The Internet has given us one important opportunity: Become a brand.
These days we have self-educated experts, self-published authors, self-created celebrities, none of which was imaginable a couple of decades ago when there was no way to be heard for just about anyone.
Personal branding can help you on many levels. By being known in your niche, you can launch your own personal projects and make money online. When you are a well-known industry expert, you don’t have to look for a job. Employers will come knocking at your door and you will be able to set your own terms and choose a job of your dreams.
As someone who has relied on my own personal brand for ages, I know it takes time and effort to create one but it is worth every minute you invest in it.
Know What “Everywhere” Means
I know the headline of this article states “Everywhere” but in reality it should be “Everywhere where it matters”.
You should be where your target audience is.
You should be where you end up seeing results.
You may try all the channels you are aware of. But the end goal is to ultimately focus where you feel it works.
When starting out I registered an account everywhere I could, including StumbleUpon, Sphinn, Tumblr, MySpace, all niche forums and communities I could find… A year or so later I narrowed it down to 5-6 communities I found myself enjoying using because I ended up finding friends and seeing clicks to my site.
Using your common sense will also help you to better target your activities. For example, if I were to start now, I wouldn’t probably try TikTok because it’s not my target demographic which is small business website owners.
Define Your Visual Branding
What is it you want to be associated with your personal brand? Is there a recognizable logo, your own picture, your unique color palette you are using on your site? Maybe all of that?
Don’t underestimate the power of visual associations. As neuroscience researchers found, people tend to think thoughts together. One idea always brings other thoughts, especially if all of those thoughts were recorded together a few times in the past.
People may forget your name or what you do but they will instantly recognize you by seeing your picture in a memorable visual context. And this will prompt them to click your link and engage with your updates.
By having a recognizable visual identity is the first step to creating a memorable brand.
In fact, my visual branding has turned out both a bliss and a trap for me. When working on getting known in the SEO industry years ago, I picked this picture to use on Twitter.
I didn’t even have a high-resolution version of it as, frankly, I didn’t quite know what I was doing.
A decade or so later, I am no longer able to change my profile picture and I am forced to use it across my columns and channels. When I attempt to change it, people just stop engaging.
If you are unsure where to start, try creating your logo. When you find a good one, you will be able to define your color palette and visual elements you want to be associated with. Renderforest’s logo maker is a great tool for the task. Simply type in your keywords (things you want to be known for) and it will use AI to generate logo ideas to build upon.
Note: The purpose here is not even to design your final logo. It’s finding a concept and defining colors you’d be comfortable being associated with.
It is also quite helpful to research niche associations to better understand how you are going to fit in. Text Optimizer is a handy tool which will help you research those:
Looking at different WordPress themes may also be very inspiring in defining your visual identity. Here’s a good collection of personal branding themes for you to browse through.
One Message, Multiple Channels
Adding content is your next step to creating online branding. This is where maintaining several channels may be challenging but you need to keep all of them active.
Tools like Snappa allow you to create a unique and well-branded social media graphic which can be automatically resized into multiple formats to fit each individual channel. This is very helpful in creating a unique update for each social media platform out there.
Plus, personal branding tools like Paper.li allow you to automate some of the processes by consolidating some of your feeds into one.
Additional resources to help out:
- Here are a few more steps to creating an effective social media strategy
- Here are more tips to win in search, social, and email from Rand Fishkin
Create a Routine
There’s a lot into “being out there” and trying to build an online presence. You need to consistently do something every day to never let your community forget you.
For years, I’ve successfully been using two important rules to build up my consistent online presence:
- Do at least something, every day, no breaks. This rule basically means that you may get very busy or leave for a vacation. No matter what, you need to do at least one thing every day, even if it takes one minute of your time. This rule is incredibly helpful when you are starting a new project. On days when I am completely overwhelmed and cannot seem to find time for my new brand, this “one thing” rule keeps me going and gives at least some feeling of accomplishment.
- Create a set routine and know how much time you spend on that every day. Personal branding is not something you can measure. Nor can you get any ROI immediately, or even months into the process. This is very discouraging for most people which is the main reason why they give up. Having a set routine helps me keep going. Now that I’ve been known in my (albeit comparatively small) niche, I don’t have to have it. But when starting (and while having a full-time job and a new family), I knew exactly what I was supposed to be doing every day. For example:
- Creating a new update on all networks: ~10 minutes (see “One Message, Multiple Channels” above)
- Checking my notifications and replying to all comments and messages: ~10-15 minutes (the more you work on building your brand, the more notifications you will be getting, so this may take more time down the road)
- Checking my forums/blogs and commenting on at least 2-5 threads / articles: ~20 minutes
- Experimenting with new update formats, like Facebook polls, Linkedin Slideshow, etc.: ~10 minutes
- Finding new people to follow: ~10 minutes, etc.
Performing at least these tasks every day (excluding those days when you absolutely cannot afford the time which is where you use the “Do one thing” rule) will help your personal brand to be there all the time, and that’s where people will think you are actually everywhere.
Consolidate All Your Activity Around Your Site
During the decade which I spent building my personal brand, I’ve lost 2/3 of my initial channels. Those were StumbleUpon, Sphinn, and many others.
This hasn’t reflected on my brand because I’ve always been careful in making my own site my priority. People are not associating me with my Instagram account. They know me as SEOsmarty and they always know where to find me.
Luckily setting up a site is easy these days: You are unlikely to need any external help. Here are a few helpful resources for you to create your own site:
- Here’s a start-to-finish guide for you on how to start a blog.
- I have my own list of must-have digital marketing tools: Get some for yourself!
- Finally, to ensure web accessibility of your site (and hence create a more inclusive brand strategy). Here’s a detailed tutorial on how to use accessiBe to create an accessible web presence.
Make sure to link your site from everywhere, invite people to subscribe to your blog, contribute regular content there, etc.
My site is where my personal branding efforts convert into new subscribers and new clients. To achieve that, I make sure my social media followers know they landed on my site, so I instill my personal branding elements throughout my site.
It is also helpful to use on-site remarketing to create personalized CTAs and creatives depending on which channel or campaign drove them to the site. Finteza is a great tool for that allowing you to set up custom campaigns on your site to serve your visitors better:
Personal branding takes time and effort but there’s nothing better for your career than investing in yourself. As you start seeing results (people citing you, inviting you to their podcasts, and recommending you for relevant gigs), you will see yourself addicted to the process. Good luck!