Yeah…so…LinkedIn is REALLY starting to win me over, and that’s despite them being weird about my new ProFinder account.
So if you’ve hung around here for a while, you may have noticed that I am not a fan of a focus on personal branding. That’s partially because I believe it puts the cart before the horse, but a whole lot of it is because there are a bunch of people on the Internet who’ve built careers teaching people how to build personal brands, but with little connection to actual income potential.
I’m not going to knock anybody’s hustle, but business should have a point, and that point should be clear — for the most part, most personal branding advice doesn’t meet that qualification.
In freelancing though, it really can, and LinkedIn reminded me of that today.
LinkedIn is making a big push into the world of freelancing — specifically making it easier for employers to find freelancers, and that’s because more and more companies and businesses are finding that working with freelancers is a great way to get work done without the commitment of employment.
All that means, is that freelancing, perhaps the simplest form of entrepreneurship, is becoming a viable career path that’s supported by a lot of people who are willing to pay you for your services.
It also means that anyone who freelances will need to stand out…and that’s where personal branding comes in.
Developing a freelance brand takes time, and as more platforms and businesses jump on the bandwagon, things will evolve. Since this month we focus on the second fundmental element of freelancing, Getting Clients, I wanted to put together a list of what I see emerging as the core components of building your freelance brand.
Your LinkedIn Profile
Building a freelance brand means treating your freelance career seriously, and getting serious about your freelance career means going where the people who hire you are…most of them are likely on LinkedIn.
You need a profile, and you need one that lets people know you’re a freelancer. Creating one that pushes your services as a freelancer is very similar to creating a regular profile — share your experience, be direct, make contacting you easy. If you want some more tips though, check out this post.
For new freelancers, profiles on bidding sites and a LinkedIn profile are great…they allow you to feel things out, test niches, and really see where your skills and business demand meet. Once you’re serious about building your freelance brand though, it’s time to start thinking about a website.
Thankfully with services like Squarespace and easy WordPress options, getting started on a simple site really doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. If you really want to refine your web presence, these posts from Website Month will help.
What’s worse, is that it looks like LinkedIn is finding a way to make posts matter even more — they were apparently an important factor in my being admitted into the ProFinder program, and I get why…ProFinder is all about helping companies (us freelance folk are the product). Highlighting freelancers who are actively writing about their niches will set them apart as a platform above the Upworks and what-have-yous out there.
All that means is that as a freelancer, you should be using your voice. Don’t be timid! Even if you don’t feel confident in your niche yet, you can get confident and start feeling like an expert with simple posts that report on news on your niche, or even creating lists or other curated pieces.
For a few more tips, check out the “Use Posts” section of this post on getting started on LinkedIn.
I can’t think of a nice way to say this, but as more people get into freelancing, being a generalist will just get more difficult. You need a niche.
Figuring out which works for you takes time, but it probably isn’t near as difficult as you think. It also makes everything in your freelance life easier (mostly because it multiples the impact of all the work you do.) If you need some help getting started finding the niche that works best for you, check out this post.
Like any other brand-building, crafting your freelance brand takes a combination of focus on what businesses in your niche need, a willingness to listen, and time to let it all come together. That time though, is why even making small steps today is so important.
We have a great, free weekly email that will help you start making your first steps into freelancing, and you can sign up for that at the right.
If you’ve got any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments!