How to Grow Your Personal Brand (Start Today)
First of all, let’s determine what a “personal brand” is, and why and who needs one.
A personal brand is in many ways synonymous with your reputation. It refers to the way in which people see you as a person, business owner, organisation, or activity. It’s basically everything you represent and stand for and is often the first thing that should come into someone’s mind when mentioning your name.
I’m often asked the same questions online and normally it’s “where do I get started”. I’ve recently had this discussion with a few of my closest friends who are now interested in getting started online, and the first thing I tell them to do is to find something that interests them and stick to it. The second thing I suggest is to start today on your personal brand.
I’m a HUGE advocate of branding yourself before your business or alongside it and I’ve been doing it for years. My only downfall and regret is that I didn’t start this blog and stick to it sooner, so if you’re reading this and sitting on the fence about growing your brand, get started today!
The reason I’m so passionate and adamant that people should grow their personal brand is because of the rewards it brings long term.
Think about it. You could start as a ghost and build the most lucrative and fantastic website ever. You could then sell it for a good amount of money only to go back to square one when the money runs out.
You could build your personal brand around your fantastic website, build up a following, sell the website, but still maintain that following to start your next journey with the backing of your people.
Your personal brand should and will persist any business or venture you own. Not only that, but it should and will add value to your future ventures as your brand gets bigger and bigger. When launching new projects and ideas, your brand potentially means you never have to start from scratch again.
A good personal brand is to me the most lucrative and invaluable investment and asset we all are able to build today.
I could sit here and name literally thousands of examples of this; however, as it’s my blog, I’m going to be biased and mention a few good friends of mine who started their blogs within a year of mine and are now constantly working on their personal brands and reaping the rewards of it. My good friend Tai, aka cashmoneyaffiliate, launched his blog and brand and now everything he puts out or launches turns to gold. Another great example is my other friend Servando Silva who is constantly working on his personal brand, and in return his courses, coaching, and more get sold out every time.
As a word of warning when you start to brand yourself and get your name out, some people will become jealous and act naive to what you’re trying to achieve. It’s these very people who are narrow-minded that you don’t need in your life anymore. This is a great way of weeding out those unworthy people who you thought were your friends.
As you can tell, this is something I’m VERY passionate about, so I’m going to lay out my one stop guide for creating your own personal brand today:
Step 1: The Setup
Decide Your Role:
How would you like potential clients to think of you? What would you like to be known for in five years’ time? What values and morals do you want to show? These sorts of questions are what you need to be asking yourself when it comes to getting started. If you’re an affiliate marketer, then you may want to be known as the zero bullshit affiliate that lays everything on the table. If you’re an online entrepreneur, then you may want to be known as the entrepreneurial crash test dummy, trying everything out and recording your ups and downs.
You have to think about what you want to represent and get an idea in your head of which direction you want to take. Write it down. Got it? Good!
I purposely bolded the above because to me personally this is the most important point on this entire post. Get yourself a website ASAP! Now you have a few options here when it comes to website and brand; you either:
- Brand yourself as yourname.com
- Brand yourself as an alias
For example, I myself snapped up oliverkenyon.com because I want to brand my name, myself, and everything I stand for. Others, however, choose to go with an alias or brand name. For example, Tai is cashmoneyaffiliate.com, and Pat Flyn is smartpassiveincome.com.
None of the above is right or wrong. It’s all down to personal preference. Personally I’d snap up yourname.com or as close to it as soon as possible because you don’t want to be put into a box or category – yourname.com covers everything.
Once you have your domain, get yourself a site setup that basically showcases everything you do. I always say to my friends and students that I coach, “Your website or blog is your virtual CV“, and that’s pretty accurate. As you can see on my site, I show everything about me from my about page to the projects I’m currently involved or working on.
Go out and hire a local photographer to take some professional pictures of you. Andy and I paid someone £100 for around 50 images of ourselves. It just gives you that sense of “professionalism” and looks better than you and your mates drinking beers at the local pub.
Get a nice logo designed, create your website, and be consistent with colours, fonts, and branding.
The same goes for social. I use a tool called knowem to search specific keywords to see if their social profile usernames are available.
You won’t always be able to get the perfect names as they may be taken, but one thing I will say is try to be consistent across the social networks. It just looks much better and sticks in people’s heads. For example:
The only one that wasn’t available was the Facebook username, so putting “I’m” in front of it is sufficient.
When it comes to setting up your social profiles, be sure to use the same colours, wording, and descriptions across all platforms. Use the same profile picture, cover image, and so forth to again get across that feeling of “brand” and “authentication”. The social networks I recommend you get started with are:
So now you have your website and social accounts all set up, all looking the same, and all on brand.
This is possibly the most important point and one that I’ll keep repeating throughout this post. When I say “be consistent”, what I mean is it’s time to get serious and take yourself and personal brand in a serious manner.
Getting consistent means getting strict with yourself and not letting anything go under the radar. When it comes to being consistent with your brand, everything should be perfect. Once you’ve picked a logo, font, colour, etc. for your brand, be sure to use nothing but that across all your channels.
Take a look at my branding across every single thing I do; it’s all highly consistent. I use the same profile picture for everything – social, website, Skype, Basecamp, and more. I use the same cover images for all my social accounts, and I have the same bio on all of my online pages. My brand is bulletproof. Make sure you get consistent and carry your image across everything that you do.
This is a good step in preparation. Google Alerts are basically notifications you can set up via Google to tell you when something or someone is mentioned online. It’s a great way to manage your online reputation and personal brand.
This means, whenever your name or brand is mentioned online, you will receive an email telling you exactly where it was posted and what was said. This gives you a great advantage to do brand control and management, whether it’s posting some insight or a reply to a mention on another blog or website or it’s damage control if someone has posted something about you that is malicious or untrue.
To set up alerts:
– Step One: Visit https://www.google.co.uk/alerts
– Step Two: Type in your name
– Step Three: Enter your email
– Step Four: Verify your email
Bingo! Now every time your name or brand is mentioned online, you will be the first to know about it.
Now it’s time to get noticed!
Step 2: Getting Noticed
I always recommend adding a blog to your website when you create it in step 1. The reason is blogs are by far one of the best ways to voice your opinion and get yourself heard. Another great way of publishing yourself these days is via videos or “vlogging”. Either way, it’s time to start getting some relative content out to your chosen brand audience.
It’s obvious, but if you want to get a reputation and following in affiliate marketing, you need to practice what you preach and get some content out about it. Take myself and this blog, I want to grow into one of the biggest and most well-known online entrepreneurs, so I’ve been consistently (there’s that word again) “blogging” and writing about my personal endeavours and experiences when it comes to managing and running my online businesses.
The key again is consistency. Whether it’s once a week or once a day, the real point is to be consistent and stick to it. Produce good, useful and relevant content and get it out to people via your website, social channels, and any other avenues you may have. I set myself the target of writing at least one blog post a week, and as you can see in my monthly growth reports, I’ve only failed to hit that target once.
Don’t EVER think about making money from your personal brand to begin with. Trust me, the value is in the long term following and goals. Don’t sell out too quick or get greedy. It can ruin a personal brand in a day!
A great way to expand your personal brand in the beginning is to reach out to people within your target audience who already have a following and their own personal brand.
When reaching out, you want to ask them to interview you for their publication. It can be a text, phone or video interview. The main point is to get your name in front of their readers that may not have ever heard of you before you appeared on their idol’s blog.
Another good way of securing “press” and interviews is to follow trends and the latest news within your niche and contact publications offering your views and thoughts on events. Sometimes it pays to go that one step further and be a little controversial.
When I first launched CPAFix, I reached out to every single affiliate website and blog to get my story and interview covered by as many publications as possible. The effect this had on the growth of not only the forums but also my personal name was amazing. I just wish I had someone telling me back then what I’m telling you now, and in hindsight, would have had my blog and personal brand setup ready.
This is the only topic on the list I cannot really comment on because I’ve yet to do any speaking events. Although I’ve been featured on numerous webinars, masterminds, and videos, I’ve yet to speak in public in front of an audience of a substantial size.
However, I’m aware this is something I personally need to change this year, and thanks again to this blog and my “personal brand”, I have several speaking events lined up for 2016. This doesn’t stop me, however, from commenting and sharing the experience of others and what it’s done for their brands. Take for example my good friend Ian Fernando. Ian was relatively unknown in the affiliate space until he started to work on his brand and in hand got invited to speak at his very first gig at Affiliate Summit.
Ian has since said that speaking at that event changed his life, as he all of a sudden got the credibility and brand recognition he needed in order to build a bigger and stronger following.
Reach out to events, meetups, and so forth and ask if you can speak on your chosen subject. I know I’m making sure I’ll be doing this in 2016!
When it comes to networking, the first thing people think of is face-to-face meetings and events. Although these are incredibly important to your brand, it doesn’t have to stop there. Networking can mean getting yourself and your name in and amongst anywhere there’s an audience.
Yes, you would want to attend as many events and meetups as possible, but you would also want to get yourself involved in social groups, forums, Facebook groups, local networking, and more.
Some people think of networking too narrow-mindedly, but all it really means is getting yourself out there and in front of people. That doesn’t always have to be in the flesh.
I’m going to mention that damn word again – “consistency”. If you’re posting in forums, Facebook groups and such, make sure you dedicate 30 minutes of your day – every day – to do so. Consistency builds brands so get in front of people, get out of your comfort zone, and go and meet people.
You should make an effort to get to know people who you want to aspire to be. Get to know them on a first name basis, learn their passions (whether it’s a football team or cooking), chat with them as a friend, and leave a strong impression. The best impression you can ever leave on someone, with whom you want to eventually be in the same circle, is that of a hard-working person. Instead of asking them for their help, go out and make the mistakes yourself and then show them how dedicated you are.
Another great tip is, if you do go to events and meetups, take a picture with the most influential and branded people in the room, share it on your social platforms, and tag them in it. Basically, leverage someone else’s following to increase your own.
Right! So now that you’re getting noticed and mixing in the right crowds, how do you maintain your personal brand?
Step 3: Staying Noticed
Content is king, and going back to the point above about publicising yourself, it’s all about what you put out there.
DON’T EVER post a blog post or video for the sake of it. If you run out of ideas, then don’t be ashamed to admit it and take a break.
However, as best as you can, you need to be putting out constant content through any conceivable medium to stay relevant and to stay in the thoughts of your following.
One thing you can do is build an email list from your publications and such, and funnel emails to your audience on the latest trends and happenings in your niche.
Also, don’t just think of content as blog posts and videos. Content could be your latest business idea, website, or application. Just try to stay busy and keep your audience informed along the way. One way I’ve managed to do this is by keeping my online “journal” in the form of my growth reports that allows people to see exactly what I’m doing from month to month in my businesses.
Again, the key point is to stay consistent, and don’t let those people, who admire you, forget about you.
As a thought leader or someone who is now at the forefront of their space and has a large brand following, it’s your obligation and role to be creative and innovative. People will look to you for the next big thing or for something different, so it’s your job to give it to them.
You need to be innovative and make a significant change or progression in your space over time in order for your audience to keep following you.
Try and find out exactly what your role is after this time and then leverage that position to be and do the best things in the industry that no one else is doing. Find ways in which to change the direction of where your peers are heading and try and change the field for the better.
Take any opportunities to speak up and get your voice heard when it comes to your ideas and thoughts.
Sometimes it also pays to be controversial; they say no press is bad press. Often, when you legitimately disagree or go against the grain on a subject, you will pique others’ attention. I’m not suggesting you purposely try and cause problems and controversy, but often saying something a lot of people don’t have the guts or voice to say can be a positive thing for your brand.
Continue to speak, give interviews, voice your opinions, and network in your field. The day you stop doing the above is when your brand will be replaced by the next big thing or someone who read this article and took my advice.
I’m still relatively new in the personal branding game, but I have close friends who have been at this for years and they consistently still attend events, offer their support and opinions, do interviews, launch new companies and projects, and all of the above. If you’re not an entrepreneur or not someone who’s in this for the long run, then the above will be a waste in my opinion.
It’s very hard to create a strong personal brand, but when you have, you need to be sure you’re in it for the long game and that you’re going to leverage it for all it’s worth:
Play the Long Game:
As I said in the intro, you need to look at your personal brand as an investment, and a long term one at that. If you’re looking to make a quick buck or rip some people off, then trust me that this isn’t the game for you. However, if you’re looking to earn those things that most people desire – money, power and respect – then this is it.
While in the future you may create businesses that get shut down or get sold, you will always have your personal brand and following to back you up.
If you consider yourself being in a specific line of business for the long haul, then a good personal brand is an invaluable investment.
I hope this has inspired and helped some of you reading this today, and I hope I can look back on this in 20 years’ time and smile with my personal brand strong and still intact!