I’m in the process of building my professional brand. It’s… enlightening.
Color? Font? Tone? When will posts come out? On what social media platforms will the brand be found? When will blog posts be published? How will I reach out to clients? What’s the brand tagline?
Since I know there are other freelancers and writers out there that are also starting out and may feel overwhelmed with the seemingly infinite pile of decisions that need to be made, let’s break down some of the basics of brand-building together.
What’s the point?
Questions I’ve been wrestling with personally are: what’s the point of this endeavor? What am I trying to accomplish and why?
Well, first and foremost, I’m trying to support myself, and I’m trying to do so using the skills that I am confident that I possess. I’m also trying to use freelancing as a way to build on the writing skills I have by gaining more experience in the field while also flexing the writing muscles I already have that might not be getting the use I’d like at work or school. Finally, I’m trying to provide a service to small businesses and individuals who I know could really use the help in growing their visibility.
Once you know WHY you’re starting this project, campaign, article, or even company, you can move forward with HOW.
How on earth will I accomplish this?
In an ideal world, we would all have a plan before diving headfirst into new projects. In my perfect universe, there would be a bulleted list for every step, with sub-bullets for every step included within that particular step. If I was giving impractical advice, it would be to have all of your ducks in a row before beginning your professional brand.
In reality, I started freelancing after this blog already existed. I researched what it meant to freelance as a digital media consultant and decided to convert my existing blog to reflect my new endeavor. I did not have any social media accounts set up for my brand, I did not have any clients lined up, and honestly, although I had done extensive research, I did not know how demanding it would be to manage my own brand. Every creative decision, every post, every single letter typed for Every Shade of Neutral is my responsibility, from brainstorming through editing and the final push of the “Publish” button.
While it would be unrealistic for me to advise those interested in building a brand to conceive of every possibility before starting, I can advise that you take a sharp look at some of the small businesses and brands that you love. Don’t just admire their posts or curated grids as an audience member; look at their websites, Etsy shops, and Instagram accounts with a critical eye. Think about what’s going on behind the scenes that makes their posts, content tone, and scheduling as beautiful and consistent as they are. If you’re looking for examples, my three favorite small businesses are theblushingscript, Julie Ann Art, and Studio DIY.
Have a clear vision for your brand and be conscious of what it will take to make that vision a reality.
What will it take for me to feel like this endeavor has been a success?
Truthfully, I’m still struggling with this one. Freelancing requires an extensive amount of self-promotion, cold-contacting, and all-around “believe in yourself and you can accomplish anything” gumption that does not come naturally to me. Building your brand requires an endless supply of confidence in not only the product or service you are providing, but also yourself. You have to be prepared to ignore remarks about your pricing being too high, comments that your blog posts are long, and even jokes about your brand name. You have to be ready to defend your creation because it is yours and you have to believe in it, 100%, if you expect anyone else to trust you and your work.
You must be prepared to love your brand every step of the way. You have to believe in what you are sharing with the world. If you don’t, NO ONE will.
These questions are important to ask yourself, regardless of where you are in the process. Obviously, you should ask yourself these three questions before starting your professional brand, but I think there’s value in sitting down and re-evaluating throughout this process. If you’ve been freelancing, writing, or managing a brand for a while now, consider asking yourself these questions again and see if the answers you come up with align with your original intentions.
I hope you’re happy with what you discover!