Branding is one of the most crucial aspects of a career as a freelancer. Even mega-corporations can’t ignore the importance of building a strong brand image. When establishing a freelancing career, you have to build name recognition that associates you with quality work and builds trust with potential clients. You could brand your own name or start your own business and work on branding your business name. The latter is pretty risky for newer freelancers, so many choose to market themselves instead.
Freelance writers especially, will tell you that their name is their brand. Part of the reason for this is that clients are looking for a person they can trust. They do not want to leave their business in the hands of a content mill, or a faceless company that is going to outsource the work to an unknown. This is why branding your name as a freelancer is generally a good idea. There are, however, risks and challenges involved.
One of the first things you have to look at is how common your name is. A good example of great personal branding is the highly successful blogger Elna Cain. Early in my career as a freelance writer, I would google my questions about blogging and would more often than not, land on one of her blogs sharing her experiences. She has built an amazing career and part of her success comes from her name and how she marketed it. I, personally have never met an Elna. I haven’t seen many Cains either. If you have an uncommon name, branding is a little easier. If your name is Steve Jones or Sarah Johnson, it’s going to be harder to differentiate between others online with the same name. You think that’s bad though, I’ve got a story for you.
Here’s my story. As I was picking up steam on Fivver, I decided that I needed to work on marketing and branding for myself. My first and last name, however, are the same as a well-known Canadian writer and artist. If you Google me and the word Writer, I’ll pop up on the first page, but way down. So, here I am competing with a famous writer with the same name. So what am I to do? I started using my middle initial. Good right? Well, that was until a guy in another state with my exact name (allegedly) decided to murder some people. What do you think appears on the first couple of Google pages when you search that name? Yep, news stories about someone nobody wants to hire. What’s the moral of the story? Take time to brand yourself online, but remember, it’s a big world and someone can always come along and mess up your plan.