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Every freelancer is a business, however you slice it or dice it. You are marketing, customer support, design, finance and of course, director of everything.
The number one question I get from fellow freelancers is: How can I improve the look and brand of my business? More often than not, the issue really isn’t the look but rather, the consistency of the look.
Branding can be a fiscally challenging experience and many small business owners and freelancers don’t place much emphasis on it because of this. There are however, several strategies you can employ that are completely and entirely free that will yield a stronger, better brand for your services.
Modify Your Brand Message
Your brand is an extension of you and thus, whatever perception (and I do stress the word perception) someone has of you could be the difference between a contract and that client walking away. They say first impressions are everything, so make a good first impression. You can do this by taking your website or portfolio and plugging it into a word cloud generator.
What this will do is tell you visually what your site is saying about you and your services. The more common or frequent the word in use, the larger it will appear in the word cloud. Make a list of these words and ask yourself, “Is this what my services truly represent?” If it isn’t, you can take the time to update the keywords and descriptions on your site. This will also help with the next strategy as well.
Use The Right (Key) Words
Language is powerful and the keywords you use on your site tells a story. Make sure you’re telling the right story and that the client has a good idea of who you are, what to expect and the experience you bring to your projects. Most of this can be done through image tags for images on your site but this is also good form across other channels your work is displayed on, such as Behance and Instagram.
Using the right keywords also helps with SEO, which is crucial today more than ever. There are countless articles and even how-to-videos on the web that can show you how to do this on any platform you’re running your portfolio on.
Consistency with Creative
The look of your business should be consistent. Your business cards, website, proposals, and invoices should all reflect a cohesive idea or design. If you’re a graphic designer you are most likely already doing this but if not, take a look at everything and assess.
One thing I do with clients is to take screenshots of the existing look across each medium and then an after to show the improvement visually. This also means consistency in the display of your work. If you use mockups for specific items (business cards, renderings, concept art, etc.) use them consistently for a professional and polished look. Clients will recognize this and identify your work with affirmative keywords. If you’re not a graphic designer or possess those skills, consider a barter to a designer in return for your services or save up to afford someone who could do this for you in the future.
Remember: Freelance Isn’t Free.
Own Your Uniqueness
You bring different skills, talents and traits to the work you do and this shows in the work you produce. Own that uniqueness and mention it! Your perspective and experience play a role in your work so, make sure that is a part of your brand. Are you an energetic person with a lively and full personality? Let’s see it. There is connectivity between who you are and what you do. Make that connection and make sure your potential clients know this.
I think Judy Garland said it best: “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.”
David Everett Strickler is a freelance marketing and branding consultant working across multiple industries to help brands realize their fullest marketing potential. David writes and speaks regularly about business and marketing and mentors younger business professionals in the New York City Metro.