Attracting your dream clients in the freelance economy
Female entrepreneur and branding expert, Scarlett Vespa chats to She Does This about finding the perfect clients as a freelancer
SDT: You’re known as ‘The Human Brand Futurist’. What’s your career background and what lead you to the work you do now?
SCARLETT: I started out in film and TV and found my passion for the media I love to work in – video. After 8 years working with Disney and bigger production companies I decided to focus on advertising where I loved that I could work in video/film and be part of the corporate world of business. I was one of the first female directors and it was truly a man’s world at that time, so getting gigs was tough but I had a great run in work and managed to make a name for myself as a good female producer/director.
I got married and had a son and ten years later found myself a single mum finding it hard to get work that didn’t impact my time with my son. I was offered a role as Head of Broadcast and took it thinking my creative life was over, but it was quite the opposite – six years there was my most creative time.
The turn came then when the agency lost the account and I found myself in a very male dominated culture
and I had to go it alone. I started my own business with a partner and within 12 months found myself realising that my passion was personal development and it was time to bring those interview skills in front of the camera. I travelled to the US with a TV Show idea which unfortunately didn't work out. I ended up losing everything and having to start again.
For someone who always got work, I had none for 12 months. The universe forced me to ask the question ‘who am I if I’m not my job’. The question changed my life and I realised that no matter what I do, if I trust my decisions, realise my value – my path will be shown.
My personal brand work took off as I had spent this time seeing what was working online and realising that people weren’t knowing how to express themselves in a way that was sustainable and successful. I found the most important asset was adaptability and that is what I help my clients find.
Two years ago, I realised there was nothing for over 40 women and felt compelled to start having authentic conversations about what it meant to be a woman, to have fears about getting older.
The Event Mrs V Shift emerged and as it’s grown, it’s become more about agelessness and self-confidence for ALL ages of women.
SDT: How important is having a personal brand? Is it important to have a personal brand even if you work within a large corporation?
Everyone has a personal brand, you walk it, you talk it, you speak it in everything you do. It’s your values, your story, your beliefs and your goals all wrapped up into YOU. I love the word brand, I practice shamanism and the basis of that culture is about finding your totem, the essence of yourself and using that as your protection and power.
When we get clarity on our WHY, our strengths and most importantly our ‘perceived’ weaknesses become apparent. This is where we find our gold.
In small businesses, the owner is the foundation of the business and all their WHY’s and values are rolled up in that business. In larger organisations, the DNA of that business is carefully articulated in the language, the look, feel and behaviour of that brand in its campaigns and staff.
A great example of the founder still owning the values of a large organisation is Richard Branson and Virgin – rare but a great example.
SDT: What key factors should we be thinking about when building our own brands in the freelance economy?
SCARLETT: In the next 15 years nearly 50% of jobs will be gone, we are growing a world of entrepreneurs and that means employers are looking for innovation and thought leaders. There's no more hiding and the more you can showcase those ‘human’ qualities, the more you’ll show your value. Artificial intelligence is going to take most automated jobs, so that is why innovation, creativity and leadership will rule, so start looking for ways to re-shape your skills and look for opportunities to step into a role that is futureproof.
SDT: For women who are freelancing in their field, what sort of difference can strong branding make when attracting clients?
SCARLETT: Cutting through the noise is tough today, you have to make an impression almost instantly to be seen or heard. HOWEVER, I do believe there is something stronger coming into play. As the world gets faster, so is the ability to absorb things quicker, seeing through people faster and so you have a better chance to showcase your AUTHENTIC and UNIQUE offering because of that.
People are craving connection and something that is real and different – so if you can talk to your audience about YOU, your story, your unique way of solving problems, relieving their pain – you’ll reach someone.
You want to be known for your passion for helping society – showing that you recognise you are part of something bigger than yourself.
Trust and data is new currency, so knowing how to demonstrate trust is something that should be part of your strategy with talking to potential clients. Offering free tips, free 15 min chats about what you can do for them, free webinars, blog posts – giving them content so they get to know you and TRUST you.
Be consistent in your branding, it shows that you understand that’s important in a business, you build trust and confidence in your fans and potential clients. Oh, and dress well!
SDT: Finally, if we’re stuck, how can your services help us build our own brand that can help us attract clients?
SCARLETT: My superpower is that I’m able to see people’s blocks and then turn those blocks into gold. Our obstacles are a wonderful way of showing us what makes us ‘us’. For example, Mark Zuckerberg never felt accepted into clubs, so he created Facebook.
If we see the parts of ourselves we don’t like including our obstacles as gifts, we can build a strength in our brand and business that we’ve never had before. That's my first step in my branding process, then I work with uncovering the truth of your purpose and passion and bring that to life with everything you need to start your business. Templates for presentations, emails account set ups, signature artwork. I see myself as an artist that creates a very unique business from start to finish. It can be a very daunting place for people and I pride myself on building a launch pad for my clients to start a successful and sustainable life.