What is a personal brand
Your personal brand is the "image" that you build of yourself and want other people to percieve you as, both in the online and "offline" world, when people look you up on social media, google your name or talk to you in an interview, your personal brand is your colors, opinions, values, how you dress, the way you talk, even your flaws are part of your personal brand.
You might already have a personal brand, but you might have created it unconsiounsly and without much thought, in this blog post i will tell you waht kind of shit you should think about when "defining yourself" and trying to establish yourself in the world.
Why you should have a personal brand
I'm a web developer, so I tend to write posts about shit that relates to development that other developers might find useful, this post is mostly aimed at other web developers, freelancers, designers or other people in the IT-space trying to accelerate their career, reputation or simply get noticed in an interview.
How to create a personal brand
Branding yourself is actually not as hard as people think it is, all you need is some coal, a branding iron and some balls... I'm joking ofcourse, we're not talking about that kind of branding.
You can brand yourself by identifying what you are all about, if you are "the python guy", you can form an image of yourself as "the python guy" by portraying that into your social media profiles, your website and more.
You need to brand yourself as a the best professional in the niche you are targeting in order to stand out from the crowd.
Put up a website/portfolio
If clients are going to entrust you with the task of creating them a website, the best way to show that you are competent in doing that straight out of the is to have a sleek and usable website for yourself.
Get a domain name that makes sense for what you are doing, I personally use my own name for my domain (helgesverre.com), if you rather want to brand yourself as a business, you can do that instead, but if you are freelancing i advice that you go with the a personal domain if it is available, try different combinations of your first and last name until you find a combination that is available.
Or you could try to use an alternative TLD like .name or .io.
On your website you should have the following clearly visible.
- Your name
- What you do
- What you have done (portfolio)
- Your contact information
All of this could be on the same page or on different pages, as long as the information is easy to find, it does not matter.
Establish a brand identity
Whichever way you choose to represent yourself (company or individual) you need to establish your "brand identity", a brand identity is the visible elements of your brand, like colors, design, logo and "feel".
In my case, I ended up with a minimal and clean approach, my brand colors are the dark blue ( Hex: #192024), light grays and a light blue for link colors, I have also made sure that the images i use of myself as avatars on various social media sites are either the same, or similar in style.
It's mostly boils down to having a consistent visual profile across your entire website and social media profiles.
Make sure you can be found
Make sure that you optimize the page titles on your website so that people can easily find you by searching for your personal or business name, you might want to read up on some basic on-site SEO techniques (I have a blog entry on this: What is SEO - The Beginners Guide).
Social Media Profiles!
You should have profiles on at least the big two "business"-y social media sites:
I usually don't like having my Facebook profile public since I feel like facebook is very much "not for business", but that is very much a personal thing to decide.
If you are a programmer and are targeting and selling services primarily to technical people that know what code is, you should also have a GitHub profile with some repositories that showcase your programming ability.
Designers can substitute GitHub for something like Dribbble and Behance.
Remember to keep a consistent "brand identity" across all social media profiles, this looks very professional and will give you that extra "something".
Sign up to high quality freelancing sites
Make sure you fill out your profile completely, nobody is going to hire you if you don't bother filling out your profile, make sure that you use a presentable picture, it does not have to be super professional, a half-decent selfie taken from a phone will work nicely, be sure to smile on the picture, it conveys trust.
When writing your bio, don't focus as much on the individual technologies you are familiar with, to potential clients all those words mean to them is "alphabet soup".
Focus rather on how you can help your clients achieve their goals, what value can you bring them, that is what they want, they want you to provide them with something worthwhile.
Go to meetups and networking events
Check if there are any upcoming events on Find your people - Meetup, going to these kinds of meetups will almost always result in some new leads and even helps spread the word around that you provide a certain service.
A last year i went to a WordPress meetup and networked a little with the people there, a few months later someone at that meetup contacted me and was interested in interviewing me for a position at their company, I have also heard similar stories from one of my colleagues.
Networking is extremely important, do it, seriously!
Get some business cards
Business cards are a great way to quickly give someone your contact details, it is also a great addition to your brand identity, when you are designing your business cards you should stick to the brand colors and design that you have established to keep the consistent look of your brand.
I usually use Vistaprint when I am ordering business cards, they got pretty decent prices and ship worldwide.
You should include the following on your business card:
- Your name
- (optional) Your business name
- Telephone number
- Email Address
- Your Logo
I usually also throw my Skype username in there for good measure.
ProTip: Spellcheck your business card before ordering 200 cards, I've made this mistake before!
- Freelance Web Developer: How To Find Consistent Work
- How to Become a Freelance Web Developer - Envato Tuts+ Code Article
- Personal Branding Basics | Lynda.com Training
- Personal Branding on Quora
Highly recommended book
If this is a topic that interests you, I highly recommend that you pick up "Soft Skills" by John Z. Sonmez, it has a lot of information on personal branding, career and "managing your life"-as a software developer-type topics, certainly a must-have in your bookshelf.