You know you should have a personal brand, but what exactly is that and how can you build it? Building a personal brand may seem intimidating, but it’s really just marketing yourself for what you’re good at and want to be known for. If you’re new to the personal branding game, or are looking to freshen up your image, follow these seven tips for building your personal brand.
Figure out what you’re good at.
Now is the time to compliment yourself and take stock of your talents. Write down a list of everything you’re good at and star the few skills where you feel reasonably sure you rank in the top five percent or 10 percent of people (this will probably only be one or two stars). When figuring out what to star, try to ignore what you’re merely competent at and focus on the one or two skills where you truly excel. Even the most experienced and multi-talented individuals usually have a couple of areas where they really knock it out of the park. These starred skills and interests are your “superpowers” and form the core of your personal brand.
Ask your friends to describe you.
If you have trouble figuring out what you’re good at, or knowing what to star on your list, look to your loved ones for help. Pick a handful of people who know you really well and whom you trust to give you objective advice without overly flattering or criticizing you. Ask them to each write down different qualities and skills they would use to describe you. Then compare the lists to see if anything resonates with you or if there’s overlap between the lists. If you’re having trouble figuring out what to star, ask your friends to look over the list you’ve already made for yourself and identify one or two skills where they feel like you have top-tier performance.
Determine what you want to do for a living.
Review all your lists and see what skills you would like to leverage to make a living. As you look over them, keep in mind that you might not want to turn everything you’re good at into work. In fact, it’s healthy to have a few hobbies that you’re good at but simply enjoy for the sake of doing, rather than trying to monetize them. Some of your interests may be fun to pursue casually, but will quickly become a drag once you turn them into work, so be honest and realistic with yourself about what you would actually like to make money from and what should just stay a hobby. For example, you might want to keep cooking a hobby, but turn your marketing skills into a business.
Pick your platform (or more than one).
Now that you know what you’re good at and how you want to make money, it’s time to start building your brand. To start, choose the marketing platform(s) that you think will best support the brand you want to build. Twitter is great for networkers looking to make connections, while Instagram is good for people who produce a lot of photos or videos. If you’re a writer, blogs and newsletters will become your new best friend. Everyone should have a personal website, even if it’s just a bio and a contact page. Ideally, your personal website should also include samples of your previous work, and if you host a blog, that should be part of your personal website as well.
Give people something of value.
Many people new to the personal branding game do nothing but promote themselves, without offering anything in return. This is a surefire way to turn people off your personal brand before you even get started. Think about what you can offer people that might have value. Witty tweets? Detailed blogs? Gorgeous Instagram photos? Sometimes the value is informative (blogs and newsletters) and sometimes it’s more enjoyable (certain social media accounts). Sometimes you might be able to combine values, such as writing funny-yet-informative blogs. And of course, there’s always the tried-and-true promotional giveaway to get more followers.
Self-promote—but not too much.
Promoting your personal brand can take many forms, from advertising that you are looking for a job to encouraging people to sign up for a newsletter to running a special on a first-time client package. However, you want to strike a delicate balance between promoting enough to get people’s attention, but not so much they get annoyed and unfollow you. It’s also good to aim for the 80/20 ratio: About 80 percent of your content should be informational without “selling” anything, while the remaining 20 percent promotes your personal brand. You don’t have to follow this ratio exactly, but using it as a rule of thumb will help guide your content choices.
Make sure your in-person and online brands match up.
If you’ve ever chatted with someone on a dating app and thought they were a completely different person when you met in person, you know how annoying this is. If you’re kind and informative in your online personal brand, aim to act that way in real life, too. It’s really off-putting to potential employers if they bring you in for an interview based on your digital personal brand, and then you have a completely different personality during the interview. Strive for consistency. If you don’t think you can maintain a certain quality in person, don’t include it in your online brand.
Take your time building your personal brand for a reputation that will last through the years. Follow these seven strategies to figure out how you want to brand yourself and start building your persona today.