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Times are tough for a lot of freelancers out there right now. Here’s some advice to help you rebound and find new work.
How’s the economic downturn treating you? If our recent
As for the other options, 17.1% chose ‘It’s neither good nor bad’, 16.7% said ‘Not sure’, and only around a quarter of you (26%) said, ‘It’s good, work is steady’. So that means almost three-quarters of you are failing to thrive in 2023, and that’s not a situation any freelancer should be happy with.
So what can we do? Well, the optimists will say that the worst of the economic shocks are over, the pound is climbing again, and better economic times lie ahead. And obviously, we hope that turns out to be true. But if the 2020s have taught us anything, it’s that the future is anything but certain.
Ultimately, in challenging times like these, you can’t rely on other people or even governments to get you through. You have to depend on yourself. And as a freelancer, a lot of that is down to marketing. Specifically, marketing yourself and your personal brand.
That doesn’t mean being deceitful or selling yourself as something you’re not. It means recognising your unique qualities, explaining this clearly, and amplifying them in the eyes of the right people.
Yes, we know, this probably isn’t your favourite part of the job. You’d rather be doing what you love, whether art, design, photography or whatever, than setting out your stall. But how you market yourself will be the deciding factor for clients when choosing you over your competitors. It’s as simple as that.
So how do you get there? Read on as we explain the different stages of building your personal brand.
1. Define your unique selling proposition (USP)
Your USP is the unique combination of skills, experience, and personal qualities that set you apart from your competition. To define it, you must ask yourself: ‘What are my strengths as a creative professional? What specialised skills or niches do I excel in? What do clients consistently praise or appreciate about my work?’
That’s not to say, however, that you have to be a specialist. Many find success by going in the exact opposite direction.
But whether you’re a generalist or a specialist, the important thing is, as photographer
2. Be yourself
The specific skills you offer are only part of your USP. The other equally important half is your personality. People hire people, after all. They want to have a human relationship. One that occasionally involves small talk or silly jokes. We spend much of our lives working, so it’s important to have fun whilst we’re doing so.
3. Be authentic
When work is tight, the temptation is to be all things to all people. But ultimately, the worst thing you can do is try to guess what clients want and try and provide it: they’ll see through that kind of inauthenticity in a jiffy. Instead, as artist, designer and photographer
Commercial photography studio
Don’t try to appeal to everyone. Be selective about the type of work you do and the people you work for.
4. Draw on past clients
Once you’ve nailed your USP, it’s time to start targeting new clients. There are numerous ways to do so, and we take a deep dive into this process in our article
One of the best ways of finding new clients, though, is to get referrals and references from existing ones. “Reach out to current and past clients and ask them what they loved about working with you,” advises Rachel White of
Graphic designer and art director
5. Draw on your network
In the same vein, colleagues, collaborators and basically everyone you’ve ever met in the creative industry are worth drawing on to find work. “Your network is everything,” says Dave Ellis, founder of motion design studio
And if you don’t yet have a network? “Reach out to others in your community who are further along and more established than you,” advises designer
6. Think local, not global
In theory, social media allows you to promote your work to a global audience. But in reality, how many people are looking, given all the noise? So you may be better off looking for clients locally.
“The thing that works for me is doing it on a small scale,” says interior and architecture photographer
The last word goes to graphic designer