Your Name Is Your Online Reputation

I have a lot of questions for you today. They’re all about you.

Have you Googled yourself lately?

Go ahead and do it. Put your name in quotes at Google and see what comes up. If you have a distinctive name, the entire first page might be about you!

Here’s my name on Google. There are links to many social media profiles for my name. I frequently post comments on The Huffington Post so that shows up as well. My website, The Moonlighter’s Guide, shows up near the bottom of the page.

Your Name Is Your Online Reputation

Your Name Is Your Online Reputation

Are you pleased with what shows up under your name? When you click on “images only”, are the pictures consistent and professional looking? Will they hinder or help you get a job? Are those college drinking photos from your friend’s Facebook page resurfacing yet again? You can’t control what other people say or write about you, but at least on Facebook you can “untag” yourself so the photo won’t appear when people are searching for you.

Oh! That party.

Oh! That party.

Social Media

Choose your words carefully when using social media. Everything you do or say on the web is tracked. You know that, right? That snarky comment you made about that other writer on that “members only” board that you thought was private, is there for all to see if they dig.

Those tweets never completely go away. That’s the truth. You need to act as though everything you write from a tweet to a comment to a book is accessible by everyone. A bad comment on a blog may come back to haunt you. Your wild weekend on your “private” Facebook page may not be in line with your online writing persona. All it takes is one wrong click and you can make everything available to the masses.

Keeping Your Good Name

Buy your name as a domain if it’s available. (www.YourName.com) Even if you don’t intend to put up a website using your name, at least it will be unavailable for others to do so. Later on, when you’re a rock star, you’ll be glad you did.

If you do choose to put up a website, please remember your website is a reflection of you. Not all of us have webmaster skills, but if you have silly moving GIF files on your site from 1997. Take them off. Have a clean, professional looking website.

I visited an author website once that was so fantastic it made me buy her book. The book was mediocre. I wasn’t a repeat customer, but she got the first sale by having a great looking website.

Your Bio and Photo

Update your bio, photo and professional experience across the web as your writing experience changes. Try to have some personal information in your bio too.  What is your favorite city on the planet? Does someone or something inspire you? Who and why?

Take a few minutes to read the professional bios of other writers you admire. What makes you like them? Incorporate those concepts and ideas into your own bio.

Professional Portrait

Professional Portrait

Photos Of You

When someone reads your bio, they look at your photo first. They try to imagine you doing all of the the things you stated in your bio.  If you are a travel writer it’s a great idea to have a photo of you standing in front of the Eiffel Tower or some other recognizable background. If you write comedy by all means have a funny picture. If you write brooding mystery and noir, black and white photos are all the rage. If you are a freelance writing professional, look like one. You may write in a robe and bunny slippers but clients don’t need to see them.

Your name is associated with your writing. One of the easiest ways to keep tabs on your name is to set up a Google Alert. Google will notify you by email when your name or any other search term you choose shows up on a new webpage.

Take the time to protect your online reputation and your good name.

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