When I received my Canadian permanent residence at the beginning of September, I decided that it was time to give a more organized shape to my business: a business name, a logo, a professional website, a business number, social media profiles. It was time for a proper business plan, a coherent marketing strategy, an organized client management system, a proper invoicing system (for which I can recommend the very handy invoice template generator by invoice2go) and so forth. When starting out, very few of us freelancers have the budget to hire professionals to make everything look perfect. Compromise is necessary. That’s why I decided that October would be the month for my Personal Branding DIY Experiment. This is what I learned during the process:

#1 Procrastination is dangerous. A good way to avoid it is to make yourself accountable for your goals by sharing them with an audience. At the beginning of each month, I color one page of my coloring book, I write on it my monthly goals and I post it on Instagram. At the end of the month, another photo gets posted on Instagram with proof that I reached my goals. It works.

#2 When you start developing your brand, start from yourself. Analyze your personality, your strengths, your weaknesses, your values, try to brainstorm using a journal and/or visualize your ideal brand using Pinterest. Find your voice. I used Cerries Mooney’s Initiation Kit and it gave me a clear vision of the direction my business needed to take.

#3 Unless you are an expert graphic designer, don’t “diy” your logo. Logos are an important part of a business and it’s very easy to recognize the non-professional ones. Purchase a premade logo on Etsy instead or try to find something on Logomaker.

#4 Creating a website by yourself is possible. Of course a professional web designer would do a better job, but nowadays there are all kinds of tutorials online to guide you through the process. I can definitely recommend WordPress: they offer professional themes, a lot of tutorials and free support. Avoid the free option, it’s enough for a blog (like mine for example), but not quite for a professional website. The expenses are not that prohibitive anyway (I pay around 40 USD/year for the one I’m building).

#5 Don’t underestimate the power of SEO. Your website can be amazing, but if it doesn’t show up on Google, its benefits will be fairly limited.

#6 You may find yourself asking for a friend/relative’s help with certain tasks (e.g. if your cousin is a graphic designer, he may help with your logo) and it’s totally fine. However, keep in mind that they are professionals and their time and expertise is worth something more than your gratitude. As freelancers, we know very well how it feels when someone wants a job done for free in exchange of “visibility”. Don’t do the same to your friends or family. You always want to offer something in return for their help, be it a dinner, a piece of software relevant to their work, something they like, etc…

#7 Remember: done is better than perfect. Don’t be afraid to show the result of your work to the world just because it’s not perfect yet. If you wait for it to be perfect, you’ll never get it done. Be brave and take the plunge. Little mistakes can always be corrected along the way.

My experiment is not over yet, I still have one week to go! I should announce my brand new website next week, so stay tuned 🙂