101 Ways to Improve Your Freelance Brand
As freelancers, we sometimes tend to think that branding is only about being different enough to attract clients. We want to stand out, so we spend hours adjusting our logo.
But great brands are more than an attractive symbol alone.
Great brands have values. They’re passionate about these values too. They respect the goals of their customers and they keep their promises. They strive to make a positive impact. They tell stories and capture the imagination of those they speak to. Brands that believe in the work they do for others are the exceptional ones.
Nike+ doesn’t tell you that wearing their shoes will make you the next Michael Jordan. They focus on helping their customers be the best athletes they can be because they believe in human potential.
Creating a great brand is essential to the success of your freelance business. Go beyond the skin and dig for the core of your brand identity. It’s a story, a feeling, and a goal to create things of value. That’s where your brand exists.
Here are 101 branding tips to help you improve your freelance identity and help your business succeed:
Create Real Value
- Your client is the hero. Not your business. It’s your role to be their Obi Wan.
- Don’t put down a bad idea. Suggest how it can be improved.
- Be human.
- If you make a mistake, apologize sincerely.
Enhance Your Brand Experience
- A niche is a start. Passion is the progress.
- Believe in what you do because “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.
- Be your brand outside of your business. Do your values hold up? If not, try refocusing your mission.
- Listen to other experts. Listen with the intent to learn and use their insight to make improvements
- Don’t try to please everybody. Focus on helping somebody.
- Start by creating a minimum viable audience.
- Think of the theme of your brand in one word. This is what director Francis Ford Coppola does for his films – saying, “Knowing what the theme is always helps you [make decisions].”
Simplicity Is Supreme
- Your brand name should be a clue as to what your business is. Don’t try to say everything at once.
- Keep it simple. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.
- Forget everything about competition. Exceptional brands are about making a difference in the world.
- A client list is a privilege. Try to not send too much promotional stuff. Focus on giving valuable content.
Consistency Is Key
- Make promises and keep them.
- Describe your brand to a twelve-year old. Would they get it? If not, simplify it until the message is clear.
- Like BMW values performance, and Volvo values safety, think about your own angle.
- Have a focused list of services. More is not always better.
- Make sure the colors, typography, and style of your website work well together.
- Put social media icons on your site that match the overall style.
- The language you use for your blog posts should match the language on your website.
- Set values for your business. Standards about what you do and do not do. Then stick to them forever.
- Choose something you could happily do every day.
- Keep up with industry news so you’ll always be a step ahead.
- Truly try to help people. Listen to their concerns and wishes with compassion.
- Over deliver with everything you do.
- Be easily reachable. Respond to calls, emails, tweets, and other forms of messaging as quickly as possible.
- Take on a project that challenges you. Then showcase your work.
- Offer a free product; such as an eBook or guide that helps people better their own life or business.
Your Brand On Social Media
- Use the platforms your clients and prospects are using.
- Don’t talk about your “brand strategy”, but instead focus on interacting.
- Use the same gravatar image across different sites.
- Thank your readers, friends, followers, and clients for sharing your content.
- Share great content from numerous authors.
- Do more listening than tweeting, updating, and posting.
- Join a group on LinkedIn.
- Encourage others to comment on your work.
- Choose a specific purpose for using Twitter.
Create A Website Worth Bookmarking
- Who are you? Use your About page to tell a story. Keep it light, focused, and different.
- Tell prospective clients exactly what they can expect.
- Ask your clients for testimonials you can include.
- Create a funny 404 page or find some clever ones here.
- Include a picture of your beautiful smile.
- Create a mascot; like our FreelanceSwitch character who encourages us to “think outside the cubicle”.
- Write the copy first, then design around the message you created.
- Use an effective landing page.
- Make it easy for visitors to subscribe.
Consider Website Extras
- Include a greeting somewhere, such as a “Happy whatever-day-of-the-week-it-is”.
- Add an Easter egg to your own site.
- Create an exceptional user experience.
- Good branding is like classical music. Repeat yourself, and toss in a few surprises.
- Choose a domain name you can be proud of. Imagine shouting it from the top of a mountain.
Be A Leader
- Inspire readers to see a common thing from a different perspective.
- Be an expert without calling yourself one.
- Focus on the results your service will bring a client.
- Tell people what to do. Subscribe, sign up, follow, etc. Look at the most popular Youtubers. They all spend a good amount of time at the end of each video telling you all the ways to stay in touch.
- Spend time on your own creative projects in addition to client work.
- Have confidence.
Improve Your Brand Blogging
- Tell truthful stories. Infuse nostalgia and knowledge.
- Don’t contradict yourself.
- Tell stories that match the worldview of your readers.
- Allow some room for your audience to draw their own conclusions from the stories you tell.
- Tell a joke only a few would get.
- Welcome guest bloggers in different creative fields.
- Introduce your clients to something they’ve never heard of.
- Make a habit of blogging regularly and readers will make a habit of reading.
- Write a post that cures a typical “headache” your clients might have.
- Share your own (thoughtful) take on a trending topic.
- Make a video blog post.
The Art of Refinement
- Take a look at your most recent blog post. Take out at least five sentences.
- Email using an @yourwebsite.com address. Not a Hotmail, Yahoo, or other type of account.
- Secure yourself with a good contract.
- Monitor reactions and listen so that you know when your quirkiness has gone too far.
- Stay away from giving your prospects too many choices. No one wants to be put in “choice paralysis”
- Take out one of the services you offer that you really don’t like doing.
- Say no to 1,000 good ideas. Go with the few great ones.
- Capture the imagination of your audience with a perfect portfolio display of your work.
- Colors (and the combination of colors) do create a mood. So choose wisely.
- Create an infographic that tells your business story.
- Choose compelling images and graphics that reflect the style of your brand.
Don’t Stop at Social Media
- Write helpful and informative guest posts for blogs related to your field.
- Make high-quality business cards.
- Create themes and designs for ThemeForest and GraphicRiver and build your reputation there.
- Create tutorials for Tuts+ Premium
- Put together an eBook of your best 100 posts.
- Help people on online forums by giving valuable advice.
- Make video tutorials and put them on Youtube.
- Aim to start a conversation with your elevator speech.
Consider the Future of Your Freelance Brand
- Focus on improving your freelance skills. Something can always be better.
- Establish clear goals for the future of your brand.
- Start small and grow.
- Use portfolio sites like Behance to showcase your work to a wider audience.
- Don’t be afraid of constraints and boundaries. Creativity thrives here.
- Practice creativity everyday and apply it in your business.
- Creating is important, but remember to ship.
More To Know!
- Listen to others but never settle for something that doesn’t feel right to you.
- Know that building a brand is going to take balance.
- It also takes time (think marathon, not sprint).
- Never forget your vision.
- Think different.
- Make your brand something people will care about.
Do you have any more ideas on how to improve your freelance brand? Please share in the comments below!