This is a Guest Post by Paresh Dhake
Branding is the process of establishing the name and image of products or services in the minds of the consumer usually through advertising campaigns. Branding creates a differentiated and unique market presence that has the power to attract and retain clients for the brand. Any company and/or its products/services has become a household name is considered to have made a success of its branding campaign.
Creating a brand is like turning a flywheel.
It takes a lot of efforts to turn a flywheel but once it start running, you don’t need to put much efforts to keep it running. Remember the days when you struggled to get work and you had to put a lot of efforts to keep existing contracts. It seemed like you will burn out if you work this way and probably never make it big as a freelancer. This is where branding comes into picture. If you want steady stream of work; create a brand.
As a freelancer, branding is largely through the reputation that you build in the market. Strangely, intentionally or otherwise, each one of us is creating our own brand at a personal and professional level. To be a successful freelancer, creating an individual brand is the most critical aspect of initial setup and preparation process.
Branding for a freelancer is simply an extension of the work you do. If you make a client happy, the client will spread the word about your work and you will get a lot of references. It keeps growing exponentially before work start coming without putting efforts!
But there is more to it that simply working hard and making your first few clients happy. There are tons of new ways to build a solid brand these day. Here are some effective and simple personal branding tips for freelancers:
Create a website: This is the first step in branding. The website is not enough in itself but a big step nonetheless. You will have to find your unique voice and help the clients get a lot of value from your website. Establish yourself as an authority and build a strong images.
Try to use a premium template for your website and go further and customize it. It goes long way in building your unique position.
Besides starting a website, you could also explore other ways to create a brand online like hosting a webinar.
Know Yourself: Understand how you are different and why clients should take your services.
Do you provide work on time 99% of times? Do you take unlimited number of reworks? Have you received any award recently that endorses your capability? Answer these questions on your website and make them the headline on your home page.
Make a note of these qualities and see what sets you apart or differentiates you from others. It might be very useful to speak to a long-term friend who knows you well and is close enough to be honest with his/her opinions. Pick the most important aspect and write in down as a sentence. You have taken the first step in branding yourself. It is pertinent to note here that those attributes which have the power to weaken your brand should be excluded from your brand/profile.
Creating Exclusivity: The most important feature of a great brand is the sense of uniqueness or exclusivity that it creates in the minds of the consumer. So spend some time as you delve into your individuality and create a brand that is not easily available in the market. This uniqueness need not be something profound; it could be as simple as creating response trails that speak volumes of your ability to stick to quality standards or your proactive approach to your clients’ needs which could be reflected in the way you handle his/her queries or simply your ability to understand what exactly your client needs of you. These simple and extremely economical personal attitudes should come out in your profile or branding process.
Create a articulate narrative: Any good brand invariably has a great story behind it which reflects critical turning points during the journey of its growth, its beliefs, its inspiration etc. In your brand as a freelancer, you would be the story’s primary protagonist. Express this story well with specifics rather than generic terms. Creating a brand story requires excellent writing skills and if you lack that, it might be prudent to hire a professional to create this narrative about you and your brand. Ensure that this narrative includes impressive and hard-to-ignore visuals including perhaps, a logo.
Add this narrative to the about section on your website. Ensure that you include your picture. The more personal you make your website, the better it is from branding perspective. Since you are a freelancer, you want to give it a personal touch and not make it more corporate in nature. Do not forget to mention you professional qualification and academic credential on the website. Master’s degree add a touch of authority and credibility to your profile, do not forget to leverage them. Mention your highest qualification on your visiting card also.
Do not be Shy to Network: Freelancing calls for a lot of networking. For some people networking is a natural talent, for others a lot of hard work is required to build and nurture this skill. So define your services and what you can do uniquely and use this brand sentence frequently.
Create a simple succinct pitch that could serve as a summary of your brand to people who are searching for your services. The pitch should be genuine too since when the conversation ends, the other person must not feel that you have made a sales pitch; they should simply feel that they have now got a friend who can help them.
Create a visiting card and mention the name of the website on it. Ensure that the logo on the website and design of the card follow same visual design.
Leverage on the power of the social media: Create profiles on relevant social networking sites for increased visibility. These profiles should not be confused with your personal profiles which include only friends and relations and is usually a pastime hobby. Ensure that the content that you put up on these sites work for you and not against you. For example, if you are into food photographer make sure that the content and posts reflect this rather than meaning posts which talks of other irrelevant likes and dislikes of yours.
Many clients these days look up social media before hiring freelancers. So it makes sense to create a brand that speaks a lot about your work and yourself on social media. Use the image-rich narrative that you created either by yourself or with the help of a professional copywriter across your profiles in multiple social media.