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  • Jenny Stallard

Do awards really matter when you're self-employed?

Updated: May 22

Do you enter awards for your business? Are you keen on winning them, do they bring a level of kudos to you and your brand? Do you like the feelings of winning awards?

Or are you the kind of person who shies away from entering - too nervous to even contemplate putting yourself forward?

It might be you're more in the middle, where someone nominated you, and you were put forward rather than entering yourself.

Whichever it is, there are pros and cons to awards as a freelancer or small business owner.

As the glitter from the Grammy's settles, and we gear up to awards season with Oscars and Brits, I have been reflecting on whether awards matter.

Do they actually bring in new business? Do they help your business grow?

Awards can open doors to new contacts and opportunities

Here's the first pro - it's not about the business growing so much as your visibility. Even going to the ceremony can be a great chance to network, as I've found when attending the IPSE Freelancer Awards. Being shortlisted can see your name, face and company name on a website of a large organisation, and that's no bad thing either!

Entering awards has helped me build relationships with larger and smaller freelance organisations, as well as connecting me with people who have become everything from a podcast guest to a good friend.

Entry forms can be long and time consuming

As I found out when gathering together data and stats for a particular award I went in for. It might feel like you're wasting time by filling out endless googleforms or creating PDFs about your business, and yes, of course, it does take time.

But the flipside of that is that I believe doing all that reflecting helps you see how far your business has come, what it's achieved and is good practice at bigging yourself up.

Awards categories can overwhelm and inspire

Many awards have various categories and you might struggle to see which you fit into. I've been wondering about this, with the upcoming entries for the Digital Women Awards.

The answer is to enter more than one - and this is another pro for me as it's sometimes revealing where you might feel you fit. It can challenge us to see categories that are outside of our comfort zone.

Losing isn't fun!

There's no avoiding the fact that not winning an award can smart. We enter to win, right? Well, I do, and it's important to own that, I think. I don't enter because I don't want to win!

Dealing with the 'feels' of losing out on an award can be a slow process, and losing can put us off entering any more awards. But I do also feel we have to be in it to win it, so entering more is just part of the great push and pull of freelance life.

Winning is something you can harness!

If you are lucky enough to win, you then need to think hard about how that can help your business. Is there a winner's logo or promo material you can share? Will the company who runs the awards offer you a chance to be interviewed? Once the award is yours, can you leverage it to reach out to new clients, or to upgrade your bios?

With awards, it can feel like we're being self-indulgent, but I do believe they are a key part of being self-employed. Entering awards is a good challenge to our comfort zone, and, when we are shortlisted or win, it's a huge boost!

We're never the only ones not to win, and that feeling of cameraderie between the non-winners is something that has also built friendships for me.

Awards in your niche, industry and industry are a way of saying to clients - old and new - that you excel at what you do, and that you care enough about your work to enter it.

Coaching can help with the confidence around awards and much more. Email to enquire about a Power Hour one on one to sort out those awards-based feels and more.

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