When we think of branding, we tend to imagine it only applies to big companies like Pepsi or McDonald’s. But branding for freelancers is just as important for building up a steady and successful business.
In this guide, we’ll look at why branding for freelancers actually matters and offer 5 tips to help you do it right.
Why a Freelancer’s Brand Matters
Personal brands are a thing. This becomes obvious when you think of celebrities. Even at 90 years old, Clint Eastwood is still one of the first names that comes to mind when we think of Western heroes. When it comes to feel good talk show hosts, Oprah Winfrey is a household name.
But as a freelancer, you don’t need to become a name known across the world or even your country. You just need to brand yourself as the go-to professional in some of the circles that your customers are active in.
Imagine how your business would change, for example, if you were known as the most trusted backlink provider in an SEO Facebook Group with 10,000 members. Or the most creative logo designer in a community of small business owners.
All of a sudden, whenever someone is looking for the service you provide, you are going to be at the top of the list of recommendations. Even when people are just looking for advice, they’ll turn to you. This is going to lead to more than just sales. It’s going to lead to long term partnerships and new opportunities.
5 Tips for Better Branding For Freelancers
So how do you start branding yourself as the freelancer you want to be known as? Here are five strategies to apply.
#1 Choose The Right Brand Name
You might be thinking, “I already have a name!”.
And that’s fine. Many freelancers—perhaps even most—just operate under their given name. But you may want to think about how to present yourself to the world.
For example, even just adding your profession to your name goes a long way towards setting yourself apart, especially if you’ve got a particularly common name. Jill Smith Photography or SEO by Sam, for example, will make people start to associate your name with your industry.
You can also consider different variations of your name. If you’ve got a particularly unique first name, you could just use that. Others play with initials in different arrangements: Derrick M. Willis and D. M. Willis, for example, have very different feels to them.
#2 Determine The Image You Want to Project
Essentially, your brand is the public image that you want people to associate with your business. So it’s worth taking some time to decide exactly what you want that image to be.
Brainstorming a simple statement of your brand image will help you keep it in mind at all times. Here is an example for you (using our fictional D. M. Willis, who we’ll say is a web designer):
D. M. Willis helps small businesses make the right impression with customers online through professional, affordable web design.
#3 Set Your Brand Values
Your brand values are the things that fuel your business. They are the heart and soul of everything you do. A freelance business without a strong sense of its values runs the risk of losing sight of customer needs by focusing too much on sales or internal processes.
Therefore, while brainstorming your brand values, try to keep them focused on your ideal customers. D.M. Willis, who is trying to become the #1 web designer for budget-minded local businesses, might choose these as his top brand values:
- Small, local businesses are the heart of American commerce. When I help them grow, I help everyone grow.
- Every business, even a new one, deserves a beautiful online presence.
- Good web design scales with company growth.
#4 Write A Bio That Promotes Your Brand
As a freelancer, potential customers are going to be reading your bio all over the place. Whether it’s on Twitter, LinkedIn, your Legiit profile, or elsewhere, you want your bio to set you up as the professional freelancer that you are.
To that end, be sure to keep in mind both your image and your values as you craft a winning bio. Once you’ve got those in your mind, put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer. Ask yourself what they would be looking for to build trust in both your expertise and your professionalism.
Because different platforms allow different lengths, you’ll want to approach the task in multiple steps:
- First, write a long bio, maybe 2 – 3 paragraphs that really encompass who you are, what you do, and why you are the best in your field.
- Then, write another version that is just about a paragraph long, keeping only the most important details.
- Finally, sum up your bio in a single sentence that could be used as a tagline to communicate the gist of your brand in a matter of seconds.
#5 See Every Interaction as a Way to Build Your Brand
By now, you should have a really strong idea of what your brand is. The mere act of writing up three different bio statements should cement your brand in your head pretty well. Now it’s time to cement it in the heads of your customers.
Going forward, you want to use every possible opportunity to communicate your brand. Any interaction you have with potential customers should associate your name with the values and image you are trying to project.
These sorts of interactions will happen everywhere, but here are some specific examples to help you get the idea:
Groups: If you are a member of any online communities where people are looking for your services or discussing the industry, stop lurking and start posting. Be genuinely helpful, not salesy. But find subtle ways to help people associate your name with your expertise and the values that are at the core of your business.
Service Descriptions: If you have your services listed on a freelance marketplace like Legiit, this is an easy place for you to communicate your brand. Because customers are actively seeking out and reading your service description, you can be more overt in letting them know what your brand stands for. You can even outright list your core values.
Client Communication: Whether it’s pre- or post-sale, your values should guide how you communicate with your clients. Our budding web designer, D. M. Willis, for example, might work in a line like this whenever he delivers an order to a new customer:
I pride myself on helping small businesses grow through superior, affordable web design. So if you ever feel like your new site needs anything else to meet the needs of your customers, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Final Thoughts on Branding for Freelancers
It’s important to know that you don’t build a brand overnight. But if you approach the task with a strategic process, rather than just hoping it happens, you’ll wake up one day and discover that you and your brand are indistinguishable. And your customers will realize it too.
You’re equipped with everything you need. Now get out there and take action.