The freelance market is a busy one, and it can be tough to stand out in a crowd. There are many ways to do this, whether it’s by sharing thought leadership on LinkedIn, top tips via your blog or your portfolio on Instagram. While these are all great ways of getting attention, how do you get people to remember you for the time when they’re ready to buy? That’s where freelance branding comes in.
Why is Personal Branding Important for Freelancers?
Having a recognizable brand helps build the know, like, and trust factor that leads to sales. In advertising, it’s known as the Rule of Seven; a prospect needs to hear your proposal seven times before they choose to buy. Branding is what helps the person to link you to your various message. Regardless of where they’re seeing your message, your branding should be consistent, allowing the reader to recognize you and add another check mark on the way to the magic number seven.
7 Steps to Build Your Freelance Branding
What does it take to build a great brand? Here are a few things to think about.
1. It’s All in the Name
What are you going to call your business? Many freelancers go the route of using their own name, for example, John Smith Design or Jodie Jones Accounting. This is perfect if you are your brand, and people are buying your time and services.
If you’re considering growth, perhaps hiring others in the future, then it might be worth considering a name that is separate from your own.
It’s worth thinking about the future when you decide on your name and checking the legalities. In the UK, for example, all company names have to be unique, so if forming a company is a possible future, it’s worth checking if your business name is available before you invest in the branding. You could try a business name generator to get some ideas going.
Company name or not, you are your biggest asset as a freelancer. A good headshot or profile picture is an important part of your branding portfolio. While it is possible to get a reasonable profile picture by taking a selfie, you will probably get better results if you get someone else to take it – and better still, if that person is a professional.
Research has shown that smiling faces are more likely to get positive results. Although we haven’t got to brand colors yet on this list, including them either in your clothing or as a colored background for your images will help tie everything together. Use the same images for all your profile pictures across social media to build familiarity.
3. Three Little Words
Have you heard of personal brand adjectives? It’s the idea that you pick three words that you most want to reflect in your branding, and those should guide you as you create everything else.
You can imagine that a brand with the words ‘trustworthy, reliable, dedicated’ will have a very different design to freelance branding based around ‘creative, fun, irreverent.’
A good logo is memorable and captures the essence of your business in a relatively simple graphic. For example, did you know that the Amazon logo includes an arrow that goes from A to Z to show they stock everything? And that it is also designed to resemble a smile? Most logos have a story like this behind them.
While there are sites out there that promise you quick and free logo generation, or tools like Canva, which have personal branding logo ideas, this is another job that is often best left to the professionals. A branding freelancer, sometimes known as a freelance brand designer or freelance brand strategist, will be able to help you out.
5. Brand Colors
Choosing brand colors is often part of the logo creation process, but your brand colors can go beyond those included in your logo maker. A good brand designer will help you to identify complimentary and contrasting colors that can be used for social media graphics, your website, business cards, and letterhead.
6. Finding Your Voice
You have probably already heard a lot of buzz about how you need to be authentic to build a brand as a freelancer, and the way that you use words to express yourself to potential clients is a key part of that. The idea is that followers on social media or blog readers should feel that they are building up a relationship with you (know, like, trust again), and personality has to come through the words for that to happen.
Go back to your personal brand adjectives, and also think about which parts of your personality you want to show as your brand voice. A dark sense of humor may be a great coping mechanism, but will it attract the customers you want? In the same way that you probably filter out certain behaviors at work that you do at home, you can choose not to share those parts of your personality in your brand voice. It’s still you; it’s just a little more curated.
7. Writing Your Bio
You’ll need multiple versions of your bio for use on different sites. You might want a longer version on your website, but on Upwork, you might prefer to get down to the nitty-gritty. If you’re not a natural writer, then the best advice is to write as though you were talking to a potential client, get it all down on paper, and then refine it.
Perhaps the most important part of your bio is that the information in it should be useful to your clients. It’s not the place to tell your life history or list your accomplishments unless you explain the benefit of those to your client. Although it’s your bio, it should be all about them.
How do I Start Freelancing Branding?
If you’re completely stuck with where to begin you really have two options. One is to go to a design site like Canva and use their free tools to come up with something that you like and refine from there. The other is to put it in the hands of professionals and hire a fellow freelancer to help you out.
How do I become a Freelance Brand Designer?
Brand Designers (sometimes called Brand Strategists) usually have art or design degrees, such as Graphic Design, Brand Design, or Art and Design, but you may also be able to get an apprenticeship. As it’s a creative field, there is always the option of developing a portfolio and using that to win you further work. From there, it’s a matter of getting your name out there, and freelance job sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Toptal are a good place to start, either way.
Can I Use a Logo as a Freelancer?
Absolutely! A logo is an important part of branding as it creates an easily identifiable image that you can use in social media posts and on your website and flyers etc.
Ready to Start Your Freelance Branding?
Working on your branding can be where your business starts to feel real. It’s a process that takes you from being a software developer, photographer, or copywriter and helps you narrow down what makes you unique – the things that make you stand out. We hope that this list has been useful in helping you do just that.