9 Steps to Build a Profitable Personal Brand:
A personal brand, when created properly, can lead to countless opportunities. When it’s built carelessly then it can drag down the success you would otherwise be able to achieve. So, how to build personal brand that can be profitable.
Many people don’t understand the nuances of developing a personal brand and believe all they have to do is create content or build an audience. While these things are necessary, they can’t be done blindly or you won’t get the results you’re looking for.
This guide will share simple steps you can take to build a profitable personal brand without wasting massive amounts of time or energy. Read all the way to the end and you’ll have a clear blueprint and action steps that you can start using today.
What is a Personal Brand?
A brand can be defined as a word, mark, logo, slogan, design, etc. that an organization uses to distinguish itself from others. More importantly, it’s the way the product, company, or person is perceived by others.
The most important part of the brand isn’t the logo or the colors you use. It’s the perception people have of it. Both Coca-Cola and Marlboro use a lot of red in their branding but they’re perceived in a different way by people.
With a personal brand, an individual is standing in as the word, mark, logo, or design and it’s how people perceive the individual. This can have distinct advantages but there are also some hidden disadvantages.
Advantages of Personal Branding:
1. Command Higher Fees:
This is applicable whether you are a consultant, freelancer, blogger, or you’re looking to move up the corporate ladder. A personal brand helps you earn more income over time by providing social proof and making you more attractive to employers.
2. People will seek you out:
- Instead of having to search for opportunities, more opportunities will come your way. That could be through your social channels (more on that later), your network, etc. You’ll be able to save a lot of energy during the process of getting people to sign project contracts or register for your services.
3. Swaying public opinion (thought leadership):
It’s more difficult to introduce new ideas and products to the market if people don’t know and trust you. A brand gives you a baseline of credibility so even if you go against the grain, people will be more likely to hear you out.
Disadvantages of Personal Branding:
1. Must constantly watch public opinion:
You have to constantly keep your eye on how people perceive you and your actions. It’s harder to speak your unfiltered thoughts because of potential ramifications.
2. May not be able to break out of a field:
The stronger your brand the more difficult it is to go in a different direction because people have expectations of you. A reputation in one field may not translate into a favorable brand in another field.
3. Losing Authenticity:
The longer you’re in the limelight, the more time people have to analyze and judge your actions. If you’re not constantly paying attention to people’s perception and actively guiding it then you can come off as inauthentic over time.
As you can see, there are pros and cons to build personal brand. The pros often outweigh the cons but it’s still important to understand both sides of the coin. Now, let’s look at how to establish a profitable personal brand.
Steps to Build Personal Brand:
Building a personal brand isn’t black and white and there are many ways to go about it. The following steps will make the entire process easier and it’s recommended that you follow them in the order presented.
Step-1: Define your perfect audience
Your audience is the people who will end up being your customers, clients, employers, etc. This is one of the most important steps but it’s often overlooked. People focus on the image and the content but forget that they need to appeal to a specific group of people.
For example, a 23-year-old business consultant may want to appeal to a demographic that’s 25 – 45 years old and runs an online business. A 23-year-old female business consultant may want to appeal to a demographic that’s consists of only women of 21 – 35 years old.
In each case, the kind of content you create, the tone, the offers, etc. will differ.
The profile you make to define your audience is also known as a buyer persona. It consists of demographic information like age, sex, education, income, etc. It also consists of psychographic information like lifestyle, likes, beliefs, etc. Write down the following information about your target audience:
- Places they frequent online
- Influencers they follow (collaboration opportunity)
- Type of media they consume (shapes their attitudes and beliefs)
- Lifestyle choices
- Deeply held beliefs
- General likes/dislikes
Going through this process will have a big impact on the next step which is clarifying your personal brand persona.
Step-2: Clarify your personal brand persona
It’s important to know that your personal brand isn’t necessarily you as a person. These are two separate entities. Just like The CEO of Coke isn’t the same thing as The Coca-Cola Company, you aren’t the same thing as your personal brand.
In the last section, you defined your audience. That information will now help you define your personal brand persona. For example, if you decided that you were going to serve only women, the language you use may include terms like a sister, women empowerment, etc. If you realize that abortion is taboo for your audience then, irrespective of how you feel about it, you may avoid talking about that subject entirely.
These are the kinds of things you need to know in order to make the right moves and avoid the wrong ones. When crafting your brand persona, you should be able to answer the following questions:
- What makes your brand different?
- What does your brand stand for?
- What is the purpose of your brand?
- How should people feel when interacting with your brand?
Note: The purpose of your brand can evolve over time and so can everything else but it can’t happen all at once.
After you’ve defined the intangible aspects, design the tangible parts. How does your personal brand look across your web properties and physical spaces?
Melyssa Griffin has a strong personal brand identity. Whether on social media or her website, you’ll see consistent design elements.
- What colors do you use?
- Are there specific materials that you incorporate?
- What fonts represent the brand?
- Is there a specific design style?
Beyond the look and feel of your brand, the tone and voice matter as well. As a personal brand what do you say and how do you say it?
- Are you domineering and authoritative or are you cheerful and friendly?
- Do you have slogans or common phrases you use?
- Are any words or phrases off-limits?
Step-3: Come up with your core message (UVP)
At this stage, you have a clear grasp of who your audience is and the overall outline of how you’ll present your personal brand to the world. The next step is to craft a clear and resounding message that you can use to grow your audience.
Everything about your personal brand stems from this core message. It gives your message a sense of cohesion and adds authenticity. Many people skip this step entirely so it seems like their brand is doing something different every few months. The personal brands that get this step right are the ones that grow.
The headline on Marie Forleo’s homepage sums up everything that she does for her audience through her personal brand.
There has been a lot written about how to come up with a core message so I’ll only give you a few things to take into consideration.
- It should be targeted at a specific group of people
- The message is clear enough for people to understand at a glance
- It’s not something that could be considered a current trend (your messaging on social platforms and content can incorporate trends but your core messages should be timeless)
- The message illustrates how you’re different
- Incorporates your personal brand’s values
After you create your core message, think about how you’ll incorporate it into your overall brand narrative. For example, if your core message has something to do with lighthearted entertainment then you can create content that’s fun and engaging for people irrespective of age.
Step-4: Secure your website and social profiles
At this point, you’ve done the heavy lifting and are clear about your brand and the direction you want to take it. The next step is to set up all your social media accounts and your website.
One thing to keep in mind is that they should all be consistent. That means the same or a similar profile image, a relevant description, and links leading to a specific page.
It’s a good idea to create an account on all the social media platforms that you’ll use now and in the future. Even if you don’t plan on using it any time soon, it’s important to lock it down so no one squats on your brand name.
If you’re using your name then you may need to get creative with your social handles. For example, @JohnGoodman may be taken but @JGconsulting may be available.
Once you’ve secured the social profiles, fill them out completely. For your website, go ahead and create the major pages which include:
- About page
- Contact us page
- Blog page
- At least one landing page for email collection
Keep the design choices you made in section two in mind so all your brand elements are consistent. Note: Your website doesn’t have to have the same domain name as your social profile but they should, at least, be similar. For example, @JGconsulting can be tied to JohnGoodman.com
Step-5: Choose your channels and spread your message:
This is one of the most important aspects related to building a profitable personal brand. While you can choose any channel to spread a message, you’ll have varying levels of success.
For example, Instagram is ideal for visual content niches like fitness and photography but not as effective for business-related content. Yes, there are business brands on Instagram but you may see more success on a platform like Twitter or LinkedIn.
If you choose the right platform, you can achieve twice the success with half the effort. Ask yourself what kind of content does well in your space? Is it blog content, video content, images, starting a podcast, etc.? Which platforms do your ideal customers use the most?
Once you figure this out, outline a plan to create content on a regular basis that appeals to your audience. For example, you may create a YouTube video 2 times a week. Or, you may focus on publishing blog articles three times a week.
Whichever platform you choose, it’s essential that you’re consistent over the long term. Yes, brands can be built quickly but they’re also a long-term investment.
During the early stages, you’ll spend a lot of time on other people’s platforms and borrowing other people’s audiences. This is where your focus should be in the earlier days:
Step-6: Guest Posting
If you’re new to a niche then you may have to start with smaller sites or those that take guest posts more often. The impact may not be as large but you’ll need them to build your profile when you want to pitch larger publications.
To find guest posts, you can use special search operators in Google. For example, if you’re in the business niche, you may use the following search operators:
- Marketing + guest post
- Marketing +contributor
- Marketing + write for us
In this case, marketing is the keyword and the other half of the search query are the ways someone may create a contributor page on their website.
Step-7: Podcast appearances
Podcasts are becoming more and more popular and they usually don’t require as much effort. The outreach process may be the same as those for guest posts but it only takes 30 minutes to an hour to get them done.
Like with guest posts, you may want to start small and work your way up. The good news is that you can use a directory like Apple iTunes to find podcasts in a relevant space and pitch them with a unique angle. As long as your story is good enough, you’ll be able to secure multiple appearances.
Step-8: YouTube collaborations
YouTube collaborations are so powerful because you tend to see immediate results. On average, 10% of the people that watch the video of a collaborator will end up subscribing to your channel. Of course, for any channel that’s worth collaborating with, you’ll need to build a relationship with them or bring something interesting to the table.
The YouTubers with large audiences – unless the channel is specifically designed to interview people – know that you want to grow your following. Because of that, they’re wary of allowing just anyone to get exposure to their channel. Plan accordingly.
Step-9: Twitter Chats
Twitter chats are open for anyone to which makes them a great way to get in front of a larger audience. All you need to do is chime in at the designated time with the hashtag.
To find them, follow Twitter influencers in your niche. You’ll likely run across Twitter chats in progress. You can also take advantage of Twitter chat directories.
These are just a few of the ways to get in front of new and unique audiences when you’re just starting to build your personal brand. The most important goal here is to spread your message – get in front of as many relevant eyeballs as possible.
While getting the word out, put in the effort to channel those eyeballs back to your website and mailing list so you can continue to communicate with them over time. Rinse and repeat until you get your desired results.
Remember, you should focus on one or two channels to help spread your message instead of wearing yourself out trying to chase too many opportunities.
Conclusion on Building Personal Brand in 2021:
A personal brand can be a powerful asset to grow your business or increase your income potential. At the same time, it’s not the easiest thing to build.
This guide has looked at the 9 steps involved to create a solid personal brand. The most important is understanding your audience, defining your brand, and spreading your message.
If you’re serious about building a new personal brand, go through this guide and apply the insights you’ve gained. Before you know it, you’ll get results you didn’t expect.
Daniel Ndukwu is the co-founder of UsefulPDF – signature and document management platform. When not growing his software startup, he spends time with his family and travels to the remotest places he can get to.