Freelance Writers: Marketing With Your Name Vs. A Brand Name

Here's a question I hear a lot from freelance writers:
 
Should I market myself as a person with just my name, or should I try to build a brand for my business?
 
The answer, in my experience, is a clear one.
 
Marketing yourself as a person is far more effective than trying to stand behind the logo of a faceless brand.
 
How do I know that? Because I’ve tried both.
 
My Story: Starting with a Brand

Before I jump into the story, let me clarify my business goals.

I'm working as an individual, and I don't have employees (nor do I plan to.) I'm a one-lady operation, and I like it that way.

However, if you plan to grow your business beyond yourself (hiring a team, etc.), this probably doesn't pertain to you...and a brand makes a whole lot more sense. If you plan on staying a solo like me, then keep reading.
 
My story:

When I first started freelance writing, I was marketing myself as a brand (Lumen) that offered a wide variety of services—social media management, writing services, and graphic design.

Keep in mind that this was before I niched down.
 
And while my picture was on the ‘About’ page, the majority of the site focused on the brand itself—the logo, the color scheme, and brand messaging that pivoted around the name of the brand (Lumen: Shining a bright light on your business.) Clever, right?
 
Maybe so—but it wasn’t very effective. There were some issues with this approach:
 
By marketing my services as a brand, I was missing the opportunity to connect and build relationships with others as an actual human woman.
 
What I quickly learned was that those who were hiring service-providers (like me, a freelance writer) wanted to work with individuals with a name and face they knew—not necessarily a brand.
 
The faceless brand also made it hard to connect with people on social media.
 
When I posted from the Lumen accounts, people couldn’t figure out who I was—and the following never really grew. My theory is that people like to talk to other people on a regular basis, not businesses or brands.

Do you want to tweet back and forth with your favorite logo? Maybe if they’ve made you mad or surprised you with amazing customer service—but probably not on a regular basis.
 
I realized the brand name wasn’t working, so I decided to try a new approach.
 
The Transition to Kaleigh Moore, Freelance Writer

To re-introduce myself, I had a new website built that used my name and was niched down to offering only writing services for SaaS and eCommerce clients. No logo—just my name, photo, and customer-focused language that promoted my value proposition.
 
I also let the Lumen social media accounts fall to the wayside and started using my personal social media accounts instead. You know, the ones with my face as the profile picture that made me easily recognizable.
 
What happened?

I got hired more often. Referrals came more easily.

I was able to better target my dream clients, and there was less confusion around who I am and what I do.
 
Now, this wasn’t because using my name and face had some magical powers: I worked hard to get published in places where my ideal clients look for expertise (places like Copyhackers, SumoMe, Entrepreneur & Inc. Magazine.)
 
The difference was: People remembered and connected with me as a person far more than they did with a brand name.
 
So what’s the lesson here?
 
Brand names and logos are great, but in my experience as a freelance writer, you’re better off marketing yourself with your real name and face.

People want to hire other people in most scenarios—the brand or business doesn’t really matter that much to them.

What do you think? Feel differently? Wrestling with this question yourself? Tweet me @kaleighf and tell me about your experience.

This article originally appeared in my newsletter, A Cup of Copy. Sign up and get these free tips sent right to your inbox every other Wednesday.