Freelance In 40 Days [Day 5]: Become Your Inner Coca-Cola

Posted: August 28th, 2009

Photo by ElektraCute (Flickr)

Photo by ElektraCute (Flickr)

This is Day 5 of the Freelance in 40 Days series where you’ll learn to freelance just by taking it one day and one task at a time. Today’s tutorial will introduce you to personal branding for your freelance business.

Branding 101, Do I Really Need One?

I’ve been freelancing for a number of years without a brand thinking I didn’t need one. Then one day, many years later, that cheap 5 watt light bulb went off in my head. I came to realize that I was known as that “Johnny” guy who is a web programmer whenever I was passed a referral. I was branded and I didn’t know it.

Then I thought about how much new business I might have lost by not coming up with a brand way back then. D’oh!

You see, when getting your business “out there,” it’s more difficult for people to recognize a full name. Think about that for a second. Let’s ask ourselves, for example, out of all the blogs that you read on a daily basis, how many can you name out by their blog name?

Now, out of those same blogs, how many names of their actual authors do you know? Maybe a few, but ALL of them?

It doesn’t matter whether its blogging or your freelance business, a brand means recognition. Recognition translates to more awareness of your services. More awareness can lead to more work and you’ll see the dominoes start falling in place.

Branding 101, How Do I Come Up With One?

Coming up with a word or two as a brand name that you are glued to for your entire freelance career is probably the most head-wracking thing you could do at any moment. Oh my, the choices…

The possibilities are endless but a brand should adhere to some simple guidelines:

  • It should reflect your personality and services
  • It should not be offensive or in bad taste
  • It should not be excessively generic or overused (i.e. A-1)

Here are a few ideas to get you going:

  • You can try: action verb + random noun + service, i.e. Hopping Donut Web Dev.
  • You can go traditional with: color + object that has nothing to do with the color + service, i.e. Blue Carrot Marketing.
  • Look around you wherever you are. I just came up with Dusty Lampshade Coders. Ok, maybe not the choicest, but you get the idea.
  • Relax for 15 minutes or so, clear your head and take back an adult beverages and just let it come to you.

Your Homework For Today

You guessed it. Come up with your own brand  that you want the whole world to know about, then do the following:

  • Reserve a domain name. If it is not available, try appending it with your service. For example, is still available. It’s my idea though, so don’t steal it.
  • Create accounts with your brand name in Twitter, Stumbleupon, Linkedin and Digg. You don’t worry about doing any activity in these accounts either, unless you feel so inclined. That will be for later on.

For some more insight, in case adult beverages aren’t working (or not a drinker), check out Pamela Slim’s awesome post and video on creating a smoking personal brand.

More on the author, Johnny Spence
Johnny is the founder of The Freelance Rant and a freelance web programmer with 8 years in the business. Have a visit at his company Oscarrr!web or see what he's up to on Twitter.

7 Comments. Join In!

  • Thom Glick

    August 28th, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Awesome tutorials. I’m actually considering getting back into full-time freelancing and reading your posts on the topic are getting me pumped up for it. In the past I haven’t been so structured in building a sturdy foundation, like establishing a USP or researching the markets or whatnot. My first time out, I mostly just learned from mistake after mistake, which can be amusing but mostly frustrating. Like I’ve said before, I wish your blog was around when I first got started. Great information!

  • Johnny

    August 30th, 2009 at 3:54 pm


    I know what you mean. If there was ever a contest for mistakes made in freelancing I’m sure I’d be a favorite win. It’s a good thing hindsight is 20/20, though!

    I appreciate your nice comments and I hope this tutorial helps you jump back into freelancing… I’m rooting for you!


  • Dan Ronken

    August 31st, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Hi Johnny,

    Yes, I know the feeling. With the evolution of a more humanized web, I was torn between just using my name as my brand or creating a company name. I guess it seems that I ended up choosing both. For example, my twitter account is under my personal name @danronken but then I created PullnotPush a a business name.

    Be careful having too many of those ‘adult’ beverages when coming up with an idea. Especially, if you find the ‘super duper best name ever’ and then spend 6 hours creating every social media profile you can think of only to wake up in the morning going, huh?

  • Johnny

    August 31st, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Hey there Dan,

    One main reason I was sold on branding was actually due to some serious branding from the NCAA basketball tourney. I’m one of those fans that has to watch every game I can but, since I’m out in Spain, I had to catch it online.

    It was a fantastic service provided by CBS and you could even go back online and catch entire games you missed. The problem was that at every commercial break, the same four commercials played… through the whole tournament.

    That said, everytime I hear the words AT&T, Sheraton, Coke Zero and GM, I break out in a sweat. Funny enough, I have a harder time remembering who was actually in the Final Four.

    As for the adult beverages, I’d say there’s a 50/50 chance of coming up with an ideal business name the next morning. Then again, the next morning you’d probably forget what it was, too.


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