As a freelancer, you’re kind of a one-horse show. It’s up to you to hone your skills, find clients, send invoices, manage your projects, and properly budget your accounts.
Part of having a successful freelancing business is marketing yourself properly through various channels. The way you portray yourself on any client-facing mediums is considered your brand, and it’s quite important you get it right.
Tip: Wanting to start from the beginning? Check out the freelance definition.
I know what you’re thinking; people aren’t brands. Toilet paper rolls have brands. Snack cakes have brands. But if your business is, well, you, then you technically are your brand. I promise, it’s not as intimidating as it sounds.
In this article, we’re going to discuss why it’s important to create a brand around your freelancing business, and how you can do that successfully.
What is brand identity?
First, let’s talk about what brand identity is. A simple way to describe brand identity is the way you want others to perceive your product. As a freelancer, this is more specifically how you want others to perceive you and your work.
To put it simply, brand identity is how you present yourself. Think of it like dressing for a job interview. While we typically hope to not be judged by our appearances, job interviews are a time to put your best foot forward and show a professional side of yourself.
Brand identity is a lot like that. You want customers and potential customers to see the best parts of your business. Building a solid brand identity will help you show that off.
Your brand identity can be communicated through multiple platforms, including but not limited to your:
- Facebook business page
- Website or portfolio
- Logo (See: Types of logos)
- Instagram (personal or professional)
You certainly don’t have to have all of these, but if you do, just know that they’re various representations of who you are. The first thing we do when someone recommends a business or individual is put their name through Google to see what comes up.
What do you want people to find when they search for you? How do you want people to feel when scrolling through your portfolio?
If your Twitter has a bunch of tweets with foul language or divisive political takes, just know potential clients might see that and make a judgment as to whether they’re interested in hiring you and your company.
Steps to creating a brand identity
As I said earlier, there are many platforms on which you can communicate your brand identity. Perhaps the most important, however, is your portfolio or website. You can stay organized during the creation process and stay organized with a project management tool.
Did you know: Consistent branding across all channels has been proven to increase total revenue by up to 23 percent. (Source)
Sure, we research company reviews and deep-dive into social media profiles. But not even the best Instagram can salvage a company with an awful website and user experience. Let’s walk through the steps of creating a brand identity.
1. Think about who you’re appealing to
As you know, the customer is the driving force behind your business. They’re what helps you pay rent or mortgages or get that nice haircut before the holidays.
When creating a brand identity, consider who exactly you want to attract. For example, a freelance lawyer or accountant would have a much different brand identity than a freelance makeup artist. The former would want to present themselves as serious and reliable, whereas the latter would want to showcase their creativity and talent.
Establish who your audience is up-front. This shouldn’t be hard, as no one knows your business better than you do. But just writing this information down on a notepad is a good way to remind yourself of the basic question: who’s your audience?
Other questions to ask yourself: What problems are my audience trying to solve? How am I creating unique solutions for those problems?
Asking yourself these questions will help you create a brand identity that speaks directly to your target consumer.
2. Nail down brand personality
Brand personality is the concept of attributing human characteristics to non-sentient brands. For example, we understand some brands to be funny. Why is that? Because the marketers behind those brands have decided on “humorous” as a brand personality, and run with it in their marketing materials and on their platforms.
As a freelancer, your brand personality should foreshadow what it will be like to work with you or should give a glimpse of the kind of work you’ll do. One easy way to outline brand personality is by creating an “about me” page on your site where visitors can read your origin story and learn more about why you do what you do.
Consider the About Us page for Bush’s Baked Beans, which offers a full family history of their bean business. While you don’t have to provide your full family history, it could be a good idea to personalize your site with a story of why you do what you do and how your business came to be.
3. Have strong brand imagery and/or a logo
We can associate large brands by their logos alone. You see those arches and know a McDonald’s lies ahead. While I can’t promise your freelance business will become as big as McDonald’s (although it could! I’ll rule nothing out), I can promise that having a logo will make your brand look more professional, and be more memorable.
Did you know: 33 percent of the top 100 brands use the color blue in their logo (Source)
It’s a simple stamp to place on your site, on emails, on documents you send over, and any other collateral on which you’d like to remind people who created it. If the thought of creating a logo is giving you anxiety, consider hiring a designer on a (hehe) freelance basis.
There are also logo design sites that can help you generate ideas, or the logo itself, for a small fee.
4. Consider site design, font, and colors
As if creating a logo isn’t exercising your design muscles enough, you also have to consider the full design of your website and any different types of popups you want to put on it… For inspiration, I recommend going to the websites of some of your favorite brands to see how they use design to create an excellent user experience.
Tip: What is UX? UX, the shorthand for user experience, is a graphic design term used to describe the positive or negative sentiments a visitor feels when trying to navigate your website.
Makeup and skincare website Glossier uses a simple design on its homepage that lands the visitor’s focus on their models and products. They describe themselves as a company that creates, “products designed with your real beauty routine in mind,” so it makes sense that they’d create a realistic experience with minimal distractions.
When choosing colors and design, think back to your audience and what they’d want. The best practice is to keep it at 2-3 brand colors; it’s best not to overwhelm the viewer.
This is the same with font or typography. Choose fonts that communicate your message and brand personality without creating an eyesore for those coming to your site. The different text will require different font styles: your site header will not look the same as your blog copy. The header is about grabbing attention, while body copy should be easy to read.
You can create your own font, buy fonts from font sites, or use those that are available to you in your website builder. Additionally, you could also work with a graphic designer to help develop the perfect font.
5. Have strong copy
This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of your brand identity: the words you say! Whether in your “about me” or “services and rates” section, you need to have a clear, strong, and engaging voice.
It’s also important to have an editor or other languages professional (have any writing friends who can be bought with pizza?) look over your site to ensure you have a few grammar and spelling mistakes. Even if you’re a freelance writer, it’s a good idea to have someone else look over your work.
Part of developing a copy is also using your brand personality to determine your writer’s voice. Do you want to take a humorous, relatable approach, or keep things professional?
Try and keep all elements of your site consistent.
6. Prepare marketing materials
Last but not least, make sure you’re prepared for all business occasions. Be sure to create an email signature that includes the logo you created on your website, an email marketing best practice. Have business cards developed with the same color scheme of your website.
If you include links to your social media on your website, make sure those profiles display the content you’d want potential clients to see. For example, a photographer might want to link to their photography Instagram, but may not need to showcase their Twitter.
Who are you?
An age-old question that we’re all trying to answer as we venture through the various stages of life. The good news is, no one has to know right now. As a freelancer, you can constantly challenge your current state and reinvent newer, better versions of your brand and yourself. This is just a place to get started to help grow your business and create word of mouth marketing.