There are many experts out there clambering to tell you the keys to successful branding— I am not one of them. I am, however, a creative entrepreneur who has learned the hard way that personal branding should be a priority. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of thinking that this work is only for businesses, and man, was I wrong about that. I spent a lot of time concentrating on my business when the smarter move would have been branding myself.
Don’t be like me.
Another thing I’ve learned is that we all have a personal brand whether we want one or not. It doesn’t go away just because you ignore it. We can choose to write our own story, or let others write it for us. Which one would you prefer?
Why Personal Branding is Important
Branding is the hot topic on the networks of the internet. It’s nearly impossible to ignore if you are an entrepreneur. But a lot of people think branding is more important for a business, and not for an individual. They also think that marketing and branding are interchangeable. I made these mistakes too.
When I first started my videography business, all I did was push my service. I would tell people about what I did, how I did it, what I used to do it etc. I even had a generic website where I put up previous work—but that’s as far as it went. As my business grew and I started to network with others in my field; I realized that other people had a true feeling behind their work. Visiting their online sites was like walking into their home, with a clear concept of who they were as an artist.
And herein, lies the difference between marketing and branding. “Marketing is what you do, branding is what you are.“
When you decide to work on personal branding, you are establishing yourself as an authority in that niche (or multiple niches). That gives you the ability to move fluidly within that industry. You can start multiple businesses, not just one. When you brand your business alone, you lock yourself into that company’s brand message—which isn’t always a bad thing but it doesn’t allow you the same versatility.
How To Start Off With A Strong Foundation
A developed brand tells your audience what you are about, it gives them a feeling, something tangible to remember about you. They wont remember that you sell an e-book that tells them how to make money online. They will remember your catchy name, the vibrant or moody colors of your website, or that super helpful video you made that explained why you wrote that e-book in the first place. It’s like that quote most of us have heard many times before:
“People wont remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”- Maya Angelou
A company can go through multiple re-brands (not an ideal situation, but it could), or you could decide to close that business and start another. You however, wont change, you are consistent. If people connect to you, then they will follow you along the way. This is why personal branding is incredibly important.
But how do you go about this in the best way? I believe there are slight differences between a personal branding strategy and a company branding strategy. Here are 5 tips i’ve come up with to get you started off on the right foot.
Identify what you are good at and what you are passionate about
The first thing you need to do when you are ready to work on personal branding; is to figure out what you want to brand yourself for. The easiest way to do that, is to think about what you are good at. If you are good at it, then it’s likely something you are passionate about and like doing. There’s no need in trying to brand yourself for things you don’t even like, that will just be a waste of time in the long run. I recommend starting a list of thinks that you are good at, and then making another list of things you are passionate about. Look at both lists and see what matches up. There may be some things you are good at that you aren’t really passionate about.
For example, i’m really good at typing, so much so that whenever someone hears me they have to make a comment about how they can’t believe my typing speed. But that doesn’t mean I want to become a receptionists or write books/articles about how to type faster. I’m not passionate about it, but i’m good at it.
Try to make your own list, and see what matches up!
Pick one (or more) social media platforms to display your work
Once you’ve determined what you want to brand yourself for, you need to figure out a platform to showcase it. Some will argue that it’s best to pick just one platform and get really good at that before moving on to anything else. I’m not opposed to this suggestion, but I also think it’s up to you what is best. I will say that your profession of choice will likely dictate what social media platform is best. Creative entrepreneurs usually have very visual work, and so we need a visual platform to really showcase what we do. In these cases I would suggest Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or Tumblr. If you are in business or finance, then linkedin or twitter would probably be best.
Once you’ve determined which social media platform(s) you’d like to use, try to get names that are the same or as close as possible. This way people won’t have a hard time finding you!
Make your personal style and online presence compliment each other
This is where you get into the work. The last thing you want to do is confuse potential clients. If your message is about uplifting others but when people meet you, you are down in the dumps—they will be confused. If you post a lot of pretty feminine images but in real life you are a little “edgy” — people will be confused.
Don’t confuse people.
Find a way to let your inner personality show in the work you create and what you showcase online. This way, it all makes sense.
Another reason why you should do this, is because your story is what makes you unique. We all are out here doing similar things, there are tons of writers, artists, filmmakers and business people. What makes us unique is our personality and life story. Allowing that to come into your work will set you apart.
Share content that reinforces your message
While you are busy making and developing your own content, it’s important to stay “in the know” about what is happening in your industry. It’s a good idea to share relevant information to your audience. This keeps you in the minds of those that follow you, and it reinforces your authority in that space. If you know what is going on in the industry, people can trust that you know what you are doing.
I’m a huge believer in collaborations and partnerships. None of us can get to the finish line without the help from others. So a considerable amount of your time should be spent keeping your eyes peeled for collaboration opportunities. They can be small collaborations or big ones, and they don’t always have to be with people in your field in order to make them successful. As long as you are doing work that you identified earlier (work that you are good at and passionate about) then it’s an excellent way to brand yourself!
Give Give and Give some more
One quick way to brand yourself in an industry is to give away free information. No matter what you choose to brand yourself in, there is information out there that you can give away for free. If you give people value with no strings attached, they will trust you later when you are ready to sell them something. This is because you’ve proven to them that you are serious about what you do, and therefore they can trust that they will get their money’s worth.
Personal branding can be an elusive topic, but it doesn’t have to be this abstract thing that we can’t quite figure out. Especially if you stay true to yourself, everything else will fall into place.
I hope you found value in the post, as always thank you so much for reading!