I cannot think of a single group of people for whom personal branding is more crucial than freelancers. It is in fact the ‘make or break’ ingredient that will determine whether their career adventure (and trust me, being a freelancer is an adventure!) takes off or sinks into obscurity. A strong, sensibly-managed and attractive personal brand is almost a requisite for these professionals in the fiercely competitive current job market. Any effort they put into building their brands and making the most of all the online opportunities to do so will pay off handsomely: not only will their brand act as a magnet for new leads and will support and strengthen their commercial initiatives, but will also allow them to compete in almost equal terms with established companies or one day even set up their own.
It is important first of all to understand the psychology behind freelancing. Those who actually choose freelancing as a way of life (there are many who are driven to it for more or less durable stints due to specific circumstances) are making a powerful statement as to their view of themselves and their careers. The three underlying core messages in most cases are: ‘I can stand on my own two feet and deliver a good service without having a company to fall back on. I value my freedom and my independence. I am proud of what I do’. And these are tough acts to follow. In fact, I don´t believe those statements will be taken seriously in our digital economy unless a cogent brand has been previously put together and acts as a foundation for their whole career edifice.
The ultimate goal for freelancers – as indeed for any other business – is brand loyalty, or the psychological identification of the customer with their personal brand, as it is the case with Apple and other household names. The immense benefits that derive from this blessed state are known to all: suffice to say that brand loyalty guarantees that your followers are readier to forgive your mistakes and happy to act as ambassadors for your brand in their circles. For this to take place, there are three stepping stones that need to be followed:
Step 1: consistency
Your brand needs to be consistent and coherent in its message. Especially for freelancers, the risk is always promising more than you can deliver or pretending that your expertise covers too wide an area. Be consistent and coherent on and offline as the best approach to ensure your…
Step 2: authenticity
Being genuine and authentic will act a magnet for leads and will make you a person many want to work with. The secret here is being yourself and true to your own idiosyncratic style in all that you do – and most especially in your advertising and everything related to your public persona. This is crucial to reach the Olympus of…
Step 3: credibility
Nothing is more important for a freelancer than being credible, since it is only out of credibility that he/she will be approached and considered for the specific job or alternatively that he/she can cold-call with confidence. Being credible gives freelancers the peace of mind necessary to concentrate on refining and improving the quality of their work and their continuous process of honing their skills, re-training and self-improvement while the orders keep on coming.
The synergy of online/offline initiatives will pave the way toward the completion of these goals often in relatively inexpensive ways. Concentrating on the online side of their brands, freelancers should most definitely have an attractive web presence and be active in the right social media; they should have a strategic approach and online growth strategy in networks such a Twitter; and they should use every offline opportunity to inform and point towards their online niche (business cards, flyers, stickers, digital signatures or QR codes come to mind). In short, they should be pro-active in the building and development of their brands and understand that missing on personal branding is a luxury they simply cannot afford.
I wish all our freelance readers the very best for this new year we have just begun and encourage them to put to good use all the tips and recommendations in Personal Branding Blog to make their careers blossom and remaing proudly freelancing!
Oscar Del Santo is a lecturer, consultant, key speaker, blogger and populariser of online reputation and inbound marketing in Spain. He has been extensively featured in the Spanish and Latin American media and is a regular contributor to several TV programs. Included in the ‘Top 70 Spanish Tweeters’ and ‘Best Marketing Tweeters in Spanish’ lists (@OscarDS), he is the author of ‘Reputacion Online para Tod@s’.