Let's talk about YOU and your story. We all have something that's unique about each of us and it’s important to be able to share that with our potential clients.
Even if there are billions of humans on this planet, the cool thing is we all have something that's uniquely our own.
When you start to freelance, a topic that comes up a lot is “personal branding” and how we can market ourselves to stand out from the pack. There are going to be a lot of other people who offer similar services as you or even have a similar aesthetic online.
This is where you can tie in your unique attribute and clearly make yourself stand out.
For me, that was being open about my story of having one hand and how I have been able to overcome obstacles in my life and translate that into my own business. I was born missing my left hand and quickly had to learn how to adapt in this world made for two handed people.
I was fortunate enough to have had a great support system and people in my life to push me to go after what I want, but it was still a challenge getting there.
When I started to freelance in 2015, I was worried that my name alone wouldn’t allow me to stand out online. That is why I adopted the persona of the “One Hand Wonder Man” and decided to share with my readers and potential clients a little about who I was behind the screen in order to foster a connection.
Sharing your story not only allows you to stand out from other people in your field, but it allows you to establish a connection with a potential client even before you have your first consultation or discovery call. Clients are looking for freelancers because they are tired of just being treated as another number at an agency (for the most part) and want to establish a relationship with someone who is on their team. By putting yourself out there and being open with who you are and what you're about, the client can see if this would be a good fit beyond just seeing your work.
For example, I have had clients want to work with me because they really resonated with what I had to say and also because they liked that I was able to stand out more from other designers by being open with who I was.
I know that I am not the most talented Squarespace designer or advertiser, but I had one advantage that a lot of other people didn’t in the sense that I could use my story and be vulnerable which allowed me to cut through the basic online portfolio sites which only talk about the work and not so much about who does the work and what are they like as a person.
This is not to say that you have to share your most personal secrets or anything even remotely close to that. You really don’t even need to share much to stand out. It’s just about crafting your story in a way that if someone who is a potential client was reading it, would they get a good sense of who you were without having to get on a call first?
Crafting your story is step one, but the next important step is to share it for others to see.
The first place that works really well for this is your own portfolio site. As a freelancer, it's very important to have your portfolio where potential clients can view your work, learn more about you, etc. Think of it as more of your content hub where if I didn’t know you, I could find everything that I needed to know in one place.
A lot of freelancers focus the majority of their portfolio building on their work/case studies pages but not so much their about page. While it's important to showcase your work because you’ll need to prove yourself, it's equally important to share your story too.
A lot of portfolio sites tend to blend in with each other because they follow a similar trend in how they are presented or crafted. An area where you can immediately stand out from everyone else is putting more emphasis on your about page to really promote your story for potential clients to see.
I've found that when clients are finding it hard to pick between which freelancer that they want to work with, more often than not, they pick someone who is relatable to them where they might believe that this person may be easier to work with. It's the know, like and trust factor at play.
Beyond just having this on your portfolio, you can also craft and share this message on your socials or even do guest blog posts (like I am doing now) for other publications. This allows you to potentially connect with others that might not be in your direct network or field. Sharing your story is essentially marketing yourself to new potential clients, and this can be really effective through guest posts and podcast interviews with other freelancers, industry leaders, or publications that you enjoy reading!
To be a successful freelancer, you have to have the talent, of course.
However, you also have to be able to connect with your clients on a deeper level than just having good work. There are so many talented freelancers out there who have great portfolio pieces and who do amazing work, but lack the ability to share their story about who they are and why they chose to become a freelancer.
Not every single client is going to care about who you are, but you will definitely find that it's a lot easier to connect with clients and retain them on a regular basis when you’re more open and transparent. At the end of the day, clients are humans too and we all want to connect with others.
Max Pete is a freelance Squarespace designer and advertising specialist. He has been freelancing for over 5 years and works with small businesses, consultants, and e-commerce brands. Currently, Max is starting a new venture into business coaching for freelancers/solopreneurs and is offering free 30-minute consultations.