7 Ways to Identify and Market the Uniqueness of Your Freelance Business

uniquenessAs a freelance web and graphic designer, I realize that I am one tiny fish in a huge sea full of countless others in the same field. I am also aware that, although I am relatively successful and skilled at my craft, I am definitely not the best. So how can I go about attracting clients when they have so many other choices?

This post will look at the value of identifying unique traits and services your freelance business offers and how to promote them to make your business stand out amongst the others.

I’ll share how I market my uniqueness and explain how you can apply this same methodology to your freelance business. I’ll also provide seven steps for you to take toward identifying and marketing your own uniqueness.


My Approach

Over time, I have become aware of one of the primary benefits I can offer my clients that they may not necessarily receive elsewhere: along with my specific standard of quality design work, I strive to treat my clients the way I want to be treated. Believe it or not, I have found this approach often pleasantly surprises potential clients and aids in retaining current ones.

Far too often clients have come to me with horror stories of their previous experiences with a designer who treated them badly, overcharged them, or in some other way created a working relationship and experience that drove the client away. When I begin to listen to them, work with and for them toward achieving their dreams for their project, and do everything I can to make the experience enjoyable and rewarding for the client, they usually respond with relief and express their appreciation for how I am accommodating them. I have come to realize this is something that makes me exceptional in their eyes, and therefore is a strong selling point for my freelance business.

After identifying this uniqueness, I set out to capitalize on it by purposely incorporating it into my online promotions and branding. On my social media channels and my blog I strive to be helpful, personal and engaging so when someone is looking for a web designer, my name gets passed along. So far, it has been working quite well and has boosted the reputation of my business. It has become a key ingredient in attracting new clients, since over 90% of my current clients have come from word of mouth recommendations.

What Makes You Special?

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In my case, the discovery of the uniqueness of my own approach to extremely personal customer service was accidental. I idealistically assumed that everyone treated their clients with the same care that I do, so it took some time to realize that this was not the case. Some of the ways I stumbled upon this discovery could possibly save you time now rather than waiting for inadvertent signs.

  1. Pay attention to positive responses and interactions with current and potential clients. This could tip you off on something they are not finding elsewhere.
  2. Analyze negative responses, too. While not only helping you to avoid making the same mistakes in the future, this will assist you in recognizing and fine tuning your strengths.
  3. Look at why and how someone recommends you–professionally or personally in any context. Pay attention to their wording. What do others see as your strong points?
  4. Compare and contrast others in your field. Look at what they do and do not promote about their business or themselves and compare with your own offerings. What elements of your services are not being marketed–directly or indirectly–as a selling point for your peers?

How Can You Market Your Individuality?

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Once you’ve nailed down at least one major difference you offer in comparison to your peers, it is time to promote it as a reason you should be considered by potential clients. How you do this is dependent upon the specific trait(s) you are going to market, but here are some general ideas:

  1. Update all of your online profiles to include it. This can be an outright sales pitch or it can be adjusting how your profiles or bios are written to incorporate it. For instance, if your uniqueness is your sense of humor, you could say “My sense of humor makes working with me entertaining.” Or it could be less direct, by writing a witty bio that makes people laugh. Make sure to update social media profiles, your website, and anywhere else that potential clients or referrers may come in contact with you.
  2. Determine to purposely integrate it into all of your interactions. For instance, if you are on social media channels, be mindful of utilizing your uniqueness in your status updates and conversations with others, regardless of whether or not they have the potential to become a client. In your emails, phone calls, networking–wherever you interact with others–make sure to include your new discovery as an element of who you are and what you offer. In other words, still running with the humor example, make an effort to interact in a way that makes people laugh and remember you for it.
  3. Rebrand yourself if necessary. If the discovery of your uniqueness does not already display prominently in the branding of your business, it is worth rebranding in order to promote it best. This could include a new logo, website, photos, avatars and more. While this could be the most intensive and possibly expensive step, it will most likely have the biggest rewards. Ask respected and trusted people if they see your uniqueness in your branding. If they don’t, it’s time to rebrand.

Other Steps?

These are some of the ways I personally came across my own unique offerings and began to market them as selling points for my freelance business. Have you developed your own methods that utilize these or other steps? Be sure to share them in the comments below.

One of the beauties of this focus is that every single person has unique traits that are specific only to them, so it is possible that every single freelancer could identify and market a different uniqueness! Since no two people are exactly alike, it stands to reason that focusing on our individuality could bring great growth to our businesses and enable each of us to stand out in our own special way.

Share How You Communicate Your Uniqueness

How do you communicate your uniqueness to clients?

Share your experiences in the comments.

Images byShutterstock

Comments

  1. says

    Brian,

    You make great points – especially underestimating your unique approach to customers. I always assumed the same thing – that everyone was as good, or better to their clients. Boy was I wrong.

    Back when I was new to working for myself, I never thought to market the fact that I enjoy people, that I like taking a personal approach to my business & clients. I don’t just want to finish the project and have a great outcome – I want to enjoy interacting with clients. I want them to enjoy working with me. It never dawned on me to make that a selling point. In the beginning, I always focused on marketing the end result – a solid finished product, ahead of schedule, and under budget, if possible.

    I wish I had read a post like yours seven years ago. My marketing would have been so much easier then. :)

  2. says

    Great post. Anybody who’s interested in becoming better and more recognized in their field ought to be keeping track of how their clients react to what they do and then finding patterns of both the good and bad. This is a great key to long-term success.

  3. says

    @Sandi: Thanks. I’m hoping this post will help some who may not be as far along as you or I yet and save them some of the mistakes and assumptions we’ve made.

    @Chris: Glad you like the post! You’re absolutely right – we need to be monitoring client feedback and adjusting our approaches at all times. Nothing but growth can come from it if taken constructively.

  4. says

    really some of the good points sighted by you. as a freelancer you should have a through knowledge of your niche and with a powerful skill set you will dominate the niche of your interest.

  5. KHB says

    Hey B.

    Great article. I think these very simple steps can work in just about any “customer service” industry.

  6. says

    Great article! I have been struggling to find something unique about my business for awhile now, but I think I can take advantage of something I have been recently studying. I have been studying user experience and user interfaces more, so I have been marketing that I’m different from most designers because I take the time to research my client’s target market and to design for them. I’m not sure if it’s working, but I hope it will (:

  7. says

    Hi Brian,

    I want to thank you for a great article. How do I know it’s a great article, cause you’re mentioning most of the points I was ‘struggling’ with last year. “How is my bussiness unique, in comparison with al the other graphic & web designers?”

    It’s a pity I hadn’t your article next to me, but everybody has to find their own USP’s (unique selling points) to be able to position their bussiness in an overcrowded market place.

    So thanks again for sharing your view, Cheers & Ciao …

  8. says

    Glad i found this article, you make great points in it. I also belive that is very important to listen to the echo you get, positive or negative just as you said, to find your own uniqueness, strength/weakness and work on your self to get better.

    Thanks !

  9. says

    Thanks, Brian, for a really inspiring post! As someone who’s only recently started freelancing, I’ve read a lot about finding and owning a niche. I’ve been a generalist for so long that finding my specialty was something I really struggled with. Your post has helped me see that my niche may be more about me — deadline driven, mildly obsessive attention to detail, absurd interests in topics erudite and obscure — than the subjects that I write about. Thanks again!

  10. says

    Excellent, thanks. It could drive a freelancer insane comparing himself to every one of his or her peers, so knowing what to take from the experience and knowing what to not let bother them is always sounds advice.

    Cheers!

  11. says

    Great post! I went through a similar process and completely rebranded like in #7. I realized that what set me apart and what I loved most about my work were the projects that let me inject humor and personality into a client’s copy. The problem was, my own website at the time wasn’t showcasing this, and I realized that to attract those kind of clients more I’d have to rebrand.

    It may seem like a lot to redo your logo, website and overall approach, but if it’s the right brand for you it’s actually quite a relief. When I was done I felt like I’d been wearing the wrong pants for years and finally found a comfortable fit!

  12. says

    Great advice! I think, like the article says, anyone’s best differentiator can be an extremely high level of customer service. The reality is, many people don’t go the extra mile, and don’t make sure their customers are happy.

    If you’re known for being great at customer service, people will always come back to you, and be willing to pay a premium.

    http://werkadoo.com

  13. says

    Hi Brian,

    Being a freelancer is really tough, specially when you are competing with the world’s best. I really love the tips you wrote here. It is definitely a must-read for those who are wanting to start their freelance career. I guess, ‘uniqueness’ comes out of the passion for the job you do and your clients will see it, even if they are just chatting with you over Skype. Cheers!

  14. says

    Great advice! I think, like the article says, anyone’s best differentiator can be an extremely high level of customer service. The reality is, many people don’t go the extra mile, and don’t make sure their customers are happy.

    If you’re known for being great at customer service, people will always come back to you, and be willing to pay a premium.

    http://werkadoo.com

  15. says

    7 Ways to Identify and Market the Uniqueness of Your Freelance Business | FreelanceFolder I’m usually to blogging and i actually recognize your content. The article has really peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your web site and maintain checking for brand spanking new information. Regards, Patio Furniture Manufacturers

  16. says

    I just wrote a blog related to this subject. I am far from the best web designer, but my clients are so happy simply because I am there to pick up the phone and answer emails. It seems many people have a hard time communicating with their designers, and when they do, it is very rushed and the client feels like they haven’t been heard.

    My name gets passed around because I spend more time talking with my clients than I do designing or marketing on social media. It’s not the greatest way to increase your volume, but my clients will stick with me because I am their friend as well as web developer.

    Thanks for the great article!

  17. says

    An fascinating discussion may be valued at comment.
    I do believe someone to only write read more about this topic, it won’t often be a taboo subject but generally persons have been too few to dicuss on such topics. To a higher. Cheers

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