How to Build the Most Valuable Online Asset: Your Personal Brand
You need to be focused on building your personal brand. It doesn’t matter what kind of online business you have – it’s the most powerful asset you can own. It’s something you own 100%, no matter where your business ventures take you in the future.
A strong personal brand can carry over and instantly power new businesses if you build it up the right way. Consumers connect with people, not brand names. It’s a long hard process to build a strong personal brand, which is why most online business owners don’t put much effort into it.
A lot of people chase the quick dollar and then scramble to find the next source of income online. With a strong personal brand, you can attract customers every time you start something new. Take Neil Patel for example. He built his personal brand by guest blogging and posting on his personal blogs.
His content helped establish himself as one of the top marketing names, which he then carried over into several SaaS companies, such as Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and Kiss Metrics. Whatever he does next will likely also be successful because he has taken the time to build his personal brand. He already has an audience of potential customers, which is the hardest part – anyone can start a business or launch a product; the difficult part is finding people to buy it.
I have been focusing on building my personal brand for some time now. Over the past few years I have slowly dedicated time and energy into establishing my name in the SEO industry. Personal branding has contributed a lot to the growth and success of my agency, but it wasn’t easy. It was and continues to be a lot of hard work. Here is how you can build a strong personal brand that will quickly become your most valuable asset.
Follow these steps to grow your personal brand.
Be focused and 100% committed.
As mentioned above, this won’t be easy and it won’t be something that happens overnight. It has taken me several years to begin to experience the benefits of building my personal brand. It will take some time and you are going to have to be very consistent.
If you aren’t willing to dedicate multiple years, then don’t bother. You would be foolish to think you can build a solid personal brand overnight. Building a personal brand is all about momentum. You have to put in enough work to get exposure, have people take notice, and then constantly push and promote your message. The minute you slack off or press pause, you fall fast. It takes a lot more to try to re-start than it does to maintain and build your momentum.
Just like your business requires 100% effort, your personal brand does as well.
Get professional pictures taken.
When you start to get noticed and media outlets want to interview or feature you, it’s always a good idea to have an entire library of professional photographs ready, from head shots to pictures of you standing and sitting in casual settings. You don’t want to use an iPhone selfie picture when a prestigious media outlet asks for an image to accompany your article.
Some people that want to create a very professional image online will also use professional headshots for all of their social media profile images. This is great for some industries, while some, including the SEO industry, seems to favor non-staged pictures.
The image I use for my guest blogging profiles and my social media profiles is one that is very casual. I don’t want to come across as a suit wearing boring executive, because that’s not who I am. My audience appreciates authenticity.
Determine who your audience is.
Your audience is going to dictate where you put out content to engage with them and what you do to keep them interested in you. For example, a model that is looking to build her personal brand in an attempt to land acting and modeling gigs would want to use social media networks like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. Her audience is males, 18-35, and they are the ones that are going to like, comment and follow her accounts, making her very popular. This type of personal brand building can then be leveraged over and over, throughout different modeling campaigns and various movie and TV roles.
Now, a CEO of a technology company is going to have a very different audience. They aren’t as likely to be on social media websites, but they might be actively reading content on websites like Tech Crunch and Venture Beat. So, it would be in the CEOs best interest to start building his personal brand through guest blogging on the websites that his target audience is active on.
Start a personal blog.
This is how I personally kick started my personal brand building. SerpLogic initially started off as a blog where I could write about real world marketing and SEO, free from all the BS and lies that are spread on lots of the more popular industry websites.
It then evolved into a multi-million dollar marketing agency, but it was those initial blog posts that really helped me gain momentum and it was the personal brand I had built that opened many doors for myself and my agency.
The easiest thing to do is to start a WrodPress blog and make sure it’s self hosted and on your own domain name. If possible, secure the .com for your full name. Post regular blogs and share them on your social media. Everyone is blogging these days so you really need to publish great articles that people will enjoy reading and want to share. If you are working with a decent budget, consider paid Facebook posts to get more people reading your blog. This is a great way to build a loyal readership.
Develop a solid marketing strategy to get your personal brand out there.
If you really want to gain traction faster than you would hoping your personal brand will grow organically, consider paid promotion. You can utilize native advertising networks like Outbrain that will place your content at the bottom of relevant content, attracting new readers that already share an interest in what your content is about.
Running follower growth campaigns on Facebook and Twitter is a good way to build your social audience, which you can then present your content to on a regular basis. It’s still possible to attract followers for pennies each if your targeting is strong enough.
One of the strategies I used to help spark early personal brand growth was Facebook promoted posts. I would share my latest blog post on Facebook and then pay to promote it. This resulted in thousands of shares, likes and comments. It really helped to put me on the map of SEO professionals.
Have a strong defined unique selling point.
What do you, as a personal brand, offer that nobody else does? You have to have something about you that is exceptional in order to draw attention. There are so many people fighting for attention, so you need to stand out.
For me, it was my no BS approach to SEO and marketing that helped me gain traction. While all the SEO gurus were talking about how content marketing was king, I told it like it really was: that links were number one, and always will be, and content was juts a tool to get those links.
People respected my brutally honest approach and that helped me get featured on a lot of great websites and it also helped me attract several large clients. My USP was and still is my brutally honest approach to transparent SEO.
Develop thick skin.
You are going to get a lot of feedback, and not all of it will be pleasant. There are going to be haters that hide behind their computers and troll your social media and comment on every piece of content that you publish. You have to be able to take the trolling and the negativity. If you get upset it will not only fuel them and instigate more, but it will pull your focus away from continuing your growth, both business and personal brand.
Look at celebrities for a minute, such as Kim Kardashian. They are in the public spotlight nonstop and there are just as many people that hate her than there is that like her. While the negativity might upset her, she doesn’t let it stop her momentum. She is constantly launching new business ventures and capitalizing on her personal brand.
Have long term goals in mind.
I built my personal brand with long term goals in mind. While I’m still running my SEO agency SerpLogic, which is what was responsible for me starting to focus on my personal brand development in the first place.
I sold my previous agency and if the right offer came along down the line, I might consider selling this one as well. You have to always be willing to at least listen to offers when you are a business owner. So, even if I sold, I would still have my personal brand, which I could then leverage to promote whatever business venture I start in the future.
Your personal brand is a business asset that stays with you forever. It will never go away as long as you build it right from the start. This is why it’s so important to build your social media presence using your name and not your business name. As long as everything is built around you the person, and not your company, then you have created a marketing asset that will produce results forever.
Maintain consistent branding across all social media.
I mentioned creating all social media accounts using your own name and not a business name. Well, when you do this, it’s important that you use the same headshot picture on all of your profiles and keep your bio’s all identical. This allows people to find you on all the networks they are active on and makes you appear very professional.
Also, make things like custom header images the same. You can use free online tools like Canva.com to create the same look and feel for all social networks, creating them to the exact size required for each. This prevents cropping and distortion disasters that plaque many profiles.
Tell your story.
People love stories. They love to connect with individuals that have a unique and interesting story. Ever wonder why the gurus and their “I was broke and sleeping in my car until I found this secret and now I’m making $100,000 per month” stories do so well? It’s because people get hooked on the story. That’s what initially draws them to someone.
You need to tell your story through your personal brand. I’m not saying you need to fabricate a BS story; actually the FTC is really cracking down on this, so I would only tell a story that is true and one you can prove.
Highlight your story on an “About Me” page on your blog and then reference your story in your content, linking back to your blog page so readers can learn more about you. This is how to emotionally connect with an audience.
Know who your competitors are.
Personal brand building is such an effective marketing tool, so naturally everyone is jumping on the train now. You have to know what the strong personal brands are in your niche. See what they are doing right and identify their weaknesses.
Follow your competition on social media and subscribe to their newsletters and email lists. You have to stay on top of what they are doing at all times so you can adjust and act accordingly. You need every competitive advantage you can get.
Develop a content marketing strategy.
You will have to determine what kind of content marketing strategy you can keep up with time-wise and also afford budget-wise. Here is an example of what I do:
- Publish new blog post on my personal blog.
- Use paid Facebook marketing to drive traffic to the blog post, which then converts into leads and customers.
- Guest post on relevant blogs
- Field queries from reporters looking for expert opinions (HARO)
- Market blog posts on forums and to my email list
If you are going to take the time and put in the effort to build your personal brand you need to make sure you do it right. Taking shortcuts or missing key components will yield poor results. This is a long term marketing play, and one that will carry with you to other ventures and opportunities if done correctly.
As your personal brand strengthens, you will see more opportunities present themselves to you. For example, once my personal brand started to get strong I was approached by top SEO blogs to guest post and writers from major websites like Inc. reached out to interview me. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have been approached with those opportunities if I didn’t have a strong personal brand.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below. This is something I have done myself and I’m more than happy to elaborate and discuss strategy.