Branding isn’t just for big companies and new product lines. Even writers and freelancers need to work on their own brand.
Yes, you have a brand! Even if you only offer a single service and don’t produce any marketing materials, you’re still marketing yourself. Your business opportunities and client relations will both improve if you remember to maintain your personal brand and remember how other people see you.
Freelance branding doesn’t have to be tough or expensive, either. Here’s a series of tips to help you get started.
Get some of your personal work out there
Don’t let yourself be defined only by the work that you do for clients. Publish some of your own work, too.
Sometimes this can be as easy as starting a blog that gives you a forum for your work and opinions. Or maybe you want to submit more creative work to online journals and magazines for publication.
The point is to send out things that express your personal passions and your natural voice, away from editors and mandates. This will help people see you as a real person; and it’s a great chance to showcase some of your more creative talents.
Use every message as a chance to express yourself
Your online tone should be professional, but there’s still plenty of room to develop your brand every time you communicate. It doesn’t matter if you’re posting on your business social media profile or answering an email with a quick response; use the opportunity to express yourself.
You don’t need to string out the emoticons or go on for a whole paragraph (clear danger signs), but you should use the opportunity to add a little humor, turn a phrase, or just generally remind your clients that you’re a talented and energetic person … even when you don’t feel like it.
Link your work with a visual
Create a visual identity for yourself online. This is especially easy with our interconnected weave of social media profiles these days; your Google+ profile probably appears everywhere, anyway.
A professional or at least friendly headshot will take you a long way in this branding step. However, if you have a logo or design you are especially proud of — one that represents your business well — do not be afraid to use that instead.
Manage your portfolio!
This is freelancing 101, but it’s also a step that is far too easy to ignore. Put your portfolio online. Put it on your website or on LinkedIn.
Update it regularly with your latest work. Use it to find new clients. Try creating a monthly reminder to work on your portfolio so you don’t fall behind.
Use the newest social media tools
If you want to generate a truly personal and interactive brand, think about how you can use the latest social media tools to represent yourself. A quick Vine that introduces your home office can easily impress clients, for example … as long as you are showing off a professional, capable, and high-tech workplace. This will help you easily stand out from the crowd.
Keep up on your area(s) of expertise
Whatever your area of expertise is, make sure you stay well informed. Read the latest news, study industry trends, explore new innovations and ideas.
This should keep you actively engaged in the material and make it easy to answer client questions in an impressive manner. For general freelance trends, follow informative blogs such as Ebyline and similar sites that offer advice.
Participate (smartly) in discussions
Do not be afraid to comment on posts, blogs, or articles that address topics associated with your work. This is excellent practice for communicating with clients, and allows you to develop your own voice, argue your point of view, and examine new ideas through writing.