Ask A Freelancer #8: Five Reasons Personal Branding through Social Networking is Smart



I work as a web designer in a mid-sized design firm in Chicago. I love my job, but also have heard a lot about the importance of growing a “personal brand” using social networking tools. I think I would one day like to start my own design business, but RIGHT NOW I am happy with the job I have. Isn’t it kind of a waste of time to start blogging, using twitter, youtube, etc. if I am not actually doing freelance work?

– 9to5er

The idea of “personal brand” has to do with thinking of yourself as a unique part of your industry, and marketing your one-of-a-kind skills, style and personality as its own brand — and in my opinion, it is NEVER a waste of time to start growing one! Growing your personal brand through the use of social networking tools is something that can be beneficial in many ways, whether you are a freelancer or 9to5er, here are a few…

1. Just because you’re happy and secure at your 9to5 now does not mean you always will be. In the economy of today, layoffs have been widespread over many industries and if a sudden change in economic climate puts you out of a job, having well-laid foundation with your personal brand could give you a leg up in a competitive job market!

2. Future potential employers will look at your online profiles if you are applying for a staff position! This is the case for many industries nowadays, but especially in web design. Being a web designer, it is so important to be educated about emerging trends and technologies on the web and the only way to really understand these tools is to use them!

3. In addition to using social media tools to grow your personal brand, you will also be benefiting your current employer and current clients by educating yourself more about these tools!

4. If you hope to start a business in your future, make an investment in that future and start making your name known NOW. Building a foundation now will only help you when you do break out on your own. Buy your vanity domain name ( and secure your name on as many of the social networks as you can.

5. Blogging and social networking will help you connect with other in your industry, which can come in helpful if you need to relocate to another city, outsource a project, ask questions about software or code, get a design critique or business advice, or just to nerd out about a new font you just bought!  Your interactions with those in the design community will aid you in improving your skills at your 9 to 5 and you can make some awesome FRIENDS along the way!

What Do You Think?

These are just a few reasons why I see social networking as valuable to those in the design industry, maybe some of you disagree with me? Leave a comment and give me your thoughts on the matter!


  1. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with developing your own personal brand (it’s the smartest thing you can do). It’s not to say that you don’t value your company, but what if one day you decide to go solo? It’s going to be hard to separate yourself from the company and the brand you’ve been developing there.

    You can build both your brand and that of the company’s and do an excellent job rocking both (in my humble opinion).

  2. I think the 9to5er’s main issue is really revealed by the question itself. He (she?) thinks that blogging and other social networking tools are beneficial for doing business, but not for anything else. So I’m glad you brought up potential employers and improving skills.

    I’d like to add that if he starts blogging, tweeting, etc. just because he feels it’s necessary for work/business (and not for any other reason such as improving his skills or connecting with others), he might get tired of it easily and not get much from it in the end. Perhaps he should sort out his priorities, see if this is something that will benefit him both now and in the long run, and decide what to do from there.

  3. Richardo: great input, and so true. So many companies that have an understanding of how marketing and social media are changing will likely find you more valuable to them if you have a strong online brand – because YOUR brand power is associated with theirs!

    Madeline: It’s true. Staying actively involved and putting in the nessecary time and energy needed to actually GROW a valuable network is a lot of time and patience and if you don’t have your heart in it and you’re not really that interested in the connections you’re going to make then youre going to burn out and stop doing it. You see this a lot when people add blogs to their websites but havent updated them in 3 years.

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