I’ve been in the online marketing space in some way since 2010. I had a blog before it was cool to have one, so I’ve seen the transition online from people having personal blogs to creating a personal brand.
I’ve also gone through this transition myself. I’ve spent much of the last couple of years getting crystal clear on what makes a good brand, applying what I learn and testing it with my own business. My education and efforts have led to more social media followers, more media opportunities and more revenue in the form of affiliate sales, consulting, writing gigs and digital product sales.
Based on this experience, here’s what I believe are the four elements of a great personal brand, and how you can build your own.
You have a good story
The first thing every great personal brand needs is a good story, and you need to know how to present or tell that story well.
Chances are, you also have a relatable story in your back pocket; you just might not have used it yet. My suggestion would be to start finding ways to incorporate that story into your personal brand.
For example, a common and extremely effective story is that of a hero. You had a problem and you hit rock bottom. From there, you had a defining moment that changed everything. You slowly climbed out of that rock bottom and now you’ve come a long way.
Here’s a quick rundown of my own story as an example:
I graduated into a down economy, knew nothing about money and started a career as a financial writer in an effort to teach myself about personal finance. Fast forward a few years, and I run a business from my laptop, earn more money than I did at my last job and change people’s lives.
While my story isn’t uncommon, nor is it particularly extraordinary, I just know how to tell it in a way that peaks people’s interest and is relatable.
You know how to get media attention
A good brand is a ninja at getting media attention. Simply put, you need eyeballs on you. Additionally, getting a nod from industry media also boosts your brand’s credibility.
The problem is that many entrepreneurs don’t know how to properly pitch writers, bloggers or media outlets. For example, they don’t find an angle the writer could use, or it’s difficult to get a hold of them for a quote. Or, perhaps they send out copy-and-paste pitches with no original thought and no prior relationship with the writer.
Getting PR for your business is a multi-pronged strategy with different moving parts, but one strategy that is extremely effective is using Twitter to build relationships with people who work in media.
Twitter is a gold mine for building relationships with bloggers and writers before you actually pitch them. Follow journalists in your field, engage with them on the platform and then after you’ve built some sort of relationship, send your pitch. This is far more effective than sending blind pitches and far less costly than spending thousands of dollars a year on PR agencies.
You leverage the things that make you stand out
Your business idea probably already exists, and there are people out there marketing it. That means the onus is on you to stand out from the rest in your field.
In most cases, the way you stand out will be based on what makes you unique as a person. Your business idea may already be out there, but your experiences and your preferences are different than those of your competitors.
Many business owners struggle with this because they aren’t sure how they could have anything to do with their branding. The best way to explain how to combine your uniqueness as a person into your business is with an example from my own business.
I went through a major rebrand back in 2015 where I rebuilt everything from the copy on my website to backend systems. During this time, I got together with my team to try and figure out what made me stand out from the crowd. I was certainly not the only finance blogger out there, nor was I the only one with a millennial audience, so I had to find my angle.
Truth be told, it didn’t take long for me to have my “eureka” moment. I consider myself a creative who happens to like finance. Because I’m a creative, I have a good eye and value beautiful things. And because I’m also more of a numbers person than I used to be, I also value functionality.
Then, it hit me. I wanted to create a website about finance that was both beautiful and functional.
Most finance sites tended to forgo one for the other, with design usually ending up on the back burner, so this was my chance to really stand out. Most of all, I wanted to make money and business seem less intimidating for my audience through beautiful visuals. So that’s what I did.
In 2016, my team and I ended up taking home the industry award for best-designed personal finance blog and we took home the award for Best Finance Blog in South Florida. The judges for the latter later told me it was because the design blew them away.
The best part is, people recognize my brand immediately. It’s not uncommon for people to show up on my website or Instagram feed and tell me, “Oh my gosh! This is so you.” It’s because, as a person, I value beauty and function, so I decided to translate that into a brand.
Be sure to do the same when it comes to your own branding: figure out what makes you unique, both personally and professionally, and make those elements translate through your brand.
You know how to speak to your audience
Once you’ve figured out the stories and the visuals, it’s time to incorporate copy. This is where your audience truly comes into play and it’s the secret sauce that holds all of your personal brand together.
If you really want an exceptional brand, start to use the same language your audience does. How do they feel about their problems? How do they express that? How are they feeling? What do they want? Pay attention to all of these things and start incorporating it into your marketing copy.
Final thoughts on your personal brand
Building an exceptional personal brand is a creative project that can be a lot of fun. It also takes some time to really refine it, so don’t feel like you need to have it all figured out right away. In fact, once you have your personal brand established, you will likely find ways to refine it as you go on.