Freelancers are taking the world by storm - in the next 10 years, more than 50% of the US working population will probably identify as freelance workers. This can be a really exciting time, with loads of opportunities available and more freedom in how you work. However, there’s also the rising competition of other freelancers, making it harder and harder for you to stand out against the crowd.
Two key ways of ensuring you are consistently getting the work you want are by positioning and branding yourself. These might seem like yet another chore on your schedule with the many other tasks you have as a freelancer, but getting them right can save you time and boost your profile.
Not sure how to go about it? That’s what we’re here for. In this article, we’re going to look at what positioning and branding your freelance services are all about and how to do them effectively.
Positioning is all about getting yourself in the right spaces to draw attention to what you have on offer so that you can gain leads on new work and get paid! If people don’t know you’re there, they’re not going to think of you when they need help in your field. If they’re not thinking of you, they’re not hiring you, and you aren’t getting paid.
To start, you need to know who your potential clients are. Look at your past and present clients to get an idea of the sort of people you need to be targeting. Working out your target group is the first step in winning them over, retaining their interest, and attracting their business.
Consider what these potential clients are looking for. Someone with incredible development skills? Someone with experience in marketing? Whatever it might be, make sure these are the things that you are promoting about yourself.
It can feel awkward at first bigging yourself up, but if you don’t do it, no one else is going to. It doesn’t matter what other freelancers have done, this is about what you excel at and the skills you have. Use these to shape your unique selling point (USP). This is what makes you stand out from others in your field.
While employers are dealing with potential staffing crises, customer churn rate, not enough coffee mugs, and a whole host of unpredictable business outcomes, you want to make hiring new freelance staff as easy as possible. Boosting your visibility is one good way of doing this.
It takes a lot of endurance, and often it takes multiple attempts at customer engagement before clients start to automatically think of you. Look into different platforms and channels to promote yourself on. It’s likely you already have some of these which you can utilize further. From social media to websites, conferences, newsletters, or features, anything that can tell future clients about who you are, what you do, and why can be part of your positioning.
Equally, you don’t have to use every channel available to you. Decide what works best and what reaches your target group most effectively, and focus on that. If you struggle with video conferencing fatigue, then perhaps limit the number of online meetings you have, and focus more on your newsletter or socials.
You’ve likely come into contact with branding many times before, whether clothing, food or tech services. Branding yourself is essentially the same - creating an image or perception of you that links to certain values that you hold. There are many different ways of doing this, and doing it well can elevate your pitch to clients.
Decide on a couple of values you want your brand to present. These should align with who you are as a person and define what you want your brand to be. There are plenty of online quizzes to identify your archetype, personality, or purposes and these can give an insight into some good values for your brand. Make sure you communicate these values through everything you do - from sending your invoices to your tweets.
Think about how you want to present your brand visually. Your logos, banners, email signatures, and color schemes can all help to create a cohesive image of your brand and communicate a sense of professionalism. These can unite all your channels and help your clients know they are in the right place, whether scouring emails for the conference call dial in details, following your social media or receiving your invoice. If a picture can say a thousand words, visual branding is certainly worth the effort.
Communication is another key part of your branding. It might seem obvious, but a timely and comprehensive response can simplify and improve your experience with a client majorly. If you want to compete with other freelancers, quick replies are expected, and leaving potential clients “on read” will lead them elsewhere.
This isn’t limited to emails, but across all channels you are present on. If this is something you find difficult to keep on top of, an app to integrate or automate the process can be well worth investing in.
Branding and positioning often go hand in hand. They’re both there to gain attention and present you to potential clients in the best way possible. It’s a key part of being a successful freelancer and dedicating a bit of time to think through your branding and how you plan to position your services can be super beneficial.
Freelancing can feel like a solo journey, but you are not alone. There are plenty of other freelancers that have gone before you, and plenty more around you, so find a community to be a part of, get support and advice, and in turn support them. Many other freelancers will have answers to your questions, from how to do a call transfer, to managing banking as a freelancer. Likewise, you will have encouragement and tips you can share with other freelancers too.
Most importantly, remember it is a work in progress. Positioning yourself and brand takes time, experimentation, and imagination to find out what works best for you and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to try different ideas out - the worst that can happen is that you learn from it. Keep adapting how you do things and - most importantly - have fun.