This is a guest post by Christina Morales from the CloudPeeps blog.
Businesses spend billions of dollars on marketing to build their brand. It’s brand recognition and a unique identity that sets them apart, bringing customers through their doors and keeping them coming back. But large companies with big budgets aren’t the only ones who need customers coming through the door.
How are you branding yourself as a freelancer?
Okay, so we don’t usually tend to have logos, slogans, or even a brick and mortar building for customers to visit, but the image and knowledge that we convey will show our credibility, which in turn builds trust and leads to loyal clients.
While we are not actually selling a tangible product in most cases, we are selling our talent and our potential to become an important asset to a would-be client. Here are three tips to brand yourself better as an asset that your client customers need.
1) Get specific when communicating your expertise
You may be an incredible writer, but just providing a blanket statement like “I’m a writer” won’t get you very far. Are you a technical writer, creator of marketing content, or grant writer?
Let’s get more specific: are you a technical writer for the usage of smart phones and mobile devices? Do you create online marketing content across social media channels? Do you specialize in writing grants pertaining to education?
The more detailed you get, the more likely you’ll be to find those clients who are searching for a writer with your expertise. Better yet, you can join communities and discussions with like-minded professionals or follow industry leaders (like on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.) and stay up-to-date on important information and get your name out there to those who may be hiring.
Starting out and not sure how to title your expertise? Check out job sites like CloudPeeps, Upwork, or Guru to see how employers are advertising for the jobs that you are qualified for.
2) Customize your portfolio for the clients you want
You’re only as good as your resume, work examples, and references, so make them all standout. Career expert Alison Doyle writes on about.com that you should, “Focus on accomplishments rather than duties or responsibilities. A list of what you did isn’t going to help you get interviews. What you achieved will.”
What part of your resume makes you stand out from the crowd? Consider customizing your application to appeal to each potential job opportunity. Directly address the qualities they desire on the posting and explain why you’re the best person for it.
Freelancers Union has a great article on “How to Write a Killer Freelance Resume” that you may want to look into for step-by-step details on constructing a great resume. They have a ton of do’s and don’ts that are really helpful if you’re just starting out or if you find that you’re not getting as many callbacks as you’d like.
3) Formulate your voice to appeal to the clients you want
It seems like every profession or field has its own personality. For example, computer programmers tend to be quirky with a unique sense of humor, startup employees are often more laid back workaholics, and non-profit workers are more personable and outgoing.
Depending on your expertise, you’ll need to formulate your own voice that appeals to the clients you want to attract and the audience that they are trying to appeal to. Confused? Lindsay Shoemake who works in the social media and digital marketing space for a luxury brand and also runs the popular blog That Working Girl has great advice for branding yourself. She says:
“When strategizing for That Working Girl, I knew that I wanted the blog to become the go-to resource for smart, savvy women in the PR, marketing and advertising industries. I wasn’t for posting in a Valley Girl voice at all, but I didn’t want the blog’s verbiage to come across as too uptight either. After a few weeks of posting I fell into my groove and haven’t looked back.”
Wrapping it up: you are your brand
Finally, you are your brand and your first order of business is to think of yourself as a product. Since I knew most of my jobs and networking would come from online resources when I first started freelancing, I polished my resume, got professional headshots, and continually posted my latest work on various social media sites (like Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.).
I’m also careful when it comes to blurring my online personal and professional life since my brand covers both (you may find pictures of me with my kids at the park, but you won’t find political commentaries or anything that I would be embarrassed to show my mom).
Social media specialist Simon Mainwaring has said, “The keys to brand success are self-definition, transparency, authenticity and accountability.” If you pass the test on these four points, then you’re well on your way to taking the freelancing world by storm.