As freelance consultants, we must be especially mindful of our personal brands. Why? We’re not just representing ourselves – we’re representing our businesses. And if we want to attract clients and grow our businesses, we need to make sure our personal brands are strong.
But what even is a personal brand? And how can you create one that will help you succeed as a freelance consultant? Let’s dive in.
What is a Personal Brand and How does it Work?
A personal brand is how you present yourself to the world. It’s what people think of when they hear your name. And it’s how you differentiate yourself from everyone else in your field.
Need an example? Look no further than Oprah. I don’t even need to use her full name, and you know exactly who I’m talking about. She’s created one of the most successful personal brands in the world, and it’s all about positivity, inspiration, and helping others. You’re probably not aiming to be the next Oprah. But you can still use her example to create a personal brand that will help you succeed as a freelance consultant.
Now let’s look at an example from the freelance world. If I mentioned the name Kaleigh, many people would know I’m referring to Kaleigh Moore. She started out as a freelance writer for eCommerce and SaaS companies and is now a renowned freelance consultant, speaker, and podcast co-host.
Part of Kaleigh’s brand is also that she’s achingly stylish. She’s written for Vogue, her home office decor is straight out of a magazine shoot, and photos of her and husband look like the front cover of Rolling Stone. How do I know all this? Because she shares it as part of her personal brand!
With 55k+ followers on Twitter, Kaleigh’s personal brand is whopping, and she makes a point of positioning herself as the go-to person for advice about writing, retail & eCommerce, and freelancing. This is pretty much all she tweets about, so anyone scrolling through the feed knows exactly what to expect from her.
Follow this example by showing your target audience you’re the best person to help them with X problem and that you’re better than anyone else in the field.
Why invest in personal branding for freelancers?
Developing an online personal brand as a freelance consultant is highly cost-effective as a marketing technique. If you’ve spent hours and hours sending out cold pitches or being ghosted by clients, you’ll know how head-bangingly awful this is. But with a strong personal brand in place, you’ll attract referrals and qualified leads straight to your DMs. Then you’ll onboard the clients YOU want to work with and show them the exact process YOU like to follow. It’s a win-win.
5 Ways Freelance Consultants Can Create a Strong Brand
Sound good so far? Let’s dive into 5 personal branding tips for freelance consultants that anyone can try. You don’t need a huge budget – it’s not about spending five figures on web design or paid ads. Instead, personal branding is a long-term vision that will spread the word about your consulting business and set you up for success.
Know Your Target Audience
It’s tempting to look inwards as you brand yourself and forget to look outwards at your target audience. But it’s important to make sure your business brand resonates with your target clients – they’re the ones who could pay your bills, right?
- Who do you want to attract?
- How do they speak?
- What problems do they need to solve?
You also need to know where your target audience hangs out so you can use the right channels to reach them. Are they more LinkedIn or TikTok? Do they appreciate visual content like infographics or prefer to read thought leadership-style essays?
Define your Unique Selling Proposal (USP)
Your USP (unique selling proposition) makes you different from everyone else in your field. It’s what sets you apart and makes you special.
For example, let’s say you’re a freelance consultant who helps small businesses with their social media. What’s going to make a small business owner choose you over the other social media consultants out there?
One way to differentiate yourself is by being an expert in a specific area of social media. Maybe you’re a whiz at Instagram Stories who creates engaging content with proven results. Or perhaps you’re a Facebook Ads guru and can help businesses get more bang for their buck.
If you’re worried about going too niche, an alternative is to define a USP based on your values. For example, maybe you only work with businesses that have a social cause close to your heart. Or perhaps you pride yourself on being the most responsive and communicative consultant in your field.
Whatever your USP, incorporate it into your personal brand messaging and check it’s consistent across all platforms. You don’t want to confuse a potential client by calling yourself a freelance consultant in your Twitter bio but a freelance business coach in your LinkedIn profile headline – which is it?
Grow Your Online Visibility
The next step is to get your name out there, so people know who the heck you are and what you stand for! Use some of the following:
Start with social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. If you can master these, you may not need to experiment with other brand awareness strategies. Remember to optimize your profile, so you’re more likely to pop up in the search results. But also, try to be consistent with your approach – post regularly and keep your content focused on a specific topic, so you position yourself as an expert in that field.
Don’t be afraid to share positive testimonials with your audience. People love to know who you’ve worked with, so they can imagine their own logo sitting in your portfolio too.
Look for podcast speaking opportunities that your target audience listens to and apply to be a guest. You’ll reach new people and be introduced as an expert in your field. It also gives people a chance to see (or hear!) more of your personality. Crack a joke, tell an interesting story about your career, and showcase what it would be like to work with you.
Create personal blog articles that solve problems for your target audience. Think quality over quantity, though – don’t fall into the trap of thinking you must upload five posts a week to help your SEO. It’s more important that you’re putting out quality content you’re proud to put your name to.
Side note: if you haven’t created your branded website, this is a MUST before setting up your blog.
Some companies allow writers to publish an article on their website, giving you a byline and a backlink to your website or social media profiles. So long as you’re writing for relevant high authority sites, it’s also a great way to build your brand. Even though you often won’t be paid for the pleasure of contributing an article, this is a great way to increase your exposure.
I did this recently when I wrote a guest post for Zapier about why I love Asana’s celebration creatures. I’ve had several new client-leads pop into my inbox (cha-ching!), a motivational speaker sent me a personal YouTube video to say how much he loved my article, and @Asana itself started following me on Twitter. Not bad engagement for a few hours work!
You can do this too by typing “guest post + your niche” into your fave search engine to find sites that accept contributors.
Leverage the power of the Press
Press opportunities can also attract attention to your personal brand. Look for opportunities to be featured in news publications or even in TV or radio interviews.
One of the best ways to do this is to become a thought leader in your field. This means you need to constantly create new content- blog posts, social media updates, or even speaking at events.
And when you do get that press coverage, make sure you capitalize on it! Add any new articles or interviews to your personal website, and share them across your social media channels. This article on the Power of the Retweet explains how influential this can be for name recognition.
Freelance consultants can develop their brand AND make a passive income by becoming creators. Use your knowledge of the freelance world to make a course, write an ebook, or create a template that other consultants can use. Offer an affiliate program so other people market your content, raising further awareness of both your name and your product.
And as your customers follow the advice in your course content and become more established themselves, they’ll spread the word and market you as a guru.
I haven’t delved into digital products yet, but I recently received some heartwarming feedback from someone I coached a few years ago. So now, I’m definitely interested in creating a course at some point in the future!
“Hi Rebecca, you may not remember me but I sure remember you. Because of you, I was able to scale my knowledge and experience of being a content writer to managing editor, which has helped me grow in my career today. Thank you for hiring me years ago when I was a struggling writer trying to make a tiny living for my family while we lived abroad.
Thank you for training me with the writer onboarding process that I still use today. And thank you for taking a chance on me.”
Which of These Personal Branding Tips for Freelance Consultants Will You Try?
Personal branding is a powerful tool that freelance consultants can use to attract new clients, but it’s not something that can be built overnight — it takes time, effort, and consistency.
Start by thinking about who you want to attract and what you want to be known for. Then spread the word about your brand. With a little bit of effort, you can build a personal brand strategy to attract new clients and grow your business.
Featured Image: Unsplash
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities they represent. Freelance Theory is not affiliated with any of the aforementioned entities.
Rebecca Noori is a freelance writer crafting long-form blog articles on HR, careers, productivity, and leadership, with bylines in places like Insider, Zapier, Zavvy, Clever Girl Finance, and many more. When she's not writing, you'll find her helping beginner freelancers and raising her 3 kids (who are quite a handful). Connect with Rebecca on her website or LinkedIn.