Salespeople have understood the importance of the know/like/trust factor for decades. In the age of social media, it is as vital as ever –, especially for freelancers and consultants.

Building a presence online is key to getting your name out there, which leads to you being known, liked, and trusted by potential clients. Once you’re trusted, you’ll be hired – but first, clients need to know you and your personality.

I know the thought of building a visible online brand is just plain scary for many people. Maybe your thought process is something like this: I mean, what I am supposed to say? Why would people listen? What you’re asking me to do is like climbing Mount Everest. Wait, I think I would prefer to climb Mount Everest than to do this.

I’ve heard it all before, but the fact is starting a business is not easy! It is like climbing Mount Everest!

The reason why you hate the idea of building an online brand is you’d rather not be visible. You’d prefer to hide. But if you aren’t visible, how do you expect people to find and hire you? If you are not prepared to be seen, then why are you playing at being a freelancer, coach, or consultant? If you’re “in business” without being visible, you don’t have a business – you have an expensive hobby.

Some people have told me they want to puke every time they hit the “publish” button on a new blog or social media post. I’d love to say you only have to do it once and the whole world will be watching, but that’s not true. To be visible, you have to be consistent. The ability to keep hitting “publish,” the ability to keep getting your message out there, is key.

If you hate the idea, that doesn’t really matter. If you want clients chasing you, you simply need to be visible. That’s all there is to it.

Building the Know/Like/Trust Factor

People need to know who you are, and that you’re worth listening to. High-quality content that grabs attention is the first step to building a visible, trustworthy reputation.

Here are my 10 tips for building your personal online brand to attract the right clients:

1. Understand Your Audience

Make sure you’re clear on who your target audience is. Then, develop content that is specific to their needs. Your goal is not to get everyone to like you; the only opinions that matter are those of potential clients.

2. Share the Right Content With Your Audience

The content you share with your prospects needs to be interesting and valuable. It needs to be worthy of their time.

3. Testify to Your Expertise

Don’t just give your opinion – establish your authority in your field. Write a book, create your own blog, publish articles, get your own YouTube channel, and put yourself forward for public-speaking opportunities.

4. Encourage Your Audience to Share Your Content With Their Own Networks

This will dramatically increase your reach. As your content spreads, more and more people will get to know you, like you, and trust you.

5. Give Something Valuable Away for Free

Everyone loves getting something for nothing. The more valuable the freebie, the more people will talk about it, and the more interested they will be in what you have to offer. Your freebie should be easy to access, and it should solve a problem. Good ideas include an eBook, a webinar, a free coaching session, or a workshop.

6. Be Authentic

You don’t want to come across as a robot; you need to inject personality into your content. Never badmouth competitors. Share your experiences and the lessons you’ve learned. Be passionate. Put your face to your name. Use a professional picture of yourself on all your social media platforms so people recognize you.

7. Build Relationships

Have conversations with people. Reply to comments. Thank people when they like or share your content. Engage with influencers in your field. Encourage comments and ask questions to cultivate interaction.

8. Be Consistent (and Consistently Good)

If you’re consistent, your audience will grow to expect valuable content from you. They will actively look for your insights. You can’t post content every day and then take a break for a month when things get busy. This will damage your credibility.

9. Share Testimonials

If you don’t already have a list of testimonials from former clients, ask for them! It’s easy to do, especially on LinkedIn. Let your past clients vouch for you by sharing their experiences with you. Testimonials work because they are not sales pitches, but are instead unbiased views of how you have solved real problems. They are proof that you can help your audience.

10. Give a Guarantee

Once you have gained the know/like/trust factor, your audience will be ready to hire you. Make hiring you as risk-free as possible for them. Offer a free consultation, trial, or money-back guarantee.

Don’t feel overwhelmed. Start by thinking about whether you are cultivating the know/like/trust factor. If your prospective clients are choosing competitors over you, you may need to go back to basics and start with the “know” part of building your personal brand.