Episode 14: Branding and Re-Branding

Episode 14: Branding and Re-Branding

As freelancers, it has become more and more important to have a presence online. Gone are the days of simply bringing a portfolio of your work and a resume to a potential client meeting. Today, many freelancers employ social media and a website to market themselves to editors and companies. We will talk about social media in another episode, but today we are going to talk about branding and re-branding yourself as a freelancer.

 Abigail's SmugMug Page

Abigail's SmugMug Page

**The episode is timely for Abigail and Kate, as Kate just redid her website to incorporate her married name. Abigail was, at the time of recording, in the process of redoing her logo. However, her logo design guru Faith was last week’s guest blog, and you can see her new logo here

 

Branding and rebranding can be a foreign concept to freelancers. Companies have brands, and freelancers are their own company! Kate emphasizes the need to put forth a message and visual that allows people to know who you are as a freelance creative and what you can offer.

 

What is a brand? More than a logo!

·      Overall package

·      Web presence

o   Voice used on the web (Conversational? Professional?)

·      Business card font

o   Logo color

·      Shows value & expertise

·      How you dress for meetings

… it is all a brand and the brand is YOU. It sets the tone for the professional relationship.

 

Kate and Abigail outline the process for their websites throughout the episode:

1. Kate –

·      Wanted new site to portray her focus: writing and photography.

o   For Western lifestyle, she chose a bucking horse stallion. This is her logo background and business card background.

o   Font is clean and simple.

·      Pushed to redesign/rebrand because of “new” name and byline – katebradleybyars.com.

·      Bootstrap/ DIY site – SquareSpace template with Kate’s tiny web design additions.

·      Focused on finding a template that displayed large images and had content pages for contact, etc.

·      Links to contact were important to add on multiple pages.

·      Social media links are a window – show your best side and best work on social media!

Abigail reminds listeners that a dated website, one with old content, broken links or is not edited for grammar and style, can drive people away… the opposite of the a good first impression.

They touch on web hosting sites as well as sites to host photography.

2. Abigail –

·      Hosts her photography on SmugMug.

o   Allows clients to access and order from site.

o   Small fee for site.

o   Other file sharing or storing sites were touched on, like Flikr and Google Drive.

o   Site selection should be made to make a freelancer’s life easier to publish work and reach clients.

·      Wanted to showcase her style, how she can be hired and show examples of her work on her website, abigailboatwright.com.

o   No longer promotes working on social media campaigns or development

  •   A benefit of freelancing is adding and removing avenues of work based on trends or amount of other work. This is why regular updating helps!

·      Her previous site was hosted on blogger.com and was mainly personal info. She DIY overhauled it to a blog site for her freelance business.

o   She linked to portfolio work.

o   Allowed her to establish first true online presence.

o   Struggle to shape it how she wanted but did present her work to viewers.

·      New site focus was tricky to find: showcase work for photography clients AND horse industry editors. She drilled down on her perfect client.

Kate also had a blogger style site at first that was not updated regularly and was photo heavy. *do not follow her previous work trend! Update often!*

Ways to develop a website:

“Bootstrap”

 The DIY style web design that is the budget-friendly option. It also offers hands-on ability to update or edit the site without going through a third party. Some struggles to bootstrapping can be updating templates, getting the look you want

“Pro”

Abigail hired a company to design her website. They set up the Squarespace template, but she still has control over the content. This company designed her logo and branded materials.

To give the company direction, she asked herself, what is the image she wants to portray? Abigail wanted to show emotion and connection. Her homepage image has a girl kissing a horse, and in her portfolio she concentrated on images that emphasize emotional connection.

The company assisted with SEO, like “Fort Worth photographer” hits on Google. The pros were that it took less time than if she did it solo. Cons include the expense and, depending on the site type, you can give up control to the company. Her company walked her through a tutorial on how to update the site. If a problem is beyond her, she can always call for assistance.

“Hybrid”

The Freelance Remuda site (freelanceremuda.com) was built in stages of pro and bootstrap:

1. Logo designed by Faith

2. WordPress domain purchased and attempted to create

-       Takeaway includes knowing if you need a .com or .org for your needs

-       Before purchasing be sure you know what plug ins and apps work for each host site

3. SquareSpace

-       This site hosts the current Remuda site. Kate built most of the pages in a template.

-       Abigail navigated add the “must have” elements of contact and the newsletter subscriber.

-       Pro: user friendly

-       Con: analytics for podcast

Promotion:

Freelancers tend to shy away from promotion. But your social media and website are the perfect place to promote your work.

Abigail discusses how her Instagram shifted from family to business focus. She realized it had a number of followers on her account but was posting more family images. To promote her professional work, she started a new family Insta. Abigail uses Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

 

Kate has a balance of work and lifestyle on her Insta, because her dog (#HukFinDog) and horse (#TheBerniePony) do make cameo appearances. She sees Insta as a means of showing personality and style that can bring in clients. Kate has Facebook and Instagram, but doesn’t tweet.

Words of advice:

1. CONTACT INFORMATION

-       An email form is good, but having a direct mail address (or phone number) is preferred by visitors. Always check to ensure the form is working so you don’t miss work.

-       Some clients prefer to speak to you, so a phone number is a second contact form

2. TIME TO CHANGE

-       Abigail’s biggest limitation to redesign is the time it takes to build a new site, logo, etc.

-       Promoting the name and new site are a must to gain looks!

-       Also, budget. Sometimes a new design is needed but the funds to invest aren’t there. Instead, update the content of what you have.

3. KEEP IT FRESH

-       Updating what you have is the key to keeping people interested in your site, your work.

-       Post new work, or work that shows your current skill sets.

-       Add a monthly review of your online presence and update it as needed.

-       Even if you’re not ready to launch, obtain social media names that fit your brand.

-       Promote yourself, your work, your accomplishments!

-       Remember, create your brand, maintain your brand and promote your brand.

Abigail’s last advice was to ensure you have a great bio that represents you. There are bio creators out there, like Abigail, and having that window into who you are as a professional will help.

To wrap it up, Kate and Abigail remind you to pick something comfortable and start there, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or an easy-to-update website. Now, grow your brand!

 

About The Freelance Remuda

The Freelance Remuda is a podcast about navigating the equine media frontier. Co-hosted by seasoned freelance professionals Abigail Boatwright and Kate Bradley Byars, the podcast explores the trials and triumphs surrounding life as a freelancer in equine media, while sharing valuable tips from equine media editors and creatives doing what they love. Find and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher.

      

Abigail Boatwright