When doing business as yourself, it can be hard to know where lines need to be drawn between your personal life and your business.
For most, it can be impossible. Part of how you built your notoriety up to begin with probably started with word of mouth and personal recommendations. As you grow and choose to expand, do you continue to keep pace with putting your personal self out on the social media line or do you make a plan to transition to the collective and camouflaging “we” of doing business.
The short answer is that it just depends. Let’s look at a few guiding factors.
Personality and Uniqueness
Dr. Seuss said, “There is no one youer than you.”
In the freelancing world, your personality, voice, and uniqueness are the things that will make you stand out. A lot of people like to do your type of business with a familiar face.
They want to know the person taking their family photos or designing a logo. They want the the warmth of a personal relationship and the personal recommendation from a friend. So in this case, building on your personality is a dynamite plan of action for freelancers.
You are also permitted to push the envelope when it comes to your digital presence. You get to interact with people online as a living, breathing person, and not the collective “we” of a larger business.
What Does Your Client Prefer
When beginning a business plan, it’s always advisable to take a really long look at your target audience. Who does your target audience prefer to do business with?
Are they formal? Would they prefer the careful marketing of a well-oiled business? Do they prefer working directly with a person and hearing a familiar voice on the phone every time they call? While this may not be your sole marker for making the decision on how to brand, analyzing your clientele effectively will never steer you wrong.
As you further get to know those you are working for, you can fine tune your branding approach and grow your social platforms to cast a wider net.
Selling Yourself (Short)
Another factor when deciding how to brand is whether or not you can sell yourself and your services appropriately.
Can you strike deals that are worth your time and effort without apologizing or flinching? The answer to this question will determine whether you should keep it personal or go the business route.
You don’t want to make the mistake of building up your likability only to let that be a disadvantage when it comes to closing a deal.
If you feel like your business will be more lucrative with a business brand, then think through the sacrifices you are making by moving it in that direction.
What Does the Future Hold?
Will you always be a one-man show? If yes, then a personal brand is your yellow brick road. If you intend to grow and build a thriving business then it’s probably best to head out the gate with that type of branding.
It would be difficult to become a household name and go through the painful and uncertain process of rebranding once your endeavor exceeds your solitary abilities. You can still start out with a unique approach and use word-of-mouth to drum up business.
Those initial successes will be residuals from your personal branding up to this point, but have a strategy for reaching clients while maintaining a warm persona.
Freelancing businesses are often one person’s pursuit that involves a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. The decisions surrounding branding are critical as you begin to get clients and want to expand your reach.
Deciding whether to keep with a personal branding style or break out into a business model depends a lot on what your goal is. Either way, you have to take a look at what your online reputation is doing for you right now.
Analyzing your target clientele and who they prefer to do business with is a great first step. Then you can dream about your goals. Do you want to run your photography business as a one man show where clients always do business directly with you? Or would you rather grow the reach and employee base of your company by hiring and turning it into more of a small business?
Ultimately, understanding your clients and what kind of business you want to represent are the most important questions to answer when deciding how you should market your freelance business.
Sabrina Clark is a proud Marist College alum with degrees specializing in public relations, business administration and Spanish. While at Marist, she co-founded the Marist Student Entrepreneur Network to support students with entrepreneurial aspirations. Upon graduation, she accepted a marketing position with a tech startup focused on the home improvement industry where she managed integrated marketing, sales and strategic partnership initiatives. She is excited to now be a part of the BrandYourself team and help sculpt the future of the online reputation management industry.