We all have our favourite brands. Those businesses that we trust, identify with, or that make us feel special. We reward them with our custom, our facebook likes or retweets. We go back to them again and again because we like what they do and what they stand for.
Just as businesses have carefully cultivated brands, developed to appeal to their specific target audiences, so individuals do too, with social and online media providing unprecedented opportunities to influence how the world perceives us.
We can all go through our facebook friends and make judgements (right or wrong!) on individuals, based on their posts, photos, likes and the groups they belong to. More often than not, we cluster together in groups based on these passions, interests and connections, which together help to define who we are.
For freelancers, cultivating a personal brand is arguably even more important, as winning projects often relies on your online profile, reputation and recommendations from your network. This is particularly true in PR and marketing where brands are your business – you need to manage your own as much as you do your clients’.
A survey by The Guardian Jobs found that three quarters of recruiters have looked up a candidate on social media, and potential clients are no different. There’s a myriad of ways they can dig into your professional background and personal life if they so choose, and they’re likely to be influenced – if only subconsciously - by what they find.
That’s why spending some time nurturing and enhancing your personal brand can be so valuable, not only helping you to win more business, but also more of the type of business you want to work on.
With that in mind, here’s a few steps you can take to boost your freelance brand:
• Your USPs - Think about what you want to be known for, including subject expertise, ways of working, passions and values. Authenticity is key so you shouldn’t be fabricating anything. It’s about making the most of your existing strengths, interests and ambitions, packaging these in a way that express your unique personality. It can help to ask your clients and past colleagues why they liked working with you, as these are the traits that are likely to appeal to future clients as well.
• Your shop window – Review all your social profiles to ensure they’re consistent and effectively reflecting what you want to be known for, including your personal descriptors, photography and details of your experience. Then try to post regularly to keep your profiles fresh, ensuring your updates and comments fit with your areas of interest as much as possible, showcasing your passion and expertise.
• Building your network – As well as posting your own updates online, make sure you’re also engaging with relevant influencers and groups in your space, through joining conversations, responding to questions and sharing content posted by others. Also think about wider networks you can join, such as university or school alumni, or freelancing networks. They will all help expand your sphere of influence and strengthen your profile.
• Maximise your profile on The Work Crowd – The Work Crowd has loads of features and functionality to make differentiating yourself as easy as possible. Make sure your profile highlights all your USPs, with plenty of recent examples of your work. And if you want to boost your visibility even further, we also give our freelancers the opportunity to contribute to our blog. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to share your own freelancing experiences.
• Recommendations – Potential clients might trust your sales pitch but they’re significantly more likely to listen to what your past clients and colleagues say about you. So make a point of asking past clients for a short recommendation that you can use on social media and your Work Crowd profile – just email us and we can add these for you. The same goes for examples of your work, so make the effort to add and update these regularly.
• Take it offline – Your online profile doesn’t work in isolation. What you get up to in the real world can be equally as important, adding a different dimension to your brand. So if you attend an industry event, make sure you post or blog about it afterwards, while also making the effort to engage or follow up with the new contacts you met there. It will show you’re actively involved in your community and more than just a headshot!
• Your brand should evolve as you do – We are all a work in progress and your personal brand should reflect this. As you win new clients, gain new skills or achieve new successes, let the world know about them – on your Work Crowd profile and social media. You never know who might be listening.