More and more people have taken to freelancing as their path to financial independence, and for good reason. They get more control over their lives, while simultaneously avoiding the pressures and issues of leading a company. However, there is a task that both companies and solo freelancers must accomplish well – building a brand.
The fact that you’re doing this alone doesn’t mean you can ignore the development of your personal brand. It’s what will make your name stick in the mind of clients, which will help them remember your name if they need more of the same work, or if they’re asked to recommend a freelancer to another business. Fail to do this, and you’ll fail to create any sort of consistent income. Here are ten things you can do to make sure your personal brand is top-notch and memorable:
1. Make a Personal Website
Personal websites are a dime-a-dozen, yet many freelancers opt out of making their own. This is a tremendous missed opportunity. While you’ll get most of your jobs through direct application, you can get just as many by having a website with your portfolio on it. Not only will it generate organic job opportunities, it’ll give referrers something to point potential clients to that can show off your skills.
2. Price Aggressively
One of the most interesting quirks in selling a product is that setting a low price isn’t always the best call. You might get more sales, but the amount of money you make for the hours you work will be middling – and money isn’t made by spending a lot of time making little money. It’s far better to sell a small number of products for a high price than vice-versa. Using this approach will mean you don’t get the rush of constant acceptance from companies taking your offer, but it will also mean that you’ll make the most out of your time.
3. Ask for Reviews
As a freelancer, your reputation is your life. Much of the reason developing your personal brand is so important is because it gives you more control over how you are perceived. That’s why you need to ask clients for reviews, and not just on the site they found you. If they can put in a good review for you (that you deserve) across multiple sites and platforms, you’ll greatly increase your exposure and improve your reputation with every well-done job.
4. Pay to Develop Your Brand
There is only so much brand development you can do for free. Eventually, you’ll have to pay for something you can’t do well, whether it’s copy for your website or a great logo. The gig economy is only going to get bigger, and you’ll need to stand out from the crowd. Winging your brand simply will not do. It’ll cost money to professionally develop your personal brand, but it’s money well spent, as a good brand will make you more money down the line.
5. Focus on Good Work
Freelancing isn’t for everyone. The lack of consistent income can send stress levels skyrocketing and compromise your decision making. This can cause you to try to sell your work just so you can make rent. While difficult, it’s often better to stifle this instinct and to focus wholeheartedly on making sure the customer gets what they want.
When you work for someone, you’re not just building a relationship with them – you’re securing referrals and future hiring opportunities. While you shouldn’t sell yourself short, keeping your focus on good work and serving customer needs will help ensure that you have a semi-steady stream of income heading your way.
6. Collaborate with Other Freelancers
If your skills are good enough, you’ll find someone to hire you. However, projects are not completed through a single skill-set alone. Most companies will hire swaths of freelancers to accomplish a task no single worker can do. While some freelancers may see this as a sign that they should expand their skill-set, you should take this as a sign that collaboration cannot be avoided.
Collaborating with other freelancers not only gives you a network, it will help you secure more jobs. When they get work that requires skills they don’t have but you do, they’ll recommend you – and vice-versa. If your collaborators have websites of their own, put links to those sites on your own page and they might do the same for you, expanding your reach and brand.
7. Develop a Strong Portfolio
Much like the standard hiring process, potential employers will first check out your history and portfolio before ever considering an interview. Consider a good portfolio the metaphorical foot in the door. Without one, doors will close before you ever have a chance to make a good impression.
It doesn’t matter what your field is. You can make a portfolio of your work. Graphic or web design, management, writing – get your work up on your website, and make sure any job applications you have point towards them.
8. Find Your Niche
Talk to two experts in a single industry long enough, and you’ll realize that even people who went to the same school and studied the same things have their own specializations. The same should be said of your freelancing career. You may be among millions of designers, but each one caters to different people.
Think about your skills and the problems they can solve. The companies and people who have those problems are your primary customers.
9. Invest in a Network
No man can do it alone, even freelancers making their way on their own. You might be the sole member of your team, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from allies and a network of compatriots who can help you find work and improve your skills. Unfortunately, this is not something that often comes together naturally. You’ll need to get out there, visit websites, attend seminars – go to where your people are and start bonding with them. You don’t need to bond with everyone, but you do need a network. So work at it.
10. Guest Post
One of the challenges facing your freelancing career is developing your authority. Unless you’re a recognized expert, you’ll need to do something that gives your name and personal brand a quick starting boost. A good way to achieve that is to start writing or working on projects that show off your knowledge on reputable sites, but that’s only the start.
You can and should promote your guest posts on your own site, as well as on your social media platforms. A guest post with a reputable company or outlet lends you their reputation and credibility, so the more people you get to see your creation, the bigger the impact it will have on your standing.
Crafting your personal brand is time-consuming, difficult, and sometimes boring, but your success as a freelancer depends on it. Gone are the days when you can just work well and rely on word of mouth to keep your one-man business afloat. Competition is fierce, and you need to be fiercer to succeed.