By Ruoro Kairu
Earlier today, I was reading the story of one Grace Wambere. She came from studying her undergraduate in Germany, to returning to Kenya where she freelanced as a graphic designer for a while. Later, she went ahead to establish an SME in the clothing industry. Now, she runs a successful Mitumba business.
The story reminded of the plight of many Kenyan graduates. After finishing school, you start looking for a job. If you’re lucky, you’ll get one right away. However, not everyone gets a job, some professionals search for a job for years on end.
After finishing her undergraduate in communications, Jane kicked off her job search. She got a job, but after the contract expired, the company was not willing to renew.
As a result, Jane started freelancing as an editor and proofreader. That was two years ago, today, she runs an SME that does mainly handles publishing.
Jane’s story is not unique. There are countless graduates who have either temporarily or permanently put aside job searching, and are now focusing on freelance work.
In today’s job market, you can freelance in almost any field. Some of the common freelance jobs include; blogging, graphic design, teaching, photography, writing, tour guide, virtual assistance, transcription, data entry, and myriad others.
As a freelancer, you should invest in branding yourself. This will help you stand out from the many other freelancers in the market. Once you’ve branded yourself, you’ll have increased visibility and prominence in the market place. This will, in turn, lead clients to hire you to uptake their tasks.
How exactly do you brand yourself as a freelancer?
1. Find your voice
What is unique about you?
What are your skills and experiences? How do these skills relate to the services you offer?
Why would a client choose to work with you over everyone else?
The above questions will help you establish your voice.
In the freelance world, having a voice will help you gain an upper hand. There are many other professionals offering the same services as you are. Finding a voice gives you a unique edge.
For instance, does your creativity stand out? Use this to brand yourself. If you’re a writer, for instance, you should focus more on creative writing as opposed to corporate writing. When clients think of a creative writer, they need to immediately have you in mind.
The more unique your voice, the more you’ll stand out and carve a niche market for yourself.
Quick Read>>> 6 Reasons Why No One Is Looking At Your CV
2. Focus on your digital footprint
The marketplace today has evolved. The same way you will look up a company before purchasing their produces or even research about an organization before attending an interview, is the same way a client will look you up.
To successfully brand yourself, you will need to have a felt online presence.
If you’re a graphic or web designer, for example, you can have a website showcasing your work. The same goes for a writer.
Building a website has been made easier, with platforms such as WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix. You can have a functional website up and running within minutes.
Related Read>>> What Should An SME Website Look Like?
3. Form the right name
The name you use a freelancer will form a large base of your brand. However, many freelancers put little to no effort when coming up with a name.
For most freelancers, they either use their name or add the service they offer at the end e.g. Ruoro Kairu Writer. This, however, can have a few challenges attached to it. For starters, if you have a common name, you’ll struggle to get a domain for your website or even the naming rights on some social media platforms. Two, you’ll be harder to find through search engines.
When deciding a name, look for something timeless and relatable to the services you offer. Additionally, get a name that you enjoy hearing, reading, and saying.
4. Form networks and relationships
As a freelancer, you’ll notice most of your clients –especially in the early stages, will come from your friends and networks. As a result, you should invest in creating beneficial relationships.
Let all your friends know what you’re doing. If they get any opportunities, they will let you know.
Also, take time to network with clients and other freelancers in your field.
Also Read>>> 4 Marketing Tips For SMEs
The job market is ever competitive. More graduates are joining the workforce with limited jobs. In case you don’t get a job, there is no reason to lose hope; there are still myriad opportunities you can pursue. If you’re thinking of becoming a freelancer, or you have been at it for a while, these tips will help you in branding yourself.