With half of Britain’s workforce going freelance by 2020, now is the time to invest in brand you, says AndCo head of trends Tamsin Isaacs
According to The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), freelancers contribute £119 billion annually to the British economy, with freelancers now representing 6 per cent of the UK workforce. The number of younger people freelancing is growing, with the number of freelancers aged 16-29 having risen by a massive 66 per cent since 2008. These trends have led to predictions suggesting that an astonishing half of the UK’s workforce will have gone freelance by 2020.
With an ever-increasing portion of the population now becoming receptive to freelancing, it is understandably becoming more difficult to stand out from the crowd. Therefore, investing time in your own personal brand will help you to increase your visibility and prominence in the marketplace – and may give clients a reason to choose you, over your competitors.
Find a unique voice for your brand
The first step of any brand strategy is finding a “voice”. This is the process of finding your brand’s personality and deciding where to position it, or yourself, in the marketplace. As a freelancer, you are the singular representative of your brand, especially if you are a sole trader. Accordingly, the individual traits that make you unique should be infused into your brand’s personality. Your personal brand should not only echo your individuality, it should also convey positive and exciting messages about your services. For example, if your creativeness sets you apart from the crowd, your branding should reflect this by being original and imaginative.
Asking yourself a series of inward-facing questions will help with the formation of your brand voice.
- What are my skills and experience?
- How do they relate to the services that I offer?
- Why should clients choose me over someone else? What do I want to be known for?
There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution when it comes to branding yourself; what works for some may not work for others, but your brand should resonate with your intended customers. You’ll quickly know if it does.
Focus on your digital footprint
Your digital footprint is crucial to the perception of your brand, so the utmost attention must be given to it. It is highly likely that many of your potential clients will first encounter you online, so make sure your website is easy to find, informative and conveys your key messaging clearly. As a freelancer it’s worth investing in a professional-looking website, which not only has personality, but also clearly explains your services. I like Wix or Squarespace (the latter being extremely easy to use if web development isn’t really your thing).
Don’t forget to include a biography, explaining who you are and what you can offer to clients. When constructing your bio, make sure that it aligns with your wider brand strategy and try to make it as engaging as possible.
Decide on a name
A seemingly small yet important part of creating your brand is the deciding of a trading name. Many freelancers decide to use their name followed by the service that they provide (i.e. “Catherine Adams Marketing”), an option commonly pursued due to its simplicity, and the clarity provided. However, this route is not without its downsides. For example, if you have a popular name, you may experience increased difficulty in obtaining your desired domain name for your social media account or website. Additionally, you may be harder to discover within search engine results.
The alternative is to trade under a “doing business as” (DBA) name. If you do choose to trade under a DBA, be sure to pick something timeless that reflects your brands aims and goals. When deciding on a name it is important to ask yourself three questions: Do I like saying it? Do I like hearing it? Do I like looking at it? If the answers to these questions are all yes, then it’s likely you’ve found a winner.
Make use of social media
Social media is one of the most effective tools for self-promotion. Properly utilised, social media accounts will allow for potential clients to discover you, making it a really time-effective way of finding new business (even a well-constructed Instagram Story is a great way of finding clients).
Social media platforms allow for direct engagement with customers, when doing this, make sure to infuse all forms of communication with personality, as this will set you apart from competitors. It is also a good idea to distribute content relevant to your sector via social media. Doing this advertises your expertise on a topic and will increase the likelihood of attracting customers. If your Twitter account is easy to find but just full of tweets complaining to companies, does this really give off the right impression to potential clients? Probably not. A solution could be to start a new, professional Twitter account.
Your biography from your website can also be re-worked for use across social media. For Facebook or LinkedIn, consolidate your biography to a few hundred words, focusing on what clients can get from you. For Twitter, consolidate to 280 characters or less – keeping your most essential benefits for a client. You can even condense it to just a few words for a tagline, again this should convey your brands key messages whilst remaining succinct.
Invest in your relationships
If you’re just starting out as freelance, you’ll soon realise that word of mouth will undoubtedly be one of the most important ways that you get new business. Therefore, take the time to invest in your current client relationships. No matter how tiny the client, you never know who they may lead you to in the future.
If you’re struggling to get clients and are desperate to build up your roster – you might want to consider offering your services to a charity or not for profit organisation that you feel passionately about, to gain experience, and start building new contacts.