It’s pretty commonly known among Black freelancers that if you are visibly identifiable as Black and you use a photo, your contacts drop.
When I first started, I addressed this by flat out breaking site rules and posting a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge. I received more invitations to interview and got more responses than even my most professional photos. Being the rule-follower I generally am though, it made me itchy and I tried other solutions to get around the requirement that logos and stock photos not be used.
What I’ve found about race and profile photos is you’re not trying to battle the flat out, rebel flag-carrying racist who’d never work with a Black person…no…you’re combating that split second discrimination that so many even liberal-minded people have when it comes to interpreting ability when they see a Black face (or a “Black-sounding” name, but that’s a conversation for another day).
Check these tips across some sites terms, but unless they’re like Google+ was with their strict facial requirements, you’ll get some wiggle room.
- Use a portion of your face: I did this in black and white of just my eye. My skin is dark so you can tell I’m not White, even in black and white, but it leaves people to ask a question, which is what you want.
- Get a photo from the back: I have a couple of these from vacations and whatnot. You can still tell I’m Black because of my natural hair, but if it were straight, there would be a question, and it’s still technically a photo of me.
- Go the distance: My current photo is taken from at least 20 feet back. I cropped it so that I’m way down in the corner looking off into the distance. You can only see a side of my face.
- Just do it: One of the most frustrating things about race and freelancing is that you never know how it’s going to play out until you try. That’s why I sometimes put up a standard photo just to see how things play out (I have yet to have it make a positive difference). Try it yourself though, as sometimes, depending on the subjects you write on and customers you’re working with, your results may be different.
Finding a photo that works for you is all about trial and error, so give all these a shot (I’ve used different methods on different sites) and see what gets you the most contacts.
Got any stories about your experiences with client retention and image? What’s worked for you? Leave you ideas in the comments.
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