Set The Stage For Freelancing With A Powerful Personal Brand
Toby Bloomberg, president of Bloomberg Marketing, is an expert in digital and social media marketing. She is the founder of Diva Marketing blog, noted by Forbes as one of the 20 best blogs on social media and marketing by a woman. Her passion is helping tell brand stories in the digital conversation world. Toby works with clients to ensure social media/digital initiatives are integrated, accountable and reflect the brand's core values. Connect with Toby on Diva Marketing Blog, Twitter and on Diva Foodies @DivaFoodies.
In a competitive business environment there are two types of branding which are critical for Freelancers to master.
The first is branding that focuses on your products/services. The bottom-line goal of this overarching branding strategy serves as your north star in terms of all things customer-focused from messaging to customer service to tonality, content, product development and beyond. It helps set direction and provides a focus on how to prioritize tasks.
Another way to describe a top-tier brand strategy is a promise you make to the world. Yes, the world! Sounds a little grand but once you step out into the freelance world you are opening your doors wide, perhaps wider than you imagined!
The second type of branding, which you might think of as a subset of your services branding, is your personal brand. For freelancers, your personal brand is often so interwoven into your offering that it gets lost.
Keep in mind, a personal brand is a supporting tactic in your overall marketing plan and should be developed to integrate into your master strategy as well as standing alone.
The excitement of creating a personal brand is the opportunity to define it through your voice and interests.
Why should a freelancer invest precious time and resources in building personal branding? In a noisy and aggressive business world, all things being equal, people like to do business with people they know and trust. A personal brand pulls down the Wizard of Oz curtain that frequently leads to misconceptions and miscommunication.
The Benefits Of Personal Branding
Builds client trust
Establishes and confirms credibility
Adds a ‘human touch’, especially important to prospects who may not know you
Creates a more memorable and unique customer perception of you
Allows you to explore avenues that indirectly relate to your work and impact your future direction, if you have one.
A Roadmap To Personal Branding Success
Step One – Who Are You?
A song from the popular musical A Chorus Line asks the questions that all freelancers should answer.
Who am I anyway?
Am I my resume?
That is a picture of a person I don't know.
The following exercise goes beyond defining your resume to helping you define your personal brand. The goal is to create a unique proposition and positioning that as Tom Peters put it is --The Brand Called You.
As you work through the following questions feel free to answer one through three in bullets or phrases. Question five brings it all together.
What are your talents and/or interests outside of your business?
What are your strengths in what you provide?
What passion do you have for your work?
Is your personality more Acid Rock or Mozart?
In fifteen words or less describe how you stand out from others in your industry.
Step Two – Five Social Media Secrets
Now that you’ve established a description of who you are and what makes you unique, it’s time to communicate with clients, prospects, media, and industry leaders.
The digital world, including social media, email newsletters, and blogs is the fastest and least expensive way to create awareness about your services through the content you create. What you share reflects your personal brand. Your identified stakeholders become your digital network.
There are five secrets to creating a successful digital personal brand while leveraging social media: identify social media channels, consistent tonality, frequency of posting, engagement with your digital network and interesting content your digital network wants to read, watch, listen to and share with their networks.
Identify social media channel/s - Most freelancers I know have limited time, money and support resources. To start - it makes sense to identify the Best For You. Start with two to three social channels.
Although there are hundreds, if not thousands, of social networks the big eight (today, it could change tomorrow!) include: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, G+, and for fun let’s throw email, blogs, and Tumblr into the mix.
Each social channel has its strengths and weaknesses. Within each, you’ll discover niche communities that have an interest in who you are and what you offer. The cultures also vary from social channel. For example, Linkedin is more conservative and business focused than Snapchat, which right now is still the wild west of social media.
Choose channels to participate in where your customers and prospects are active. In addition, choose channels based on the type of content you would enjoy creating. For example, if you love to write, a blog is a natural fit. However, if you enjoy video try your hand at YouTube. If your target audience is B2B Linkedin is a must. If your market is Millennials consider Instagram and Snapchat. Explore the tried and true Twitter and Facebook networks as well.
Consistent tonality – If social channels are the canvases, then words, graphic images, and music are your paint. Here is your opportunity to present yourself as bold, kind, smart, and curious. The tone you use can tap the emotions of the people who interact with you and bring your story to life.
For example, if you are a photographer to rock bands, your tone might reflect more colorful language than if you were a photographer to corporations. Or not.
Frequency of posting – Intentions are great. However, as a freelancer, you well know that it is your action which brings results and in turn success. Each social channel is different in terms of best practices of posting frequency. Anecdotally I’ve found the more time it takes to create content the fewer posts are needed to make an impact.
For example, creating a video or writing a blog post takes longer than posting a tweet or an update on Facebook or Linkedin. Your sweet spot to posting frequency might be one video a week and five tweets a day.
Engagement with digital network – Face-to-face networking is usually an important business development tactic for freelancers. As most freelancers quickly learn it’s not the wallflowers that gain the most at these events but the people who join in the conversations.
In the digital, social media world it’s much the same. The difference is a connection is made through your posts, comments or retweets. Each of these little communications is a touch point for your customers and prospects about your personal brand, aka who you are (and of course by default your services). Real relationships and business opportunities are made every day on social channels.
Interesting content – Simply put content is what you create to fill the spaces of your social channels. Content includes video, photos, graphics, text, and/or music. Easy.
However, successful content is a challenge to create. Successful content is developed with the main purpose of interesting your stakeholders to stop read, listen or watch and then to share. Getting it ‘right’ takes time and experimentation. Metrics for individual posts are available on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram YouTube, Instagram (business accounts). Use these metrics as signposts to tell if your content is making an impact.
A well thought out personal brand can be one of the best assets in the growth of your freelance business. The bonus for the freelancer is your personal brand offers a view of your services through your point of view and is another way to tell your story.