Your Corporate Image

We've been talking all week about taking systems from the corporate world and using them to succeed in your freelance lifestyle.

Today, let's take it one step further. I want to encourage you to actually think of yourself as a business right from the start.

Consider this …

A business sets its prices and tells clients what a project will cost. A freelancer (especially a brand-new one) finds out what the client is willing to pay and generally accepts it.

A business develops systems for marketing, bookkeeping, sales tracking, and strategic planning. A freelancer might have a tendency to "wing it."

A business invests a lot of time and capital and expects a serious return on that investment. A freelancer can "set up shop" basically for free, which makes it easier to bail out.

A business knows what it does best and promotes it. An inexperienced freelancer takes whatever comes along.

A business doesn't worry about prospects who say "No." A freelancer often takes rejection personally.

And finally, a business has a consistent name and image that make up its "brand." A freelancer is less likely to stand out and be remembered.

This is what I’d like to cover today.

Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero is a great example of someone who has done this right.

Lorrie (who spoke at Bootcamp last fall) is a freelancer just like you and me, but she's done a brilliant job of building an entire company and brand around herself. (If you missed her at Bootcamp last fall, check out RedHotCopy.com.)

Her brochure has her company name "Red Hot Copy" and her tagline "Set Your Marketing on Fire!"

It tells what she does: "Red Hot Copy specializes in copy and marketing that speaks to WOMEN."

The backside gives three marketing tips to show her unique expertise, lists the company name again, her website, email address, and toll-free number (another sign of a real business). That's it. It's professional looking but very simple.

Here's an interesting thing. "Red Hot Copy" is on the brochure seven times. "Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero" only once.

Do you think clients perceive Red Hot Copy as a bona fide business?

Do you think Lorrie gets bigger projects and commands higher fees because of it?

You bet.

My guess is that Lorrie started thinking of herself in this way before she made it big.

Three takeaways I got from Lorrie's brochure (which I keep on my bulletin board as a reminder):

  1. Think bigger from the start. The way you portray yourself is the way clients will perceive you.
  2. Establish your business identity. Take your time thinking of a business name, and consider the expense of a website and business cards (or a brochure, like Lorrie's) an investment.
  3. Keep it simple. Lorrie's brochure, website, and overall image look very professional, but it's certainly something a new freelancer can emulate.

After seeing Lorrie speak at Bootcamp, I redid my business card and revamped my website. I finally had a tagline, a niche, and a professional (not cheap-looking) business card! That alone increased my confidence, and I attribute at least one client to my new image. And while I don’t know if it’s directly related, in December I got two referrals and an unsolicited testimonial.

Improving my website and card has paid off in other ways, too. Prospects and clients remember me better. I'm doing what I do best (copy for the fitness and travel industries) and actually turned down a project recently because it wasn't a good fit. And since I invested a little by hiring someone to work on my site, I expect a payoff! I'm in this for the long haul.

What I do and how I write hasn't changed, but clients' perception of who I am has changed now that I’ve started positioning my freelance writing as more of a business.

How about you? Have you made the mental shift to thinking of yourself as a business? What tangible things are on your list to improve in this area and build your brand? Or what have you already done?

Leave me a note in the comments. Your ideas might help other readers, and I'd like to know, too.

Tomorrow, we'll wrap up this week with a few final tips for turning your free-wheelin' freelance lifestyle into a rock-solid business.

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Published: January 12, 2012

6 Responses to “Your Corporate Image”

  1. Hi Steve Yes I agree...the Image you project at the beginning of your involvement with people in a business or otherwise...will "Brand you" for good or for bad...
    The question remains: "who among us can know..."how" to create an Image naturally, that will: "Brand us for good?"

    I like your writings...keep up your good work.

    Regards Larry

    Guest (Larry Pelley)

  2. Hi Steve, I totally agree with this as I own an image consulting business, and when I started I charged double of what my competitors were charging and I had hundreds of clients in a period of couple of months while other businesses struggles to find 50 clients in a couple of years. It is about the image your present, from business card to website. I recently wrote an article called "Charge more and get clients who won't cheat on you" on my business consulting website www.rachelbandara.com which is about the image and the standards you set for your business. Thanks. Rachel

    Guest (Rachel)

  3. Great post, Steve - as they've been all week. Thanks a lot for that!
    I'm sure you can relate to how very difficult it is for an inexperienced starting freelancer to step out of the mindset of the knee-jerk, reactive approach to acquiring projects and clients - and start selling yourself as a valuable resource.
    So its very instructive to read about people like Lorrie and yourself and learn how its done.
    Time to get to work on that long overdue website :-)

    Suresh Nair

  4. There is no such thing as success.

    There is no such thing as failure.

    There is only a process and that process involves learning.

    If you make mistakes, that is a learning experience.

    If you get it right, well, that is a learning experience too.

    The important thing to keep in mind is to be able to learn from your mistakes.

    If you make mistakes, that is a good thing. That shows you are at least making the effort, you are trying.

    Our best minds have learned through this process of trial and error. So can we.

    Archan Mehta


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