Sisters Doing It For Themselves: Establishing Yourself As a Brand
Striking out on your own and starting a business, or working at the freelancer, allows a lot of freedom, not to mention a great share of the profits.
However, it comes with its difficulties, too. No longer do you have the security of an employer’s brand to protect you, just like you don’t have that brand to guarantee you work and draw customers and clients. So, what’s the answer? Creating your own brand, of course.
Find your corner
Regardless of what kind of work you do, what kind of freelancer you are, or what business you start, you are going to have competition. In some lines of work it’s harder than others, but finding yourself a niche can be a great benefit in helping you to stand out. Perhaps it’s a level of service that others don’t prioritise; perhaps it’s experience with and a focus on certain kinds of clients that makes you acutely aware of how to meet their needs. A niche doesn’t have to limit your opportunities for revenue, as some might fear. You can still take on clients who fall outside that niche, no problem. But it does offer a specific kind of client – perhaps the most profitable for you – the kind of focus they need to know that yours is a service built for exactly what they want.
A little personality goes a long way
When you set up a website, write a blog, contribute posts to others online, or produce content of any kind, you need some personality. Especially if you can’t find that niche or believe that niche isn’t strong enough. When two companies or freelancers offer the exact same services, the brand personality is often the deciding factor. An aesthetic, an appealing mission statement, and a brand voice can add a distinct accent to your business that makes it both more attractive and more instantly recognisable by those who know it. If you’re working as a freelancer and building a personal brand rather than a company brand, make sure your personality in marketing reflects you a little more accurately, too. If you’re going to be the only person that clients get in touch with, having some disconnect between the brand voice and your own voice can seem odd or even duplicitous.
Make every moment count
Whether it’s offline or in the real world, your first impression is essential. Offline, this means presenting yourself well, working on positive, confident body language, and even practising your greetings and how you introduce yourself. If you want to talk to a potential client, starting with a faltering, wandering introduction that doesn’t truly sum up what you do will be more confusing than appealing.
Build your world
Online, the first impression can be a little harder to truly define. You’re not going to meet people face-to-face. Rather, you might meet them in a variety of ways. The first way they might see you could be your website; or it could be through social media. It could be by searching your name or your business name and seeing what comes up. Working with a digital agency to make sure that all of those ‘meetings’ result in a positive experience is essential to getting control over as many of those online first impressions as possible. If you don’t work on building your online brand, creating a digital world for yourself, and controlling the reputation of the business, you leave a vacuum. Anyone can fill that vacuum and it’s not always going to be the people you’re happy to have speaking about you.
Miss, your reputation precedes you
Of course, having others talk about you can be a positive force, as well. Your name on the lips of the right people can earn you more customers and clients than direct marketing. It’s more than a summary of what you can do and what value you offer; it’s having someone independent vouch for you. Focus on building that buzz, too. You can do it by working to build a social media community of supporters around you and your business. You can also do it with others in the industry, joining in with networking events and becoming a known quantity, sharing your insights as well as taking the time to learn from people who have been in it for longer than you.
Be the expert
There’s plenty you can do to build that reputation on your own, as well. A display of expertise and a delivery of value in public, without having to be paid a penny, can do just that. Nowadays, one of the most broadly used and successful ways of accomplishing this is through content marketing. Writing content with real value to your target market or others in the industry, guest blog posting, hosting or joining webinars and speaking opportunities, even finding the potential for PR in publications, local, regional and online can all slowly build up the idea that you’re not just a freelancer or a business owner, but an expert whose voice is worth listening to. That kind of prestige can send your brand rocketing to new heights if you do it right.