Sarah Skerrett on Personal Branding

Yes, we should be at the end of our technical problems today (with a little luck) and Sarah will be posting under her own login soon. In the meantime, check out her take on personal branding…she indirectly raises an issue I’ll have a go at in my own editorial next week–the value of using content sites such as Associated Content to raise your Google clout, as opposed to the dubious practice using it to build a list of writing credits. I got the idea after following the link Sara provides in the article, so cheers to both her and Tina Samules for inspiring more content on FZ! In the meantime, check out Sarah Skerrett on Personal Branding. Once again, welcome aboard, Sarah…

The most challenging personal aspect of securing freelance projects is tooting your own horn. There is a fine line between honest self-promotion with the intention of highlighting your credentials and sounding like a pompous, know-it-all jerk who can do anything. There is also a fine line between taking a long shot on a project because you think you have the aptitude and knowledge to complete it successfully and wasting a client’s time because you think you can “quickly acquire” technical terminology needed for an HVAC manual for a heating and air company.

This calls into question how exactly you market yourself as a freelancer: too vague and you alienate potential clients; too specific and you lose out on broader jobs you may be qualified for. Tina Samuels recommends giving yourself a slogan that explains the writing you do and what it will accomplish. Not quite in the marketing vein of the Nike “Just Do It” campaign, but a memorable and descriptive summation of your services.

For those who think more visually, a logo will also achieve the same effect as a slogan and appeal to a different audience. This is a (relatively) cheap way to brand yourself as a product in a sense, and I say “relatively cheap” because of course, what will you do with a slogan or a logo but place it on a Web site or a business card, which take money to design or print. But ultimately it is a worthwhile expense as a slogan or a logo will invoke an immediate reaction that can connect with the client and thus get you the project. Sometimes a wordy introductory email says less than a one-line email signature that encapsulates your freelance work.