What makes you unique?
Many people struggle to find an answer to this simple question. Those who have the answer always seem to be ahead of the curve, especially once they figure out how to use their uniqueness to their advantage. Your uniqueness is what lies beneath your personal brand.
But what is a personal brand, and how do you go about branding your own self? You might have heard Jeff Bezos’ famous quote that says, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Personal branding isn’t much different from company or product branding. Your main purpose here is to develop a desirable reputation and build a loyal audience or clientele — be it online or offline.
Creating a personal brand is a process. And if you don’t know where to begin, we’re here to help you figure it out. In this article, we’ll show you how to start building a personal brand and tell your story. But first, we’ll uncover what personal branding is and why exactly you need it.
- What is Personal Branding?
- Why Do You Need a Personal Brand?
- Getting Started With Personal Branding
What is Personal Branding?
Personal branding goes by different names such as self-promotion, individual branding, etc. All these titles refer to the same thing — establishing a desirable image or impression of the self in people’s minds.
Whether you want it or not, people make up a particular picture of you in their minds. They judge you based on your character traits, looks, actions, and, most importantly, their experiences with you.
You can think of personal branding as the way of developing and maintaining an image to promote yourself and communicate your value.
What comes to mind first when you hear about Kim Kardashian or Gary Vaynerchuk? Kim is a socialite and a reality show star, so we usually associate her personal brand with high fashion, beauty, and makeup. Gary Vee is a renowned social media guru who always has a good piece of advice. Besides, he catches attention with his specific manner of speaking and lexicon.
Do these two celebrities have anything in common? Yes! They have both succeeded in building personal brands that can’t be mistaken with any other. You might love or hate them, but what matters more is that you recognize them.
In short, personal branding is the process of intentionally building a reputation. This process implies managing your interactions with people and having a meaningful impact on others’ lives. Now that you know what personal branding is, let’s see why you need a personal brand.
Why Do You Need a Personal Brand?
Personal branding carves your reputation based on your personal or professional goals. When we say reputation, we mean one both online and offline. It’s your choice to decide whether to take control of how others perceive you or not. Take into consideration that having a personal brand may positively affect both your business and personal life by creating new opportunities for you.
You can’t build your personal brand if you don’t know why you’re doing it. So, let’s quickly go through the main reasons you need a personal brand to exceed in your work, industry, or even personal life.
Do you know yourself? Your strengths, weaknesses, skills, values — these are the things that make you who you are. To build a personal brand based on the uniqueness of your character, first, you need to know what you are capable of and how you want to use your skills.
Take every opportunity to learn more about yourself. Identify your emotions in different situations and learn how to control them. When you are at the center of attention, you need to be in control of what you say, when you say it, and how. If you suddenly behave out of character in public (including on social media), it can quickly ruin the image you worked so hard to create.
Source: Daniel Goleman
When you take the time to search for answers and define what makes you unique, not only will you be able to build a strong personal brand, but you’ll also raise your level of self-awareness. And the latter is critical to living a fulfilled life.
Build Trust and Credibility
One of the main reasons you need a personal brand is to present yourself as a credible, dependable, and professional individual.
Of course, people won’t trust you right away; it takes time and consistency to build it. But a distinct and authentic personal brand will enable you to build much more meaningful relationships with employers and clients. When you confidently embrace what makes you special, people will automatically see you as more competent and trustworthy.
Look at Gary Vee’s brand, for example. As a person, he’s opinionated, outspoken, enthusiastic, and has found a way to incorporate those exact qualities in his personal brand.
Grow Your Network
The third obvious benefit of building a personal brand is the possibility of expanding your network — whether in your workplace or on social media. When you build your brand based on your true convictions and interests, you will attract like-minded people.
This works for both personal and business networks. When you define your fields of interest and begin to communicate with people within that field, you make connections that could be key to new opportunities.
Get New Opportunities
When you start building your brand and expanding your circle of connections, new people will start to notice you. So, whenever they have an opening position in your industry or a new project idea, your name will be the one to cross their mind, as your uniquely shaped personal brand will make sure you stand out among other candidates.
Before building your personal brand, make sure your previous posts don’t influence your today’s reputation. Remember that online oversharing can threaten your identity theft protection. That means it’s the right time to go back to your social media accounts and review what you’ve posted before.
Beat the Competition
And, speaking of opportunities, it becomes clear that you’ll have a competitive advantage over those who don’t have a personal brand to help them stand out.
Make sure you’re crystal clear and specific about the value that your brand can offer. Vague promises won’t impress anyone. When you’re clear about what you can bring to the table, those who need it find their way to you.
Leave a Positive Impact
Personal branding is all about developing your unique voice and willingness to share it. It’s not necessary to be a social media influencer to make your voice heard. You can do it in your own way that aligns with your niche industry.
A personal brand gives you the potential to influence people and leave a positive impact on your community in many ways and forms. Personal branding won’t be complete without a strong message and a greater cause to support.
One of the best examples is the famous PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg) who has long been topping the list of the most subscribed YouTubers. With the help of his followers, he supports numerous causes and charities, including the World Wildlife Fund and Save the Children.
A well-established personal brand is worth the effort. If you are successful in building it, you will create an image of an influential, confident person who knows his/her life goals and what (s)he can contribute to the world.
Getting Started With Personal Branding
Now we’re moving to the practical part — how to get started with personal branding? Every person has their own tips and strategy for creating a personal brand. But below, we’ll share the ones that have proven to be effective time and time again. Focus on one step at a time, and the results will undoubtedly show themselves.
Check What Google Knows About You
Have you ever googled yourself? Try it! The results might disappoint you, though. The internet remembers everything — even the things you’ve shared and said online a decade ago.
We certainly don’t want our embarrassing photos and posts from middle school to influence our today’s reputation. This means it’s time to go back and clean up your profile on Google and social media!
Once you do the cleanup, recheck the results. Is this what you want people to see when they search for your name?
Keep in mind that before every interview or project, your employers and clients will be googling your brand name in an attempt to learn more about you. Ensure the search results that appear work in your favor, not against you.
Define Your Goals and Target Audience
Your personal brand is based on what you want to achieve. First, you need to set your short-term and long-term goals. Do you want to land your perfect job? Or maybe you want to promote your startup and need a little boost?
It doesn’t matter what goals you set, as long as you divide them into small steps or milestones to make your progress measurable.
Now think about who your ideal audience is: their age, location, profession, interests, struggles, and any other attributes that define them.
Try to learn more about your audience. The more you know, the easier it is to create content based on their preferences. Find the values and interests that you share with them. This will help you connect with your audience on a personal level and build a strong community around the shared interests.
Besides, defining your target audience will help you figure out where they spend most of their time and what’s the best way to reach them. It can be any social media channel, forum, or offline place or event.
Build A Website and Optimize Social Media Profiles
The next step is creating your website or online portfolio, depending on your industry. Even if you don’t have technical skills, you can still create one by using an online website builder.
Wondering why exactly you need a personal website? The major reason is that a website is your virtual business card. In the digital age that we live in, an online presence strengthens your credibility and makes your brand more presentable.
Check out this list of personal website templates you can use to set up a professional site in a few minutes, with no prior experience in web design or development.
Aside from an online portfolio, you can also set up an informative blog to share your experience and other valuable information that your audience might be interested in.
Initially, most of your website traffic will be generated from social media shares, paid ads, and other referrals. Once you start creating your content and optimizing it for search engines, you’ll start seeing organic visits.
Your online presence doesn’t end with your website. You need to optimize your social media profiles too, as they are an inseparable part of your personal brand.
How do you optimize your social media profiles?
- Upload a high-quality profile picture and cover image (where applicable). It’s best if your profile picture is recent. A photo of you from ten years ago (even if you looked much better back then) is hardly what your employer wants to see.
- Update your profile description and the information about you. Don’t forget to use keywords and phrases related to your industry and position or skills.
- Add your location and contacts.
- Include any other social profiles where you’re active.
- Remove all the posts and information that can harm your personal brand.
Now that you have your website and social media profiles optimized for your personal brand, you can start creating and sharing your content.
Create Original Content and Stay Consistent
It’s time to get crafty and creative! Start creating your content, always keeping your target audience in mind.
Your content can be in the form of blog articles, shorter social media posts, animated videos, interactive images and infographics, slideshows, and so on. There are no rules and limits as long as your content strategy works effectively and keeps attracting the right audience.
What are the steps for creating good content?
- Find out what topics may be of interest to your audience. Check out creative presentation ideas and first video ideas if you need some inspiration.
- Choose what kind of content you want to publish on each social channel. Test different types of content, such as videos, images, infographics, etc. See what your audience enjoys more.
- Create a content calendar and a social posting calendar. They will help you keep your content organized.
- Develop your style and brand voice and maintain them the best you can.
- Take your time to create high-quality content that will provide value to your audience. Whether it’s a tweet, blog post, or any other content, make it unique, to the point, and well-written.
- Use online tools to schedule your social messages. This will save you a lot of time. Besides, your profile will always stay active and consistent.
- Engage with your audience and pay attention to their comments. You can collaborate with other influencers in your niche and learn from established personal brands.
- Analyze and improve. If you want to improve the performance of your blog or social posts, make revising and repurposing your content a regular practice.
To check the performance of your content, you can use different online tools. If you don’t want to spend money on paid programs, use Google Analytics or the in-built analytics tools on each social platform.
Consistency is key to building a brand, whether it’s for your business or personal branding. Every piece of content you produce, every Facebook post you share, every video you make must reflect your core message and visual style.
Monitor Your Personal Brand
It’s not possible to control everything that is said or written about you in public. But, it’s better to be aware of what people are saying and respond to them if possible.
How to do that? Simply google your name once every couple of months and always keep your eye on your social profiles. Check out the engagement of your posts and online content to further improve their performance.
Don’t expect every comment or remark to be supportive. You will receive negative feedback, but it will only help you grow your personal brand quicker if you learn to use it productively. There might even be rumors and misinformation. The best thing you can do is stay loyal to your brand and continue building a positive image.
Personal branding is a process that requires hard work but also one that yields great results. Follow the above-mentioned steps to get started with building a desirable image and reputation for yourself. With time, you’ll get more exposure and attract opportunities you didn’t know were there.
Build your community and make sure that you offer something of value to them. This is a sure way to gain people’s trust, form real connections, and create a personal brand that speaks for itself.