How to Stand Out in a Sea of Freelancers: Your Freelance Brand
What do freelancers have in common with oranges, coal, and cattle? They’re all commodities—services (freelancers) and goods (oranges, coal, and cattle) that are largely interchangeable. To many clients, one freelance writer or editor (or another type of freelancer) seems just as good as another—unless you have a freelance brand.
When you have a strong freelance brand, you’ll stand out in a sea of freelancers. “A brand gives your company a personality, it makes you trustworthy, and it helps people identify with you,” says The Creative Copywriter, in The Bull-Free Guide to Brand Strategy.
Do Less Marketing, Make More Money with Your Freelance Brand
Clients want to do business with people they know and trust. Your freelance brand helps clients get to know and trust you. It helps them remember you—and think of you first for freelance work.
So you can do less marketing.
Your freelance brand also helps your colleagues, a great source of referrals, remember you. They’ll think of you first when they have a freelance gig to refer to another freelancer.
So you can do less marketing.
Most freelancers don’t have brands. If you do, clients will perceive you as providing more value and being more professional than other freelancers.
So you can charge more for your services and make more money.
Which Freelancer Would You Hire?
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as:
“A name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”
Your brand tells clients and colleagues what to expect from your services. It differentiates you from other freelancers.
When a busy client is looking for a freelancer, a strong brand gives you a competitive edge. Here’s an example.
Which freelancer would you hire?
Like my brand, all strong freelance brands are simple. It takes time and effort to simplify your messages and develop your freelance brand, but it’s well worth it.
Kathleen’s Freelance Brand
Kathleen is a freelance medical copyeditor who provides expert medical editing for health care professional and lay audiences through Write Point Editing Solutions. She helps clients produce accurate, clear, and consistent content. Kathleen launched her freelance business in 2015.
How Kathleen’s freelance brand helps her stand out
Kathleen’s freelance brand boosts her confidence and makes marketing less uncomfortable and more effective.“My brand allows me to communicate a lot of information to prospective clients at a glance. Clearly and consistently conveying my brand messages makes it easy for prospects to make an association in their minds about what I do,” she says.
And along with communicating that Kathleen is an editor, her brand clearly conveys the benefit of working with her: she solves clients’ problems.
Eva’s Freelance Brand
Eva is a freelance English/German translator specializing in health and medical topics. Through her company, Wordplay Translations LLC, Eva has helped startups, small businesses, corporate clients, and marketing organizations transcend the language barrier and communicate effectively across cultures since 1995.
How Eva’s freelance brand helps her stand out
Like many freelancers who work with the written word, Eva finds self-promotion does not come easily. “My brand helps me position myself without the heavy lifting of self-promotion,” she says. “I stand out from other translators.”
Most of Eva’s business comes from referrals. Her logo and her tagline, especially when used in her marketing email signature, make clients and colleagues think of her first for freelance work.
Eva’s brand creates trust and appeals to the type of clients she wants to work with. By attracting her ideal clients, Eva can charge more for her services. “People are willing to pay higher rates for a trusted brand,” she says.
Kristin’s Freelance Brand
Kristin is a freelance medical writer who specializes in grant proposals, CME, and journal articles. She works with CME companies, research institutions, public health foundations, and other clients. Kristin launched her freelance business, Harper Health & Science Communications, in 2014.
How Kristin’s freelance brand helps her stand out
Kristin uses her brand to overcome the perception that freelance medical writers are alike—and that freelancers tend to be unprofessional. “A catchy logo and tagline help people remember me and demonstrate that I am a professional who takes my business seriously,” she says.
And having a strong freelance brand shows that Kristin pays attention to details—in her business and on her client’s projects. When Kristin goes to conferences and other networking events, her freelance brand helps people remember her. “The eye-catching logo gets attention in a sea of business cards,” she says.
What’s in a Freelance Brand?
Your freelance brand is made up of:
- Company name (or your name and title)
- Tone of voice.
A logo is an image, symbol, or other design to identify your services. Logos often have an image, but sometimes they’re just text in a nice design.
And your tagline is a memorable phrase or sentence that helps your target audience(s) understand what you do. Target audiences are the types of clients you work with.
Your Freelance Brand Statement
Your freelance brand statement is the foundation of a strong, clear, simple brand. It needs to clearly and concisely state:
- What you offer: Services
- Who you offer it to: Target audience(s)
- How you’re different or better than other freelancers.
Under services, focus on the type of work you like best where there’s plenty of opportunity for freelancers. You can still do other types of work.
And the same thing is true of your target audiences. Focus your brand on the target audiences that can give you steady, high-paying work. You can still work for other types of clients.
Positioning yourself as different or better
And you don’t actually have to be different or better than other freelancers. You just need to position yourself as different and better.
So, for example, my freelance brand focuses on delivering targeted medical content and doing this on time every time.
Many successful freelance writers deliver content that’s targeted to the audience and meet their deadlines. So I’m not unique. But using this in my brand positions me as different and better than other freelancers. This positioning makes me stand out from the sea of freelancers in the minds of clients.
Start to Develop Your Freelance Brand
When you have your brand statement, you’re ready to start the creative part of developing your brand, and to work with a professional designer. You should have your tagline ready too.
Your freelance brand logo and tagline
A logo and tagline are the main ways you show your brand. Your logo is a visual way to represent your business. It should be easily identifiable.
Your tagline is used as part of your logo. My tagline is: “Targeted Medical Content. On time. Every time.”
Make your tagline short enough to look good with your logo. And make sure it’s clear. Clarity always trumps creativity and cleverness in a tagline (and in all marketing).
Most freelancers use their personal names, instead of a company name. If you create a compelling business name, this will help you stand out even more in the sea of freelancers. But even if you use your own name, if you have a strong brand you’ll still stand out.
Freelance brand tone of voice
Your brand tone of voice expresses your company’s values, personality, and way of thinking. It needs to be appropriate for your target audience(s). For example, if your clients are conservative, you need a formal, conservative tone of voice. But if your clients are creative, your brand should be bolder and more creative.
Freelance brand colors
Colors, which are associated with specific characteristics, are important too. For example, blue, black, and red are among the most popular colors in brands. Here’s what they mean:
- Blue: Trust. Also dependable and strength. Blue is often used in business brands.
- Red: Excitement. Also bold and youthful.
- Black: Powerful and sleek, and often used for luxury products.
Your professional designer can help you choose the right colors for your brand.
Gather Ideas for Your Freelance Brand
Before you contact a professional designer, have some ideas of what you like and don’t like so you can give the designer some guidance.
Review the logos of other freelancers and even other types of businesses. When you see something you like, take a screen shot and put it in a file.
“Explaining graphics is hard. That’s why I ask people to send me anything that they like,” says Brian.
On iStock you have to buy the images but it’s okay to take screen shots to show your designer what you like. If your designer uses one of these, he/she will buy the image. Images on Pixaby are free but many are not as good as iStock, and iStock’s search engine is definitely much better.
Now you’re ready to start working with your professional designer to implement your brand. This is the fun part!
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Learn More About Freelance Brands
From The Mighty Marketer
The Creative Copywriter, in The Bull-Free Guide to Brand Strategy
Gregory Ciotti, The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding
Brian Corchiolo, bpc creative