Most freelancers are used to doing work for other people, but what they might not realize is that in the process, they are building their own personal brands. When you have your own personal brand, you become a sought after expert in your niche, you can command higher rates, and you can drive web traffic to your own personal projects, not just projects you complete for clients.

If you’re interested in honing and cultivating your own personal brand as a freelancer, here’s how to do it:

Create a Website With Your Name in the URL

It’s great if you have a fully functioning website under your business name, but you should also have one under your own name. Having a solid, well-designed website with your name on it will help people to learn more about you, your projects, your skills, and your prices. When people search for your name, they are more likely to find this site and can use it to learn more about the person behind the business. You can also use it to showcase your portfolio so you always have it on hand to send to potential clients.

Define Your Expertise

It’s not enough to be a videographer or a writer or a singer. It helps if you have a niche or an expertise. Ideally, you would choose to do one to two things really well and become known for that. For example, I write in the personal finance niche. No one would hire me to write in the beauty niche because I’m not an expert when it comes to hair and makeup. Similarly, no one would hire a country singer to sing at a rap concert. So, even if you write well or sing well or draw well, you should have a theme or a niche that will help you hone your personal brand.

Promote Yourself

People have a hard time promoting their work. It’s a challenge. You don’t want to come across as conceited but at the same time, you need to make yourself available to customers. A great way to do this is to use social media, again under your own name not your company’s name. This will help you to reinforce your brand’s image and niche across several social media platforms. Follow others who do similar work that you do and network heavily. You can use hashtags to try to find like minded individuals and you can even follow companies who have products or services you love and try to connect with them so you can work with them in the future.

Label Yourself

You spent much of your life trying to avoid labels, but now it’s important for you to choose especially if you’ve completed the first few steps of getting your own URL, finding your niche, and promoting yourself. This “label” is what you’re going to use to describe yourself at a party when someone asks what you do. So, instead of saying, “I’m a freelancer,” you can say, “I’m a digital media expert,” or “I’m a social media manager.” I personally say, “I’m a family finance expert,” and it took a surprisingly long time (years, actually) to get comfortable with saying that label. Still, once you have the label, that’s what you can pitch yourself as to future clients. When you get your first major TV appearance, that’s what they’ll put under your face when you’re on screen. If you do a podcast or an interview or even answer a few questions in a guest post online, this is what you can put in your bio. It will feel funny at first giving yourself a label, but it’s crucial to really solidify your personal brand.

Ultimately, every freelancer should strive to have a personal brand. It’s really the next major step into become more of a business owner and entrepreneur instead of “just” a freelancer.

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Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions, earn more, reach their goals, and take on a more active financial role in their families. Named the Best Contributor/Freelancer for Personal Finance in 2014, her writing and expertise have been featured in dozens of notable publications and in national media.

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