Have you ever googled yourself to see how high you rank on the search engine results page? Out of curiosity, I recently searched for myself and was pleasantly surprised at the results. Many of the first-page results were my assets—author pages on blogs, social media profiles, featured articles, and my website; it’s the culmination of everything I’ve done to build my brand equity.
Brand equity is a concept we typically associate with big brands; it’s the value that derives from a consumer’s perception of a brand. What defines brand equity is recognizability and perceived quality that comes from brand awareness and reputation. It’s why we buy a name brand like Nike or Apple versus a generic or off-brand product.
Brand equity as a freelancer
Like big companies, freelancers can build brand equity to become recognizable in their industry, field, or niche. Building brand equity can help freelancers become thought leaders, land new clients, and create new business opportunities. There are many ways to do it, but here are five ways to start building brand equity as a freelancer.
Post valuable content
Content is one of the best ways to establish expertise in your industry or niche. Creating content helps you show your interests, authority, and unique perspective. This can help you build your audience, land more work, and open up more opportunities for your freelance business.
Your content doesn’t have to be clicked on or engaged with to resonate; most content is “zero-click,” meaning that the content provides a standalone insight that is easily consumed in your feed without clicking further into it to find value in it. Creating zero-click content means optimizing for impressions rather than clicks by dishing out the juiciest information upfront. You earn more engagements, so the algorithm rewards your posts and puts you in front of more people. The end goal is to be memorable so your audience remembers you, seeks you out, and clicks on your profile to find your call to action.
Pick a channel and a format, and start posting about what you know about, what intrigues you, and what your audience cares about. If you’re a writer, opt for channels like X (Twitter), LinkedIn, and Medium. If you are into video, maybe opt for short-form videos on TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts. If you like audio, maybe opt for a podcast. The more personal and unique your content, the more memorable it is for your audience.
Create an owned media channel
If you want to build an audience, consider looking beyond social media platforms. Social media is “rented” space, meaning you don’t have as much control over your audience and the platform, especially as algorithms and policies change. On social media, while you might have a large following, it’s probably not a highly engaged one. Enter owned media channels.
These are your podcasts, YouTube channels, newsletters, and blogs. With owned media channels, you can build and sustain an audience you “own.” You can build a relationship with a more engaged audience by offering them valuable content. These will also be your first customers when you launch a new offer, such as a product or course.
Take the plunge and start a newsletter, podcast, blog, or any other channel where you can build and sustain an audience. You can tie the topic to your work or offer, or it can be around something you are passionate about or have expertise in. The more unique your perspective, the greater its impact on your audience.
Share your voice
People won’t know who you are if you don’t put yourself out there. To build brand equity, you must get your name in as many places as possible and show your expertise. The best way to do this is to lend your voice by:
- Teaching workshops or webinars
- Speaking at conferences or on panels
- Answering HARO requests
- Participating in Slack or other membership communities
- Posting on social media
- Guest contributing to a blog
- Being a guest on a podcast
- Collaborating with another freelancer
Each opportunity is a chance for you to get in front of people—in person or online—and position yourself as an expert. Additionally, these methods give you more ways for people to find you, connect with you, follow you, and, in some cases, hire you.
The fastest way to build brand equity is getting people to talk about you. The way to do that is to build a network of professionals who know you and want to advocate for you. These can be your clients, peers in your industry, and other freelancers.
By building relationships, you’re developing a fan club of people who will gas you up, refer you for work, sign up for your newsletter, and buy your products. These people can provide social proof or a testament to your expertise and what it’s like working with you. And in most cases, you’ll win the work because of the relationship you’ve built.
Building relationships doesn’t happen overnight; they take months or even years to cultivate. But all it takes is one small action to start, such as:
- Connecting one-on-one for a virtual coffee date
- Engaging with social media posts
- Subscribing to a newsletter
Additionally, you can ask your clients for testimonials to add to your website or LinkedIn profile so prospective clients can see what it’s like working with you.
Show up authentically and consistently
The most crucial part of building your brand equity as a freelancer is showing up authentically and consistently. Businesses create brand recognition by just showing up and telling the same story over and over again to solidify an image in their audience’s mind. In other words, repetition is reputation.
When you build a positive reputation and image in people’s minds, you become the go-to for whatever you sell. This helps you create more opportunities that can help you grow your freelance business.
No matter the method you choose—pitching yourself for podcasts, posting on social, building one-to-one relationships—do it consistently. Building your brand equity is a long game, but the seeds you sow today will bloom into more opportunities down the road.
Whether you’re a 20-year vet or just starting, it’s not too late to build brand equity for yourself as a freelancer. All it takes is small, consistent actions that add up to significant results. It won’t happen overnight, but the next time you google yourself, you might be surprised how much brand equity you’ve built.
Part of building brand equity as a freelancer is becoming an expert in your field. Read more about our industry trends at The Freelance Creative and The Content Strategist.