In the digital age, you are defined by your online reputation. Everyone has the ability to project different versions of themselves out into the world. Have you ever Googled yourself? What did you find? What kind of impression are you leaving?
Whether you want to start your own business, improve your career prospects, be a public speaker, or become known for something that interests you, you need a strong personal brand. We’re used to thinking about brands as companies or products - think McDonald’s or iPhones. However anyone can be a brand. As an individual, you are a personal brand that is wrapped up in the content, persona, and achievements you share online.
People who talk on podcasts have personal brands. People who speak at conferences have personal brands. Influential bloggers and people to contribute to industry publications, personal brands.
The secret: personal branding is easy, but barely anyone does it. All that’s required is to take what you know and share it. Do this consistently and you’ll have a personal brand in no time.
What is Personal Branding?
Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers in order to achieve a certain outcome. Your personal brand is a combination of skills and life experiences that make you a unique individual, promote what you stand for, and differentiate you from others in your field.
Personal branding builds your reputation. According to a recent study:
Global executives attribute 45% of their company’s reputation and 44% of their company’s market value to the reputation of their CEO.
Additionally, a CEO’s reputation plays an important role in attracting employees to a company (77%) as well as motivating them to stay (70%).
In a world where the digital “you” tells your story and will outlive your biological body, a personal brand builds a legacy and will supersede any job or career you’re currently in. So how do you create a personal brand? How do you consistently create and publish content that you’re passionate about on your own digital platform? Below I’ve outlined 6 simple ways to create a remarkable personal brand.
1) Find your Unique Superpowers
First, you have to find you unique superpowers. These can also be called your passions, your purpose, or your “elevator pitch”. Can you say what you’re about in 20 words or less? If you can’t, you need to start defining what you’re passionate about and what unique skills you want to share with the world.
Your unique superpowers are the starting point for your personal brand. You have to ask yourself: What feels effortless to me? What do people tell me I’m good at? What is something I’m willing to struggle for? When do I feel fearless? What can I see more clearly than others? What is my one message to the world?
After answering these questions, here’s a quick exercise to tap into your superpowers.
Create a list of your top 10 passions. These can be things you are really good at, enjoy doing, get lost in, or make money from.
Choose your top 2-3 passions that are in your “sweet spot”. These should be located at the intersection of what you’re good at, what you enjoy doing, and what you can help others with.
Write a 20 word mission statement that distills your purpose.
Getting clear about your purpose and your strengths is the foundation on which to build your personal brand. But passion is not enough. You might have a passion for tennis or surfing, but that passion doesn’t automatically translate into success. Instead, study the needs of people in the areas you’re passionate about. What are they struggling with? What are they trying to achieve? Think about how you can best help these people to find your unique perspective.
2) Choose your Digital Platform
In order to share your voice with the world, you will need an online platform. Social media is an okay place to start, but why not build something for yourself and start your own website? This will give you a place to house all of your content and you can build SEO authority over time.
Make sure to know your audience. Depending on your industry, your platform for creating your online brand will differ. For example, my personal brand is located:
On my personal blog on Squarespace - AdamEnfroy.com
On BigCommerce.com and other sites I’ve contributed to
Once you’ve decided on a domain name (your own name works well for a personal brand), you should create a site outline and overall strategy. This includes your unique value proposition, a sitemap to know what web pages you’ll need, and a content strategy with blog post ideas.
3) Create Focused content
Now that you know your unique superpowers and have a digital platform, it’s time to hone in on the core focus of your site. It’s important to narrow down your niche and create a content pool of ideas that are all focused, related, and you can rank for on search engines.
For example, if you want to be known for videography, you might write blog posts about the following related topics:
How to add animation to your videos
Choosing the best camcorder
Post-production tips for YouTube videos
And the list goes on. Once you start writing content, you can get feedback from your audience to understand their biggest pain points and fine tune your content.
Write posts that are helpful, engaging, optimized for search engines, and solve a pain point for your niche. The key is consistency. Aim to write a little bit every day. Just 300 words per day equals a 400 page book in one year.
4) Practice Networking and Link Building
So you write some awesome content and post it on your website. Then you share your post on social media and tell all of your friends and family about it.
You can’t expect to be found (on Google or anywhere else) without making real connections, getting links to your site, and building a reputation with real people in the real world.
A personal branding strategy cannot be complete without serious networking. Powerful networking is not just about “you”, it’s about helping others first.
Start with simple networking. This can be done by sharing someone else’s content or thanking them for their article. These can be bite-sized connections on places like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This doesn’t take much effort, but also doesn’t provide much in return.
Real networking is about building strong ties with others in your field that you want to work with. This included real face-to-face interaction, email exchanges, and understanding each other’s needs in the market. Once you have reached out to others in your field and know them personally, you can begin to help each other with SEO, link building, guest posts, and outreach. These inbound links to your personal brand website are a huge factor in determining your search ranking and getting found online. The key is to be as helpful as possible, write amazing content, and network with others to boost your credibility.
5) Be your Authentic self
Your personal brand is just that, personal. You have to be your authentic self and develop your own personal style in your writing. Being authentic is about having values and being true to them. If you can identify your target audience and communicate an authentic message, you will build trust with your readers and be viewed as an expert in your niche. How you write is also a reflection of your values. Do you write seriously or informally? Are you informational or comedic? Stay consistent in your writing style and you’ll develop a unique voice that resonates with your audience.
6) Become Who You Want to Be
Consider a personal brand an investment in yourself. The time you take developing content, networking, and sharing your ideas with the world will pay dividends down the road that you can’t yet imagine.
Think long term.
Your personal brand won’t become well-known over night. But if you think long term and write as the person you want to become, each piece of content will consistently build your reputation over time. You’ll know more important people in your niche, enjoy better career prospects, and have a platform to share your ideas with the world - ideas that will live on long after you’re gone.
What struggles have you faced when building a personal brand?