7 Steps to Build a Personal Brand as a Freelancer
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Define your unique value proposition
  2. Identify your target audience
  3. Create a professional website and portfolio
  4. Establish your online presence
  5. Network with industry professionals
  6. Maintain consistency across all platforms
  7. Measure and adjust your strategy

Embarking on a freelance career can be exhilarating, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. One of those is building a personal brand—something that lets the world know who you are, what you do, and why you're great at it. This is especially true if you're a freelance illustrator. But don't worry! We've got your back. Here are seven steps to help you build a strong personal brand as a freelance illustrator.

Define your unique value proposition

First things first: you need to define your unique value proposition. This might sound a bit fancy, but it's actually quite simple. Your unique value proposition is what sets you apart from other freelance illustrators. It's what you do best, or differently, and it's what will make clients choose you over someone else.

Here's how you can do it:

  • Identify your strengths: Are you particularly good at a specific style of illustration? Maybe you excel at creating engaging characters, or perhaps you're a wizard with watercolors. Whatever it is, pinpoint it.
  • Determine what you love: Passion often leads to excellence. If you truly love what you do, it will shine through in your work. So, identify what it is about illustration that you love most.
  • Understand your clients' needs: To provide true value, you need to understand what your clients need. Are they looking for quick turnarounds, or are they more concerned with high-quality work? Once you've identified this, you can tailor your services to meet those needs.
  • Combine these elements: Now that you have all the pieces, it's time to put them together. Your unique value proposition should combine your strengths, your passion, and your ability to meet your clients' needs. This will form the foundation of your personal brand as a freelance illustrator.

Remember, building a personal brand as a freelance illustrator is all about authenticity. So, make sure your unique value proposition truly reflects who you are and what you can do.

Identify your target audience

Next up: identifying your target audience. As an illustrator, your work could appeal to a wide range of people. But when it comes to building a personal brand, specificity is key. You want to know exactly who you're trying to reach. Is it children's book publishers? Advertising agencies? Independent authors? You decide.

Here's how to identify your target audience:

  • Consider your skills and interests: Let's say you're a whiz at creating whimsical, colorful illustrations. Your target audience could be children's book publishers or toy companies. On the other hand, if you're adept at creating edgy, thought-provoking pieces, you might target magazines or graphic novel publishers.
  • Research potential clients: Once you've identified a possible audience, do your homework. Learn about their needs, their challenges, and how your illustrations can help them. This will help you refine your target audience and tailor your brand to them.
  • Look at successful illustrators in your niche: See who their clients are, and what kinds of work they're doing. This can give you a good idea of who your target audience might be.

Remember, your target audience will play a major role in shaping your personal brand as a freelance illustrator. So, take the time to get it right. And don't be afraid to adjust as you go along. Building a personal brand isn't a one-and-done deal—it's an ongoing process.

Create a professional website and portfolio

So, you've got a clear understanding of your unique value and you've identified your target audience. Now, it's time to showcase your work. Having a professional website and portfolio is like having your very own online art gallery. It's a place where potential clients can see your talent in action.

Here are a few pointers to consider when building your website and portfolio:

  • Keep it simple and clean: Your illustrations should be the stars of the show. Avoid clutter and complex designs that could distract from your work. A clean, minimalist design often works best for an illustrator's website.
  • Showcase your best work: This may seem obvious, but make sure you're showing off your best pieces. Don't feel the need to include everything you've ever created. Choose the pieces that best represent your style and skills.
  • Include a bio and contact information: Your website should include a short bio that tells visitors who you are and what you do. And don't forget your contact information! Make it easy for potential clients to get in touch with you.

Remember, your website and portfolio are key to building a personal brand as a freelance illustrator. They're not just a place to display your work—they're the place where your personal brand comes to life.

Establish your online presence

Alright, your website is up and running, showcasing your excellent illustrations. Now, it's time to extend your reach beyond your website and establish a strong online presence. Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn can be powerful tools for freelancers. They allow you to connect with potential clients, other professionals in your field, and even fans of your work.

Here's how to go about it:

  • Choose the right platforms: Not all social media platforms will be a good fit for your brand. As an illustrator, visual platforms like Instagram or Pinterest might be more beneficial for you. Invest your time and effort where your audience hangs out.
  • Be active and engaged: Social media isn't just about posting — it's about interacting. Respond to comments on your posts, engage with your followers' content, and don’t shy away from starting conversations.
  • Share your work... and your process: Posting your finished pieces is great, but don't forget to show your process too. This can give people a fascinating insight into your work, and it can also help establish your authenticity and dedication to your craft.

Remember, establishing an online presence is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time and consistency. But the rewards — increased visibility, connections, and potential clients — make it a crucial step in building a personal brand as a freelance illustrator.

Network with Industry Professionals

Alright, you've defined your value, identified your audience, built a snazzy website, and established your online presence. Now, it's time to shake some digital hands and rub some virtual shoulders. Networking is a key component when building your personal brand as a freelance illustrator.

Why so? Well, industry professionals can offer advice, give you constructive feedback, refer clients, and even collaborate on projects. Plus, it's always nice to have friends who understand the joys and struggles of freelance life.

So, how can you network effectively? Here are some actionable tips:

  • Join online communities: There are plenty of forums, Facebook groups, and online communities where illustrators and freelancers hang out. Find a few that resonate with you and become an active member.
  • Attend virtual events: Webinars, workshops, and online conferences can be a great place to connect with others in your field. Plus, you get to learn something new — double win!
  • Reach out directly: If there's someone whose work you admire or who you'd like to collaborate with, don't hesitate to reach out. A polite, genuine message can open doors you never knew existed.

Remember, networking isn't about taking — it's about building genuine, mutually beneficial relationships. So, be generous with your time, your knowledge, and your encouragement. Who knows where these connections might lead?

Maintain Consistency Across All Platforms

Let's talk about consistency. No, not your morning oatmeal consistency, but your brand's consistency. In the same way you might prefer your oatmeal to be perfectly creamy every morning, potential clients and followers prefer your brand to be consistent in its messaging and design across all platforms.

Imagine this: You're scrolling through Instagram and stumble upon a freelance illustrator's profile. You love their work, so you decide to check out their website. But wait a minute, the style is completely different, and even the logo doesn't match. It's like expecting creamy oatmeal and instead getting a bowl full of lumps — not a pleasant surprise, right?

Here's what you can do to ensure your brand consistency:

  • Use the same logo and name: Whether it's on your website, Instagram, LinkedIn or business card, make sure your logo and name are the same. This way, people will immediately recognize you wherever they find you.
  • Stick to your color palette and fonts: Choose a set of colors and fonts that represent your brand and use them consistently. This will help to create a cohesive visual identity.
  • Consistent messaging: Your brand is more than just visuals. It's also about your values, your voice, and the message you convey. Make sure that this stays consistent across all platforms as well.

Remember, consistency is key in building a personal brand as a freelance illustrator. So, take the time to create a consistent brand, and you'll be well on your way to standing out from the crowd.

Measure and Adjust Your Strategy

Building a personal brand as a freelance illustrator is a bit like baking a cake. You can follow a recipe to the letter, but sometimes you might need to make adjustments depending on your oven or the humidity in your kitchen. Similarly, in your personal branding journey, you might need to tweak your strategy based on the response you're getting.

Here's how. First, let's talk about measuring. It's not about getting out the tape measure, but rather about tracking your progress. There are loads of tools out there that can help you do this, from Google Analytics for your website, to Instagram Insights for your social media account. They'll give you a bunch of numbers, but what do these numbers mean? Don't worry, you won't need a math degree for this.

  • Website visitors: Are more people visiting your site? If so, it means your visibility is increasing, and your SEO efforts are paying off.
  • Engagement: Are people liking, commenting, and sharing your social media posts? This shows that your content resonates with your audience.
  • Conversion: Are visitors to your site taking the action you want them to take? For instance, are they booking a consultation, buying a print, or signing up for your newsletter? This is a key indicator of the effectiveness of your brand strategy.

If these numbers are not where you want them to be, don't panic. Remember, building a personal brand as a freelance illustrator is a marathon, not a sprint. It's about making consistent efforts and adjustments based on your measurements. Maybe you need to tweak your website design, or perhaps your social media posts need a bit more pizzazz. Keep experimenting, and you'll find what works best for you.

If you're interested in taking your personal brand as a freelancer to the next level, don't miss the workshop 'Staying Inspired As A Freelance Illustrator' by Kissi Ussuki. This workshop will not only help you stay inspired, but also provide you with valuable tips and techniques to enhance your personal brand as a freelance illustrator.