Laura- do you think a writer’s brand could be based on their niche. As in “oh she’s the education writer”?
Why Your Freelancing Business Must Have a Brand
Posted March 15, 2012 in Marketing
Too many freelancers operate as just another nameless, faceless resource in crowded market. They don’t stand for anything and they haven’t distinguished themselves from the thousands of other freelancers who are out there and competing for the same work.
Then, they wonder why they have no clients.
But, if you don’t stand out from the other freelancers, is it really a surprise if you have trouble finding clients?
Now, more than ever before, it’s important to develop a brand for your freelancing business. In this post, I will discuss what branding is (and is not), list some of the benefits of having a freelance brand, and explore ways to discover your freelancing brand.
What Branding Is Not
Many freelancers (and non-freelancers) are confused by the idea of business branding. In fact, most people don’t really know what a brand is, but they recognize one when they see it.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that having one (or more) of these for their business means that they have a brand:
- A logo
- Business cards and stationery
- A website
- A social media presence
- A slogan
But, they are wrong. Those things, in and of themselves, are not a brand, but they can help you build your brand. They can serve as a reminder of what your freelancing business stands for.
In a nutshell, a brand is what your client thinks of when they think of your freelancing business. It may be based on emotions as well as fact. Simply being known as a good writer, good designer, good programmer, or good translator (and so on) is not a brand. That’s not enough.
Here are some examples of possible freelancing brands, but there are many more:
- A designer is known for their elegant, but simple work
- A copywriter is known to be the writer who gets results
- A programmer is known for their exceptional ability to solve tough problems
Even something as simple as being known for being friendly, could be a brand if it makes you stand out from your peers. You could be known as the friendly freelancer.
Now that we’ve discussed what branding is (and is not), it’s time to look at the benefits of having a brand.
Benefits of Having a Freelancing Brand
Having a freelancing brand can mean the difference between getting a client and not getting a client.
The freelancing marketplace is crowded. There are more new freelancers every day.
The number one benefit of having a brand is that is makes you stand out from the myriad of other freelancers out there–and that’s a huge thing when it comes to drumming up new business.
Because they stand out, freelancers with a brand are more likely to be remembered by prospects and clients alike. Being remembered can really help a freelancer the next time a client is looking for someone to work on their project.
Having a brand can also help you to determine your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), which is how you explain why you are better than other freelancers to clients and prospects.
A final benefit of having a brand is that it can help you to make your marketing efforts more intentional.
For example, if you know that your brand is the elegant simplicity of your designs, then your work that embodies your brand should be highlighted in your portfolio. That means making sure that your most elegant designs are prominently displayed. If your brand is your superior problem-solving techniques, then your blog should highlight your problem-solving ability, perhaps through tutorials or how-to articles.
While you might agree that it’s important to have a brand for your freelancing business, what brand should you choose?
How to Discover Your Brand
I admit it. It’s hard to discover your own brand. And besides that, many freelancers don’t really have a brand. They are just part of the generic horde of freelancers
A quick tip to find out whether you have the makings of a freelancing brand, or not, is to ask several of your clients what they think of when they think of working with you. Look for positive terms like:
You may be able to use what your clients are already thinking about you to build your freelancing brand.
If this tactic doesn’t work, think about how you want your clients to perceive your freelancing business.
Want to Learn More?
Are you ready to learn more about branding? Here are some great resources:
- The Basics of Marketing: What is a Brand? by Jay Ehret of The Marketing Spot–This is a great article, written for entrepreneurs, that gives an overview of branding.
- What is a Brand? from Branding Strategy Insider–This basic piece tackles some of the common myths about branding.
- 5-core-steps-to-building-a-business-brand-strategy by Susan Gunelius on Keysplash Creative–This helpful article gives you some steps that will help you start to build your brand.
What is your freelancing brand? What do your customers know you for?
Image by uberculture
- Why Freelancers Need a Brand and How to Create One
- 3 Steps To Creating A Freelancing Brand That Sells
- Uh, Oh: Who’s Defining Your Brand?
- Managing Brand Consistency
- 5 Brand-Building Actions Every Freelancer Should Take Now
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March 15th, 2012 at 1:49 pm
March 15th, 2012 at 2:25 pm
Allena–I think that’s a really good start, but it might not be quite enough to just be known as the education writer depending on how many writers are in that niche. :) On the other hand, being known as the education writer with real classroom experience (or something similar) could be a brand.
March 15th, 2012 at 3:14 pm
Regarding your point on discovering your brand, I prefer to think of it as revealing your brand. A common mistake is for a business to try to build something customers might like by asking their opinions. This is not always a good strategy because customers only know what they have seen, and any feedback will not lead to uniqueness.
However, true uniqueness comes from inside the entrepreneur, from the entrepreneurial soul. Each entrepreneur is a unique blend of spirit, values, and personality. That’s a one-of-a-kind foundation for a unique brand.
Thanks for including a link to my post on “What is a Brand?”
Dean of Marketing Know-How
March 15th, 2012 at 4:32 pm
Jay–Great point! I see what you mean. Asking customers isn’t foolproof. However, so many freelancers really haven’t thought about this at all and have no idea of what their brand should be.
March 15th, 2012 at 10:28 pm
For some reason the idea of discovering your brand reminds of the difference between the effectiveness of using a broad keyword compared to a long-tail keyword.
Thanks for another great post, Laura!
March 16th, 2012 at 3:26 am
You’re right to point out what a brand is NOT. So it’s not a logo or a tagline or a Twitter account with a several thousand strong followers, what is it? I’m afraid it’s not even the sum total of all that. We all know for a fact that big (highly influential) brands are more suggestive than explicit. So I’d like to think of “freelancing brands” as personalities that combine what’s there and what’s not there.
March 16th, 2012 at 11:38 am
I think instead of looking for a brand, it’s better to work hard and you´ll gradually come up with a brand. It´s just an idea… Regards!
March 16th, 2012 at 12:05 pm
Agent Gee, Simplified–a brand is what the customer thinks of when they think of you.
Sam, I do think that you should be somewhat intentional about your branding.
March 17th, 2012 at 2:16 pm
Great piece Laura, I think a brand connects emotions plus a sense of assurance in the client’s mind. To me a brand could also mean a type of credibility, example how I would refer another friend’s business because I think they can provide the best in their area of expertise. Anyone would know better than to refer a bad lead to a potential client.
That is the kind of ‘branding’ we’d like to have, the kind that goes by word of mouth referrals.
March 29th, 2012 at 7:36 am
A lot of self employed operate as yet another nameless, faceless resource in crowded market. It normally won’t are a symbol of anything plus they haven’t distinguished themselves in the 1000′s of other self employed who’re available and competing for the similar work.
CathlynNovember 1st, 2012 at 11:27 am
The importance of branding to a freelancer should never be underestimated. It will give you a strong visual impression that will create emotional attachment to prospective clients. It’s not easy to build a brand from scratch, but it’s worth every dime in the end. Your tips are really helpful especially to those who haven’t thought of their brand yet or are considering revamping their brand. May I reiterate the importance of branding to freelancers through this article— http://adcreative.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/the-benefits-of-branding-for-freelancers/
ArielOctober 20th, 2013 at 11:35 am
I really like these tips! I also like the tips and advice I found at Creative Agency Freelancing http://www.creativeagencyfreelancing.com/finding-work/essential-freelancer-self-marketing-skills
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