What do freelancers, bloggers, and influencers all have in common?
They’re solopreneurs. And, like with any company, these one-person businesses need to build a brand around their enterprise if they want to be successful.
What is a Brand?
A brand is the emotional experience created around a product or company through visual cues and messaging—but with personal branding, you’re the commodity. Building your personal brand identity means cultivating a set of perceptions around yourself, so that who you are is associated with the niche you occupy or value you offer. It’s the way to proactively influence the public’s perception of you, position yourself as an expert in your field, and ultimately grow your business.
How To Build A Personal Brand Identity
Just look at the thought leaders you take advice from or the influencers you follow on social media –they’ve all created a personal brand and used it to propel their career forward. Oprah is practically synonymous with self-help. Elon Musk is cited as the prime example of innovation. Neil Patel is the king of online marketing.
The question is, how do you go about doing what these public figures have done, but from scratch?
Design a Logo
First off, it’s important to design a logo to represent your brand. However, contrary to popular belief, a logo is not a brand—it is just a visual representation of one. So, after you’ve decided on a logo and brand color palette, here are a number of steps to take that will help you build your personal brand identity.
Identify your strengths – and then make them stronger
What can you offer the world that others can’t? This is what’s known as your value proposition, or what you can promise to deliver your audience.
Can you provide tips on personal finance to stay-at-home parents? Do you have a unique eye for wedding photography? As you do this internal audit, make sure that these skills are ones you want to put into practice and make into a career. (Your personal brand identity should be a genuine expression of something you love doing; the world craves authenticity, and if you don’t believe in what you offer, your audience won’t either.)
Once you’ve got that down, commit to being the best at what you do. Read, watch videos, research your competitors and take note of their strategies—do whatever you can to position yourself as the expert in your field.
Determine Your Target Audience
Who do your skills appeal to? If you’re unsure off the bat, you can create what’s called an “audience avatar,” which is a (fictional) person that would be your ideal customer.
This will inform all of your later decisions, like how you design your website, what kind of brand voice you use to communicate with customers, and which social media platforms will be most effective for you, to name a few. When you pin down who your target audience is, you’ll have a better idea of what your brand should look like.
Find your platform(s)
A social media presence is a must for any personal brand, as it gives you both easy access to your audience and a means to grow a following that can keep up with your brand as it develops.
Choosing the “right” platform is different for everyone, as a huge part of it is finding where your specific audience hangs out. For example, if your brand caters to the design community, Pinterest is the place for you. LinkedIn is a great forum for posting long-form content and positioning yourself as a thought leader, whereas Facebook is optimal for having your own page on which to post company updates and link to your blog.
Remember, you are creating an emotional connection with your audience, so find the platform that you think best resonates with them. (And, if you find that your approach isn’t working, you can always change it!)
Now that you’re set up with a platform, how will you communicate with your audience?
When it comes to branding, content is king—and you have a myriad ways to create content that your audience will find valuable.
Start a blog that features helpful tips or insights for your audience. Take advantage of the design tools out there and make a series of eye-catching social posts. Curate high-quality content related to your niche from around the internet, and compile it into an email newsletter that you send out to your audience. Whatever your preferred methods, make sure to create content that will engage your audience and give them a reason to keep following your brand.
It’s not enough to just have a Facebook page or send out a one-time blog post; you constantly have to update your platforms with fresh, new content.
Consistent posting allows your audience to know what to expect from your brand, and they’ll come to rely on you to give them more. Not only does consistency build trust in your brand, but it also keeps your audience engaged and growing.
Find the content that resonates with your audience, and give them more of it. If you’ve sent out a newsletter that got a strong reaction, for example, turn it into a monthly endeavour, or put out a series of tutorial videos that you upload weekly.
Also, make sure the “voice” you use to communicate is the same across channels; whether you’re funny, serious, intriguing or even a little pretentious, your audience should be able to pick that voice out of a crowd and recognize it as belonging to your brand.
Networking is an important skill that shouldn’t be overlooked—and being a lone wolf will only get your personal brand so far.
Reach out to others who have a similar target audience to you. Offer to write guest posts on their blog, and link back to your own blog. Speak at events, show up at conferences, and don’t be afraid to let others do the same on your platform. Collaboration is a strategic give-and-take, and other leaders in your niche will be happy to oblige, because it’s beneficial to all sides.
Over to You and conclusion
Building a personal brand online takes work and commitment, but it’s well worth the effort if done right. Remember to cater to your audience, but without deviating from the values that drive you to do what you do. Always strive to be the best at what you do, keep your branding consistent, and don’t be afraid to involve others in your journey!