Coke. Lexus. Nike. When it comes to large companies, it’s easy to identify their branding. It should be, anyhow, as they’ve spent bucket loads of cash developing and marketing their essential essence. But branding is just as important to freelance professionals. It may be tempting to take any type of work that walks in the door, particularly when you are branching out on your own, but finding your focus will help both you and potential clients determine what it is you do best. This will put you on a fast track to doing the type of work you’re passionate about at the price you’d like to be paid.
Here are five tips for developing your personal brand.
If you’re trying to stand out in a crowded field, you’ll need to, well, stand out. Besides the flexible hours and lack of bosses, why did you decide to become a freelancer? What do you do differently than anyone out there? This can be industry and task-specific, or as universal as working harder and longer than anyone else. Know what you do and own it.
You have the knowledge, so why not flaunt it? Become a thought leader in your field by blogging regularly, speaking with journalists, interviewing other top names in your industry, lecturing at conferences, and offering free introductory classes to your target audience. If your knowledge is valuable and you can communicate in a clear and engaging manner, clients will want to hire that expert whose name they see on all those articles.
Sign up for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Biznik, and any other social media networks through which you might be able to reach a client. These mediums are great for drawing readers to your articles and helping clients feel that personal touch. Social media is often best done in tangent with in-person networking through sites or like Meet Up or through professional networking organizations. The sites can be used to introduce yourself and solidify a relationship either before or after an event.
You are the best developer of your own buzz. Any news story that’s going to be written about your subject area is an opportunity to show the world how much of an expert you really are. Make sure readers have a way of contacting you after, either through a direct mention of your email address or via information on your website or Facebook page. Clients want to know that by going with you rather than a larger company they can always get in touch.
What kind of message do you want to give your clients? From your website to business cards to promotional materials, keep your logo, motto and color scheme consistent. Consider using the same handle on any websites you post to, and don’t shy away from repeating the same message across the web. This by no means you can’t get creative with your marketing strategies, just maintain the core idea.
You know you’ve done a good job branding when clients can deliver your elevator pitch for you. While you may be multi-faceted, clarity of purpose and a solid brand will help you find your niche and stay there for many years to come.