You may think that branding is only useful for big companies, but it is actually a very powerful tool that freelancers can use to boost their careers. Having a personal band can not only help increase conversion rates, but it also helps freelancers land higher-paying clients.
So how does one go about building their personal brand and online presence?
- What is a personal brand?
- Benefits of having a personal brand
- How do I brand myself as a freelancer?
- Developing your personal brand
- Personal branding examples
What is a personal brand?
As a freelancer, you need to think of yourself not as a hired gun, but as a one-person business.
And just like any other business, you need a name, a niche, a personality, a language — features that make you different from your competition. Features that make you memorable and worth talking about.
All of these elements make up your personal brand and can help you build your online presence and market your business.
Personal branding can also help you in your career, as your name will somehow speak for yourself.
Memorable brands such as Coca-cola, Adidas or Amazon have a huge competitive advantage in their markets. So wouldn’t it be nice to be on your ideal client’s mind should they ever need someone with your skills?
That’s why you should work on your personal brand. Having your freelance personal brand defined will help you come closer to your ideal client and will bring your freelance business in the right direction.
Benefits of having a personal brand
Having a personal brand offers you loads of benefits, some of which include:
#1 Increased online visibility
Having a solid personal branding strategy makes you more accessible to people and increases your visibility and presence online. Would-be clients and connections can interact with you via different marketing channels or look you up on Google with ease.
Don’t fret if you would like to limit your visibility though! Remember, your personal branding depends entirely on what you would like it to be. If you want to be selective of what you share, take a second to think about it and craft a strategy that respects those boundaries.
#2 Ever-growing network
Personal branding allows you to expand your network and puts you in touch with people not only from your industry but also beyond it.
You get to have fewer one-on-one conversations and a lot more one-to-many conversations, meaning it allows people to listen to you through the content you share.
#3 Improved business
Because personal branding expands your network and puts you in front of a lot more people i.e. potential customers, your business starts to automatically sell itself. This leads to success and takes your business in new directions!
#4 Sets you apart from the competition
Personal branding lends you credibility and tells your customers that they can put their trust in you. This in turn sets you apart from your competition and lets you position yourself as an expert in your field.
#5 Builds credibility and trust
As stated above, personal branding is key to building credibility and trust. Increasing your online presence tells people that there’s a face behind the brand and lets them know that they can trust you – but not through your words, through your actions!
People can only believe in you when you do exactly what you say you’re going to do. If you stick to your brand identity and revolve your work around its core values, you are automatically on the path to credibility.
How do I brand myself as a freelancer?
Now that we’ve seen the many benefits of personal branding, let’s take a closer look at how to go about branding yourself as a freelancer.
#1 Figure out your brand identity
First things first, you should figure out what makes you, you and try to create an online identity that revolves around that. This is extremely important because every brand – corporate or personal – needs to have an identity in order to build loyalty and trust.
Your brand identity should ideally focus on the following:
- Your values and vision
- A tone of voice
- Your strengths and attributes
- Consistent visuals and elements
Your brand should be real and consistent. So don’t try to be someone you’re not hoping to meet someone’s expectations, be your real you and let your personal gut and business vision and values define your brand identity.
You should also decide on a name for your business. You might just use your own name for your business, which is perfectly fine. But if you have a relatively common name, it’s a good idea to think of a name that is not your own.
Here are some tips on finding the right name for your business.
#2 Invest in a professional photo
Having a professional headshot photo is an essential element of your personal brand.
We often think of brands as the ones mentioned before – Adidas, Coca-cola or Amazon – and their logos immediately come to our mind. However, especially for freelancers, your profile picture will be even more important than your logo because your face is such a big part of your online presence.
For this reason, you need to carefully consider what kind of images you use to present yourself.
#3 Connect with people on a personal level
Your story as a freelancer is one of the biggest selling points that you can use to create a good personal brand. This is because people genuinely want to work with someone who’s authentic and can relate to them on a personal level.
Storytelling can work great for freelancers. Try to create a story or an ‘about me’ section for yourself and tell it in a way that makes it compelling and effective.
Remember, it’s not just about your skills and experience. If people can connect with you on a personal level – e.g. your interests match, you studied in the same uni, or you both practice yoga – your chances of turning them into clients or customers will be higher.
#4 Leverage your passions to build associations
A crucial part of branding yourself as a freelancer is to create long-lasting associations in the minds of people. Talk about things that you’re passionate about and showcase your knowledge in a way that makes people think about you and your business when they come across those same things.
Just a simple exercise such as jumping onto Quora and answering 5 questions on your subject matter, can expose you to hundreds of persons who might now see you as an authority.
Once you leave an answer showing your authority with a link back to your website, you can expect an almost immediate increase in traffic and interest.
Developing your personal brand: Things to include to boost your online presence
By now, you already know that having an effective personal branding strategy is key to building your online presence. Being present online will also increase the chances of getting found, contacted and ultimately hired.
So what should your personal brand include?
For brand consistency, you’ll need to build your own marketing assets.
Marketing assets include anything that can be used by freelancers to promote their personal brand and services. These assets will help you grow your brand and will bring you closer to new clients.
Here’s a list of internal and external marketing assets examples:
Internal marketing assets: Assets that are used internally.
- Business cards
- Document templates/letterheads
- Brand guide
- E-mail signature
- Client onboarding questionnaire forms
External marketing assets: Assets used to attract clients and educate them.
- Personal website
- Specific landing pages
- Lead magnets
- Blog posts
- Marketing campaigns
- E-mail lists
- Blog articles
- Case studies
- Social Media
What marketing assets should you have as a freelancer?
There are many options for you. We’ve highlighted some of the options you should carefully consider:
#1 Social media presence and engagement
Like it or not, social media has found itself in our business lives as much as it has done so privately. And it’s not hard to see why. For freelancers, who tend to rely on word-of-mouth, and want to build relationships with clients and colleagues, social media is a blessing.
Don’t spread yourself too thin though. Six inactive profiles are worth less than a single well-maintained channel. Instead, try focusing on a couple of social media platforms that suit your business needs and are in line with your brand.
For example, if your brand tone is more casual and friendly, sites like Instagram, Twitter, and even TikTok are good options. On the other hand, if your brand is more on the professional side, LinkedIn and Facebook are where you need to focus your efforts.
Social media engagement can make a winning freelance business formula, especially when starting your business with a limited budget.
Engagement goes far beyond simply answering questions within the comment section of your posts.
Instead, it is bringing awareness to your content by actively starting conversations surrounding your work and building long-term relationships with the audience on your platforms.
#2 Profiles on freelance sites
Talking about profiles, if you’re not exactly swimming in clients, you might want to consider registering at some freelancing job sites (like freelancermap). Being active in a freelancing community and gaining access to thousands of potential clients who are actively looking for a freelancer can benefit your brand and bolster your personal branding.
We recently had a poll on our Linkedin and asked freelancers how many freelance platforms we could find their profiles in. 35% of freelancers are listed in 3 – 5 sites:
#3 Personal Website
All reputable businesses have websites. Maintaining a website shows that you are truly committed to your work and that this isn’t just a side job for you.
Your website also serves as a centralised location where potential clients can learn everything they need to know about you—your services, experience, past clients, etc.—and reach out to you if they are interested.
💡 The good news is you don’t need to be a designer to launch a professional-looking website. With WordPress, you can choose from thousands of themes and launch a website in practically no time at all. WordPress is easy to use, requires almost no technical skills, and makes it easy to publish content.
Your website cannot be purely functional; it needs to have a “look” that conveys what your business is all about. The layout, background images, colour scheme, and font of your website are all important aspects of your brand and need to be in line with your brand’s visual identity.
Here’re some examples of personal websites:
#4 Branding and Style
Another way to make sure you stay on top of people’s minds is to have recognizable and consistent branding. People do tend to judge businesses by their branding and so it’s safe to assume that they will probably judge you in the same way.
Your branding (logo, colours, fonts, etc) is the first thing people will notice about you and is what will stay with them. This is why you’ll want your branding to be eye-catching, unique, and above all consistent.
Every marketing asset that you create should be consistent in the tone of voice, messaging style, images used, font, etc. Therefore, a brand style would also be useful.
#5 Guest posts or Medium
Contributing to websites as a guest allows you to position yourself as an expert in your field and shows people that you know what you’re talking about. You can choose to focus your guest posts on broad and generic websites (like Medium) or contribute to super-focused websites (like ours!) for people in your own niche.
Guest posts also let you get in front of new audiences, thereby increasing your digital presence and visibility.
#6 Interviews & Podcasts
Podcasting has grown steadily in the last few years. According to Statista Podcasts stats, in 2022, over one-third of Americans (104 million) listen to podcasts regularly.
Taking part in interviews and podcasts allows you to really connect with not just your clients but also other freelancers, leaders and experts. You can explain in real-time what you have to offer and gain valuable insights and feedback right there and then.
#7 Email list & Lead magnets
Email lists and newsletters might seem old school but it’s definitely something to consider as part of your personal branding strategy. This is because email is the one channel of communication that is always on, arrives directly to the recipient and is actually controlled by you.
One of the biggest benefits of email marketing is that when people get an email from you, they see your name on it and know that it was meant for them. Now maybe you just sent them the last updates to your business models and pricing or your newsletter – but it still feels personal.
So what’s the best way to grow your email list? The answer is simple: lead magnets. Lead magnets are what you offer customers in exchange for their contact information. This can be an offer or an incentive.
Highly valuable lead magnets are what potential customers want and these are the ones that help you generate leads.
Some ideas for potentially interesting lead magnets:
- Free webinar as a sneak peek into your role or field of work
- Templates that you use in your daily work
Here are some examples of professionals using newsletters for their personal brands:
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#8 Collaborate with freelancers
As the saying goes, “Two minds are better than one” and this holds true in the freelance industry as well. Working with other freelancers or professionals allows you both to expand your reach and gain new customers or clients.
Unfortunately, there are still many freelancers that think other freelancers are competitors and this shouldn’t be the case.
Freelancers are a workforce and there is enough cake for all. Think of other freelancers as colleagues rather than competitors and you’ll see the potential that has.
Webinars are essentially live lectures or lessons that professionals provide over the web. The biggest benefit of webinars is that they impart the knowledge of an expert in real-time.
As a freelancer, you can use webinars to provide your audience with in-depth knowledge about topics that are relevant to you. This puts you in a position of automatic authority and can also lead to stimulating discussions with people – which can build relationships and trust.
#10 YouTube videos
YouTube has the ability to give you access to millions and millions of people around the world.
Who hasn’t visited YouTube trying to solve a problem? What’s the best way to do this, how can I fix this, tips to get the best hairstyle for a wedding…endless unsolved problems are typed on the YouTube search every minute hoping for a solution!
And because not a lot of people create videos imparting knowledge on a regular basis, YouTube, or any other video platform, is an excellent opportunity for you to expand your personal branding and increase your online presence.
This is because video marketing allows you to talk to your audience and tell them your story in a creative and emotional way.
Committing to a YouTube channel can be a big time investment, but can also offer huge returns for the work you put into it. So, is a YouTube channel really worth it for you?
Jess, is a freelance illustrator, creative consultant and also, a vlogger who got the courage to quit her day job and start an illustration business.
The hardest part of quitting her corporate job and starting a freelance business was not having people to talk to about it – to bounce ideas off of, have the occasional vent and collaborate with. I wanted to find my tribe, and catalogue the lessons I was learning as I built my business. So, I started a YouTube series called “Freelance Illustration Friday.”
All you really need is one video to become popular and subscribers can sky-rocket in a matter of hours.
Jess uses videos in her pitches to new clients as a quick way to introduce herself and give them a glimpse into her creative process. Jess told freelancermap:
“I don’t expect to get discovered by clients on YouTube. The reality is, art directors, editors and marketing managers are not watching YouTube videos looking for creatives to hire. It’s not impossible, but it’s the exception, not the norm. But, it does give you a repository of quality content to help tell your story and strengthen your pitch that can help you stand out and get the gig”.
#11 Conferences, events etc.
You can support your online personal branding strategy with a good offline strategy as well. Your city’s chamber of commerce might host local events for people in your industry. Trade shows, social events, masterclasses, career fairs – are all options you might want to consider.
Show up and connect with companies and professionals working in your field.
Again, you never know where the next opportunity can come from.
Personal branding examples
Shown below are varied examples of good personal branding:
#1 Paul Seal
Paul Seal is a Umbraco expert with over 500+ connections on LinkedIn and as many endorsements. He also guests posts on codeshare regularly, which has helped him grow his network.
A freelance UX designer, Patricia Reiners has worked with brands like Adobe and Google and uses a personal website as a stronghold in her personal branding strategy.
Íñigo Montoya is a freelance SAP and IT consultant who has been helping people deal with data for more than 20 years.
Ricardo Ghekiere is a freelance growth marketing specialist and creator of Europe’s first LinkedIn Ads Masterclass. He supplements his online personal branding strategy with offline strategies like lectures and classes.
Diana Briceño is a marketing specialist and entrepreneur who provides lessons on everything from content writing and video marketing to creative thinking via her website.
Gary Vaynerchuk is not only the chairman of VaynerX and CEO of VaynerMedia, he is also a 5-Time NYT bestselling author. He is considered to be one of the biggest global minds of our generation in terms of culture, relevance and the internet.
Just remember: Repeat your brand wherever you go
Once you’ve branded yourself, start transferring your personal brand everywhere:
- Be consistent with your brand in all your social media accounts
- Use your brand imagery for your background photos
- Use the same language to write your freelancer bio and your social media updates
- Create an email signature that conveys your brand
- You may also want to create business cards
Tip💡: Make sure that no matter how people come to you, the first thing they see is your brand.
Creating a brand may seem like a daunting task, but it’s definitely worth the time. A strong brand will separate you from your competition, boost your credibility, and help you find the high-paying clients you really want.
How are you developing your personal brand? Share your methods and strategies with us down below!