This might sound like teaching your grandmother to suck eggs but in our experience a lot of incredibly talented designers don’t spend very much time building their personal brand. Instead they focus all their efforts on proactive marketing when they need new clients. The biggest advantage of building a brand is that it helps new clients find you instead of having to hunt for them. So what can help you build your freelance design brand?
Create a Blog and Then Use It
Author/Copyright holder: Francesco Pozzi. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY 2.0
I am a terrible person to make this point. I have a blog but it hasn’t been updated for more than a year. I have been lucky in this last year in that I’ve never been short of work but back when I wasn’t so fortunate – my blog was instrumental in winning new clients. Your blog should be more than a collection of your work though; it should tell your personal story and show your understanding of your industry at large.
Reach Out to the Wider Design Community
If you want your work to be well-respected – you’re going to need your peers as well as your clients to recognize it. Spend some time in reddits and graphic design forums talking about the industry. Talking about not just your work but the work of others (in a constructive and positive way – you don’t want to be the guy that everyone hates either). Show your passion and leadership and you’ll be on the way to having a strong personal brand.
Use Social Media
Author/Copyright holder: Chris Lott. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY 2.0
You don’t need to tap into every form of social media but you do need at least one outlet where you can help promote design in general and your own work. Social media offers you the chance to reach the widest possible audience. Don’t forget that word “social” – it’s not good enough to spam adverts for your business – you need to spend some time developing and caring for a community. That community will be your brand’s unofficial ambassadors if you let them be.
Look to Get Your Work Visible in Other Channels
It’s easy to get stuck in creating work just for corporate clients but there are advantages to having your work appear in magazines, blogs and other forms of media. Freelancers can die of “exposure” (particularly if it’s unpaid exposure) but it doesn’t mean that all forms of exposure suck. What can you do today to get your work out to a wider audience?
Create Some Value Added Giveaways
Author/Copyright holder: Luke Ma. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY 2.0
An easy way to increase your brand reach is to create some sort of giveaway which solves a specific problem (or problems) for a group of your target audience. Don’t worry – in many cases those users won’t do what’s in the giveaway; they’ll contact you to do it for them instead. Showing expertise in a meaningful way can create a sense of trust with potential customers. The occasional piece of marketing based on your skills can bring a lot of work your way.
Header Image: Author/Copyright holder: Jeffrey Zeldman. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY 2.0