A freelancer's image is an important part of catching prospective clients' attention. Though not every freelancer wants to or should present his or her business in the same way, every freelancer needs to show a polished, professional image to the world. A professional freelancer presents the impression of someone who will do good work in a timely manner. Make sure your image is of someone people want to hire.
Get Business Cards
You never know when you'll meet a client. Writing your contact information on a coaster or a napkin looks extremely unprofessional. Buy business cards with a professional layout that fits your freelance business. You may think that in this age of digital technology you'll never use them, but you'll be surprised at how often you hand out your business cards. They're essential not only at networking events, where you'd expect to give them out, but in many other situations where you might not expect it.
Take Your Web Design Seriously
You need your own domain name, and your website should look clean and professional. Some blog templates look alright as websites, but a blog template is pretty easy to spot, even if it's clean. Spend a few dollars on a professional designer. Your site doesn't have to be complicated, and you can buy the design once and ask the designer to leave it so that you can make posts and edit pages by yourself.
Set up Your Voicemail
Lots of people leave the standard voicemail greeting when they set up their voicemail. Others leave a silly message for callers to hear. If you're like many freelancers and you use the same phone for business and personal needs, don't do either of these things. If you haven't done it yet, it's time to learn how to set up voicemail on a smartphone.
A simple voicemail greeting goes a long way in establishing your professional image. Keep it simple: "Hi, you've reached [First Name, Last Name]. Please leave me a message and a phone number so I can get back to you as soon as possible." Alter it to fit your business's needs, then practice. Record yourself saying the message. Listen to it, and change it if anything is wrong.
Have Professional Photographs Taken
Image via Flickr by mac.rj
Pay a professional photographer to take your photo, or nab a friend who's good with a camera. Just make sure you've got a professional head shot to upload to all your business accounts. You want a clean background (either a nature scene or a blank wall is perfect), your hair done nicely, and a plain shirt or top. If you strive to present a serious image, wear something more formal. If you're a bit funkier, a bright color is fine. You want the photo to look purposeful, and you want your face clearly visible.
Make Your Email Address Professional
Your freelance email should be simple and to-the-point. If you're using an email service that allows you to create an e-mail address at your domain name, then using your first name only is fine. When setting up through Gmail, Yahoo, or another popular site, some version of your first name and last name is appropriate. If your name is common and those options are taken, including a number at the end (not your birth year) or a word that describes your business (like "Writer" or "Photo") is appropriate.
Include Your Resume
You don't need to include a formatted resume on your website, but offer your qualifications where prospective clients can see them. A quick "About Me" sidebar with a few key skills or projects is perfect for the front page. Include more experience and a personalized statement about your work and your brand in an "About Me" page. Some freelancers choose to specifically include answers to the question "Why Should You Hire Me?" If you can offer that information without posing such an obvious question, that's the better option.
You do not need to create an image that looks like it belongs in corporate America. An artist or a creative writer may present a unique, creative face to the world. But all freelancers will benefit from appearing professional in key areas, assuring clients that their skills or services are a good place to invest money.