My freelance website is a tribute to corporate business. Muted blues, stock photos of White men in suits, big glass buildings, and three-dimensional charts that would make any sales person proud…and ya know what? It was all a mistake.
It’s a decent site, even a nice one. I’m still proud of it, and if I were building a site for an agency, I’d suggest something similar for them. Problem is, I’m not an agency.
When I started freelancing, I wanted to look as corporate and “business-like” as I could, so I looked at the sites of agencies and content marketing firms and I copied them. It’s a mistake I’m still working to undo.
You’re probably wondering where the problem is there. You might be doing (or aspiring to) something similar yourself. That’s why I’m going to explain to you exactly why I regret that decision, and why you, as a freelancer, should probably take a different route yourself.
It Confuses Your Visitors.
A few weeks ago, a prospect I’d found on LinkedIn asked for my email. I proudly rattled off my very generic address — the one I’d created to camouflage the fact that I’m an individual freelancer. His response cemented something I’d started to suspect.
“Isn’t it…just you?”
It is just me, so something that involved my name would have been more appropriate.
Like I said, he wasn’t the first. I’ve had many questions from prospective clients asking “Are you just one person?” “You work alone, right?” “It’s just you doing the writing, I assume.”
All of those asked with a tone of worry…worry I’d find out, that I was outsourcing my writing to someone else, maybe even overseas…worry that I likely could have avoided if I’d done less work to hide my individual status and been up front that it was just me, by myself, a freelance writer.
It’s Probably Losing You Business.
Businesses come to freelancers to address specific problems. Those problems? Are very different from the ones they go to agencies to solve.
Sure, it might seem like keeping up an agency front will bring you more business, but it’s really likely that it’ll just bring you more of the wrong business — business that’s made up of problems that aren’t the best fit for you to solve.
The thing is, there are MANY businesses out there with challenges you as an individual, all-by-yourself freelancer can solve really well. They range from just having someone pick up some overflow work to being a part of a long-term relationship that helps your clients over the span of months and years.
Your skillset doesn’t make a difference. Whatever you do as a freelancer, you being small doesn’t mean you’re not needed. In a world of “lean startups” and ever-shifting workloads, lone freelancers are flexible enough to provide relationships that many businesses desperately need.
You Skew Your Own Perspective.
I came into freelancing from a very formal business background, so that’s how I saw the world. It took me a while, longer than it should have, to reshape my thinking and how I viewed my business. For months, I was approaching everything from my marketing to my social media all wrong.
I was stuck in the mindset that big businesses and even small businesses, wanted to work with other businesses that at least felt big. Because of that, I missed out on the opportunity to view myself and as a potential addition to their team.
Businesses of all sizes need that help, and to reach those, I had to get my mind straight first.
There’s nothing wrong with being an agency (if that’s what you are.) There’s also nothing wrong with being or looking like a solo freelancer. Focus on selling the benefits of what you are, and you’ll not only feel a lot better about your business, you’ll also open your eyes to all the opportunity out there for individual workers like us.