By ERRIN WHACK
For journalists working in newsrooms, their brand is attached to that of their employer. But freelancers are their own brand, and promoting themselves and their work is an essential part of the job.
Whether you’re a freelance writer, editor, photographer, graphic designer or social media manager, here are a few tips to help build your brand.
*Think about all that your journalistic expertise means. Do you only want to write, or can you also edit? Have you covered a topic for long enough to make you an authority that others would want to hear from in a different setting (i.e., as a speaker, panelist, or pundit)?
*Be clear about the things you want to do and start identifying how to present yourself and whom you need to make aware of your goals. You’ll need an efficient delivery at the ready, whether you’re meeting people for coffee, at a networking event, or through an e-mail connection.
*Your introduction should be enough to pique the interest of a potential client, but your business cards and website must also clearly and cleanly communicate who you are and put your best work forward. They should leave people with a lasting and memorable impression of you and prompt them to want to know more about you and your work — and hopefully how they can hire you!
*On both cards and your site, clutter is the enemy. Ask yourself: What’s most important for people to know, and what’s the best way for me to tell them? Obey the rule of quality over quantity if you want to grab and hold people’s attention. These are investments, so you don’t want to sell yourself short!
Remember: Both are designed to make you more money, and if they look cheap, people will assume that you are as well.
The good news is, looking the part doesn’t have to be expensive. There are excellent, affordable resources available. You can buy your domain name for as little as $10. Site hosting can be equally inexpensive. You can find quality business cards (with free, professional templates and nice paper stock) for the price of a decent pair of shoes.
One of the best parts about freelancing is the freedom to chart your career: Picking and choosing the stories you want to tell, following your passions instead of the needs of an employer, and working on projects and issues you care about. But part of branding is positioning yourself to take advantage of opportunities — including the ones you may not even be looking for.
If you don’t know who you are, you can’t tell the people looking to hire you. As a freelancer, your professional identity is one of the most valuable things you have, because it is the vehicle that allows you to do what you want!
Errin Whack is an award-winning politics and culture writer based in Washington, D.C. She has recently contributed to outlets including NPR, Politico Magazine, NBCBLK, and EBONY. Follow her on Twitter @.