Content Marketing Is Key to Growing Your Personal Brand
Personal branding is such a buzzword these days. Marry it to content marketing, and you’ve practically got yourself a swarm (see what I did there?). But don’t believe it’s all hype. There are tangible benefits.
How do you go about implementing an effective content marketing strategy for your personal brand? Whether you’re starting out in your career or you’re a known thought leader in your space, the content you produce is the first (and often only) indicator of your brand’s value proposition.
Sure, you may have an endorsement from Elon Musk, but the general public isn’t privy to the details of your relationship. They are, however, consuming your opinions, thoughts, and ideas. And these are the assets that they can reliably evaluate for themselves and, therefore, trust. That’s the power of content. It’s like being in a perpetual one-sided job interview where you get to provide exceptionally valuable answers.
Related: The 4 Laws of Content Marketing
Having a plan in place doesn’t have to be as involved as that of a corporation’s content marketing strategy. Any small checklist derived from thought and research ensures that you’ll be on the right path to success.
Here’s a variation of one plan that you can use:
- Make a list of your target goals. Why are you producing content? Who is your audience? What is the end result you’d like to achieve? Do you want to be viewed as a thought leader, deliver value to potential stakeholders or just increase your professional exposure?
- For each target goal, plan the kind of content that would best serve to accomplish your goal. For example, if your goal is to become a thought leader, then the content you create would need to be rich in ideas, innovative strategies, keen insight, and thorough analysis and lean on personal anecdotes.
- Now decide on the most impactful avenue for your content’s distribution to target this audience. Is it a blog with a large readership, your LinkedIn page, an online publication, a trade magazine, a corporate podcast, Twitter or Facebook?
- Research the best ways to reach your audience through these channels. For example, Tweets are best sent during certain periods of the day. Instagram posts that receive the most attention often contain specific tags.
With a well-designed strategy that supports the marketing of your content, you can focus on creating impactful, engaging and fresh material.
Keys to well-made content.
The ideas below are non-exhaustive and by no means comprehensive. As a matter of fact, you could easily break out each suggestion and write an e-book per bullet point.
Think of things from a unique perspective. This doesn’t necessarily just mean an underrepresented voice. What about a rock? Or a lizard? If your industry is green energy, what would a blog post written from a lizard’s perspective look like? Yes, it's quirky but if that's your brand, go with it.
Include ideas and resources that have not been shared. In creative writing, this is referred to as "first level” creativity. When you’re brainstorming, don’t settle for the first, second, or even fifth idea that comes to mind. Think deeper to find things that are new and fresh.
Empathize with your audience. What are their pain points? What are their needs, fears, aspirations? What’s incredibly challenging to them? Sit in the corner of the classroom as the ADHD child or dive into the late night stress sessions of financial analysts. True understanding helps you write extremely compelling content.
Find humor in the humdrum. Humor is a significant barrier-breaker in business. Why else do you think funny pictures of cats took over the internet?
Humanize yourself. You haven’t been replaced by an AI machine (yet) churning out literature aimlessly into the long night. Be transparent about who you are, what challenges you’ve faced, and how you overcame them. Letting your audience feel like they’re in on a secret is a great way to keep them engaged.
Leverage your strengths. Are you a data nerd? Shower numbers in your content. Or maybe you’re more visual? Infographics are insanely popular. Do you like order and structure? Listicles, my friend, listicles. For every human strength, there's almost always a corresponding audience that embraces that same strength. Don't shy away from what you're good at.
Challenge your audience. Along with empathy and comfort, your readers also want to be challenged. They want to see things from a different perspective because, frankly, it’s thrilling. Can you imagine making a digital visual media report to explain new trends in software development to programmers? Be bold. Take risks. Trust your audience.
Be professional. I would be remiss to not include this in the list. Your content must be so visually beautiful, enticingly grammatically correct, and romantically spelling error free that it could easily contest for a Nobel (if one existed for “Best Content Created for a Content Strategy Used in Personal Branding”).
The above aren't just thought bubbles put onto the screen. They’re all aspects that have formed the cornerstone of crazy successful content marketing campaigns.
But what if you’re not an entrepreneur? Will content marketing still help? Of course! TThe only question that remains is: how will you leverage it to grow your own authority?
Sarah Rickerd is the owner of Content Conquered, a content creation agency dedicated to producing high-value, conversions-driving blog posts, case studies, ebooks and more. Sarah has been writing professionally since 2007 and has helped her clients publish more than 8 million words online in that time.