When it’s on you to book your own clients, it can be tough to balance your time between working to land a client and, you know, actually doing your work. It’s easy to feel like you’ve taken on a sales role that you never asked for (and that no one ever taught you how to do 😬).

Luckily, social media makes it really easy to maintain a living portfolio and give prospective clients a chance to get to know you before you ever connect irl (or over Zoom). But it’s not as simple as sharing your latest work on Instagram and waiting for clients to flood your DMs—if you want to use social media as a tool to draw in clients, you need to use it strategically.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing simple strategies for optimizing your social media presence to land clients.

My number one simple strategy to optimize your social media in order to land a client is to establish a personal brand.

How will branding help me land a client?

A solid personal brand is like music in a movie: if it’s good, the audience won’t even notice it’s there. Branding—no matter how basic—creates consistency, professionalism, and a sense of polish on your socials, which are precisely the qualities clients are looking for in their next hire or commission. This is also true if you’re running an online store, and even if you’re just plain job hunting.

You do not need to shell out thousands for a trendy logo, full color palette, and custom font faces (unless you want to, I guess—you do you!). Here are three key components of branding that you can leverage to level up your socials:

1. A consistent name and description

If you’re like me, you wear a lot of different hats. In order to zero in on the right audience and stay consistent across channels, you need a consistent name and description for your “brand.”

Your name could be your name, your business’s name, or even your handle—just make sure it’s something you’re comfortable and confident projecting everywhere, from your emails to your invoices.

Your description should be one or two lines that concisely identify what you do, for whom, and why. For example, I’m a content writer & social media strategist who helps creatives and solopreneurs elevate their online presence. Boom! You can use this descriptor in your bios, email intros, website footers, and maybe even to explain to your Grandma what exactly it is that you do for work.

2. Three personality traits

Now it’s time to get strategic! Your brand personality traits are three identifiers that shape all your communications, from your tone in your Instagram stories to the tone in your pitch emails.

Your brand personality should align with the work you’re hoping to get hired for, and it should also align with the types of clients you’re trying to attract. If you’re a photographer looking to get commissioned for fashion and editorial work, your brand should be stylish and glossy, even if you aren’t always as stylish and glossy as you’d like in real life. The nice thing about your brand personality is that it’s aspirational: it doesn’t have to align perfectly with your actual human personality.

To give another example, if you’re a graphic designer whose style is bold, energetic, and boundary-pushing, it’s ok to be bold and enthusiastic in your communications. In fact, it’s a great way to attract like-minded clients who vibe with your style.

3. Three brand colors

That’s it. Three colors. That’s all you need to create a sense of visual consistency and help your audience recognize your presence immediately. Ideally, these should tie in with your brand’s personality traits—for example, if your brand is bold and energetic, your colors should be equally bold and energetic. Make sure they look good together, and make sure you like them, because you’re going to see them a lot!

Pro tip: save the hex values somewhere handy so you can pop them in anywhere at a moment’s notice.

Bonus tip: Let go of perfectionism

It’s easy to want to get something as important as your personal brand perfect on the first try. But here’s the reality: you probably won’t. It’s better to have consistent, simple branding that isn’t “perfect” than to spend hours of working time trying to concoct the perfect color combination, especially if you’re in DIY mode. Once you land a client (or two, or three) you’ll have the time and resources to revisit and level up your brand.

Written by Erin Bensinger

I’m a freelance content writer & social media strategist whose passion is helping small businesses connect with their audiences.