Personal brands are all the rage these days.
Kim Kardashian makes millions of dollars off her name, YouTubers like Jaclyn Hill have built small empires and bloggers like myself are getting paid to write, speak and teach.
In fact, personal brands are so hot right now that “60 Minutes” recently had an episode about social media influencers, including what they do and how much they get paid.
The truth is that in the age of social media, you have control over how people perceive you. You also have far more control over your professional life because of how people perceive you. The more established you are in your personal brand, the more opportunities show up.
I won’t lie to you and tell you that building a personal brand is easy. It’s taken me years to build mine to a point where I feel like I’m on solid ground. However, it is easier than it’s ever been before.
Back when I started building my personal brand online, it wasn’t necessarily something people did unless they were a celebrity or politician. Fast forward a few years and the Average Joe Schmo is making money off of his name simply because he has a solid brand and following.
If you’re ready to start making a name for yourself with a personal brand, here’s everything you need to know about starting one from scratch.
Find a topic that matters to you
For those who don’t know my story, I graduated from college in 2010 and went six months without any sort of employment. At the time, there were plenty of articles being published about how millennials were lazy, entitled and clueless.
Seeing as how I knew it wasn’t my fault that the economy tanked, I knew something was off about this media assessment of my generation. I also realized I needed to learn about money, so I started blogging about it to hold myself accountable as I maneuvered my way through the world of personal finance during a down economy.
The reason I bring this story up is simple. I started publicly writing about something that mattered to me. Note, I did not say I found my passion. I was certainly not passionate about finances or entrepreneurship back then, but it did matter to me to figure it out.
Passion is great, but not everyone has a passion right off the bat. I certainly didn’t. For some people, that leads to a special kind of pressure that keeps them from taking action. That’s why I encourage people to start with something that simply matters to them. The passion can find you later.
Related: How to Build a Strong Brand Identity
Start putting it out there even if no one is listening
The next step to building a personal brand from scratch is to start putting yourself out there even if no one is listening.
Here’s some real talk: you may feel like no one is listening for a long time. It wasn’t until six years into my online branding journey that I realized how much influence I actually have, and that’s only because my followers became more vocal. As it turns out, they’d been there for years and I didn’t know.
Personal brands are built brick by brick and it begins by putting yourself and your expertise out there. Every article, tweet and media mention adds up over time. It’s important to remember that just because you may not receive validation for some time, doesn’t mean people aren’t listening.
Start having conversations with your followers
I experienced a major shift in building my personal brand when I stopped hiding behind a computer screen and started having actual conversations with my audience.
This includes showing up to local professional events for millennials, talking to blog readers on the phone and consciously keeping my ears open for what my audience was going through. By doing this, I was able to create content that catered to their needs.
You see, in the beginning, you may think building a personal brand is about you. It may start off that way, as it did for me. But, in reality, if you want to make money from a personal brand, you must switch the focus to helping your audience.
This is where the true magic happens in terms of branding. You find out how to communicate with your audience in the language that speaks to them. You find out what your audience wants to see from your visual branding. Additionally, it’s what helps establish you as an expert.
I don’t want you to take six years like I did to build a solid personal brand. Instead, I want you to do what I should have done from the beginning: get help.
By help, I mean finding coaches and mentors that can teach you about skills and concepts you’ll need to build a solid personal brand, such as online marketing, sales, social media and blogging. By learning these skills, you begin to expand your reach in ways you wouldn’t have thought possible.
Speaking from my own experience, I can get coaching clients through the basics of building a personal brand online in about three months. This is stuff that took me years and thousands of dollars to learn on my own. So, if you’re in a hurry or if you feel like you need accountability, I highly recommend getting the help you need.
Building a personal brand can help you establish yourself as an expert in a certain area and create multiple streams of income. Honestly, if you’re spending time on Facebook and Twitter anyway, you might as well learn how to make them work for your career.