Four-pillar content, the trick creative freelance businesses need to succeed

5 min
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Your personal branding revival project for coming out of covid-19 is coming on strong.

You’ve got the ‘plan’ part of your content down; with your client avatar; categories, sub-categories and envisaged pieces, all primed to go.

But how do you actually ‘do’ the content itself? Well there’s four content pillars that are fundamental to success.

And in this second edition of this three-part personal branding series for FreelanceUK, I will explore all four, writes Laura Tejada (pictured on FreelanceUK's frontpage), a strategist in recruitment and retention, and the brains behind Start-Up School.

What is 4-Pillar Content?

The 4 pillars are the different types of content you can share to (subtly but ultimately), enrich your personal brand.

My recommendation is that you to try to share at least 1 pillar each day, and a video at least once a week. Don’t be daunted; we’ll come to video in a sec!

Ideally, you should set aside a morning to do this for the week ahead. But whatever you do, consistency with your content output is key. Don’t limp out into this -- and do get your content ducks in a row, so you know that you can stick to the schedule of a pillar per day. You need to regularly feed your followers with content, or the momentum just won’t build.

Pillar 1 -- Video

Yes, it’s the scariest for most of us mortals who are usually much happier spending time behind the camera! But fear not, because the ideal length for your video is only 1 – 2 minutes.

You can start by just introducing yourself. That’s a good 30 seconds gone already!

Top tip: Say you are nervous and that it is your very first video. People love first videos, as we all know how stepping out into the unknown feels!

So, people will support you. Just start with a basic video on mobile.

But if you want subtitles, use or Zubtitle, both of which I’ve used without issue. However, for most people, starting out simple and doing the very basic (without subs) is best. You want to remove as many hurdles as possible to post!

Thanks to self-judgement, which can be very cruel, you will put a lot of pressure on yourself to be perfect. Which there is no such thing. So, remember, authenticity is key. Humans relate to humans. So do not edit your stutters and ‘ums’ out. My most-liked videos are my most natural!

The bonus of video is people will suddenly see you as a person instead of just a freelance occupation (‘Independent, for-hire Digital Designer’) or more personable than just a business (‘Cutting-Edge, No Nonsense Media Consultancy’). Video makes you human!

When I started doing video, everything changed. My business relations went to a new level. And I promise you, it gets easier with time! I attracted those who wanted to work with me and repelled those who would have never wanted to use my service anyway. This alone -- a sort of sorting the wheat from the chaff, makes this video exercise worthwhile.

Ok, that’s no-need-to-panic pillar 1 out of the way.

Pillar 2 -- Long Form Story

No photos, no video. This is your written post. You’ll want to do this because of the genuine affection it generates.

Posts people love are: ‘My 3 top tips…’and ‘A behind the scenes look at…’

More classically, ‘A journey’ or ‘An achievement.’ And the LinkedIn darling of the moment during this coronavirus crisis, ‘Something I’ve learned.’

Whichever titles grabs you and relates to your experience, with a connection to the personal brand you want to emerge with post-pandemic, tell a story.

Perhaps reminisce. Or would you come alive more delving into something you are proud about? Maybe you’d be more comfortable forgetting the overly personal? How about picking up something going on the other side of the world, which changes your view of things? Again, due to the pandemic, the latter is likely to win you a lot of clicks.

These long-form stories can be very relatable which makes them very shareable. So they’re definitely worth your time, craft and consideration.

Pillar 3 -- A Call to Action

Now for the other end of the content spectrum! This is a simple post, not heavy on words and absent of opinion and, note; it may not even get much engagement!

Fret not, the aim is to just say what you do, how quickly you can do it; what it tends to cost and /or how people can contact you. Many freelance people, despite working for themselves, never do this!

You may be a specialist in ‘x’, ’y’ and ‘z’ with thousands of followers, but those last few hundred of followers you got; do they know you do ‘y’ only on a Tuesday? Or is ‘y’ easier now because you’ve partnered up with another talented freelancer? And do your oldest 50 connections definitely know that, during this covid-19 crisis, you’re offering ‘z’ at a discounted rate to charities and third-sector organisations for enquiries you receive after Thursday’s ‘Clap for Carers’ and before Friday midday?

You get my drift. Your profiles’ followers need to know precisely what service you deliver; how much it will cost, how to get in contact with you and, crucially, where you have the edge. That’s pillar 3 sorted.

Pillar 4 -- Social Proof

Similar is pillar 4. So, if you have any reviews or recommendations, you should screenshot them and share at least one, once a week, in a post where you outline why you do what you do, or how it makes you feel. This evidences your motivations, passions and inspirations and shows, objectively, that you can deliver the freelance service that you say you can.

If you are lacking in recommendations, start by giving them yourself to people you have worked with. They may give you one back, or if you ask them, they will much more likely want to make you feel that lovely warm feeling in return! So go and share the love.

Final thought

Congratulations! You’ve now set up 4-pillar content, at least in your mind! Get creating, because in part 3 we’ll reveal what freelancers absolutely need to have in tip-top shape before any such content ought to be shared: personal and professional profiles like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Until then!

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