3 Steps To Creating A Freelancing Brand That Sells

Dependable. Innovative. Trustworthy. Creative … any one of these words (and many others) could describe your personality as a freelancer. But are you making sure that potential clients know exactly why you stand out from the competition?

If you’re not wrapping your personal brand around everything you present to the world online, you’re going to lose customers to those who are. Here are three simple steps that can help you strengthen your brand in the next seven days.

Step One: Define What It Is You Want To Be Known For

When you’re running your own show, the temptation is there to want to be all things to all people (because you want a a crazy big pile of customers). But a Jack (or Jill) of all trades is one confusing thing to customers. While you may offer multiple services, what you’re really after is being known as “The ______ expert.” In other words, whatever your ____ is, you want people to have conversations that end like this, “Oh, you need ____? Email (you), s/he’s the ____ master.”


  • “You need web content? Email Harry and James, they’re the content guys.
  • “You need SEO? Call Christine, she’s the SEO chick.
  • “You need blog help? Call Michael, he’s the blog consultant guy.
  • “You need some help with social media and networking? Email Jon, he’s the social media/networking guy (he’ll even make you want to open a Twitter account :) )”

Since the drop-dead easiest way to get extra business without extra work is by word of mouth, it’s up to you to give all of those mouths the word(s) they need to say.

So give it up: What’s your ______?

Step Two: Define Why You Rock At ______

First impressions are driven by immediate experiences. People have been trained further by media to respond to sound bites and short, catchy slogans that lock in an experience. You have to accommodate that by creating an experience around your _____. Maybe it’s years of experience. Maybe it’s dependability. Maybe it’s luxury, or quality, or youth, or speed, or service … it could be anything, but you’ve got to be able to communicate it in a way that resonates with what your target customers want.

Strong brands can be described in just a handful of words. An emotion. An experience. What’s yours?

Answer me: You’re the ______ who (rocks because …)?

Step Three: Communicate This Every-which-where

Now you’ve got your boiled-down, highly distilled 180-proof branding message. Now you have to make sure you’re telling people about it. Is it the first impression on your website? Do you communicate it in your emails? Do you encourage your customers to share it? Everywhere you turn, you want both potential and current clients to be immersed in the experience they’ll get when they hand over their cash to you.

And that’ll leave you saying, “Holy _____, my phone’s ringing off the hook!” And that’s some good stuff.

Bonus Step Four: Now ‘Fess Up: What’s Your _______?

Take 5 minutes now (not later, now) and answer those questions in the comments. Let the world know why you rock. I’ll see you there!



(For more rockin’ good tips, head over to Dave’s productivity blog and enjoy.)


  1. says

    Dude, this is one of the best posts I’ve seen in a long time. Well written with great steps for people to GET THIS RIGHT. I’m continually amazed at how many freelancers screw up their branding – and good branding truly does get tha-

    Excuse me. My phone’s ringing off the hook.


    Dugg and Stumbled.

  2. says

    great work with the anchor tags there dave.. it certainly is a stand out post.. articulate yet enough simplicity thrown around on a topic that’s actually a tuff nut to crack otherwise..

  3. says

    Step One: Define What It Is You Want To Be Known For:
    Great Designs + Great Coding, Design Meets Technology

    Step Two: Define Why You Rock At:
    Quality design + quality code backed by over ten years of experience

  4. says

    I am exempt because you already told the world what I rock at. Na-na-na-na-NA-na. I will respond to your comment bait nonetheless.

    When it comes to branding for freelancers — the thing that I rock at, by the way — YOU are the only brand you’ve got. You have to whore that brand out until they pry it from your cold, dead fingers.

    And who is calling James? Is it Ed McMahon? The people need to know.

  5. says

    My evil branding plan has been exposed! James is right, most people don’t get this right, but fortunately, it’s because they haven’t tried. I say fortunately, because trying is all they have to do, and you’ve made that very easy for them with this post.

    Having objectives like these and carrying them out is the difference between between successful freelancing and merely playing at it. I have so much work coming my way that I’m going part-time at my “regular” job in order to handle it. A lot of this because I’m focused on being the THE blog consultant.

    If you follow Dave’s plan above, you will help your own freelancing immensely.

  6. says

    Awesome and on target as usual – defining your niche is the first step to becoming an expert in that niche. As a freelancer, developing expert status is one way to push beyond the ‘market rate’ for services.

    Micheal even coined a term – ‘Gateway Blogging’- damn that was smart! When I talk to clients I use the term Gateway Blogging and that term in my mind (and eventually theirs) is synonymous with Micheal Martine, the blog consulting expert.

    I agree with James, most freelancers don’t seem to have a niche. Like you said, it seems like sticking to a niche would limit your options – it might – but it also makes it easier for you to really become GREAT at what you do and therefore bring more value to your clients.

  7. says

    Dave, I am in a dilemma. The dilemma being how do I say thank you for such an excellent post. Since you asked to share some of the things on the comment, I would like to take that opportunity and brag a little

    Step 1: “He came from nowehere and look at where he is now.” That’s where I want to be in couple years as a blogger, as a “networker”, as a freelancer and eventually as an entrepreneur. :-)

    Step2: Why do I rock? I rock simply because I try to rock everybody else’s world. I am the give it a go guy and I don’t back off from anything. Things come my way, I will take a shot at it, hit or miss, I know I will try it. I am the guy you want to reach if you are tryting to start something and can’t find anybody to do it. I am a team player.

    Step 3: Communication. Well I am just good at it. Ask James ;-)

    Once again great post Dave!

  8. Elliott says

    Great article! I’m sitting down today to start designing my business’s portfolio website, and this article helped me think through a little more clearly what I’m out to achieve…

    You need a reliable web designer? Call Elliott at Firewalk Creative

    He’s a rock-sold guy who always delivers his projects on time and does great quality work. He spent 8 years doing work for companies like Sony, Toshiba, Lincoln Mercury, Nike, and more. Now he’s bringing everything he learned in all those years to smaller businesses, so that they can have the same quality of work that international corporations pay millions for, yet for only a thin sliver of what they pay. Elliott will think ever bigger than your business, and help remind you of the dream that inspired you to start your venture in the first place by the quality of work he will do for you! The work he does for you will get you excited about your business again!

    All of this is conveyed through my portfolio website. The clean design of the site is a reflection on the quality of my work, as are the carefully chosen portfolio samples of work done over the past 8 years. The quality and values of my brand are represented visually through the site, and also represented in copy that inspires and engages potential clients. I also have an audio recording that the user can choose to listen to about the services I offer and what they can do for your business.

    The site contains a big call to action to receive a quote or set up a phone call, where I will talk with the potential client and further affirm these values and discuss how they can benefit their business.

    I don’t design websites. I help to create the visual components of my clients’ dreams! And, needless to say, my work plays an important role in helping my clients achieve their business goals.

  9. says

    Great post, Dave!

    Very motivational, to say the least. I always find it so difficult to “toot my own horn” to use an over-used cliche, but that is SUCH an important thing for a freelancer to do.

    So, let me attempt to go through the three steps above…

    Step One:
    “You need a web site? Email Selene, she’s the web design chick.”

    Step Two:
    “I’m the web designer who rocks because I create unique, custom designs that no one else out there will have – with good-clean code, to boot. With over 10 years of experience with web design and front-end web development I deliver quality work that will help you succeed!”

    Step Three:
    I communicate this through my tag line on my web site, through the signature in all of my emails, and right here in this very Go-Me! comment, LOL.

    My official company spiel…

    “iDesign Studios is a web design and development company specializing in creating custom web sites. Our designs are uniquely styled and well coded. Simply put, we help you stand out from the crowd.”

    Step Four:
    Read Steps 1-3 above, lol.

    My niche is small business – I love working with small companies(especially one man/woman shops like my own) – and helping them take their plans to the next step with a web site that will help their business grow. Especially someone establishing themselves on the web for the first time.

    It’s fulfilling to know that I helped give them a step in the right direction, with a tool (aka web site) they can utilize to help make their business dreams come true.

    Anyway, Thank You for giving us all our 5 minutes of self-promotional fame! :)

  10. Jason says

    sure, this rocks for all the designers who choose to niche themselves in a specific discipline. HOWEVER, if you excel in graphic design as a whole i.e. print, identity, advertising, web design, coding, etc. – you need to let everyone know.

    self-promotion is tricky, and while letting everyone know you’re the ‘one-stop shop’ for everything, there is a way to say that you are in a tasteful manner :)

  11. says

    I feel so late in commenting on this, but WOW. definitely an awesome article. Glad to see it’s got a lot of diggs/stumbles/comments. Definitely something everyone needs to learn and it’s so easily laid out here, there’s no excuse not to know it now :)

  12. says


    Hope you keep checking comments on this because I would really love your feedback on my answers to this:

    Step 1:

    “Writing? Editing? You need Marisa. She’ll nag you till it’s done right! She’s an awesome writer!” (actually, my mates already tell me about the last sentence but I don’t think they pass it on to anyone who can actually hire me. )

    Step 2:

    I rock as a writer because I have written for so long that style and method and all of that stuff has become ingrained in me so I work fast and I do it well and with flair and make you want to turn the page. This is also why I rock as an editor – I can catch all the mistakes, I can see where you are going wrong and why and I can teach you how to write better and how to fix it.

    Step 3:

    Here’s what I want the advice on. I was thinking of creating a slogan that went as follows:

    “Life. Study. Work. You. Clearly Communicated.”

    What do you think?

    Thanks for the great post, Marisa.

  13. says

    Hey Dave, thanks for the article.

    Can I ask you all a question: I am starting freelancing with one particular skill to sale – however is not all of what I do. What do you think is a good way to brand yourself without people putting you into one particular pot?

    As for the skill to sale at hand:

    Step1: The foundation of your Business crumbles / the papers are piling up on your desk and give you a dam headache. Get Nadine she cleans up the mess and gets you organised.

    Step2: Why I rock? I am a calm soul that’s sees the bigger picture and get things into the right order to help you feel the same and give your business a solid foundation.

    Step3: Communication. No worries mate…

  14. says

    What do you all think about starting out freelancing on microjob sites like Fiverr? I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find “I’m the girl that makes those great videos.” I didn’t know I had it in me.

  15. says

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  16. says

    I really like these tips. Too often people can be tempted into becoming a jack of all trades type persona, but I’ve found people are most effective when they brand themselves as an expert in one area.

  17. says

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