No-Fluff Guide to Building Your Freelance Business Brand
Your brand is what makes you stand out from the crowd, writers. So, as you build your freelance writing business, you need to focus on what makes you you and how you’re going to convey that to the masses. This No-Fluff guide will walk you through the process.
What is Branding?
Branding is a huge buzzword right now, but it is so much more than a trend. No matter what you call this type of marketing, companies big and small depend on it to compete in competitive markets.
Branding definition: Making your brand stand out from competitors with marketing that is consistent and recognizable as belonging to only your company.
Keeping a consistent message, tone and feel to your marketing makes people remember you and that is a HUGE part of selling. Content on your website plays a big part in this image.
Businesses Are Going About Their Branding Process All Wrong
Life isn't a contest, though. Often, when freelancers start to visualize their brand they think about all of the other competitors out on the market. They wonder how they can be the best.
Each night I try to write an inspirational quote or a tidbit of knowledge that I've gleaned along the way on the bathroom mirror for my girls to see before they head off to school the next morning. One night, I wrote:
There is always going to be someone smarter, prettier, faster, etc. Be the best YOU can be. Life isn't a contest.
I think too many people get caught up in what everybody else is doing and they don't focus enough on what makes their brand special. Notice I said "special" and not "better."
Proving your better than someone else is like trying to prove you love your spouse to someone who doesn't know you. You can show them all the proof in the world, but they still won't be 100% sure. That's because all humans are just a little suspicious of each other. In the back of our minds we're wondering if that guy really loves his wife or if he's cheating with Ms. Robertson next door. It's the same with businesses. They say they're the best, but are they just full of hot air?
When people look at your branding, don't make them wonder if you're just full of hot air. Give them a positive feeling and you are off to a great start. Get them to laugh, or feel nostalgic or feel at home. That's what branding is all about. Conveying a feeling right off the bat and threading that feeling through everything that you present to your customer.
Assignment: What’s Your Brand?
I'm going to ask you some questions. Answer them as honestly as possible. Let's get started.
Will you be the face of your freelance business? For example, I am the face of my company. In fact, my company name is my own personal name. My company is 100% my voice and no one else's. Another example would be Dave Thomas of Wendy's. The restaurant was named after his daughter and her face was the logo, but he was the one that stared in many of the early commercials. His face, voice and sense of humor were what cemented Wendy's brand.
If you don't want your freelance business to center around you, no problem. We can work with that! You just need to know how you are going to present your business to the world. Will you have a logo instead of a professional photo to represent your business? Will your business be your name or will you come up with something else to call it? What colors will represent your business? Remember, branding needs consistency.
What do you think is special about you? For example, do you have a passion for the environment and want to be seen as a “green” freelancer? Could your former job give you an interesting insight into your niche that you could capitalize on?
(This is an excerpt from my book: The Fluff-Free Freelance Writing Master Course Workbook)
Ring, Ring, No One's Answering: Poor Content = Sucky Conversion Rates
If your bounce rates are high and your conversion rate stinks, one thing is pretty clear: your website visitors hate you and your brand is sucking. Don't take it personally. It happens to the best of us. You just need to fix the problem and build your branding platform.
Your visitors hate you primarily because your content sucks. The number one key to good content is answering your visitor's needs, which is a huge part of getting your brand right.
Many websites draw in visitors from social media sites with sensational headlines, but then fail to deliver in the content. This is called click-baiting and it results in loss of trust from your visitors. They bounce before clicking on anything else on your site. This, in turn, impacts your conversion rates.
You don't need to have a sensationalist headline to let your readers down, though. Any content that doesn't answer the specific question that the headline promises is poor content.
Why Great Content is Essential for Branding
Content Branding Makes People Like You
Remember how your visitors probably hate you? As I mentioned before, content not only draws in traffic from search engines, it also makes visitors get a feel for your brand. Crap content makes them feel crappy about you.
Let's take a look at an example:
Web copy #1: At XYZ, we focus on producing quality soda that tastes good and is good for you.
Web copy #2: Hey, we're XYZ and we love to tingle your taste buds with soda that provides antioxidants and minerals your hard working body needs.
The copy in #1 is yawn worthy. The copy in #2 lets visitors see into the company's personality. The company seems fun, which is great if you are targeting a younger demographic.
Which company would you like to spend your money with? One that's bland or one with a personality and a point of view?
Getting Content Right
Many businesses start their content production by studying keywords and then building content around the keywords.
This is a horrible practice because they are creating content for search engines, not people. Sure, most people will get to the content using a search engine, but it's the human that clicks on ads, call to action buttons or the next article, not the search engine.
So, you want to appeal to search engines, but you need content visitors will love. To get a home run, follow these steps:
Do your keyword searches, but look for keyword phrases with more than 20,000 monthly searches and low competition. These keyword phrases are the questions that people are asking and no one is answering. That's where you swoop in and save the day!
Use the keyword phrase in the title of your post and pepper it once in the article and once in an H2 headline. Remember, Google and other search engines are smart. No need to keyword stuff.
Write a fantastic article that not only answers the question at face value, but also goes above and beyond to give the reader some extra morsels of information about the subject. This makes for happy readers. Also, be sure to use your brand's voice throughout the piece of content.
Add some great visuals that mimic your brand and you're done.
Creating fantastic content that satisfies your reader is tricky. When you do it right, though, you will see your bounce rates and conversion rates get much better. Bottom line, happy readers equal content leaders. Now that you have that covered, it's time to consider content and branding.
Combine these branding strategies with great content and your brand identity will start to bloom. Best of all, people with GET you. That translates to customer loyalty and sells.
Keep the Personality Train Moving
Don't just stop the personality in the copy, though. Blog posts and articles should also contain the same personality your copy employees. This is where a lot of businesses fall short. They think that content is solely for driving conversions or drawing traffic and they forget about the people reading the words. People want to be entertained and they want to get to know your brand. Fantastic content can do all of the above. Give them what they want!
Get the Sizzle: 5 Steps for Building Your Brand Identity with Your Website
Building your brand identity starts with your website. Everything you add to your site will affect how visitors will feel about your company. Revamping your site to create a more cohesive brand is the best way to boost sales and make consumers remember you. Once you have this down pat, then you can move on to creating content that your audience loves and that drives conversions.
1. Branding with Colors
Step one is the most visual way to brand your site. Using one or two colors throughout your site, marketing items and packaging creates is more than just making things matchy-matchy. It gives consumers a visual cue as to who you are. It has even been proven that colors can influence purchases. So, choose one or two colors that will represent your business, ideally colors already used in your logo.
2. Branding with Font
Like colors, you need to pick two to three fonts, tops, that will be used on your site. Mimic the font used on your packaging or in your logo for headers or H1 titles. Be sure that your page text is easily readable, though.
3. Branding with Your Logo
Now, your logo isn't just for the header of your website. Use it throughout. Watermark images with it. Use it on your about page. Use it in the footer. Be sure that you use it throughout your site.
4. Branding with Images
Have you ever been to a website that uses images that all seem to go together? That theme is their image brand. If you visit my site often, you'll probably notice that I use a lot of GIFs and fun images. I like to keep things light while talking about serious subjects. That's my brand.
You can do it, too. Come up with a theme for your images and be consistent. For example, product images could all have the same background or images could all work together in a common theme such as nature, modernism, zen, etc.
5. Branding with Content Tone
Once you have the visuals in place, concentrate on the tone of your text. Every article, blog post, content description, etc, should have the same tone. Don't bounce from fun and peppy to straight-laced and staunch. Stay the same. Let consumers know who you are. Build a personality through your text.