Personal branding is not a novel concept. It has been around for quite some time and while previously it was practiced by the top tier of society like celebrities and business moguls, with social media it is becoming more and more hip among the masses and rightly so. Personal branding opens many doors for you.
You can build your empire from just being yourself. Admittedly, you will need to manage your social media accounts well to ensure online presence and this might even require that you create your website but apart from that, it requires little input, monetary or otherwise to get you big business. Once you get your game on, clients will be approaching you, not the other way round.
Given that the freelance industry is booming, you can expect the competition to rise and when it does, personal branding will help you distinguish yourself from the rest ensuring that you prosper. If done right, you will reap great rewards in the long run. However, doing it right is usually the part many get confused at. If you’re one of these people, read on. We’ve compiled the complete guide to personal branding for budding entrepreneurs.
Before we jump in to how personal branding is done, it is important to understand what it really is.
To put it simply, it is the practice of marketing people and their careers as brands. It is about developing and maintaining an image and a reputation of an individual or even a group. It focuses on self-packaging. A great example of this is Kim Kardashian. Whether you like her or hate her, you have to admit she has got this thing down to a t.
Many times, people use their own names or pseudonyms for their businesses like Donald Trump, Jaclyn Hill, Gwyneth Paltrow with Goop, and more. But, it’s not just a name that you’re using. It’s is the whole persona associated with it and it works because people have a face to put on the company then. It creates the perception of authenticity which is a key indicator of if the branding is successful.
When your company is small and new to the scene, how do you build credibility? Simple, by lending it your face. If your company is centered on your area of expertise that is if you’re a writer, consultant, or marketer, then the concept probably comes naturally to you. But, it’s not limited to just these types of work. It applies to all types of businesses and is something you could really use to propel yourself to success.
Personal branding helps you distinguish your company from tons of other brands out there and build a loyal customer base. If not for this, you will find yourself struggling. After all, why should anyone care about you, there are tons of brands vying for their attention.
The only reason they may opt for your product or service is that they’ve built a connection with it. Or, rather you with them. The human psyche falls prey to us versus them ideas and while this can be a bad thing it has its perks for you. Once people relate to you and identify with your brand they will become loyal to it. People also like to follow people rather than companies. Fenty may have great products but people would not be following it if it weren’t for the face on it. Rihanna is who they’re following and if you put a face to your business you too can gain followers.
There is a multitude of reasons why personal branding should be at the top of your priority list.
It not only sets you apart by making you relatable, but it also establishes you as an authority on the matter over time. Setting a personal brand also makes it easier to get featured in media, TV, magazines, podcasts, etc. helping you reach the expert status. This all leads to you attracting more clients, not just quantity-wise but also quality-wise. It’s not just the clients but also other companies and other brands that will find you easier to approach making building a network that much easier.
The best part though is that you can charge premium pricing. You’re not a price taker anymore in the case, you can set your own price and charge higher than generic brands as your brand has more value them.
So, now that we agreed on creating a personal brand, how do you do it?
Building a personal brand is difficult. There’s so much you must articulate and put into words before you can even get the ball rolling.
Many people think a personal brand is about creating a persona, but it couldn’t be far from the truth. If you have to create one, then by definition it is a façade and façades break. The process demands that you look into yourself and learn who you are and then choose from it the image you want to project to the world. If the image you create is backed by your authentic self, it will endure.
Needless to say, having a strong foundation is important which leads us to the next part, how do build one.
Firstly, you must take inventory of what branding assets you already have. These include your skill and credentials, your passion and interests, and what are your core beliefs and what do you stand for or against. Once you’ve identified your assets, it’s time to put together the key elements that will be a part of your personal brand.
The key elements include:
The next thing to do is focus on who you want to appeal to. If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll simply end up becoming generic and unreliable to anyone.
Also, not everyone is your ideal client. To ensure you attract quality customers, you must first identify what your ideal customer is and then target them in your campaign. To do this, you must develop the profile of the ideal client. So, how do you do that? You must analyze which demographic group you want to appeal to, the age group, gender, income, relationship status, etc. Then, try answering what is their desired future, what are their dreams and goals. Next, determine what challenges they have, what are they struggling with and what stands in the way of achieving their goals.
To build a personal brand that is profitable you need to have a product to sell to your target audience. The product too must be packaged right. By telling your potential customer how it solves a problem or achieves their desired outcome, you make it appear irresistible.
The main focus should be on how it helps customers, not you. Sure feeling the need for a product and creating it makes sense, but you must also float your idea around and test to see if people find it interesting as well. This process will also help you understand what kind of audience responds well to.
Creating a website around your personal brand is not enough, the website should be able to make an impression on your target audience. How do you do this you ask? Well, get a little professional help to give it the professional look.
First, get a good logo that encapsulates what you stand for. This is the image that clients will associate with you so make sure it is impactful. Next, make sure that your value proposition, which talks about who you help and how is mentioned on your homepage in an in your face way. You have to make sure your visitors know off the bat what you do.
Pictures are worth a thousand words so use them. Get a photographer to take some for you and then use them throughout your site. You should also help the visitors connect with you with ease and for this, we’d recommend you include links to your social media pages.
To build authority, you should share all the articles where publications and satisfied customers are talking about you. Your visitors will perceive your site as legitimate and trustworthy this way. Make sure to also include a clear call-to-action to ensure they glide to the next part of the funnel or flywheel. Smart Ways to Optimize Lead Generation Engine can help you figure it out.
There, the basics are covered. Wait, though you’re far from done.
Apart from the homepage, you might also want to focus on the About Me page detailing how you entered the industry and what you do and have done, the page for products and services, and the contact page to make it easier for visitors to connect with you.
To add value to your site, you might want to get a good content strategy in place and develop blogs, videos, podcasts and the like to send your message to the people. If you’re looking for ideas, we think you’ll find 10 Killer Content Marketing Ideas an interesting read.
Now, you must decide which platform you will use to send your message to your audience. This largely depends on which platform your audience already uses. If they are older people that are rarely on the internet, you might want to reach them offline. If the majority of your audience uses net you must ask which platform they use more. Facebook or Twitter or Instagram? There are a number of platforms now. You might want to maintain a presence on two, three or more platforms. Once you do that you can design content.
The key question you should ask yourself is what information you need to share on the platform, what is your unique selling point, and which medium will you use. Do you want to text or more pictorial content? What is the tone of your content?
A good source of inspiration can be your competitors. See what they’re doing, where are they excelling and where do they lag so you can create the best of content. Don’t get carried away and copy them, however, you would do well in learning from them. You might also want to read How New Entrepreneurs Can Do Content Marketing More Efficiently.
The next thing to do is to develop a social media strategy.
Some platforms by design are great for personal branding like LinkedIn. It lets others know what your professional accomplishments are, where you studied, what’s your work history, etc. If you’re into B2B marketing, this can be the ultimate platform for you to make an impact. Write short articles to prove your expertise on the subject. They are great for increasing visibility.
For life and style blogs, Pinterest is the place to be. They are a rather unobtrusive way to get onto people’s phones and sway their opinion. Similarly, Twitter has its own perks. The way Wendy’s handles its account is amazing. They have managed to create a rapport with customers and established itself as someone who knows how to roast. They often take digs at their competitors which are so interesting that they get retweeted over and over. Each platform though is different and you must develop strategies that best fit them. Proven Ways to Grow Your Social Media Audience can help you out.
There you go, you are ready to launch your brand to the world. A word of advice though, don’t get too critical or political. Not everything needs to be shared. There, that’s it. All you need now is a good internet connection like CenturyLink to get the word out. Entrepreneurship is hard, but if you’re smart about it, it won’t be. Build a reliable personal brand and the rest will follow!
Robert J. Smith is an MIS with vast experience and research on personal and home security tech and gadgets. He also writes on WOW TV. He is an MMA Fighter and Technology enthusiast with a will to act. Tech Writer and Researcher with a flare to review the latest security tech and gadgets