Pursuing a freelance career can be incredibly rewarding. You are in control of your daily schedule, you have the opportunity to work with clients from around the world and elevate your skills by taking part in various projects. Let’s not forget the fact you can make a decent monthly income while enjoying the perks of working in your pajamas.
According to the latest report by Upwork and the Freelancing Union, around 36% of the U.S. workforce is freelancing, while it is expected for this independent workforce to become a leading one by 2027. Increasing number of people are becoming freelancers by choice. The perception of stability has changed and now, it is believed that a diverse portfolio of clients brings more financial security than working at the office as a full-time employee.
The attitude towards the freelancing career has become more positive. According to the 71% of the surveyed respondents, it has become easier to find work online. The job market has changed for the better.
Of course, it’s not only rainbows and butterflies. We’re not going to sugarcoat it: there are some pitfalls of freelancing and challenges that 9-5 workers don’t have to worry about. One of them is the problem of putting yourself out there and rising above the noise.
Given the fact there is a lot of competition out there, you have to find a way to distinguish yourself from others and show your potential clients that you’re someone who is credible, has proven a history of success, and knows how to do their job. Undoubtedly, the best way to do so is by launching a personal website.
Let Customers and Clients Come to You
Freelancers usually turn to freelance platforms (e.g. Upwork, Freelancer, PeoplePerHour) to look for job opportunities or they rely on referrals and recommendations. We all know how exhaustive and stressful this can be, especially when bidding for jobs and competing with candidates that come from low-earning countries and are therefore willing to work for less money.
It can be tricky to land a project that both pays respectively and is great enough to make it a part of your portfolio. The agony prolongs if you’re ghostwriting and cannot really claim your work.
Another energy-consuming way to acquire clients is by directly reaching out with an offer. This can pay off, especially if you pitch your services the right way. For instance, if you follow a certain company blog and see some content gaps or you have some creative ideas that could improve their current strategy, you can easily find their contact email and try your luck.
For freelancers, it is crucial to get their name heard. Meetups, conferences, and seminars make great real-life business networking opportunities. However, one of the biggest benefits of having a website as a freelancer lies in the fact it helps you become more visible in the online world. It networks for you, 24/7, overcoming the obstacles of different time zones, even when you’re not near your computer.
To become more successful at acquiring clients, keep in mind your website should reflect your uniqueness and personality. Use customized copy to frame your professional identity right and choose web design and visuals that align with it well.
As a freelancer, you should step away from making your website too “corporate” or cold.
Creative industries are now driving the digital economy and their contribution is high as $200 billion in global digital sales, and they are changing the face of business. If you’re a member of this creative community, it’s not a bad idea to add a bit of non-strictly-business content to your “about me” page, so to create a stronger brand recall and trigger an emotional reaction of those interested in your achievements. That’s how you can motivate them to contact you, even if it’s just to ask around about your rates and business process.
Remember: once you get their attention, you get a chance to do business.
The Cornerstone of Your Personal Branding Efforts
There has been a lot of discussion regarding the best way of launching a personal brand, including the personal website vs. Linkedin posting debate and the question of utilizing social media profiles so that it works in favor of your reputation, not against it.
Whether you’re a writer, designer, or a developer, having a personal website is a smart decision. It reflects your will to be proactive and go an extra mile for the sake of your success. In addition, your competition (or at least the part that you should worry about) already has their websites up and going.
As a freelancer, you need to come up with a strategy (or at least an outline of it) for developing your personal brand. The trick is to treat your brand as a business that’s fresh on the market and needs investment to reach its full potential.
Your website is the representation of your major accomplishments, be it the projects you’re proud of, great publications, or the testimonials of your satisfied clients. It creates an aura of trustworthiness around your job-seeking efforts, it makes you look professional, while also enabling people to contact you at any times.
Does this mean your personal website comes down to just a publicly available portfolio? Not necessarily.
Of course, you can use your website only to showcase your work. But, there is so much more you can do with it. Blogging is one of the most effective ways to build your brand, although it demands a lot of effort. Everyone can benefit from blogging, here are just a few reasons why:
- Blogging helps you become a thought leader in the industry and position yourself as an expert;
- If you commit to producing valuable content, it will bring intelligent traffic to your website, which means a boost for your visibility online;
- Content is the foundation of your SEO efforts;
- Through your blog, you can bring fresh insights and showcase your creative approach, which will definitely grab the attention of your potential clients.
Whether you absolutely need a blog or you can get away without it is highly dependable on your profession. Let’s go through some examples of personal websites and do some reverse-engineering, so to get your creative juices flowing.
Get Inspired: Examples of Personal Websites
If you’re a photographer, your main medium is visual and that should be the core of your online presence. A blog is always welcomed and it can help you rank better on Google for the services you offer, but your main focus should be to brand your own name.
Take professional photographer Matt Frost as an example: when you visit his website at mattfrost.me, you encounter a simple, one-page website, that has a mosaic-like portfolio made out of his chosen photography work. The categories listed above include
- Unit stills/BTS
- Live TV
That’s basically every piece of information a person that visits the site needs to know! The CV is vertically divided into two sections. The left side has a list of renowned clients Frost has worked with such as BBC, FOX International, Sony Picture Entertainment, National Geographic, and many more. On the right side, he incorporated a personal element and described the way he works, while also displaying information about his education and experience.
Why is this approach great? It makes Frost memorable, it leaves a highly professional impression, and it is straightforward. It has enough credible information to encourage potential clients to reach out.
Of course, being mainly a visual artist does not mean you should limit your website to it, especially if you have great skills that are maybe even diametrically opposite. Take for example Nathan Powell, who is a designer and an author at nathanpowell.me. In addition to offering his designing services, he shares his insights and expertise through blogging and useful resources.
And if you’re a writer, a content marketer, or an entrepreneur? Then having your own blog or at least writing samples becomes an imperative, as it represents your skills and abilities and helps you build authority.
Michelle Nickolaisen is a professional writer and content marketer and the owner of chelleshock.me. The goal of her personal website is pretty clear: she uses it for business collaborations and for showcasing her accomplishments so far. She has included her writing samples, case studies, client testimonials, as well as a thorough description of her work so far. The moment we see her clients include Kissmetrics and Shopify, and that she has been featured in Entrepreneur and CIO.com, we feel reassured in the quality of her work.
Even in case you’re a developer, maintaining a blog is a great idea, especially if you have some writing experience. Technical writers are in demand today, so if you have your way with words, unleash your creativity and open new business doors.
Pick the Right Domain Name and You’re Good to Go
As you can see, your website does not have to be flashy or expensive, and even if you don’t have technical knowledge, you can turn to free website builders and create your own business corner on the web.
The internet gives you so many possibilities, but it’s completely up to you how you will take advantage of them. Freelancers (particularly those who are just getting started) have to invest a lot of time and energy to get gigs, that’s a fact. It gets a lot easier when you get the ball rolling and manage to sign a couple of clients.
If you want to launch a successful freelance career, start with publishing your own website that will serve as a proof of both your competence and work ethics. Try to make it as human as possible: let your website reflect who you are, but equip it with information your potential clients expect to see.
When it comes to personal branding, people usually opt for branding their own names and including them into their domain name, as it gives them a firmer grip on their online presence. When someone googles your name, your website should definitely be the first result on SERP.
Want to stand out from the crowd?
As for the choice of the domain extension, opt for .ME, the most personal domain name on the web! Easily check your domain name availability and purchase with just a few clicks!
Although it started as a country-level domain for Montenegro, today .ME is recognized as the top-level domain and it gives you many great branding opportunities. As a secure, reliable, and SEO-friendly domain, .ME is your professional online address that adds a personal spark to your professional website.
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