Unlike traditional companies, freelancers have the freedom to create their own brands. They usually work under their own names and on their own terms. This sense of autonomy also means that, as independent contractors, you should always work to improve your professional reputation, whether that’s by building a new website from scratch or regularly attending industry conferences.
Beyond the big steps a freelancer can take, there are also small and simple tasks a freelancer can check off that immediately boost their online brand. Here are five things you can do almost immediately to strengthen your professional reputation.
1. Use Google Suite to Create a Business Email
One of the distinctions of true professionals is that they use two separate emails: one for business and one for personal life. G Suite makes it easy and affordable to create your own business email. For five dollars a month, you can set up an email address at your own domain. For example, mine is “@lizwellington.com,” which immediately clarifies to potential clients that they’re writing to a professional.
2. Ask Friends to Endorse You on LinkedIn
LinkedIn isn’t just a social media platform; it’s a virtual representation of your resume. Prospective clients and industry contacts regularly check the LinkedIn pages of freelancers for a sense of the experience they offer. I recently asked some of my friends and clients to endorse my skills on LinkedIn, and it had an immediate impact on my profile. Here’s the note I sent to friends:
“Hi there! As you know, I’m building my freelance business from scratch here in Boston. A lot of prospective clients and editors check out my LinkedIn page when considering whether to hire me. If you have a moment, could you ‘endorse’ my writing skills on LinkedIn? In two seconds, you can give me a better reputation as a professional. Thanks so much — I promise I’ll do the same for you! – Liz”
3. Pick a Color (or Two) for Your Brand
If you’ve ever worked with a graphic designer, you know visual brand is a key component of a successful business. Without it, you can seem sloppy or careless. Start small by identifying a color or two to serve as a visual for your brand. I chose a deep mint and a bright orange, which anchor my website and social media profiles. These subtle details bring cohesiveness and a hint of professionalism to any freelancer.
4. Write Regular Thank-You Notes
Just last week, a PR professional helped me connect with my dream job as a writer. As grateful as I was, I knew the best way to say “thanks” wasn’t over email — it was with a handwritten note. Making this extra effort helps you stand out among a sea of emails, tweets and Facebook messages, and it evokes gratitude from members of your community. Think of someone you can thank and send a note today.
5. Share Work You Admire
When you share the work of industry professionals you admire, you tie your success to their successes. It gives prospective clients a clear sense of what you aspire to do and who you would like to emulate in your own work. Through blog posts, social media channels and newsletters, bring attention to like-minded professionals.
Incorporating these five tips into your day-to-day work will improve your professional reputation as a freelancer. You may notice other results, too: more confidence about your brand, a willingness to shoot for bigger jobs and a growing network of support that helps you thrive as a freelancer.