As a freelancer, you’re expected to wear a lot of different hats.
You’re an entrepreneur whose business and brand is yourself. You’re in charge of setting schedules, establishing financial goals, and at the foundation of it all, you’re in charge of your brand—you.
As you grow and develop as a freelancer in any field, you’ll be known by your work and your reputation. To command the amount of money that you’re worth, you’ll need to learn to build up a brand of who you are and what people can expect when dealing with you.
This concept can be one of the most difficult for people new to the industry to get invested in.
Many of the people going through this process now have grown up with the internet, making personal connections and publishing content at their discretion. It can be hard to think of personal communication as part of your business, but one must learn to think about everything one posts on the internet.
When you get started, there are a few things you should be thinking about.
Unfortunately, this means more than just “be awake” in this context.
Being conscious of what you put on the web is a big part of managing your brand. Companies hire public relations and other professional employees to go over exactly what content goes out on the web, whether it be a blog entry, a Facebook post, or a tweet.
You, on the other hand, have to do it yourself.
What you say on the internet is cataloged forever. In almost every case, there’s no taking it back. Because of this, you have to be dedicated, careful, and mindful about what conversations you get into on the internet.
Your identity isn’t just personal anymore. Your tweets and blog entries are something that future employees will see, and presenting a professional image will be beneficial—even necessary—in landing any large jobs.
Present a Consistent, Professional Image
This relates to step one: being conscious of your image.
Professionalism depends entirely on your field. Know who you are and what image you want to project as your brand. In certain fields, you’re free to let loose with crass humor or sarcasm, but in others it’s better to be conservative, polite, and kind.
Whatever you do, present a consistent image. Wavering back and forth wildly will split your audience and hurt your brand’s growth.
In addition to presenting a consistent textual image, present a good photographical image as well. Either hire a professional or get a friend or colleague with a nice camera and take some professional, high quality photos specifically for your brand.
Be consistent with your image. Pick a headshot that represents you and use it across all of your platforms to present a consistent, professional image.
Nothing hurts the growth of a brand more than inactivity.
Whatever method you’re using to help grow your brand, whether it’s Twitter, a blog, or Facebook, be present on that medium. This is especially important when you’re just starting to build your brand and trying to find a solid audience.
By disappearing from time to time, people will forget you. Don’t give them that chance.
In this new age of social media interactivity, people expect more than just a tagline on the internet. They want to know that there’s a living, breathing person behind that internet persona.
This may seem to run converse to the idea of treating yourself as a business, but here’s where it gets complex: you’re a person, too. Show some of that personality. Be approachable to people and engage with them.
Future employees and business associates are drawn more to the person who’s comfortable interacting with others. This is a sure sign that you’ll be easier to work with and know how to communicate comfortably.
In addition, it also helps you build a following and support system.
Make Meaningful Connections
Any business relies, to some extent, on personal connections.
Learn to cultivate connections, both professionally and personally, that are advantageous to you. This means going out of your way to try to talk to certain people. It might seem forced at first, but you’ll get the hang of it with practice.
The internet is a big place and the folks who put themselves out there on social media are there to talk. Engage with them and be proactive about building up your brand. Make connections that matter with people who can help you.
And remember: people will judge you by who you associate with. Be mindful of not only the conversations that you engage in, but the projects you put your name on and the people you work alongside.
Becoming part of a toxic business relationship, or taking a poor quality job may be a way to make a quick dollar, but in the long run it’s about building a lasting image for yourself. Choose the jobs that you’ll be proud to stand behind, and do work that you want others to see.
Because, one way or another, they will see it.
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