Being a freelancer is more popular than ever. And why not? You get to be your own boss and make your own decisions, working on things that you love, instead of being stuck in some cubicle working for some pointy-haired manager. On the downside, being a freelancer is perhaps more difficult than ever. So, you need to direct your efforts on online presence management and building the right brand persona for your business.
Most freelance markets, from graphic design to plumbing, have become very competitive, making it increasingly hard to make a name for yourself just by putting in the hours. After all, everyone else does too. You’ve probably heard this old quote, that “success takes one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration“. Well, I cannot vouch for the exact percentage, but nowadays it also takes a whole lot of marketing.
In order to succeed in today’s freelance landscape you need to stand out from the crowd – by learning how to start a brand strategy and design for the services you provide, to effectively market yourself and your skills, and by building a brand online that makes potential clients take notice of you. Here follows freelance branding help to avoid common mistakes most people make.
Online presence management
Build a unique website
First of all, you need a website for your business (you don’t expect customers to search for you in the Yellow Pages, do you?). If you already have one but it looks like it was created by your nephew in 1999, it doesn’t count. Scrap it and have a new one made.
Buy some memorable domain name related to your business and have a professional web designer build you a website. You don’t have to overdo it, but don’t skimp on it either. If you are wondering how to name your company for successful branding, always remember that it needs to be either small or “catchy”, easy to spell and write, and last but not least relevant to your business. It needs to be as good, as your competitors’ websites. Preferably better.
Use a high-quality design for your logo (as it reflects your professionalism), but avoid fancy, slow-loading, graphics. People come to your site to learn about your business, not to be impressed by eye candy (unless you’re a graphic designer). There are tons of ways to implement a creative freelance brand identity marketing strategy without missing the mark. There are many online tools to help you decide on the most suitable colors and typography. Try different solutions. This is quite fun actually!
Give them the details first, in a bold, easy-to-read headline: position, title & expertise. Detail what you can do for them, your prices (if possible), and how they can contact you. Oh, and make sure that your website works well on mobile devices – a large share of your visitors will be using one to find you.
With the website covered, you need to pay some attention to the overall online presence management.
Dive into the social media world
Create social media accounts for your business (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the minimum), and add in your details. Don’t spam people with them — you won’t get any clients that way. Just try to grow your followers organically and of course link to those accounts from your website.
If you have your way with words (or can get someone that does) blogging about your business can help you engage with customers. The best way to go about this is to post stuff that answers your potential client's questions and offers them insights into your industry. Your posts need to have value for your readers, as nobody cares to read mere advertisements for your company.
Remember your “offline” presence
You’ll need some business cards with your logo and the to-the-point headline that you’ve already got going on your website. Don’t go for the cheapo, black-on-white wafer-thin paper ones. Pay a little extra for the high-quality paper, and full-color options. People do pay attention to such things, even if only subconsciously.
Depending on your business you might also need some brochures or leaflets. It is important to keep your identity consistent through all your marketing materials (web, social media, business cards, brochures, etc). That’s called a “corporate identity” (or branding) in the business and is part of what separates the “big boys” (and girls) from amateurs.
This “branding” thing extends to your invoices, whether in print or electronic form. Your invoices are part of your corporate identity and professional, good-looking ones take you a notch above the competition. Elorus, the online invoicing software that sponsors this blog, lets you choose between several professionally designed (and fully customizable) templates to create your online business invoice.
In today’s ultra-competitive freelancing landscape, getting the attention of potential customers is half the battle. Research by Mindstream Media Group has shown that local brands’ online presence affects purchases and customer retention.
Thus, our business branding advice, if followed, will help your business get noticed, succeed in online presence management, and be seen as a serious player in a market full of amateurs.
The rest is up to you!