In today’s crowded and competitive social media landscape, personal branding has never been more important. For freelancers and entrepreneurs especially, building your personal brand is one of the most effective ways to grow your business and boost profits.
And it’s not just for Instagram influencers. Personal branding and business branding go hand-in-hand. Just look at Elon Musk (Tesla), Richard Branson (Virgin), and Gary Vaynerchuk (VaynerMedia). Each of those CEO’s have more Twitter followers than their respective companies, but their companies benefit immensely from their founders’ increased exposure.
As branding expert Kevin Stimpson puts it: “Having a personal brand is important for an entrepreneur because now more than ever, it’s important for CEOs and founders of companies/brands to come out to the forefront and connect with their audiences. People connect with people.”
What is personal branding exactly? Just like a corporate brand, personal branding refers to your public image, what you stand for, your values, and the way you express those values to your audience and potential customers.
So follow these 3 crucial tips for building your personal brand and differentiating yourself from the competition!
TIP #1) DETERMINE YOUR VALUES AND TARGET AUDIENCE
The first step in creating your personal brand is figuring out who you are— or better yet, what you want your audience/the public to know you as.
Your personal brand should accurately reflect your personal and professional identity. Authenticity is key. To create a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself:
- What do I excel in?
- What motivates me?
- Which projects/tasks are difficult for me?
- Which beliefs/values are important to me?
- What do I want to be known for?
- Which characteristics do people compliment me on?
- What are my passions and hobbies? And how do these relate to my career?
This is an important time to think about the future. What type of person do you want to be? As Northern University says, “Your personal brand is more than a reflection of who you are today; it’s a roadmap of where you want to go. […] Forecasting where you want to be in five or 10 years—and the attributes you want to be known for—can help you better determine what steps you need to take in order to get there.”
Now that you’ve better defined your core values and identity, think about your audience. Who are you trying to reach?
For example, if you want to reach photographers and artists, then you should start building up your portfolio and professional website to display your work.
Once you define your target audience, you’ll be able to figure out the types of stories you need to tell and where you should tell them.
TIP #2) CREATE A CONTENT STRATEGY
Creating and publishing content online is one of the most effective ways to build your brand. There’s a reason the most successful personal brands today constantly push out helpful content that their audience can actually use. This is how you can earn the trust of your audience.
The first step in creating a content strategy is to make a list of potential topics that would be useful to your target audience. Just like with SEO, doing keyword research is essential at this stage.
Next, think about what types of content you want to create and where you will publish them. The most effective types of content include:
- Blogs / articles
Quality and consistency are key when it comes to content. Don’t just push out fluff pieces with poor design and execution and expect your audience to fall in love with it. You need to create content that people can easily associate with you. Content that people will fall in love with and will want to share on their own volition.
This is where the bulk of the work comes in. Creating quality, consistent content takes a long-term commitment but if done right, you will definitely reap the rewards!
TIP #3) GROW YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE
Rather than trying to get millions of followers from the get-go, focus on building specific communities online that you can lead. For example, use Facebook Groups to build a niche community around your brand and business where customers can interact, support each other, and speak to you directly.
One common thing found within the most successful personal brands today is that they can be reached on a multitude of platforms. Gary Vaynerchuk publishes advice on his Instagram page, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and even TikTok. The lesson here is that his content is consistent and his brand matches across all his platforms. The more places your audience can find you, the better!
That being said, you must also be aware of where the majority of your target audience is most likely to consume your content. If you get the most engagement on Twitter, double down and tell your best story there.
These 3 tips will get you on the right path to building your personal brand. In today’s digital world, your personal brand shouldn’t be just an afterthought— you should be constantly focusing on how to grow, improve, and strengthen your personal brand. And remember: as times change, so should your brand whether it be corporate or personal.