April 10, 2023
Fair warning: there are some strongly held opinions ahead. And that’s what they are—opinions. Of course, there are plenty of people who have created successful freelance businesses without being the face of their brand. But in my experience (and the experience of all of my clients and business friends), the ones who fearlessly put themselves out there grow way faster than those who don’t.
First things first….
What do I mean by “being the face of your business”?
If you’re new to the biz world, you might be thinking—what the hell do you actually mean? There’s a couple ways to interpret “being the face of the brand”, so let’s dive in.
When I talk about this topic, I mean things like:
- Appearing in more than just 1 photo on your website
- Creating content for social media platforms that features you as a main content pillar
- Writing a blog in first person (like this one you’re reading!)
- Writing a weekly newsletter in first person (like mine!)
- Podcasting or speaking
- Getting involved in your community
- Creating education within your brand where you are positioned as the educator, whether it’s free content or paid
Basically… putting you and your brand out there in a way that goes beyond a logo, color palette, and type suite.
Pros of the Personal Brand—AKA, Here’s What a Personal Brand Can Do For You
Now don’t get me wrong here, there are pros and cons to being the face of your brand. (Although, in my opinion, the pros heavily outweigh the cons.) Here are a few reasons it’s way easier to start with a personal brand than not.
When I first started my business, I didn’t have much to show in terms of tangible results or statistics to prove my worth to potential clients. (And when you’re starting, it’s a challenge to convince people to take a chance on you when they have other established businesses to choose from.)
But by sharing my personal story, values, and beliefs (plus, really great work), I was able to create a sense of trust and authenticity that was much more powerful than any statistic or ROI report could ever provide.
When clients feel a connection to the person behind the business, they are more likely to trust in their abilities and feel comfortable working with you.
In today’s crowded marketplace, it’s a challenge to stand out from the competition. There are only so many colors and fonts to choose from. (And as a designer, let me tell you: it can start to feel like every business looks the same.)
But there’s one thing that truly sets you apart from everyone else: YOU. Your unique personality, experiences, and expertise are what make your business different from every other business out there. When you establish a strong personal brand, you can leverage your individuality to differentiate yourself from the competition. Trust me on this one, bestie: when potential clients see the person behind the business and get a sense of your personality and values, they’re more likely to remember you and choose you over someone else.
Let’s face it, being the face of your business is scary as FUCK. (I’m not claiming any of this is easy!) But putting myself in front of my audience in this way has allowed me to step into the expert role I truly am—and the expert my clients need me to be.
When you put yourself out there and establish a personal brand, you’re forced to confront your strengths, weaknesses, and values. You’re challenged to think deeply about who you are and what you stand for, and to articulate those things in a way that resonates with others.
And those are skills you’ll be able to use your entire life long, whether you continue on the freelance to business owner path, or find yourself at a different full-time job. TL;DR: you’ll not only grow as a person, but also become a more effective and impactful entrepreneur while you’re at it.
Easier to Network
I know, I know, it’s deflating to hear that it’s all about who you know. But I hate to break it to you, it’s true! And when you establish your business as a personal brand, you’ll have a much easier time 1.) attracting the people you’re meant to attract and 2.) receiving recommendations from others, simply because they trust you.
Cons of the Personal Brand—Why Many People Don’t Do It, and Frankly, Why I Think That’s Dumb
There are plenty of reasons why people don’t put themselves out there as a personal brand. Here are a few big ones I’ve encountered over and over again (and why I don’t think you need to worry about them).
You Don’t Want to Appear Full of Yourself
I get it—you’re worried that if you put yourself out there, or have a lot of photos of you on your website, or talk on your Instagram story every day, that you’re going to come across as self-righteous and conceited.
AKA, the influencer effect.
I get why you feel that way, but allow me to reassure you: that will not be the case. People hire people, not businesses. When you allow yourself to get vulnerable and show up as the expert you are, you’ll attract the leads who are looking for a confident, polished, authentic expert. And those are the best clients, trust me.
You Want to Sell the Business Someday
This is one reason that I think is genuinely valid. If you’re building a business that you eventually want to sell, it can be hard to do so if all the buyers know that your personal identity is at the core of what made the business successful.
However—if you’re just starting out on a creative business or freelance journey, there’s a good chance you’re not planning to sell. You’re just trying to make a living doing something fun, damnit! And besides, if this is your first business, you gotta build trust from somewhere. (See pro #1 above for more context!)
Also, even if you start a business with a personal brand in the beginning, no one’s saying you can’t transition out of it when you eventually want to sell. Keep that in mind!
You Think It’s Going to Limit You
Maybe you’re open to cultivating a personal brand, but you’re worried that people are always going to associate you with that one business or creative medium. As a multi-passionate person, I totally get this. When I first started my business, I was so nervous people would no longer associate me with acting, and would only associate me with design.
Luckily, this was not the case, because I created a brand that has room for all of it. Being multi-passionate is at the core of my brand identity now, so much so that I have become the go-to person for multi-passionate entrepreneurs. And I would argue it was much easier to establish that as a personal brand than it would have been as a more traditional “business” brand.
When your brand is you, it can move and change as you move and change. There’s a lot more flexibility there.
The Art of the Personal Brand
All pro’s, no cons. 😉 Start showing up as the face of your your business and just watch the magic unfold!
If you’re looking for help in this department (and especially in your website or photoshoot materials), I’d love to help! Check out all my offerings here and let’s build the digital stage your personal brand deserves to shine on.
Hi, I'm Sarah Kleist.
Brand & web designer, personal brand strategist, and marketing educator obsessed with the power of connecting with audiences.
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