4 things all freelancers should be doing online

IMAGE: What freelancers should be doing online
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Whether you’re a freelance graphic designer, web developer, writer, photographer, or any other type of business – an online presence is a vital part and can make or break your success.

The important question is: are you building an effective online presence?

From a client’s perspective, they’re looking to work with someone who is loyal, honest, and can get the job done. But, it doesn’t hurt to feel like they know who they’re working with, even if you’ve never met in person.

A simple and personable online presence will really help bridge that gap of working with any client from around the world – and keeping your online presence consistent will only benefit you and your business.

A client that can get to know you and your business just from your online presence will be more willing to work with you, so what should you be focusing on?

Focus on staying personable and consistent

I’ve seen too many freelance designers or businesses where I’ve gone to their site and can’t find one thing about them. Yeah they most likely have an about page, but there’s nothing about them. There’s no photo or relatable piece of content – sometimes not even a real name!

If your business is almost 100% online, then you need to present yourself as a real person or team and not just some alias.

Take the time to share who you are, and what you do – and do it in a personable manner. Make it easy to read, understandable, and maybe even a little fun!

The first and most important step is simple: make sure you’re presenting the same content and design across all of your online accounts and marketing materials.

Use the same name, short bio, photos (logo), colors, URLs, etc. It might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised.

Don’t be afraid to show who you are. It will only help reassure any potential clients that they’re dealing with a real person who loves what they do.

Attract clients and strengthen loyalty

Take a look at any successful company or brand – their consistency attracts.

That might be why Apple’s products are like magnets to a lot of us. The design is appealing throughout all of their products and the overall idea/experience pulls you in: the passionate customers selling word of mouth, committed sales associates in stores, etc.

When your online presence is designed beautifully, then it’s going to appeal to potential clients and delight others viewing your work.

Build expectations and always deliver – right down to every detail. This will build your brand loyalty and help reinforce it’s characteristics.

Increase sales and create new opportunities

By building expectations and always delivering, you’re providing a service worth paying for.

Take a look at Starbucks: you’re paying around $4 for a coffee, and we don’t think twice about it. It’s because we know they offer a good product that we’re always willing to come back to.

It all starts with your online presence – bridging that gap between you and the client, delivering on their expectations, and in return you’re increasing sales and creating new opportunities with a happy client who’s spreading the word.

Stay on top of changes

If you make a change to your brand (logo, color), then be sure to update that content everywhere else it appears online.

Conflicting your own online presence will only work against yourself – so stay on top of things.

It can be time consuming with there being so many different accounts to manage online, but the goal is to stay consistent.

No matter where your online presence is being viewed from, it should be recognizable.

How’s your online presence?

I encourage everyone to take a look at their online presence and consider this: are you getting your message across?

If a potential client were to look at your online presence, would they get to know you and your business?

What are some of your tips to a successful online presence? Share in the comments on this post.

 

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About Brent Galloway

Brent Galloway is a freelance graphic designer, founder of Your Freelance Career, and author of Start Your Freelance Career. Check out his blog and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Dribbble.

Comments

  1. It takes consistency, hard work, and being uncomfortable often to run a successful business. It is indeed an adventure and eye opener once you go from hobby to business.

    Thank you Brent for this article. You hit the nail on the head with this one! =) Enjoy your weekend.

    -Siedah

  2. Do you have some examples of designers who do this well, and who balance a professional image with a friendly real-person persona?

  3. I enjoyed the article, it forced be to add a bio page to my site since I didn’t I have one at all. It’s easy to get distracted and forget to think about how potential clients might see you online. My next project is to figure out how to get people to follow and to comment on my blog.

    Thanks for the tips,

    John

    • John,

      Glad to see you added a bio page to your website!

      Getting followers and interaction on your blog can take some time. Just a quick tip, it helps to set up a posting schedule (once a week, every other week), and try asking a question at the end of each post.

      Definitely something I could go into more detail on. If you or anyone else are interested, let me know.

      I hope that helps, and thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

    • the best way to get followers (and I really should take my own advice here, Haven’t really done it since I opened my deviant account 5 years ago since it’s very time consuming.) is to take part in relevant forums and offer help and advice as well as just getting to know potential clients.

  4. The very first thing that I do when I go online is Googling my name. It helps keep a check on my online reputation.

  5. Insightful article. Thanks for the write-up Brent. I’ve already implemented some of these suggestions.

  6. Hey Brent,

    I liked the way you mentioned about staying consistent. I’m having some problems with that for now since I’m so new to the whole design field. I’ve recently just started exploring a few months ago and designed my blog from the scratch up. I might want to redesign my blog again, since I think its only mediocre.

    Like John, I’m facing the same problem on getting people to hop onto my blog. (Its only been live for the last week so I’m not complaining yet), but anything related definitely will help!

    Thanks again, and have a good day :)

  7. Great article!
    I’ve recently updated my about page. It certanly gets a lot of questions off the table. The client that decides to contact you already knows pretty much everything they need to know about you. Properly focused, it gives them a feeling that they know you a little bit better and that certainly builds trust right away.
    I’m still tweaking mine..any suggestions :)

    • I checked out your about page and it’s good! The only thing I’d recommend adding would be social media links or icons. Other than that (and a small typo “awsome”), it’s simple and well written.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  8. Joe Tavares says:

    Brent,
    thanks for this.
    I’m just getting started as a freelance graphic designer and am looking for help in establishing my online presence would appreciate any info you might have on how to proceed.

    Joe

  9. After reading this, I went back to my website to edit it so that it flows better and has a kind of bio page as well. Just changing the home page right now though.
    You have given me lots of food for thought and will use your info to make a better web site that reflects who I am and what I offer in a better way.

  10. This is interesting, but I’d like to see some evidence that backs up the advice. As it stands it’s nothing more than an opinion and they are 10 a penny.

  11. Interesting article — looking to build my online presence and update current site so any feedback would be useful. Thanks.

  12. Great tips! I love reading this article so much. This gives me so much ideas to improve my work as a struggling graphic designer. I learned much of these inspirations and challenges. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Brent:

    Thanks for writing this article. I think you made some insightful points. I had a tough time writing my “about” page but it was worth the effort. I want my clients to be able to put a face (and a design) to a name. It’s important my potential clients feel comfortable about who they’re hiring. I learned a long time ago that building a client base is really about building relationships…

  14. Great post, although I take issue with the Starbucks comment; ‘Starbucks’ and ‘good product’ are a contradiction in terms and don’t belong in the same sentence.

  15. I run two businesses: freelance art / design; and managing short-term rentals in my Brooklyn Brownstone. Ironically, I think the site for my rentals (http://www.TRUErentals.biz) does a much better job of delivering a personable message with a consistent look & feel than my design site (http://www.TRUEart.biz).

    In large part, it’s because I’ve been following the money: the commercial art industry started declining in 2001 (at the same time as the economy), whereas tourism in NYC is still strong. I haven’t updated my design site in a good while, but I am always on top of the rentals site.

    Thanks.

    TRUE

  16. Good article – am going to be tackling this type of project shortly. It seems there is a balance that has to be taken into account too, as my fear is many clients might “pigeon-hole” you based on the “persona” you present. For example, if I was a pro wrestling or monster truck rally promoter, I might mistakenly conclude Jessica’s self presentation http://jessicahische.is/anoversharer , with an abundance of flowers, cursive script, wine sipping and cat references might not be suitable for my project, even though her talents might actually be quite capable. On the other end, Brandon’s site http://brandonrike.com/about , with its stark, bold and colorless style might be off-putting to a CEO looking for someone to help launch her line of scented candles or line of children’s storybooks, etc. When you start getting TOO open, saying your favorite music is death metal or your favorite movie is “I Spit On Your Grave” (I’m making random extreme examples) a client may have a sense of humor, or may be off put by your tastes, or assume your “style” of design can only reflect those tastes. Of course, as designers, we know that these conclusions aren’t true so I would think you would have to be very discretionary in just how personalized you make your online presence so you don’t end up accidentally “stereotyping” yourself with narrow-minded clients (of which there are many). All examples mentioned are exceptional, but in my opinion, Jacob seems to strike the right balance of “neutrality” with his site, http://justcreative.com/about/

  17. It seems the more personal the site the more of a “one-man-band” you appear to be. Many of my current clients have had frustration with other “freelance designers” who’s freelancing is a part time job after their real job and they are often slow and unreliable.

    This is my full time job and I want my clients to know that. So they can trust I will get their job done quickly and accurately, that I will answer the phone during business hours and be able to meet their needs when they need it.

    I have found that web sites designed for finding new clients for graphic designers are way overrated. A good designer will find all the work they need from referrals and using current clients to find new ones. Social media is the buzz and people feel like they have to use it because everyone else is doing it and it doesn’t cost anything. All of the social media (Twitter, linked-in, youtube, facebook) is way overrated as well and can be very time consuming and counterproductive. It’s very easy to spend lots of time and feel like you are being productive and you look great but billable hours are what matters most. I often ask people how many new clients they actually received directly from Twitter, Facebook or other social media I have not been able to find one.

    I have a youtube page, facebook page and web site which I use as a portfolio for new clients to view so they can decide if my work fits their style and budget but I use my current clients to find these new clients.

    To be a successful freelance designer your need be accurate and reliable first then good at what you do. For most designs very good is good enough. There will always better designers out there who can produce something better than you are capable of doing. Don’t get hung up on it. A vast majority of clients simply want a design done accurately and quickly, that follows the basic principles of design. If you do that, they will come back and word of mount will begin to spread your business. Use these clients to tell others, ask for referrals, and leave business cards they may seem outdated but they work much better than any social media I’ve ever used. I had one client that changed jobs three times I know have three clients because of him and the work I did. The biggest asset I can offer my clients is not my design but that fact they can call me and the job gets done quickly accurately and they are pleased with the design.

  18. I’ve just discovered this blog and I am thoroughly enjoying all of the helpful tips and ideas! Thanks a lot. And keep ‘em coming!!

  19. Timely insights on the need to remain relevant in online business. Thanks for sharing what is a definite requirement for one to stay afloat in this field.

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