You are what makes your brand special and what makes your freelance business stand out from the crowd. You are the most valuable asset in your business.
Over the years, the definition of brand and the meaning of branding have changed quite a bit. Today the word brand is synonymous with reputation and perception — what people say about a company, product, or person when they’re not in the room.
That means every person is now also a brand.
Social media and digital communications have put “brand you” out front and center, turning your expertise and personality into your personal brand.
Whether you like it or not, you are known for something and you have a reputation. If you don’t manage that reputation and define your brand, someone else will… and you might not like their labels, descriptions, perceptions, and assumptions.
You are what makes your brand special and what makes your business stand out from the crowd. As an entrepreneur, freelancer, solopreneur, or business owner, you are the most valuable asset in your business.
Your personal brand is “brand you.” It is how you show up in the world, how you are remembered, and how you are perceived and talked about.
Personal branding, sometimes referred to as self-branding, is what you do to create, shape, build, and manage your personal brand.
You need to embrace your personal brand and:
- Take ownership of and responsibility for how you show up in the world.
- Communicate your value and what makes you unique, special, and different.
- Demonstrate your experience and share your expertise to build authority.
- Share your passion, superpower, and genius work — and how you help others.
- Create experiences that shape the stories people tell about you when you’re not around.
A strong, relatable personal brand builds credibility and trust, creates influence, increases visibility, and makes an impact. It showcases your experience and unique personality and positions you in your niche just like a premium product in the marketplace — but while a product can be easily copied by competitors, a personal brand will always be unique because you are the only you there is.
Personal branding sounds complicated. It feels like a lot of work. The reality, however, is that personal branding is simply about being exactly who you are, just in a more visible way.
Building a personal brand is about being authentic yourself and helping people get to know, like, and trust you so they feel comfortable hiring you, buying from you, learning from you, or joining your list to stay in touch.
When you embrace everything that makes you you, unshackle your personality, and let your freak flag fly, you’ll naturally attract people like you and people who like you. You’ll find “your people” and they’ll find you and everyone will be better for it.
Personal And Professional Congruency
When you start a freelance business, it can be tempting to keep your professional life separate from your personal life. You may consider using different social media handles for your personal posts and your business posts, and you might even try to create a “professional persona.”
My advice: Don’t do it.
Trying to live and manage two personas — the professional you and the personal you — is exhausting, especially when you’re freelancing and you are your brand.
I know because I tried it. I had my personal social account and my business accounts. I also had the more reserved, polished “Professional Jen” persona that I stepped into when working. It took a lot of work to maintain all that and in reality, I was doing myself, my business, and my audience a huge disservice.
- By keeping my personal life out of my professional persona, I was making it hard for people to get to know, like me, and trust me.
- I was withholding everything that made me unique and fun and special — everything that gave other people the opportunity to connect with me on a deeper level.
- I didn’t have congruency between my personal life and my professional life and it was holding me back.
Then, one day I tweeted about making my son chocolate chip pancakes at 5:00 am. The tweet saw a huge amount of engagement and for the next week, more people interacted with my professional content, and traffic to my site from Twitter increased.
It was a lightbulb moment.
When you embrace your uniqueness, show up consistently in every situation, and let people get to know the real you — warts and all — the connections you make with people will be deeper and stronger and more meaningful.
- When people care about who you are as a person, they’ll listen to what you have to say about your work.
- When people feel like they know you, they’ll trust you to deliver on your promises and tell others about you.
- When people like what you have to say and how you show up, they’ll engage and interact with you more frequently.
- When people resonate with and identify with your story, they’ll lean into your services and offers.
- When people believe that you walk your talk, they’ll open the doors to new and exciting opportunities.
Building Your Personal Brand
If you want to become irreplaceable and have impact and influence, you need a personal brand. Your personal brand secures authority positioning in your niche. It sets expectations for your audience about what they can expect when they engage with you, your offers, and your content, and it helps ideal clients realize you’re the best choice.
Luckily, building a personal brand isn’t complicated or difficult because you already have everything you need: yourself!
Personal Brand Strategy
Before you can start actively building your personal brand you have clarity about where you’re going with your brand and what the destination is. You need to know why you are building a personal brand and what you want to build your reputation around.
Your brand strategy is about where you’re going and what you want to achieve.
To define your personal brand strategy, ask:
- What do I want to be known for?
- What topic do I want to recognized as an undeniable expert in?
- In what situations do I want to be top of mind and the first person thought of?
Personal Brand Building Tactics
With a clear brand strategy in place, the focus turns to building your brand. The actions you will take and brand-building tactics you will leverage are how you will get to your destination.
A few of my favorite brand-building tactics include:
- Write articles like this one that highlight your expertise and help your audience learn something new or solve a problem.
- Post helpful, valuable tips, tricks, insights, and opinions on social media, invite feedback and conversation, and engage with other people’s content too.
- Tell stories and share tips and tricks through video: on-demand for YouTube or live for Facebook or Instagram.
- Speak to groups of all sizes and secure guest spots on podcasts, radio shows, and web shows to align your brand with known experts and gain visibility in new audiences.
- Share client/customers success stories and case studies that showcase what you can do and how you can help people.
- Create and deliver webinars and virtual trainings to give people a sample of what it’s like to work with you.
Just remember to narrow your focus and keep your message consistent. The more targeted your message is, the more likely it is that people will remember you.
Bottom line: Share all of your best stuff.
Your lessons learned, mistakes made, and knowledge gained, when paired with your unique personality, is your differentiation. Sharing your best stuff is what will separate you from the competition and get you noticed by those who matter. People who take it and run with it will love you for it and others who are impressed with your experience and expertise, but don’t have time to run with it will hire you to do it for them and be happy to pay premium fees.
Personal Brand Benefits
Without a personal brand, you risk blending in, being forgotten, and getting skipped over for a competitor who is more well-known. With a personal brand, you attract attention and get noticed, amplify your message, grow your audience, connect with valuable clients and amazing partners, make more sales, and gain access to exciting new opportunities.
And again, personal branding is about one thing: fully owning who you are and taking control of your story’s narrative.
- You are special, unique, talented, and brilliant.
- You bring tremendous value to the table for your ideal clients and customers.
- You are your best asset.
- You are the biggest difference between your freelance business and your competitors.
So double down and invest in you because you are irreplaceable and the one thing your competitors will never have.