This is a guest post courtesy of Joane.
As you know, branding is important for an entrepreneur, and that includes us freelance writers.
These are good ideas to keep in mind before throwing up your shingle.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Are you a writer yourself? Any tips to share on branding yourself as a go-to professional?
As a freelance writer, you spend the majority of your day focused on writing.
Why shouldn’t you?
The truth is that many writers find themselves in feast-or-famine mode depending on the time of the year. The real problem is that a lot of writers have absolutely no idea how to market themselves and wait until they have no work to start looking for new work.
When they do start looking, they have trouble finding work because they have no brand identity – nothing their clients or potential clients recognize immediately. They haven’t marketed themselves properly as writers.
As a freelance writer, you are a business. You have goals and aspirations and you need to have your own unique identity and brand. Here are some things you can do to build a strong, recognizable brand that will help you to grow your business throughout the year.
Choosing a Business Name
You have two choices when it comes to your business name. You can brand your work with your own name or you can brand your work with a snappy business name.
If you choose a name other than your own, you’ll want to make sure it is smart, witty, and represents your ideals. If you use your personal name, you’ll need to come up with a creative tagline that clearly showcases both your specialties and individuality.
Neither of these approaches is right or wrong. The trick is to choose one and then be consistent in the way you market and brand yourself.
Your business cards, website, marketing tools, email signatures, and social media profiles all need to match. Staying consistent will help you to become recognizable.
Write a Strong Biography
“Deborah is a freelance writer from New Jersey and loves writing about health and fitness…” is not a good enough biography. It’s short and boring.
You need to sit down and spend some time writing a great mini-bio or “about” page where you outline your experience and specialties. While this piece only needs to be a couple of paragraphs long, it needs to be more than a one-liner.
Include an image, too.
While you may believe you don’t want people to see what you look like, people do like knowing they’re speaking and working with a real person. A simple, professional head shot will do the trick.
An image of you holding a beer at a family party will not. Make sure you post a similar biography on all of your social networking sites as well.
Think Before You Speak
Social media is great for freelancers. Profiles on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are great for driving traffic to your site and for attracting potential clients.
You need to turn on your filter before you post updates, though. Your potential clients don’t want to see that you’re always running late, that you’re overwhelmed by work, or that you’re behind on a deadline.
Don’t vent about difficult clients or share private information about projects, either.
You need to be cautious, too. Say you have a private Facebook personal profile and a fan page for your business contacts. In this way you’ve kept things separated.
But let’s say you forget that you have your personal profile on Facebook linked to your public Twitter account (where you have no choice about who follows you).
What you think is private is now public because you’ve cross-posted. It’s important to make sure your privacy settings won’t allow for a social media mistake.
Create a Self- Hosted Website
Back to the website issue. Please do yourself a favor and invest in your own domain and hosting? At worst it’s going to cost you about $10 per year for the domain registration and perhaps another $4 per month for hosting.
While you may lean towards wordpress.com, blogspot.com, or even sites like Tumblr because they are “free,” they certainly don’t look as professional. You also run the risk of losing your site content if there’s ever a glitch in a system you have absolutely no control over.
You’ll also find yourself feeling less limited in terms of modifications to the themes (with free options you can’t add your own custom themes), plugins (with free options you can’t upload custom plugins not in the WP database), and advertisement rules.
It’s not just about looks – it’s about functionality as well.
Don’t Paint Yourself into a Box
Are you a work-at-home-mom? That’s fantastic. Are you a part-time college student working your way through college? Great!
If you were a professional human resources manager looking to hire a writer, would you feel more like gravitating towards the work-at-home-mom (screams divided focus), the part-time college student (busy with school work), or the professional writer?
Don’t get me wrong. They’re all “professional writers” but only one of those people is marketing himself as a professional writer. The others make writing look more like a hobby than a business, which can be dangerous if you’re trying to make a living.
Your history is your history, and it’s fair, but if you brand yourself as something other than the professional you are, people will start to look at you differently.
Don’t create a brand where people can only thing of you as “the mom that writes.” Create a persona that forces people to see you as a talented writer with a gift for creating valuable content.
Writing is easy.
Branding and marketing can be tough, especially when you’d rather dive into your next article or fiction piece. Take some time to think and be cautious about what you’re putting out on the web, though. The stronger your brand, the more people will want to work with you!
Oky Doke my friends. That’s it for today! If you found this post useful, you can help a sista out by sharing it with your pals.