Crafting your unique identity: Personal branding strategies for freelancers
What is personal branding and why is it important?
Your personal brand can be likened to your professional reputation; it’s a way for your audience and potential clients to understand you and the value that you have to offer. Personal branding for freelancers is much more than just your logo; it includes your client communications, visuals, tone of voice, processes, attitude and more. Having a clear and recognisable brand will help you stand out amongst your competitors and be memorable to find your ideal clients.
As a freelancer, you are your brand. If executed well, your personal brand will ensure you build trust and relationships with those in your industry and potential clients, are seen as an expert yet also relatable as people buy why you do things, not what you do.
How to create your personal brand
Creating your personal brand will take time; however, don’t be discouraged; you can continuously hone your brand as you learn more about yourself, your potential clients and what they respond well to. The following are elements necessary to build a strong brand.
The first important step in creating your personal brand is to understand what you want your brand to be; a great way to do this is to write down your brand values; examples include attention to detail, customer-centric, empathy or accessibility.
These will help you craft your unique positioning and help you to maintain your values throughout your internal and external communications. When creating your brand, like all other aspects of your business, it’s wise to consider your ideal clients and how you want them to perceive you, what do you want to be known for.
Define your niche
One of the most effective ways to stand out from the competition is to define your niche. Instead of trying to be all things to all clients, highlight your skills and which industries you have significant experience in. For example, you could be a project manager that specializes in front-end technology implementation. Clients often look for profiles by identifying specific keywords and industries that are relevant for their requirements. By presenting yourself as an expert in what you do, you can field and attract clients who are looking for someone with your specific skills and experience.
Once you are comfortable with your brand direction and understand your audience, you can enlist the help of a graphic designer or strategist to take it to the next level to develop assets and visuals. This could include a logo and brand motif, branding guidelines, brand words, design, fonts and other aesthetic styles. If you can remain consistent with how you show up in front of your clients and potential clients, your brand will become easily recognisable.
The importance of a strong online presence cannot be understated. It is often the first point of contact between freelancers and potential clients. Some industries call for having a website or portfolio to present your work. Websites are also the best location to display the services you offer, information about you and your business journey, how you’re different from others in your industry, informative blog posts, media mentions, social proof like case studies, testimonials and awards, and your contact details. Having a website will assist with your SEO to give potential customers outside your network the ability to find you.
In other industries where portfolios are not the norm, LinkedIn will be your best bet to build your professional online presence. It provides an opportunity to showcase your skills, experience, and expertise to a vast audience of potential clients and employers. You can use your profile share updates on your projects (remaining mindful of confidentiality), share your blog posts, new services or announcements, accomplishments, a behind the scenes look into your business or ask your followers for feedback on what they find valuable.
How to be authentic and relevant
As we mentioned, you are your brand. A great way to develop trust is to show your face on your website, social media and other marketing assets and platforms, as people like to know who they are working with. This will also allow you to inject your personality into your branding. You can convey who you are, what you stand for and how you provide value to others, both online and offline. Drawing on your unique experiences and individuality and sharing these will help you to stand out from others in your industry. We recommend showing both the polished version of you in your branding and a behind the scenes look into your business for a more authentic view. Your interests outside of work can also help you to be relatable as who knows, maybe your ideal client also loves Labradors just as much as you do, and a shared interest is a great ice breaker.
How to deliver your message
Personal branding for freelancers can be difficult initially as you navigate learning different tools and gain confidence; however, the more experience you have with putting yourself out there, the more confidence you will gain and the more visitors and clients you will attract. We recommend providing upfront value for your audience; a great way to do this is to share free resources that you’ve created such as eBooks or blog posts, share tips on your social media channels and answer questions and converse with your audience. These strategies are a great way to be seen as an expert in your field as well as assist you in building an email list and social media following.
While social media is a powerful tool for building a personal brand, it is also important not to neglect offline networking.
Ultimately, face to face interactions is the best way to build rapport with others. Attending industry events, conferences, and seminars is a great way to meet new people, learn about new trends, and build relationships with potential clients and peers.
When you attend events, make sure you have a clear elevator pitch that communicates your value proposition in a succinct and compelling way.
Have an open mind, do not only think about selling yourself but also appreciate learning from others through their challenges, successes and differing perspectives.
Build your reputation
Your reputation is your most valuable asset as a freelancer. Your clients need to trust that you can deliver the results they are looking for, and that you are someone they can rely on to get the job done. Building a strong reputation takes time and effort. Make sure you deliver high-quality work on time and on budget and go above and beyond to exceed your clients’ expectations. Remember that staying still is as good as falling behind, seek feedback from your stakeholders to be able to upskill and improve your services.
Remember that your brand can and should grow as you do personally and professionally. Personal branding is how you share yourself with your target audience or clients and how you convey the value you provide.