Whether you’ve heard of ‘personal brand’ or not, the truth is that you already have one.
Personal brand simply means your reputation.
How you are perceived in the eyes of others.
What people think and say about you when you’re not around.
And in 2018 it’s not just what people are saying about you when you’re not in the room that matters. It’s what people are saying about you online. Or in some cases, what they’re NOT saying.
So, let’s dive in!
If you’re in a service industry, you can bet your bottom dollar that people are doing two things when they are researching who it is that they want to work with.
One, they’re looking for recommendations online and through their network as to who is the best, or the go to person, in their field.
And (or) two, once they have a shortlist or a person in mind, they are digitally interviewing them.
They’re checking out their social media profiles, they’re Googling their name and seeing what comes up.
They’re checking you OUT thoroughly before they are EVER picking up the phone or sending you an initial enquiry email.
Of course, the two above apply ONLY if they don’t already have someone in mind. Someone they’re already connected to, who is delivering them awesome free content online via their socials and their emails and who is the obvious choice when they need someone that does what you do.
The bottom line?
You already have a personal brand online.
People are already checking you out, researching the best people in your field, checking out whether YOU are one of those people.
What does their search tell them?
Do you show up on the first page of Google when someone types in your name?
Are your social media profiles up to date, and do they paint a tidy picture of you?
Are you being consistent with the information you are putting out, and adding value to your followers?
Is your reputation solid?
Personal brand matters, whether you choose to focus on it or not.
In 2018, I recommend that you do.
So with all of that said, let’s dive into the what, why and how of personal branding in a little more detail, and give you some direction in terms of where the hell to start with it all.
What is personal branding?
Essentially, personal branding is the act of purposefully managing and optimising the way that you are perceived by others.
Sometimes, it’s confused with being a social media influencer – which it can be.
But, let’s get one thing straight. Personal branding is MUCH MORE than simply wanting to be famous on Instagram.
It’s for those who want to be a leader in their field.
The go-to person in their industry.
The top of their game.
And, most importantly, it’s for those who want to reap the rewards of everything that goes with just that.
What are the benefits of building your personal brand online?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.
In the absence of any other differentiator, your potential clients and customers will always decide on price. This is especially true in saturated, commoditised marketplaces.
The BIGGEST benefit of a strong personal brand?
NOT competing on price.
NOT competing with every other competitor in your industry.
NOT worrying about others in your niche because people don’t want a copywriter/social media manager/lawyer/(insert service here), they want YOU.
A really interesting thing happens when you build a strong personal brand.
Without meaning to sound at all arrogant or cocky – because, please trust me, that is not at all my intention – it is something that is happening in my own business.
Focusing on my personal brand has started to bring in a consistent, steady stream of dream clients.
Never once have I pitched for work, and yet I have a steady roster of clients and a wait list of new business.
It’s allowed me to charge what I am worth, and not discount in a race to the bottom.
The value of my services is higher than other ‘social media’ people because I am building a brand around knowing what I’m talking about (we’ll talk about the hows of doing that a little later).
It gives me credibility in a notoriously non-credible and flimsy, oversaturated industry, and presents me with opportunities like speaking, interviews and the like that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.
The list goes on, and I will cover my own personal story around this in a future blog and podcast.
So, how do you build your personal brand online?
How do you build a personal brand that secures you the credibility and ability to build your business on your own terms?
Here’s a few things to think about.
- Audit your space and niche down
The first step in building a strong personal brand is to take stock of your industry and look for opportunities.
If you haven’t already, now is the time really niche down into a specific segment of your industry to allow yourself to stand out.
It’s tough to stand out if you’re trying to compete and become known in digital marketing, for example.
But by niching down, you can become the go-to person in a smaller pond.
Take Amy Porterfield, for example. She’s an online marketing expert, but she’s built her personal brand around being the number one go-to person for online courses.
Same with Jon Loomer.
He’s known as the Advanced Facebook ads guy, he does that one thing really well and his personal brand is super robust as a result.
The first step in building a really strong personal brand is to niche down, and find a little corner that you can really shine in.
2. Set yourself apart
Once you’ve narrowed your focus and you’ve found a niche that you want to focus on, the next step is to set yourself apart.
This is the ‘brand’ part of building a personal brand, and it’s so critically important.
What do you want to be known for?
What sets you apart from other established people in the same space?
How are you going to be memorable?
For example, I was personally so tired of other social media people putting themselves up on a pedestal as ‘experts’ and telling you what you need to do.
I wanted to honestly document my own experiences.
To be smart and sassy in my copy.
To position myself not as an expert, but as someone just a few steps ahead.
By focusing on my brand at the very outset, I could craft content – which will come next – in a way that actively set me apart from what others were doing.
3. Produce amazing content
Building something great never comes easy, and a great personal brand and all of the perks that come along with it is no exception.
Stellar content is the fuel that will drive your personal brand.
In order to become a go-to person and thought leader in your industry, you need to consistently create super valuable content – written, audio or video – that helps people with their problems.
In most cases, you need to give your very best advice away for free.
Whilst others are concerned that giving their know how away will stop clients and customers coming to them, you need to develop an abundance mindset and know that the opposite is true.
That by giving away your best advice, people will start to see you as the person who know what they are doing and the person to go to when they need personalised advice, and step by step systematized information that will solve their individual problems.
Because that is INDEED what happens.
The keys here are value, and consistency.
You need to think about all of the questions that you’re asked by clients and customers, you need to survey your target audience on their needs and problems, you need to research the most shared how to and guide articles in your niche and you then need to take that information and produce valuable content on it.
And, you need to do it consistently. If you can manage once a week and your strength is writing, then you produce a good quality blog post every Tuesday.
If you’ve got a face for radio (jokes – what I actually mean is if you love talking – ie ME) and you can manage two podcast episodes a week, do that.
Want to jump on video and get it out of the way, but only able to commit to one a month? No worries, do THAT.
Just produce quality content that solves problems, and do it consistently – whatever that looks like for you.
4. Amplify it
It’s not enough to be posting vacuous, ‘for the sake of it’, post on social anymore.
Social media is noisy AF, and if you’re not really adding value, you won’t be noticed. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that you may as well not bother.
The biggest benefit of consistently producing high-quality content on a platform that you own is that you don’t have to worry about that.
You’ll have a steady stream of content to distribute on the social media platforms that your target audience is hanging out on – whether that be Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, LinkedIn, Instagram or WHATEVER.
Take snippets from your blog posts and stagger them out across several Instagram captions. Link to your current podcast on Facebook, as well as repurposing your old ones and redistributing them every now and then.
Upload your videos to YouTube as well as onto your blog and keyword optimise them so that they appear in search.
Having quality content to distribute on your social media channels is ultimately what will get you noticed and will be how you start to build a following around your personal brand.
You’ll start to build a community of people interested in what you have to say. Who will connect with you, and who you should then be socialising with and interacting with and developing relationships with.
These people will become your tribe, and they will start to recommend you to others.
Over time, your tribe will grow, and you will start to become the go to person in your industry.
When people Google your niche, your name will pop up.
When people Google your name, your content will appear and will show that you know your stuff.
When you post content, people will engage with it and new people will find you and you start to develop influence around what it is that you do.
And that, my friends, is how you build a personal brand online.
Your personal brand is something that exists whether you choose to focus on it or not. In this online world that we live, people are conducting digital interviews with you and others in your niche well before they ever reach out to you.
If you are strategic about managing and optimising the way you are perceived – by choosing a niche, producing valuable content consistently and amplifying it to the right people via social media – you can build a strong personal brand and be known as the go-to person in your space.
Building your personal brand online allows you to attract dream clients, work and opportunities.
What are you waiting for?