As a freelancer, it is always a good idea to keep an eye on what people are saying about you. If you’re being criticised somewhere online, you may want to address the issues head on or do some damage limitation. Or, if you find that someone has praised your work, you may want to publicise this, or even just quietly bask in the glory for a few minutes.
Keeping an eye out for social media mentions is also important. If people are talking about you on Twitter, for instance, being aware of what is being said could help you to address concerns, improve your business practices, or – if it is glowing praise – enjoy a bit of a morale boost.
Despite these benefits, I rarely remember to do it. I have a Google alert set up so that I get an email if anybody mentions my name online. In fact, it was through a Google alert that I learned I’d been placed on the list of the Most Influential Disabled People in Britain, which certainly came as a surprise! However, it is filtered out of my inbox into a dedicated folder that I don’t often check. I also signed up to Mention, but the Android app was buggy and I ended up abandoning it.
So, when I finally got round to googling myself a few days ago, there were a few surprises. I’m not sure how long it had been since I last did it, but it was certainly months, if not a year or so.
Amongst other things, I learned that:
- An article I wrote for the New Statesman, Do the Paralympics Put Extra Pressure on Disabled People?, was quoted in Jennie Barnsley’s PhD thesis, Grounding Theology in Quotidian Experiences of Complex Gender: A Feminist Approach
- An article I wrote for Disability Intersections, March of the Food Snobs, caused more than a little consternation among some fans of Gerson therapy
- I’m mentioned by name on the Wikipedia page of The F-Word, the feminist website I have written for, managed the social media for, and been on the management collective for the last six years.
Reviewing what people are saying about you or your freelance business online is a smart move. I’m aware I need to make it a more regular feature of my research and work, and that I should probably pay more attention to my Google Alerts, too. Searching for my name on Twitter, as well as the titles of the most high-profile or popular posts or articles I write is also a good idea, and this is something I should dedicate more time to.
Even if it’s bad, you should still want to know what is being said. It’s far better to address criticisms as they arise than it is to live in happy ignorance with your reputation going down the toilet.
- Google yourself today.
- Repeat the task using DuckDuckGo so you get results that aren’t personalised to your own search habits.
- Sign up for the free version of Mention.
- Set up a Google Alert for your name and the name of your business.
- Set a reminder to do it all again in 2-4 weeks.
- Don’t obsess over what you find, but do use it as a learning experience when appropriate.