Building your freelance brand is more important than ever

Apr 14, 2020

If you’re wondering, Why should I bother improving my brand name in the middle of a crisis?, you couldn’t be more off! In fact, now is one of the best times to work on your branding.

Building a personal brand to represent you as a freelancer can make a huge difference for your business. You’ll especially feel the impact at times like this, during a crisis.

The highly competitive nature of freelance work is even more of a challenge at times when your income is at risk.

How can you avoid the stress of losing out on more work during this time? Build a solid brand. Having a strong and identifiable brand can set you apart from your competitors and make a client choose you for a project over another freelancer.

The perks of building a brand

Building a strong personal brand for your business, in addition to differentiating you from your competition, also has the following benefits:

  • Increases customer reliability by building your audience’s trust
  • Increases chances for publicity through brand features (e.g., on social media)
  • Attracts the right clients by specifying a brand that sticks to your business principles and vision
  • Can make your business model eligible for charging premium prices

Your clients and audience want to see an authority figure and relate to them on a more personal level. This, in turn, will help your professional relationship grow and flourish.

When a crisis occurs, you will see how having a strong brand to supplement your freelance operations can carry you. Your clients won’t doubt your quality standards, and will continue to hold you in the highest regard if you’ve proven your worth to them in the past.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s start building your brand.

How to build your brand

As a freelancer, you may often face the challenge of letting go of your work-life balance and burning the midnight oil.

Having an established brand name can, to an extent, carry some of that work strain for you by getting your clients to trust you faster. No longer do you have to worry about constantly having to reassure your clients that you are of top-notch quality.

How is this possible? By reinforcing a strong freelance brand identity.

Following these steps can get you and your brand there.

1. Strengthen your roots

The first thing you have to do is build upon your foundation. What sets you apart from other freelancers in the market?

A huge component of your personal brand has to do with authenticity. If you want clients to be drawn to you, they have to find you not only relatable, but a true master of the skills you possess.

Your brand should embody the passion you have to meet your goals as a freelancer. This translates to a willingness to serve your clients to the best degree. And that’s exactly what they want to see.

This first step requires a certain level of introspection. Take a step back from yourself as a freelancer and objectively review your freelance business. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my most marketable skills?
  • What are my weaknesses? How can I turn these around and serve my clients better?
  • What are my goals? What is my freelance vision? What am I trying to achieve?
  • How can I transform my strengths into brand assets?
  • How do I want my clients, competition and market to see me?

Once you have answered these questions and have some clarity surrounding your freelance identity, you can start to build your brand!

2. Choose your audience

In your dreams, you may have every client in the market in your pocket. But reality works differently. When building a personal brand, don’t think about having all the clients in your corner — just the right ones.

This means identifying what a "perfect client" means to you. For example, a social media consultant would operate in the broader market of digital marketing. He might have knowledge around SEO, but building a brand around all clients requiring SEO expertise would not be logical. Identifying clients in his/her particular niche of social media marketing would be best.

A way to get a picture of your perfect client is to build a profile of them. Ask yourself questions about their challenges and needs to essentially create a buyer persona. Here are some things you can ask yourself while brainstorming your clients’ persona:

  • Demographics, such as age, gender, income status, professional background, and marital status
  • Needs and desires: what are they working toward? What are their aspirations?
  • Challenges: what are their pain points? How can you help address this and make their life easier?

3. Make an offer they can’t refuse

After asking the questions about your freelance brand identity and your ideal client, it’s time to identify how you can bridge the gap between the two.

How can your brand be positioned to sell itself and appeal to your clients’ innermost desires? What pain point is it addressing for them?

At this stage, creating a name for yourself as an expert in your niche can have an impact. If your clients can view you as a reliable authority figure in your domain, they will be more confident that you can meet their needs.

Think of this step as a Venn diagram approach and find the overlap between what you have to offer and what your ideal client wants.

The answer will give you an irresistible brand offering that you can work on articulating to your audience, either in your brand’s tag line or mission statement.

Remember to stay authentic. Be humble but confident in assuring that you can deliver exactly what you promise.

4. Create the perfect website

As a freelancer, you are probably already aware of the importance of having your own website.

Unlike social media, your website is the one platform you have complete ownership and control over. Review your website to see if it reflects your brand identity and the ideals you are trying to communicate. Look for:

  • Your freelance logo
  • Your vision/mission statement
  • Client/customer testimonials
  • A defined call-to-action
  • The aesthetic layout

Incorporating your freelance brand into these elements can make the difference and convert a visitor into a loyal client. You can further extend your website to a store using ecommerce builders.

5. Have a content strategy in place

Creating a content strategy is an important piece of your overall marketing and branding strategy. It’s a good way to get your clients to view you as an expert.

By creating content that is helpful to them, you can build authority and set yourself apart from your competition. Your content should always be relevant to your niche.

Take a look at your content production plans and the mix of content that you leverage to connect with your audience. Evaluate the most popular forms and the feedback and participation you receive from your audience to determine the best approach.

6. Create a social media strategy

One of the best ways to gain more visibility for your brand is to publish your content on varying platforms. Whether you’re using a product-led approach to your social media marketing or focusing on building relationships with your clients, embodying your brand ideals and values throughout is essential.

For example, if one of your values is to deliver excellent and timely customer service, you can leverage social media as one of the modes of communication between you and your clients.

Promoting your business on Instagram is also a good idea if you have highly visual pieces of content that you can share.

When not engaging with your target audience through your own social media profiles, it’s a good idea to partner with others who have a large audience and visibility.

This can be an entry point for your brand to reach an already established base. You can achieve this by:

  • Being interviewed by a popular profile (e.g., as a guest expert on a podcast)
  • Guest posting on another blog or niche freelance network
  • Speaking at webinars or participating in live virtual sessions
  • Partnering with other experts and authority figures in your industry

7. Be part of a community

Your final move on your way to creating an unforgettable brand is to build a community of both existing clients and new prospects that are looking to interact with your brand and get to know you better.

There are a number of ways to go about this. For example, you could create a closed Facebook Group exclusive to your niche audience and engage with them on a daily basis. Other alternatives include Discord groups for ongoing conversations, conducting live events, or maybe even incorporating a "membership zone" to your website.

No matter the means, the end goal remains the same: fostering a sense of brand identity that extends beyond just you, the freelancer, to your clients as well.

If your audience feels like they are part of something bigger than themselves, they are more likely to convert into loyal clients in the long run.

8. Solidify your branding with the right branding tools

To build a solid brand that sets you apart, you need branding that clients can recognize you by. One way to do this is to build branding collateral and consistently use it.

  • Create a simple but iconic logo for your freelancing business, and slap it across all your social pages and docs.
  • Instead of standard email, send proposals using proposal software that holds your marketing collateral.
  • Consider whitelabeling other (complimentary) service to extend services to clients.
  • Bill your clients using invoicing software that helps create branded invoices.
  • Brand links you send to clients using Rebrandly URL shortener.

I can go on and on, but my point is you need to “personal-brandify” every engagement with your clients. This will create a brand that’s hard to forget.

Why build my brand now?

With COVID-19 disrupting business around the world, the opportunities for growth may seem limited to you. If you have a solid brand, it will do the work of consistently bringing in clients, even in uncertain times.

Currently, nearly all business models are operating on a remote basis for their employees. Freelancers have already perfected the art of working remotely. The energy that others are focusing on adjusting to these changes is something you can divert into solidifying your brand and boosting your freelance offering.

When a crisis occurs, it does not need to be a slowdown for you as a freelancer, although it may feel that way. Rather, it is a test of your resilience and, ultimately, a trial by fire for your brand.

Remember: it’s the embodiment of your freelance identity in your brand that speaks for your business in challenging times.

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send us your blog post.

Mark Quadros

Mark Quadros (https://www.dherealmark.com/) is a content writer who helps SaaS businesses boost user engagement. He loves traveling and living a minimalist life from his backpack.