As a freelance web designer, you are well aware of the strong competition out there. There is a large number of professionals offering the same kind of services that you do – not necessarily with the same quality – and, sometimes, for an outrageously small fee. And you might have come to realize that you need to stand out from the crowd by building and growing your personal brand.
Making yourself unique to potential clients will help them understand that you are the best option available and that doing what you do isn’t cheap or something that can be delivered fast-food style. It takes time and expertise to meet their expectations, and you want to be recognized for your skills.
But how to do it considering that you probably have very little money and time to spare? So here you will find a step-by-step guide on personal branding for web designers that will cost you almost nothing.
Step 1 – Define Your Brand
The first thing you will have to do so you can start building your personal brand is to define what it really means. In other words, what you are been asked here is to decide how you want to be perceived by your clients and which promises you will be selling.
For starters, you should concentrate on your strengths and expertise. What makes you the best choice for them? Why should they contract you and not another web designer? What is the added value that you can offer to your clients?
You can list from best pricing and fast delivery to the use of specific techniques or software, unlimited reviews, a first-class portfolio, 5-star testimonials from your clients, etc. Write down what you think that make you stand out as a web designer, so you can use it on your personal branding messages.
Rest assured that even companies invest on their leaders’ personal branding, so, as a freelancer, you shouldn’t ignore it. But, remember, what you are selling is yourself. Faking or exaggerating who you are might bring some clients initially, but they will run away from you as soon as they notice the fraud. And, possibly, they will leave a very bad feedback behind them, what is even worse in the long term. So always be yourself and find your own style.
Step 2 – Analyse Your Target Audience
Now that you know which type of service you are selling, it is time to decide who would contract it. Think about your potential clients and their characteristics, and what they might be expecting from a web designer.
Do they belong to a specific industry, in case you have specialized in just a few of them? Are they used to contract freelancers, or will you need to explain to them the advantages of dealing with a remote worker? Above all, where can you find them? And which is the best channel and way to communicate with them?
On the other way around, spend some time trying to learn how to communicate with your clients in a more effective way as well. So when they contact you, you won’t lose any contract out of some misinterpretation.
Step 3 – Figure Out How Much Time You Have
We all have busy schedules nowadays, but, if you want to grow your personal brand, you will have to make time for it. Still, it is understandable that you will need to be realistic here, as you need to get done the job you already have in your hands, and that you probably have a life as well.
So, give some thought on how much time you can spare per day or week in order to build and grow your personal brand as a web designer. Consider, for example, that it is not just a question of posting things online, but also of answering comments and emails as fast as you can. Plus, you will have to monitor and analyse your metrics.
More hours you can set aside, better and faster results you will get. But you will be surprised by how much you can do with as little as 30 minutes per day.
Step 4 – Build Your Online Presence
The cheapest and easiest way to build a personal brand nowadays is through a strong online presence. Especially in your case, as a web designer, not having profiles on the most important social media networks, plus a well-selected online portfolio, is almost a professional suicide.
So make sure that:
- Your LinkedIn profile is updated, as many potential clients might want to check your CV there.
- Your Twitter is full of articles and tips about web design.
- You explore the possibility of using Pinterest to showcase your portfolio.
- You have, at least, a basic website with your bio and portfolio.
- Your Facebook is set to private if you won’t be using it for professional purposes.
- You use an app, such as Hootsuite, to schedule all your weekly posts, so won’t waste time posting every day.
Step 5 – Write About Web Design (and publish it)
If you want to be seen as an authority in your field, you need to let them know that. Meaning that you will have to show off your skills and write articles or posts about web design.
You can either have your own blog, possibly linked to your website, or search for a guest blogging guide, so you can take advantage of other sites’ established reputation and high traffic. And nothing is stopping from trying both either. You can also post texts directly on LinkedIn and other social media channels.
In order to do it, make sure that you are updated with the latest trends in digital marketing, so your texts will be relevant. And don’t forget to share your article on your social media channels, and to comment on relevant sites, blogs, and forums.
Don’t be afraid if you are a new in the area, and think that you don’t have much to say. Share the new skills you have been learning (because this is what should be your top priority) so far, and people will follow you same way.
Step 6 – Try Some Offline Channels as Well
Despite the fact that you work online, it shouldn’t stop you from making the most of the offline possibilities to grow your personal brand. Congresses, workshops, mass-media publications, conferences can all bring many clients to you and turn you into an authority overnight.
So if there is an opportunity for you to get an article published by a local newspaper, to give an interview to a radio station, or for a presentation in a congress, go for it. Take some old-fashioned business cards with you and reach out to as many people as possible.
And don’t ignore small events as well. If you are invited to talk to a small class of students about what is to be a web designer, accept it with a smile on your face. You never know who their parents are.
Building and growing your personal brand as a web designer might seem daunting, but you can easily achieve it. You just need to make sure that you know your strengths and that you make people aware of them as well.
Keep everything consistent and don’t be afraid to show off you skills. With a bit of time and money, you are bound to bring to yourself the best clients out there.