Letting Others Know the Value of Your Business
To paraphrase (OK, in a bad way, admittedly) JFK:
Ask not what your brand can do for you, ask what you can do for your brand!
Indeed, when you are self-employed or a freelancer, asking the right question about your brand is critical. The question is not how to get people to realize you are as valuable as your higher priced freelance competition, rather, the question should be how can you become as well branded as they are, so that people think of you instead of them?
Because once that happens, once you build your personal brand to the point where you are spoken of in the same breath as those at the top of your field, then you do not have to charge less. In fact, then you can charge more, because you will be considered one of the best in your field.
That is but one value of a great brand. A great brand sets you apart and makes you special. In addition, it
- Gives you an aura of success
- Creates credibility
- Keeps you top of mind
- Produces more consistent business
- Increases your income potential, and
- Adds to your perceived value
Discovering Your Freelance Business’s Personal Brand
Now, the fact is, you already have a personal brand, whether or not you know it and whether or not you like it. Your personal brand is what people think of, what impressions they have, when they think of you in a professional sense.
Martha Stewart’s personal brand is so powerful that she could go to jail, come out, and not miss a beat. There are thousands of real estate companies out there, but few are as successful as The Trump Organization because Donald Trump knows the value of a great personal brand (why else would he keep doing that show?)
Having a strong personal brand is even more important for the rest of us at this time when job security is a thing of the past, when online reputations travel fast, and when e-networking plays such an important part in our lives and freelance businesses.
Yet creating a great personal brand need not take a long time. Just ask Dan Schwabel. Dan is a leading Gen Y expert on personal branding, with a very popular blog (The Personal Branding Blog), a successful book (Me 2.0), as well as scores of interviews and speeches under his belt. Not bad, not bad at all – for someone a few years out of college.
So clearly, Dan is the man when it comes to personal branding. According to Dan, “personal branding is how we market ourselves to others.” I certainly agree, especially since marketing is such an important part of branding, although I would add that branding is also how people perceive the message you market.
To create a great brand, it helps to know what people are saying about you and your business.
Dan notes that for maximum effectiveness, your brand must be “authentic (it has to honestly represent you and your value and values), transparent, and visible.”
How to Create a Powerful, Personal Brand When You Freelance
Logo and catchphrase: These old school tools remain vitally important. They create graphic and written representations of you and your business. That said, increasingly these days, e-tools are equally important, such as —
Website: At a minimum, you need a personal web page that says who you are, what you do, and which explains what your personal brand is all about. It is one of the first things new acquaintances will see and read about you.
Blog: One of the great things about blogging is that it allows you to control exactly what people read about you. You can create a brand and image and reinforce it with every post. And then, when people Google your name, they will find your blog, and when they read your blog you will begin to create that desired brand.
Social media: You need to create online social media pages that reinforce the brand – on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, at a minimum. Then by spending time on these sites you again reinforce your brand. For example, Schwabel spends several hours a day tweeting – offering branding tips and adding to different branding conversations. As a result, this is at least one reason his book is selling briskly.
Google profile: This is a Google tool that you should know about, and use: The Google profile allows you to build an online professional profile and is guaranteed to show up on the first page of search results when people Google your name.
Monitoring tools: To create a great brand, it helps to know what people are saying about you and your business. “Google alerts” allow you to see whatever is said about you online. “Twitter search” does much the same for its service. These allow you to inject yourself positively into any online conversation about you and your business.
You have a brand – make sure it’s the one you want.