Australian creatives on how to build your brand and cultivate a following

“People remember how you make them feel.” 

So you’ve found your niche. The thing that makes your heart sing. A creative practice you’re gunning to pursue for both remuneration and soul-reward. Maybe you’re a self-taught photographer sleuthing for fashion gigs in Melbourne, or a freelance writer in Sydney hoping to build a clientele of recurring copywriting clients. 

But once you’ve garnered some attention on the rumour mill as a cool and up-and-coming creative, how do you transcend word-of-mouth and forge a working, functioning, well-oiled brand? It’s that infamously elusive pursuit of the freelancer. How do you get publicity after you’ve made a folio, and who do you get to fill the talent gaps with the stuff you can’t do?

Want more career advice? Check out our Life vertical. 

This is the first in our trilogy of articles with freelancer marketplace Fiverr to answer those burning questions. Whether you’re a merchandiser, fashion sketcher, catalogue designer or anything creative in between, Fiverr is the middle man between business and elite on-demand freelance talent.

To ease the uncertainty and angst of building your personal brand online (insert: Instagram, website, Fiverr profile) and IRL, we’ve assembled a dream team of those who’ve done it (or employ people for it) to curate the best advice going. 

What attracts a business to a freelancer?

Lib Hutton of Melbourne comms consultancy Project Hutton engages freelancers on a fast-paced basis, with clients spanning The Sheet Society, Breville, Friends with Frank, Tom Organic and more. With varying project-style campaigns under her belt, it’s paramount to work with creatives who instantly ‘get it’, then get the job done with grace and gusto. 

When asked what makes her want to work with a freelancer on a campaign, Lib advocates for initiative and authenticity. Fiverr’s team of Business Success Managers provide clients such as Lib with support and assistance in finding the best match for their brief. “We want someone that really cares about the client and the project and the brief. All of it from end to end. Yes, their aesthetic will shine through, but they’re also capable of absorbing the client’s brief and displaying equal investment in the outcome to us.”

How can you approach a prospective client? 

Being good is one thing, getting noticed is another. Whether you’ve carved out a space on Insta, or made your immaculate profile on Fiverr through its user-friendly interface, it’s fundamental for your individual ‘vibe’ to shine through. Your talent is one thing, but being personable is equally important. Lib goes on to explain the importance of “showing not telling” with your folio of work.

Perhaps it’s partnering with a local photographer to really nail your product shots or hiring a tech-wiz to customise your website. “Connections are so important, but not just with brands and clients. Be personable and make friends with fellow creatives in the industry. This way you can tag-team with jobs and help each other out. A coffee with someone you admire and genuinely want to work with today could be a job on a great shoot in a month’s time.”

Fiverr’s recent Get Set Up For Success report points to the importance of harnessing strong brand awareness and client connections through digital marketing. Whether it be through social media channels such as Instagram or TikTok, or navigating the waters of SEO, Fiverr believe it’s a critical building block for freelance success in 2021.

Yes, you can do more than just one thing

Sabina McKenna is a curator, model and writer who knows the value of networking to increase your community as a multidisciplinary creative. She also makes a strong case for acknowledging your varying talents, rather than self-pigeonholing into just one category of freelancing. Fiverr allows users to list multiple jobs at once, so if you’re blessed enough to be good at a few things, play to that.

“I’ve always had a great network of creative people around me and I’ve expanded on this naturally over the years. I’m very social and good at talking to people, so I think that has played a huge role in the work I’ve found, and the skills I’ve gained. I’m always asking people what they do and sharing my work online and in conversation.

“I’ve heard people say half the work is showing up, which I don’t 100 per cent agree with as I know you still need to do a good job. But for sure being friendly and taking initiative to make sure things are done to the best of your ability goes so far. People remember how you make them feel.”

You’ve had a setback? That’s normal

Freelance writer and podcaster Jasmine Wallis knows to give her craft her all. But that doesn’t mean she’s exempt from the obstacles of doubt and imposter syndrome. I was taught by my parents to give things 110 per cent of your energy so that if someone doesn’t like you or your work, you know that you did everything you could,” she tells me. 

“If I’m feeling really down I just take a minute to look back on what I’ve achieved in the past and know that if I keep going I can create more opportunities for myself. I’m so lucky to have safety and security in them and definitely don’t take that for granted. My editors across different publications have taught me so much as well and every time they give me advice I soak it up like a sponge.”

Lean on those who’ve triumphed before you

It seems obvious, but we often forget to ask for help from the people who’ve done exactly what we’re aspiring to do. Fellow writer Kate Lancaster has accrued a trove of valuable connections in the Australian media landscape through building strong relationships with some of the best. 

“My former bosses (the good and truly awful) have all played a huge part in shaping the career I have today. I owe my first boss immeasurably for years of advice and guidance, which I do my best to pass on to the young journalists I work with.

“Less than stellar bosses have also been formative over the years, as observing them allowed me to apply valuable learnings to my own career. Your reputation is your most profitable commodity, so view every opportunity as potentially expansive – for your wallet, yes, but also for your skillset or your network,” says Kate. 

This is where leveraging the power of social media can be your greatest tool. Whether it’s through hashtag strategies or engagement growth, Fiverr’s social marketing freelancers are experts in this field. 

Please, acknowledge your success

Perhaps the most neglected topic of discussion in ‘making it’ as a creative is the associated guilt and shame around gloating about your accomplishments or basking in your achievements. When you’re sort of ‘going it alone’, it can feel isolating. You’ve overcome the losses, but who will share in your wins? Maybe it’s time to really lean into your self-promoting on Instagram or find a freelancer on Fiverr who can write a world-class email pitch for you. Go on about the stuff you’re proud of rather than dimming it down.

Photography prodigy Jess Brohier suggests you “own your achievements”. “I find this almost impossible myself, because of the ‘tall poppy syndrome’ here in Australia. I read something about this recently though, and am trying to make an effort to not be so humble, as funny as that sounds. No one likes a huge ego, but until you’re exactly where you want to be in your career, it makes sense that you’d lose opportunities if you stay quiet and downplay your skills and talent.”

For more expert tips on how to get your freelance career started, head here.

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