Growing Your Business with Branding, Part 1

Self-employment is not for the faint of heart. This month, I am introducing my new business column. It is my goal to speak to all my friends that are self-employed and bring some of my knowledge to you. We will discuss marketing, brand personality, websites and even (one of my least favorite things) social media marketing (bleh). We will have interviews with local businesspeople and learn what tools they have used to help them succeed. Most of all, I hope to help you grow and succeed!

“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

-Mark Twain

It is my belief that we are all talented. We each love something and are so passionate about that something, that we can get lost in it for hours without noticing the time go by. 

Maybe these are our callings, or our hobbies. Sometimes we have many of these passions and sometimes just one. 

These tasks call to us. Unavoidable. Insatiable.

I have the curse of having many callings. For several years I passionately made decals. For another stretch of time, I did embroidery. Yet another set of years were dedicated to crochet. More recently, I spent many nights sewing masks until I could barely see straight.

I have had many, but two passions stand true through all of this: branding and design. I can’t help myself. 

I never simply made decals, I created a brand around my artful decals complete with a name and a logo. I couldn’t find patterns for the kind of blankets I wanted to crochet, so I made my own geek-themed blanket patterns and branded them before I put them up on pattern sharing sites and groups.

A friend of mine once told me that not every idea or hobby has to be turned into a business. And of course, she is right. But when my hobbies turn into walls full of scratchboard portraits or cupboards full of homemade soap and household cleaning products it only makes sense to start selling it.  If I am selling it, I should put my name in it. It can’t be my name, so I may as well make a cool name. If it has a name it may as well have a logo. If it has a logo. . .

Yeah, I may have a problem.

I see brands everywhere. I guess when you look at the connections between all the past times my real hobby becomes obvious: branding businesses.

I have studied business since I was in middle school when I began babysitting for extra cash. I was drawing my logo, consisting of my initials, on all my drawings, notebooks and whatever else I could find. Soon, friends asked me to make their initials into logos too. I spent many afternoons as a teen at the library researching how to start a tee-shirt store. 

I have done enough studying on branding and marketing that many friends have come to me for advice on how to make their business stand out. I’m no lawyer or CPA and would never give the kind of advice that these professionals can give when someone is starting a new business; but, if you have a small 1–3-person operation trying to find ways to getting your name out there, build your brand and reputation, marketing and the like, I’m your girl!

Why is any of this important?

At the end of 2019, Intuit commissioned a Gallup survey of the “gig economy”—the population of freelancers and self-employed individuals and their means of making a living, a population that has grown a lot in the last decade. This report shows that 28% of the workforce is made up of gig-workers and 14% of that group is made up of people that are 100% self-employed. Most of these workers stated that their reason to be self-employed stemmed out of a need to be their own boss and have greater autonomy. The number of freelancers in the workforce continues to steadily climb as we become more able to do work remotely. You can find the complete report for this survey here.

With the huge number of freelancers, self-employed and gig-workers in the workforce there is also a great possibility that a portion of our readers are a part of this percentage. While the term “freelancer” often conjures up the image of a desk-jockey (at least it does for me), the term includes many service-industry workers. I grew up with my parents running a two-person operation: my dad doing home maintenance and my mom running his office. My mom also ran a house cleaning operation for many years. They had many friends who ran similar small businesses, painters, drywallers, repairmen, mechanics, etc.

The number one complaint any of these people had? Finding work! In fact, this problem of feast or famine—either too much work or long stretches of searching for work—was not just an isolated issue found in the small group of self-employed individuals we knew.  A survey by the freelance marketplace “Freelancermap.com” showed that finding clients was the #1 complaint of their freelancers.  This leads to a feeling of instability and the idea that you need to be on the clock always.

Self-employment is not for the faint of heart.

This month, I am introducing my new business column. It is my goal to speak to all my friends that are self-employed and bring some of my knowledge to you. We will discuss marketing, brand personality, websites and even (one of my least favorite things) social media marketing (bleh). We will have interviews with local businesspeople and learn what tools they have used to help them succeed. Most of all, I hope to help you grow and succeed!

In the competitive world of self-employment, you need to find a way to stand out in the crowd as the best solution to your target-market’s problem. If you can brand yourself and your business in a way that does this, you will set your business up for much steadier growth. How do you do this? Step 1: Branding.

Next month we will go over some of the basics of branding and what it can do to help you bring in work. Whether you are a plumber or a programmer, branding can help you build trust with your target market and that trust can lead to more business for you.

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