Wednesday, August 26, 2009

30-Day Branding Challenge: It's not as hard as you think

I'll confess: I thought branding was for cattle when I started freelancing.

As a newspaper reporter, I cheered and high-fived colleagues when a story I wrote on consumer protection led to an advertiser pulling an ad. Advertising--and by extension, I thought--branding, was the problem, not part of the solution.

But then I found out the truth: I already had a brand, and it was based on these things:
  • What my clients/employers thought of me.
  • My writing voice.
  • My track record.
  • How I interacted with my clients.
  • My strengths, real and perceived.
  • My passions.
It sounds obvious, right? How we're perceived, our reputations and what we actually do. That's not a brand, you'll argue. That's just your reputation.

But reputation is a component of your brand. And it's really important to understand it, because without your reputation, all a brand is is something you're trying to convince people of.

This is why I tell my coaching clients that every freelancer needs a Web site, and every freelancer's Web site should include testimonials from editors. After all, you can say whatever you want about your brand. But until a client hears it from another editor or experiences it for him or herself, they won't quite believe you.

So if you're building a brand, go out and get some testimonials. Ask editors to share honestly what your strengths are, how they'd recommend you to a fellow editor who's looking for a kick-a$$ freelancer. And then feature them prominently.

Photo by benketaro.

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