14 Personal Branding Tips for Aspiring Freelancers
Here are some ways you can set yourself apart in the highly saturated freelance market.
The gig economy is bigger than ever, and it shows no signs of slowing down. With more professionals in virtually every industry going the freelance route, what is one way they can set their personal brands apart to attract more business than their competitors?
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC has also launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Tell your personal story
"Incorporate personality into your personal brand. Explain why you got into the industry you did, and tell the story about how you got to where you are now by briefly mentioning previous work history. The goal is to set yourself apart, and being unique and creative are a few of the best ways to do that." -- Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
2. Create a personal website for a niche audience
"There are many people who freelance, yet only a small percentage have personal websites and even fewer have personal websites that provide content for a niche audience consistently over time. If someone wants to be a freelance designer, having a niche website for design in NYC tech startups would make them stand out in that market as an expert who provides value. It also shows they have discipline." -- Dan San, Meural
3. Do for you what you do for others
"Most 'experts' don't do for themselves what they do for others. Web designers have basic/mediocre websites. Social media experts have limited social presences. An easy way to stand out is to be about what you talk about. Create and amplify a personal brand that showcases exactly what you can do for others." -- Brandon Harris, NuMedia
4. Set higher prices
"This may seem counter-intuitive at first but it really works: Pricing your work at premium rates will lead potential clients to view you as a premium freelancer with the ability to deliver high-quality work. The ugly truth is that lots of freelancers will price their work extremely low due to the fact that they deliver low-quality work. Doing the opposite will definitely help you stand out." -- Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy
5. Serve your customers before you sell
"The gig economy enables us to work on a per-project basis, but I noticed that when I focused on serving the customers and their needs first, the money came after. It wasn't so much about the money or being focused on how much I was going to make from a client. I was focused on seeing them succeed and they referred me to new clients. When the focus is the customer, your brand will sky rocket." -- Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing
6. Spend time building your relationships and reputation
"Our reputation among our current and past customers can never be bought or sold. Investing in our relationships to gain repeat and referral business made all the difference to me, and it is where your best business will come from. What are you doing to maintain your brand reputation with the people who already know (or have known) you?" -- Zvi Band, Contactually
7. Invest in your brand
"As the gig economy expands, so does the number of freelancers. The freelancers who will get noticed are the ones who invest the time and money into optimizing their personal brand. Whether it's a portfolio, a website, samples or a delivery service, ensuring that you have thought through each touchpoint and how it impacts your customer will set you apart from those with a more ad hoc approach." -- Ismael Wrixen, FE International
8. Understand the specific customer you want to serve
"All too often we think we can serve everyone -- I've been there too. When you zoom in on your customer, everything gets focused, including the energy you have in your offerings. Sure, everyone might be a customer one day. Today, how are you going to reach that very specific person with particular problems, dreams, goals, hopes and fears?" -- Jen Brown, The Engaging Educator
9. Ask clients for reviews across multiple platforms
"Many freelancers get work through websites that act as a middleman between the customer and the freelancer. Building a reputation on these freelancer websites lets you benefit from what is called 'barnacle SEO,' or attaching yourself to a larger entity that in turn brings resources to you. The smart freelancers ask satisfied customers to also leave five-star reviews on additional websites." -- Brian Greenberg, True Blue Life Insurance, Inc
10. Write guest posts for credible publications
"Guest posting and being mentioned in popular publications helps build credibility and trust within your industry. You can even add the logos from the publications you were mentioned in on your site to create more interest for your brand." -- Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster
11. Build a great portfolio
"Nothing speaks to your quality and capability like the results of your past work and projects. Actions speak louder than words and a portfolio is a record of your actions. Whatever your field is, be it web design, graphic design, writing, project management, etc., have some way to showcase the quality of your work with other clients that helps people see just how special and talented you are." -- Justin Faerman, Conscious Lifestyle Magazine
12. Cooperate with other freelancers
"There is prosperity in cooperation. Build relationships with other freelancers, especially if they specialize in a skill that you don't have and vice versa. Trade contacts and refer clients whose projects aren't in your field. Link their portfolios on your website or blog as an affiliate so they may, in turn, do the same on their site. Be their advocate, and they'll promote you too." -- Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors
13. Be timely in your communication and work
"You may be as well-regarded in your trade as the best in the business, but that does not hold much ground if you fail to deliver on time. It's not just when you get an assignment that you have to meet a deadline. If you're interacting with a probable client, make sure you are prompt in addressing questions. Given the shrinking global workspace, don't forget to account for time differences." -- Derek Robinson, Top Notch Dezigns
14. Be yourself
"Competition continues to climb. In such saturated markets, it's important to differentiate yourself and the easiest way to do that is to be yourself. Let your personality, passion and interests shine through in everything you do. After all, people do business with those they know, like and trust. You'll connect with your potential customers much more effectively." -- Karlo Tanjuakio, GoLeanSixSigma.com
(By The Young Entrepreneur Council)
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