Personal Branding for Freelancers: 5 Steps to Start Building Your Brand
Written by: Jess Manapul, Web & Graphic Designer
What is a brand?
The concept of branding is often misunderstood and mistaken for just the logo of a company. However, what truly establishes a brand is everything from that company’s personality to the relationship it has it with its audience. While a logo is merely a visual representation of a company, a brand is the public’s perception of that company. As a freelancer, your personal brand is how people perceive you and your business.
Why is personal branding important for freelancers?
Your ability to land clients determines whether or not you have projects in line to pay your bills. With good branding, you can create a positive reputation that enables you to earn the trust of potential clients, retain current ones and thus generate a steady flow of work.
Plus, most people won’t hire you simply because you have the technical skills to do the job. People do business with people. If you have a personal brand that people can genuinely connect with and depend on, your audience is going to feel more comfortable hiring you over another freelancer or business with whom they have no relationship or shared values.
Source: Creative Market
5 steps to start building your personal brand:
Start with your brand message. Sit down and ask yourself a series of questions to discover YOUR brand. Ask yourself questions like the ones listed below, then consolidate your responses into a company bio and mission statement that articulates the driving force behind your brand. Your brand begins with your purpose.
- What do you want your brand to stand for? What are your values?
- What problems do you solve and what makes you valuable to your clients?
- What makes you unique and better than your competitors?
Develop your brand voice. Your voice is your business’ personality and strongly influences how people react to your brand. Determine what personality traits authentically reflect your brand’s values, then build a voice that best represents those traits while keeping your target audience in mind. What should the tone of the conversation be when you interact with consumers? What type of language will you use on social media?
If you want to establish an elegant and sophisticated brand, tailor your choice of words and communication style to fit this personality. If you want to appear more casual and approachable, use language that will help you connect with your audience on a more personal, relatable level.
Create a visual identity. Your visual identity is a visible representation of your brand’s characteristics and includes design elements like your logo, color palette, typography and aesthetic style. Create a list of 3-5 adjectives you want people to think when they see your brand, then create a cohesive system of visual elements that reflect these adjectives. To get started, do some research on your competitors, color psychology and what aesthetic appeals to you and your target audience. As you experiment with visual elements, keep your brand values and personality in mind.
Source: Abi Lee Designs - Behance
Make yourself easy to find and easy to reach. Once you’ve discovered your brand, it’s time to get yourself out there and start connecting with the world. First, create a website that shows people who you are, what you’re about, what you can do and why clients should work with you. Your website should include: a bio and an informative headline that illustrates the value you bring, a list of your services/products, samples of work/case studies and an easy way to contact you.
Next, utilize social media to spread brand awareness and engage your audience in creative and personal ways. You can create interactive Instagram polls, share unique stories about your brand on Twitter or maybe even give your audience a tour of your studio. The more opportunities you create for your audience to engage with you, the more likely they are to find a reason to feel connected to your brand.
- Make it a priority to maintain client/customer relationships. Remember: Your brand is how the world perceives you. Even with a flashy logo and website, people won’t care about your brand unless you show them why you should matter to them. Go back to your brand’s purpose and make sure that you manifest these values in the way that you manage your business and interact with your audience. By creating healthy customer relationships, you will naturally develop a successful, trustworthy brand.
Building a personal brand is a process and your brand will evolve over time as you do. While there is no cookie-cutter brand strategy that fits all, taking these first steps can help you discover the features that will distinguish your freelance business from the rest and truly make it its own brand.
Ready to elevate your personal brand? Download our brand checklist here to get started!