For a freelancer a well-established personal brand is vital. Your brand is how others perceive you when they hear your name, and what they think of it.
Branding yourself is a form of marketing in which you communicate your value to prospective clients. Below are the steps towards building a personal brand that has the power to convince prospects you are someone who can solve their problem.
1. Discover Yourself
To build a personal brand, you must first know who you are. Conduct an honest assessment of yourself and determine the following:
- Your Strengths –talents and skills that can give you an edge over your competitors.
- Your Weaknesses – faults and limitations that may affect your career as a freelancer.
- Your Values – beliefs and principles that govern your career.
- Your Passions – things you like and love doing that can give you an advantage in your career.
2. Set Your Mission and Vision
Specify goals for your career as a freelancer. Your mission and vision should be measurable so that you can measure your degree of achievement. Examples of each are provided here.
Your Mission – your desired impact as a professional freelancer.
Your Vision – where you want to be in five years.
3. Identify Your Core Services
Determine the services that can utilize your strengths, values, and passions towards achieving your mission and vision and at the same time won’t be significantly affected by your weaknesses. Don’t be a jack of all trades and master of none. Look for one specific job that you can do effectively and efficiently by combining a few of your skills. For example, to offer freelance writing services you can combine your skills in writing, editing, SEO and WordPress.
- Identify Your Core Customers
Now that you’ve identified your core services, it’s time to determine which consumers are in need of those services. Continuing the previous example, writing is quite a general skill so you’ll need to narrow it down using the two ways below:
- By Type of Writing – choose only one among general article writing, copywriting, content marketing, business writing, and academic writing.
- By Industry – specialize in writing only about food, fashion, gadgets, travel, etc.
5. Build Your Brand on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the best place to market your personal brand right now. It has a total member count of over 467 million and an average active user count of over 106 million per month. Almost 95% of recruiters use the platform to search for potential job candidates. Here’s how you can build a strong LinkedIn profile:
- Invest in a professional photo. Most recruiters don’t take a profile seriously unless it has a photo that looks professional. You don’t even have to spend on that photograph. Just use your mobile phone to take a photo of yourself and enhance it using LinkedIn’s own Photo Filters and Edit feature. Keep in mind that the photo should look trustworthy, likable and influential.
- Use keywords. Recruiters use LinkedIn’s powerful integrated search tool to look for qualified candidates. It won’t matter how amazing your profile is if recruiters can’t find it. Make your profile visible by having the right keywords in it. Learn what keywords recruiters use to find professionals that offer similar services to yours. Use those keywords in the headline, summary, and experience sections of your profile. Make sure the use of the keywords is natural and not forced.
- Add relevant skills. You have to add at least five relevant skills to your profile. The section on skills is the first section many recruiters go to when assessing whether or not a profile is worth contacting.
- Manage endorsements. LinkedIn users can endorse other users as a form of testimonial. You can add those endorsements to your profile but make sure that each endorsement amplifies your brand. Choose only endorsements that come from users that have the same skills you do or use the services you provide. And make sure you thank everyone that gives you an endorsement whether or not you plan to add the endorsement to your profile. You should also make a habit of giving endorsements to those who deserve it.
- Create the best headline. The headline is one of the first things recruiters look at when evaluating a profile. You only have 120 characters to present your story and state your brand promise while also using relevant keywords so you need to make each character count.
- Make an engaging summary. Draft your summary as if you were talking face to face with your prospective clients. Up to 2000 characters can be used to convince them that you can provide exactly what they are looking for. Talk about the value to their business that you can add. Don’t forget to use keywords that are relevant.
- Engage. Boost your LinkedIn presence by being active on the website. Spend at least 15 minutes each day reading about what your connections are up to. Read articles that interest you and leave a like or comment on them. And avoid short meaningless comments. Leave only concise and insightful comments.
6. Invest in Learning
The building of personal brands is never over. You should always look to improve your brand. Knowledge is a must for a freelancer. Things are always changing and you need to be aware of those changes and be adaptable. Add value to yourself, so that you can give your clients even more value. Here are some ways to learn.
- Take up some LinkedIn Learning courses.
- Watch relevant videos on Lynda and other similar sites that offer online courses and classes.
- Download and read relevant ebooks from Amazon and other online marketplaces.
- Download and listen to audiobooks from Audible and other similar websites.
- Find a trusted mentor who has achieved great success in the freelancing world such as Awesome Marky, a virtual assistant who has gained a great deal of reputation in blogging, web development, graphic design and more.
Your personal brand should inspire trust and confidence on your prospective clients. And with a freelance career that is built on trust and confidence, you will never run out of good clients.