translation services in those language pairs you set. Setting up languages will also help potential clients to find you.
This is another important function of your profile page. Set them carefully, and this is reflected not only on your profile page, but linked to the freelancer search engine. If you are an expert in medical translation for example, be sure to set the expertise accordingly. Then, when a client searches for professionals specialized in medical translation, your name will be in the search results!
There are detailed instructions for setting your expertise appropriately when you click on Edit Expertise on your profile page. A word of suggestion: Don't play with it. Consider your field of specialty carefully.
Entering glossary into your database not only help enrich the already huge glossary library built by active Prozers, but also help let other colleagues and potential clients understand you better. When someone get a term from your database searching glossaries, they may also want to visit your profile page and know you personally. Remember, many colleagues may become your clients!
Besides, entering glossary will earn you Browniz points that can be used to bid on jobs if you are a basic member and get you discount when purchasing a membership after your points reached 4,000.
12. A Link to Your Website
You may already know that you can put a link on your profile page to your own website if you have one. And this not only provides visitors access to your more detailed presentation, but also help earn higher Google Page Rank for your website. In other words, putting a link on your profile page helps promote your website in search engine rankings!
This is something you can't edit directly on your profile page. But to fully use your profile to promote yourself, this is indispensable. You earn Kudoz points by helping peers solve their difficult translation problems. This is a way to show your generosity and professional ability to crack real and tough problems faced by other professionals.
The more Kudoz points you earn the higher your rank is in the freelancer search result lists.
A profile with some Kudoz points is like an army officer with decorations. It is a kind of honor that everybody should want to possess.
14. Your Portfolio
This is a good place to show your potential clients samples of previous translation works. You should get permission from your previous clients before pasting them here. Never breach your NDA.
Profiles with portfolio will also be marked clearly in the freelancer search results. So this is another good way to distinguish yourself among fellow translators.
The content of your portfolio should serve as a sampler, so keep the pieces short. In my opinion, one or two self-contained short paragraphs should be enough.
15. Your Personal Page
I don't think many people really take advantage of this. If you have a website, this page is not of much use. The difference between this page and your profile main page is that here you can design the page layout yourself. I believe a well-designed personal page will also boost your search engine rankings in the end.
16. Other Items
What I have described above in detail is what I consider most useful in attracting potential clients from searches both within the Proz.com system and outside. There are some lesser (my opinion only) features such as your rate, your messenger settings and so on. While they don't have significant impact on your self-promotion campaign, they may add chances for you being contacted. So if you can set them up, why not do it?
This article introduced the features of your profile page and how you may use them to increase your exposure to potential clients and search engines. What I introduced is limited by my own experience. I hope other more experienced users can constantly add to knowledgebase their valuable ideas and suggestions.