Are you venturing into the world of freelancing?
If so, welcome! Freelancing can be an incredibly rewarding career that gives you the ability to do what you love while setting your own schedule.
But if you’re interested in actually making a good amount of money, you might be a bit worried, too. How do you stand out from the crowd and make yourself unique while drawing in loyal clients?
When you ask these questions, you’re really asking about personal branding.
What is personal branding, and how do you go about developing your own?
Keep on reading to learn more!
What Is Personal Branding?
Personal branding consists of the process of marketing people and their careers as a company or brand.
It combines the work you do with your personality, your hobbies, your interests and anything that can help you appear more “human” when venturing into the world of freelancing.
It involves the tone of your brand, any visual design aspects, and your services all rolled into one. We all have different personalities and your type is typically determines who you choose to spend time with.
Business is no different, if you enjoy the outdoors, riding your bike, traveling, and socializing with friends you will find the sales process much easier when you are talking to people who enjoy the same things.
I cannot tell you how many times I have been able to get a “yes” out of a prospective client because at some point during the sales process we realized that we had something in common.
By establishing your personal brand online, you can fast-forward that by giving people a glimpse into your personal life through your social posts, website images, LinkedIn profiel and more.
To see an example of branding in action, think of your favorite company. Chances are, you can picture the tone they use in their text and the overall impression they give off. You also know what they’re known for doing and what sets them apart.
All of this is part of the company’s brand.
But how do you go about developing a brand yourself?
Developing Your Personal Brand
Now that you understand what a personal brand is and why it is so important, you’re ready to go about establishing yours.
There are several steps to creating a brand that serves you and your career, and it requires much careful thought on your part. Unlike a multi-person business, freelancers must come up with their branding all on their own.
Just because you can’t sit around the table with a group of team members to discuss your company brand, doesn’t mean you can’t fine-tune everything you need on your own.
As a matter fact, this is your personal brand, and is totally up to you how you want to shape things. Looking for feedback from friends and family members is a great idea, but keep in mind this is something you need to develop yourself. This will ensure you stay true to yourself.
Now let’s get started developing your personal brand!
1. Think of Who You Want to Be
When you envision your freelancing career, what do you see? Where do you see yourself in 3, 5, 10, or even 30 years? Are you absolutely dedicated to a specific type of freelancing or do you have many likes and interests that you want to explore overtime?
Also, keep in mind that after doing something for several years many people get burnt out and want to pursue another path
But don’t let this keep you from choosing a path and getting started. I tell people all the time that you need to just decide start moving forward, and if you feel the urge to pivot down the road feel free to do so so long as you’re not using an excuse to stop doing something that’s difficult.
So now ask yourself what type of work you want to do, how you want to go about it, and what sets you apart?
The core of what you do is the most basic part of your brand. You want to make sure you’ve defined this to yourself as clearly as possible and created a unique selling proposition.
Simply put, a unique selling proposition is anything you do differently from your competition. Perhaps you specialize in doing things faster, cheaper, or more comprehensively than your competitors. That will be part of your brand.
And stepping beyond all of that, and into the realm of what makes you unique as a person. Are you a freelance photographer that specializes in weddings, but I also enjoy taking landscape, or architectural photos? Are you a freelance graphic designer specializing in logos, but really enjoy creating abstract digital art for friends and family?
No matter what you do as a freelancer, keeping your hobbies and other interests a part of your online presence and personal brand is a great way to stand out to prospects.
Next, establish the tone of your new business. Do you want to use friendly, casual language? Should the customer walk away feeling like you’re formal and authoritative?
Think through your tone carefully and seek to craft text that aligns with who you want to portray yourself as. You can also establish your tone through the visuals you choose. Pay attention to colors and imagery and only select those that are in-step with your brand.
Another thing to keep in mind here is who you will be selling to. If you want your personal brand to be edgy and alternative but you plan on selling two CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, you may need to come off as a bit more professional, at least at first.
I am not saying you need to compromise who you are, but you do need to keep in mind that most decision-makers at large companies are not going to entertain the idea of working with a whimsical creative type as they tend to work with individuals and agencies that have a much more cleaned up and professional look.
This doesn’t mean you can’t get your foot in the door with that kind of personal brand but just know that when you’re getting started at least it’s probably a good idea to shape shift into the role and the appearance that type of company will be looking for.
Don’t just establish your brand and leave it at that: be who you say you are.
If you promise helpful, quick turnaround times, make sure you can do it. If you pride yourself on being friendly and helpful, be that way with your clients, even when no one else can see.
Being true to who you claim to be is an important part of any brand marketing. After all, to maintain your reputation, you need to give clients the type of experience they purchase.
It’s also a great idea to share some of your personal life experiences with your clients as that can create a solid relationship that leads to more work and more referrals.
A great way to do this is to share your personal experiences like what you did over the weekend, or a new hobby or train, or a fun new life experience that you recently got to participate in.
4. Build Your Online Presense
Now it’s time to take everything you’ve been working on and get it online so people can learn more about you through your website and various social media accounts.
We always recommend everyone start with LinkedIn. This is the most professional networking and full of networking opportunities and can be a great way to drum up leads
Make sure you establish a clean and thorough profile with a professional headshot. Don’t forget to include all of your accomplishments, education, past work experience, and be sure to ask for recommendations and referrals.
If you haven’t already also be sure to connect with anyone and everyone you have ever worked with in the past as a way to increase the odds that you will have a mutual connection at a company you may want to pitch.
If you are in the visual space such as photography or logo design then you will definitely want to be on Instagram and Facebook. You need to be constantly sharing the work you’re doing no matter what type of work you do through the social channels
Even if you don’t plan on participating in Twitter, TikTok, or any other social network you still want to at least set up your account and reserve your brand name.
Now take everything we outlined previously and make sure that your brand matches everything we discussed on each of the social channels.
You will obviously want to do the same thing with your website. You have a lot more flexibility with a website in terms of what style and aesthetic you want to create so go wild and have fun with it.
Just don’t spend too much time on all of these things once you have a strong foundation established as it’s easy to get busy doing things that really aren’t going to help.
Far too often I see freelancers getting caught up doing “busy work” and they’re not actually selling their services or growing their business. Be sure to work smarter not harder.
If you’re a freelancer, you need to establish your own personal branding.
Personal branding gives your audience an overall impression of you as a professional. It includes what you do, the tone and personality you wish to market, and your own actual work with clients.
Want to become a better freelancer? Apply to our freelancers’ school today!