Whether you’re just getting ready to launch your freelance career or are looking to take it to the next level, branding yourself is a crucial step.
When approaching new potential clients, you want to present yourself as the best option to help them reach their goals. Your personal branding will play a big role in convincing them that you’re the best for the job.
The self-branding process may be intimidating, but it should be seen as a fun exercise. It’s an opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition and really make a name for yourself. Here’s how you can build your personal brand today!
Define a style that’s unique to you
No matter what services you offer, let your voice, tone and overall image reflect your personality and work style. This will allow anyone - even strangers - feel like they know you, and will make you stand out among the competition.
Ask yourself: “What about me makes me unique, professionally and personally?”
- Do you have a unique sense of style? Flaunt it.
- Are you a perfectionist? Then make everything perfect.
- Are you funny? Use witty humor throughout your messaging.
- Are you incredibly easy to work with? Prove it with quotes from past clients.
Meg Lewis, designer and founder of Ghostly Ferns takes her not-so-serious outlook pretty seriously and applies it to everything that she does, including client work. She wants to work with clients who love what they do and have fun with it— just like she does, and she’s made that clear in her image.
Although her messaging is silly, she keeps her color pallet consistent, usually wearing black, white with a pop of color and proudly showing off her tattoos. Even her desk accessories match her brand look. Everything she shares or publishes is recognizable as her brand.
“It’s important to me that my brand image is as weird and happy as my real-life personality. I could never have a brand image that is a filtered version of myself. I don’t try to curate anything about my online image, rather I try to be as real and honest as I can. The result is my personality that 100% shines through in my brand. If a potential client is turned off by my outward humor and online persona, they’re likely not someone I want to work with.”
-- Meg Lewis
Get a professional photo taken
The perfect place to start defining your style is with the photo you use in your profile, website or portfolio. Your photo is the first thing potential clients are going to see and the first thing that’s going to impact their opinion of you. It needs to portray you as a professional they’d want to work with. That doesn’t mean they need to be formal, but they do need to be high-quality and well executed.
If you’re fun and quirky, use a lot of bright colors in your branding or wear a funny t-shirt in your headshot. If you’re looking to work with enterprises and consider yourself more conservative, use classic colors like black or navy and wear a suit in your photo. If you’re artsy, use a lot of black and white photos and incorporate artwork into your branding. No matter what your style is, make it unique and let it emulate all of your brand assets.
Appeal to your target audience
Although your personal brand should be uniquely you, it should also be one that your ideal clients relate to. When setting your personal brand tone, think about who your target audience is. Do some research around what they read, write, watch and listen to.
Lindsay Shoemake has branded herself as “That Working Girl”—the name of her blog where she provides career, branding and lifestyle tips, tools and trends. Her personal brand is more traditional than Meg’s, while still being fresh and fun.
Lindsay deliberately makes everything she publishes consistently visually pleasing and feminine, because that’s what resonates with her audience: young, savvy female professionals and entrepreneurs.
“When it comes to brand building, visuals are huge. I used to think that it was borderline obsessive to ensure that That Working Girl’s Instagram aesthetic was seamless and consistent – even down to the level of contrast in each photo and the filter used! However, it’s this same obsession with aesthetics that has aided in growing my brand, and for that, I’m thankful. Embrace the aesthetics obsession, friends.”
-- Lindsay Shoemake
Apply your uniqueness to your branding materials
The five keys to personal branding success are:
Make all assets undeniably you. Someone should be able to look at your website or a tweet before seeing your name, and be able to say, “oh that had to come from [your name here].”
Be as consistent as possible. Your URL and social handles should all be the same whenever possible. Some of your social media channels will be for personal use, but they should still represent your authentic self.
Be authentic. Be yourself, rather than trying to be someone else. Potential clients will see right through it and will be less likely to trust you. People appreciate authenticity.
Get to the point. Make your offering and personal brand clear from the start. Keep your bio short and to the point. Anyone can be charming and precise in two sentences. Lead with a captivating image or short text that says everything someone needs to know about you and your work.
Don’t underestimate a tagline. This is your unique selling proposition in ten or less words. Spend some time with it and make sure it conveys the value you add.
These tips should give you an effective starting point for developing your personal brand that’s a reflection of who you are as a person and appealing to your target audience. Don’t forget; always have fun with it! Whose personal brand inspires you? Give them a shoutout in the comments below!