If you want to move beyond being a work-for-hire run-of-the-mill freelancer and become a stand-out solopreneur, then it is time to turn yourself into a brand. A memorable brand will help you get noticed and help potential clients remember you and what you can do for them. If you brand yourself correctly your brand will be able to quickly convey your niche area and how you can help clients solve problems; plus it’ll have a little bit of a wow-factor to make you stand out from the pack. Your brand works for you to present your company’s personality to the world, and tell clients what they can expect when they work with you. So how can you build a successful brand? Follow these steps to move beyond being a basic freelancer into becoming successful solopreneur:
Step 1: Figure out who you are.
Before you can get started building your brand into your website and all over the place, you need to define exactly who you are and what you do. At first glance that might seem pretty easy: I am a writer and I write stuff. However in order for your brand to stand out you need to be specific and emphasis your unique selling proposal; focusing on what your angle is and what your niche is and how can that be narrowed down into an elevator pitch. Try asking yourself these 3 questions:
- What problem do I solve for clients?
- How do I want clients to describe me?
- How do my friends describe me?
- How does my education and experience relate to the work I do?
- What do I want to be known for?
Perhaps your answer sound like this:
- I write engaging content that brings in customers.
- I am easy to work with and always deliver on time.
- I am curious and always looking for a new way to approach thing.
- During my B.A. degree I learned how to write well and I know how to engage with different audiences from experience working on a variety of projects as a freelance writer.
- I want to be known as an amazing writer who promptly delivers interesting and engaging content that increases traffic to my client’s website and results in more sales.
You can use those answers to start framing your brand as a reliable innovative content writer. However in this example, we are still left with a fairly vague notion of a “content writer” who is still missing a unique niche and needs to narrow down the type of content they specialize in so their branding to be even better. If you are having trouble finding your niche, check out the article How to Find Your Niche with 3 Simple Questions.
Step 2: Pick a name.
You already have a name, but is your name good enough to be the name of your business? In some cases yes, using your own name is great; in other cases it might not fit. Before you choose a name you need to do a little research and think about the future of your business. Do a keyword search online to see what comes up when you look for services that are similar to yours. Would a company name that includes a keyword be more beneficial than your own name? Or is the market already saturated with businesses with similar services that include the keyword in their name, making it hard to stand out from the pack. If you are going to be a location based business, it might be a good idea to include your location right in the name of your business, as in: “Fern-Valley Photography”, so people can find you easily. Do you plan on growing your company and eventually hiring employees? If so, you should think about that when your choosing a name as well, “Life Coaching by Lily” might not be the best name if you plan to eventually have other life coaches on your team.
Once you think you have the perfect name for your business name, do one last bit of research to make sure it doesn’t already exist and that there is no website out there already using it - especially if they offer a similar service to you. If there is no other business or website out there using your name and you have done all your research and feel like “this is the one” then claim that URL and start getting your website up and running!
Step 3: Tell your story.
Now that you have figured out who you are, chosen your name and claimed your little piece of cyberspace, it’s time to start filling your webpages up with on-brand content. Your website is where you need to tell your story through your portfolio and content marketing.
Besides your landing page, which will have great look and clearly explain your services with a snappy tagline, the next most important page on your site when it comes to branding is your “about page”. You need to provide your full bio as the story that gives your brand a personal touch to make it stand out and make people want to hire you; you need it to state who you are and how you help clients in a compelling way. This is where you can develop and reinforce the definition of who you are that you settled on in step 1.
It is a great idea to have a blog on your website to continue to build your brand and offer current content that can reach more people. The blog should tell your story through showcasing current and former projects, discussing relevant ideas in your industry, and give you a space to create shareable content that readers will want to pass on to others. Everything that goes on your blog should work to reinforce your brand, there should be no unrelated or off-brand content available there. This goes for any other type of media you post for your business, such as videos, materials or podcasts; even the resume you use and actual conversations you have with client should stay on brand.
Step 4: Make it consistent.
Your brand needs consistency and unity across all material. You should try to use the same style of writing and lingo and continue to offer the same message about who you are. How can you be consistent across all platforms, from your website to your facebook and twitter profiles and even your business cards? Try this: take your full bio and trim it down to a couple hundred words and that can be used on your Facebook and LinkedIn, focus on what you can do for the clients specifically in these platforms. Then take you most essential core problem-solving points from your bio and that becomes your elevator pitch and small enough for twitter. Take that and bring it down to a few words that you can use to make a snappy tagline that is on-brand and concise.
Not only does your message need to remain consistent to have an effect brand, your personal style should too. The look of your website should match the look of all your other platforms in order to strive for brand unity and make your brand instantly recognizable. Choose a colour scheme, style, font and logo that will be on everything from your website to your business cards. Make sure your look is professional and unique in order to attract attention and keep it.
Step 5: Keep it Current.
Once you have your business up and running with a consistent look and message across all platforms that last thing you need to do to keep harnessing the power of your brand is to keep everything current, active, and up to date. That means regularly updating your blog and portfolio so that clients can see that you’re working and producing great new material all the time. Be sure you are regularly showcasing your brand on social media, the more public presence the better! If you’re having trouble finding time to engage across all the relevant social media platforms to ensure that your business is visible, check out these 10 Apps to Boost Your Online Presence.
One last thing to remember when you are creating a brand for your business: it needs to be trustworthy and personal. People can almost always see right through a facade and if you look like a fake, no one will want to hire you. Above all, your brand should tell the truth about who you are and what you do. Once you’ve established your unique brand and have it working for you across all platforms, don’t forget to update your profile at SageGroupy to make sure it is on-brand too.