Seven reasons why every freelancer needs to build a strong personal brand

Love to find more clients, win more projects and charge more for your freelance work? Here are seven reasons why you need to build a strong personal brand.

Why is it that some freelancers seem to have all the luck? They get invited to speak at events, or share their advice own magazines and blogs. They have clients coming to them begging to work with them. They charge fees you can only dream of.

And yet… they don’t have any more experience than you, and their work doesn’t seem dramatically better. What do they have that you don’t?

The answer is simple: they have a strong brand. They’ve invested time and effort in establishing a brand so that, rather than chasing lowly paid contracts with a dozen other freelancers, they can cherry pick the jobs they really want to work on – for grateful clients who are happy to pay.

Seven reasons why every freelancer needs to build a strong personal brand

If you’d like to be that freelancer – the one cherry picking the highest paying jobs for the best clients – here are seven reasons why you need to start building a strong personal brand today, and how to get started.

1) You’ll find it easier to build trust

If you want to secure new clients and freelance contracts, you need to build credibility and trust – and to do that you need to invest time and energy in establishing a strong personal brand.

But how can you do that? Writing blog posts (for your own website and offering them as guest post to others sites) is a great place to start. This enables you to showcase your knowledge and experience, and also demonstrates your commitment to high standards.

Sharing advice, insights and personal stories, and even creating useful guides, helps establish you as a helpful source of knowledge. And the more you write and share, the larger your digital footprint becomes.

This makes it easier for potential clients to come across you, and to see you as an influencer in your niche – and therefore someone they’d trust with their work.

Establishing a strong social presence can also help. Engaging with potential clients, being helpful and answering questions all, again, help to build the impression that you know what you are doing, and are someone trustworthy they’d like to work with.

2) You’ll be seen as authentic

Have you ever thought about what makes you different from other freelancers in your niche? The answer is simple – your personality.

The more you build your personal brand – through your own website and blog, through guest blogging, and through social media and networking – the more opportunities you’ll have to express your personality and stand out from the crowd of other freelancers competing for work.

You want your personality to be authentic and memorable, and you want to ensure you attract the right clients (people with similar values you’d enjoy working with) so don’t be afraid to be (appropriately) honest and true to your real thoughts and feelings. This isn’t the time to be vanilla.

3) You’ll establish yourself as an expert

If you’re currently using a popular freelance project platform, it will probably already have a rating system. But you’re still competing on there with potentially thousands of other similarly ranked freelancers. And are your ideal clients even looking for you there?

If you want to establish yourself an expert without hiding in a sea of other freelancers, you need to invest in building your personal brand – and showcase your success.

This means writing case studies and asking happy clients for testimonials, and sharing these on your website, in emails to clients, on social media and in blogs. You need to let your work speak for you and excite potential clients about the kind of results they can get when they work with you.

4) It makes it easier to network

If you’ve been too busy with your family and building your freelance career, then there is a chance that you’ve missed a huge trend in the freelance industry – networking events. More and more freelancers are organising networking events to help other freelancers meet and exchange experiences.

They also invite successful freelancers to give talks at events, and a strong personal brand can help you get invited to give talks to share your expertise.

And it’s not just talking at freelance networking events a strong brand can open doors to – it can also lead to invitations to talk at local business networking events. Giving you the golden opportunity to talk, in a position of authority, to a roomful of potential clients.

5) You’ll differentiate yourself from your competition

When you’re looking for an expert to help with a job, what do you base your choice on? Unless you’ve been personally recommended someone, you’ll probably search online for someone. Your first port of call might be their website, a directory listing, or perhaps a social media profile – maybe even LinkedIn.

Unless you’re so impressed by the first person or company you find you stop searching right there, the chances are you’ll check out a few potential people before you make a choice.

So how do you choose between them? Whether you realise it or not, it’s likely to be the person with the strongest brand who stands out.

If all other things are equal – everyone can do the same work, and looks equally competent – it’s the person whose online persona seems most trustworthy, most likeable and who reflects the values you respect who will appeal to you the most.

And this comes down to building a strong, memorable personal brand. It comes down to knowing what your values are, and being able to convey them in your website. To how you talk about yourself and ensuring you have a large enough digital footprint to show you love what you do enough to invest time and care in it. And most of all, it comes down to being authentically ‘you’.

6) You can charge more

It’s very easy, if you haven’t established enough of a strong brand to stand out, to find yourself competing with dozens of other similar freelancers for the same projects. And often, with little to differentiate one freelancer for another, the client will choose the cheapest. If you’re not careful, this means you’ll find yourself trapped in a cycle of working for peanuts just to secure jobs.

However, when you’re well known as an expert in your niche, and clients hear others saying good things about you, you don’t need to compete for work – you’ll actually find clients coming to you. And rather than needing to lower your prices to less than the competition to secure work, you can set the price you’re worth and attract clients who are happy to pay it.

7) More opportunities will come your way

As you’re hopefully realising now, personal branding helps you secure more opportunities. Not only is it easier to get noticed, to stand out among other similarly experienced freelancers, to be invited to share your expertise with potential clients, but you can charge more for what you do.

And as more work comes your way more easily, you can be more picky about the work that you do. So instead of reluctantly taking every job that comes your way, because you never know when the next freelance job will come along, you can select only the projects you want to work on.

This means you’ll enjoy your work more, and you’ll get even more experience in the kind of work you like to do – which in turn will make it easier to attract even more of it, and charge more for your services.

With a strong brand you get to decide what direction your freelance work takes, and the kind of clients you want to work with. And when you’re earning more, you can afford to take time off (and even holidays), and open your life to new opportunities beyond your freelance work.

How can you build a freelance brand?

So how can you start building your freelance brand today? We’ve shared some tips already in this article. We also recommend the following resources:

Hopefully, you can trust us when we say that personal branding works for freelancers, after reading about all these benefits. When it comes to developing your personal branding strategy, there are no limits. Express your creativity and seize this amazing opportunity to establish yourself as the expert in your niche and boost your career.

Anya is a part of the content team at DesignContest, a website with a community that’s shaped by the joint efforts of talented designers and contest holders. It is created to connect people who are looking for any kind of web design services with professional designers.

Photo by Natalie Heathcoat