January 15, 2010

Should you market a brand or your own name as a freelancer?

I’m a freelancer, among other things. I do freelance design and write as a freelancer. It is working out well enough for me, after all it lead to my first book and I’ve got more work offers than I can possibly say yes to. All that can change in a heartbeat, which is one of the reasons I love being my own boss. I’m not cut out to work 9 to 5, and I get bored if I’m not constantly challenged.

One thing I have debated endlessly with myself, however, is wether I should market myself as a brand or use my own name. Obviously I’m not alone in this, this thread on the FreelanceSwitch forums tells me others are struggling with this as well.

I went with my name in the end. The reason for this is simple enough, I got into international blogging (which quickly became freelancing) that way, and then it just escalated to design and whatnot. Before I knew it my name was the brand, and I figured that was a good way to keep interest in my services going.

All that is true.

However, today I’ve got more offers than I can say yes to, and the gigs I do take on are the ones I really like. Getting to this point have been quite a ride (more on that some other time), and I think the fact that I’ve used my name from top to bottom have helped.

The problem is, if I had used a brand instead, it would be a lot more natural to outsource the work I’m turning down and hence being able to take the gigs, share the money with other freelancers, and get the work done under the brand name.

Or to nail it down: I could’ve used my established brand as the basis for a design agency, had I gone down that route.

Which is better? Right now I wish I had gone with the brand approach rather than relying on my name since it would’ve been interesting to use my fairly extensive network and roll out a design agency brand. Then again, maybe I hadn’t gotten this far without pushing myself the way I have, although I have never been my biggest supporter, others have which I’m tremendously grateful for.

So is the door closed for me? Of course not, if I really want to I can turn this around and start a design agency that can still lean on the Thord Daniel Hedengren brand. It just takes some more work.

I will tell you this though. As a designer I feel that a brand would’ve been a better idea. I don’t think I would have been less successful if I had rolled a brand rather than my own name from the start, or at least early on. But that is as a designer, as a writer there is no way to outsource your work, which means that you obviously should rely on your own name rather than a brand when it comes to writing.

But that goes without a saying, right?

Thoughts? Let @tdh know on Twitter, or find me elsewhere. There is also a newsletter.