If you aren't fully committed to building your personal brand yet, it's time to go all-in. I'm a huge advocate when it comes to personal branding -- it's how I built my first marketing agency. I leveraged my personal brand and bootstrapped its growth, allowing me to avoid taking out a business loan or giving up equity to an investor. To this day, I retain 100 percent ownership of every business I operate.
When done right, you are able to establish yourself as an authority, create an authentic voice and attract business through transparency and expertise. I've discussed ways to build your personal brand in the past and mentioned some online personal branding tools that you can use -- and now I want to talk about effective strategies. I spoke with several entrepreneurs to come up with a list of a dozen ways you can elevate your personal brand in the upcoming year.
1. Launch a weekly email newsletter.
I have been sending out a weekly newsletter for several years, but through my company, so it's geared toward online marketing. In 2018, I am launching a personal website that will act as an information hub for all of my brands and projects. I will also start a weekly newsletter, and since it will be tied to my personal brand, I'll be able to talk about a wide range of topics.
"We constantly hear about the importance of building an email list," says Deep Patel, founder of Owlmetrics, "as email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing techniques, but building a list derived from your personal brand, rather than company, and sending out a weekly newsletter can be very beneficial.
"It's a list that you can market future ventures to, which is exactly how I announced my newest startup. I am able to put myself in front of an active audience every week, driving awareness to content I published, which helps strengthen my personal brand."
2. Run a $3/day personal branding campaign on Facebook.
A lot of entrepreneurs are already running Facebook ads for their business, but they don't think of running ads to promote their personal brand. I'm currently running highly targeted Facebook ads that put my Facebook page in front of C-level executives at specific large brands I'm targeting -- it's the most cost-effective strategy I'm currently using to connect with high-level executives.
Dean Steadman, CEO of Dignity Bio Labs, says, "Facebook presents you with the ability to put yourself in front of the exact audience you want to attract. I suggest that everyone starts a public page in order to have a personal brand on the platform that is separate from your personal profile.
"Then, run ads targeting your ideal audience and set your budget to just $3 per day. This allows you to grow your personal brand on Facebook and push traffic to your website for less than $100 per month. This is an effective strategy that is affordable for all entrepreneurs."
3. Post regular long-form content on LinkedIn.
I have seen some entrepreneurs in my inner-circle completely crush it on LinkedIn, especially in this final quarter of the year. High quality long-form content can perform very well, helping you grow your LinkedIn audience, which you can then push to other social platforms, blogs and websites. Becoming active on LinkedIn is something I am committed to in 2018.
"LinkedIn has seen a major increase in popularity this year, which gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to be seen and heard by a very large and now active audience," Immanuel Debeer, digital marketing manager of Flight Hacks, says. "LinkedIn always had a large user base, but now its users are engaging with content more than they did in the past.
"Rather than just repurpose content, commit to writing some long-form content exclusively for your LinkedIn profile. By turning comments into conversations, you engage with your audience and establish yourself as an authority."
4. Create a standalone personal website.
As I mentioned above, I have a new personal website launching soon. With several brands and ventures these days, I feel that a personal website will help my personal brand. I will be leveraging it to push people to my various brands and also attract inbound inquiries about new ventures.
"It's very hard to build your personal brand," says Ben Larcey, co-founder of StoreKit, "if you are constantly tied to your company's marketing. Blogging on your company website or being the voice of your company's social media profiles can be good for your business, but if you are serious about building a brand built around you, then you need to take steps to separate your business and personal brand.
"A simple website with an 'About' page and a blog is all you need to get started. Start to consistently blog and share that content across your personal social media profiles. If it's available, opt for a first name + last name dot com domain."
5. Amplify your blog post across content discovery channels.
This is something I do with a lot of my consulting clients. We push content through paid distribution channels to get it immediate traction. The views and social shares you collect using this strategy also act as social proof.
Mark Feygin, co-founder of PowerSetter, says, "In order to build a strong personal brand that can then be leveraged, you need to build a following. Whether your goal is to build a strong social media following or a more in-depth CMS data base, you need to put valuable information in front of your target audience.
"Blogging is great, but only if people are reading and engaging with your content. One of the easiest ways to get out there, even if your website traffic is low, is to amplify your content through a discovery channel, such as Outbrain or Taboola. You only pay when someone clicks-through and you can start with a very small budget."
6. Participate in Twitter chats -- or start your own.
Twitter used to be my favorite social media platform, and Twitter chats back in the day -- especially in the online marketing industry -- offered a tremendous amount of value. Twitter's newest changes have me interested in getting active again, and participating in Twitter chats once again.
David Baddeley, director of Finance.co.uk, says, "Twitter chats were immensely popular years ago and have started to become popular one again, which I attribute to the recent increased interest in the new 280-character limit. The easiest way to find relevant Twitter chats to participate in is by following the most influential people in your industry.
"They are usually weekly events that last for 30 to 60 minutes, and feature a specific hashtag, which is how participants follow and engage with the discussion. Answering questions and providing value is an easy way to help strengthen your personal brand."
7. Start vlogging to document your entrepreneurial journey.
Starting a daily vlog in 2018 is one of the things I'm most excited about. I have a fun project starting soon and I can't wait to document the process. Filming all day and then editing at night is going to require dedication, but I'm fully committed.
"Vlogs have become very popular," says Rahe Riazi, CEO of Copperblu Media, "as mobile devices allow consumers to consume video content on the go. Entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk and Casey Neistat are prime examples of how one can grow a massive personal brand simply by vlogging their day-to-day life.
While their results aren't typical, you can still use the same strategy to build an audience, albeit much smaller than Neistat's 8.3 million subscribers. You will need a unique angle and story, but once you figure that out, the opportunity to attract an audience and raise your personal brand is limitless."
8. Donate your time and expertise to your local community to open doors.
For the past few years I have helped nonprofit organizations with their online marketing, pro bono. Over the years, this has resulted in being introduced to amazing contacts and being referred to some large brands.
Kristal Wingate, founder of Roof Top Services of Central Florida, Inc., says, "All personal brands have to start somewhere, and your local community is a great place to establish yourself as an expert in your field. By simply donating your time on a pro bono basis or providing your product or service, you will open up several avenues that can lead to an enhanced personal brand.
"This can include expert appearances on local radio and TV, interviews in local print and local speaking engagements. When you donate your time, you are viewed as a contributing member of the community, and you will see opportunities present themselves to you."
9. Start a weekly podcast.
I have consumed more podcast content in the past six months than I have my entire life. I have seen several entrepreneurs build massive podcast audiences, and that spilled over to their social media profiles, which really helped strengthen their personal brands. It's something I am considering doing myself in the not so distant future.
"Podcasts serve the same purpose as your social media profiles and blog," says Chris Rush, CEO of Staff Outsourcing. "They are a platform to put your expertise and knowledge on display, with the hopes of attracting an audience. Podcasts are portable and can be consumed during downtime, such as while commuting or at the gym.
"The cost to set up to record a podcast is minimal and there are numerous ways to distribute your show -- Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Overcast, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Google Play, TuneIn, Acast, Castbox, Otto Radio and Google Home are popular ways your audience can subscribe."
10. Never stop learning.
I spend time daily reading and learning -- absorbing as much information as possible. My industry is constantly changing, so if I failed to keep up with the changes it would have a negative impact on my personal brand, as my value would plummet.
"Before you can even think of offering advice and providing your input, you need to completely master your industry," David W. Craig, founding partner of Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC, says. "Constantly learning by reading books, case studies and consuming as much information as possible keeps your mind full.
"You cannot expect to build a strong personal brand without something of value to give to those that follow you. The more effort you put into learning and information consumption, the more you can give back, which will only help you create a strong personal brand."
11. Network at key industry conferences.
Networking is the main reason I attend conferences. When I decide to attend a conference, that decision is based on the networking opportunities and not necessarily the speakers or sessions. I've attended conferences in the past and skipped the actual event, putting all effort into networking in the evening.
Mark Leman, marketing director of Blinds UK, says, "Connecting with just one key influencer within your industry can lead to massive exposure for your personal brand, so when attending conferences, make sure you have a well-thought-out game plan in place before you even step off the plane.
Have your targets identified in advance and try to pre-schedule times to meet, either in-between sessions or at evening events. A mention in a blog post, shout out on social media or a plug in an email newsletter of an industry influencer can do wonders for your personal brand."
12. Invest in professional photography.
I use the same headshot everywhere -- from my social media profiles to my author bios -- and that consistency is key if you are serious about building a strong personal brand. My photo is almost two years old, so I plan on knocking some new ones out in the early part of the new year. Aside from being professional pictures, I also think they should be fairly current in terms of appearance.
"If you want to have your personal brand taken seriously," Vijay Nair, CEO of Sleepaider, says, "you need to use a professional headshot across all of your social media profiles and online accounts. Rather than snapping a selfie with your iPhone camera, spend a couple hundred dollars to have professional headshots taken in a studio.Your personal brand will look much more professional, and when your audience starts to see the same picture on several platforms and in the media, they begin to take notice and take what you have to say more serious. A low-quality headshot can immediately tarnish your personal brand."