How to Grow Your Personal Brand for Long-Term Success
While your voice and passions may change over the years, your brand also goes through a natural evolution.
Growing your brand can yield life-changing opportunities. If you're interested in creating content based around your passion, it's something to consider as an investment of time. Depending on your industry, a strong personal brand may even be a requirement for your field.
A personal brand could include your areas of expertise, colors or patterns you associate with yourself, catchphrases, or specific teaching methods. Your brand expresses how you do things differently than everyone else, and it defines your style while you do it.
While your voice and passions may change over the years, your brand also goes through a natural evolution, especially in fields like marketing, which are dependent on constant innovation. Your brand can attract interactions with other influencers, phenomenal networking opportunities and more.
Why is a personal brand important?
A personal brand establishes and defines various aspects of your professional personality. It discloses more about you than what someone might find on a resume, revealing your passions, interests and talents. A personal brand is also an excellent way to show off your hobbies and skills.
If you're a freelancer, a personal brand can elevate you in several ways.
It can demonstrate your expertise. Your brand, once you put it on any online platform, helps you showcase your best qualities. You could become the go-to person for your particular topic ― including a niche you've invented and evolved entirely on your own.
It allows you to reveal your mistakes. You're not perfect ― you're human. Some of the most valuable personal branding content out there is about how an industry expert tried something new and failed. Not only does it save their audience time, but it also shows them precisely why specific methods don't always work and what they might have done instead. If you can do that for yourself and your efforts, your clients will trust you to try new things on their behalf and always see them through.
Additionally, it generates fabulous networking potential. When others see someone doing something great, innovative or useful, they want to engage and connect. If you know anything about social-media metrics, you're aware that engagement is one of the most valuable: People who need meaningful connections usually invest the most time and money in that type of business relationship. Networking potential could lead to lots of one-offs and long-term freelance work.
All of this can lead to more freelance opportunities, more recommendations and testimonials, and higher rates.
Whether you're full-time or are looking for new employment, having a strong personal brand can help you display your expertise broadly: Everyone knows that most human-resources professionals now Google job candidates. What comes up when someone uses Google to search for your name? If you have a strong personal brand, it's likely a plethora of content about your professional expertise and hobbies. If you've got some strong SEO (search engine optimization) skills, a human-resources professional will see the side you want to showcase when they research you. This is a prime opportunity to maximize your public-facing social-media profiles, blogs, websites and video channels.
How can you establish your brand?
Most people who establish a personal brand do so by accident. They start a blog or a podcast because they're enthusiastic about what they do and want to share it with others. This is a fantastic way to begin formulating a personal brand, but the particular brand itself is more intentional and curated than that.
From there, think about how you describe yourself, both personally and professionally. Consider asking a few colleagues, friends and family members to offer some suggestions as well.
Once you've thought about how you describe yourself, think about how those words, feelings and emotions translate into a style or design.
Create and promote innovative ideas
Having a defined style and area of expertise is crucial to your brand, but they won't sustain it or catch the attention of new prospective community members, employers and journalists on the regular. To make an impact with a personal brand, you'll need to be innovative.
In under an hour, you could use a free tool like Canva to create and promote an image detailing common grammatical mistakes in marketing copy and how to prevent or fix them. Your impactful ideas won't reach anyone if you don't put them out there.
Where should you take your brand?
Once you've established, built and maintained your brand, it's time to harness the power of it. Here are some ideas for taking your brand on the road ― both virtually and in real life:
- Guest blogs. Contact another brand to see if it would be interested in swapping guest blog posts. This works best when your audience has some overlap.
- Conferences. Appear at live, in-person events. Many speakers are even paid. If you work for a major company, they're likely to cover or reimburse all of your travel costs as long as it's industry-relevant.
- Podcasts and video interviews. These opportunities involve a minimal amount of time commitment, and your interviewer hopefully has a broad audience. You should also co-promote these when they go live.
- Twitter chats. Twitter chats are substantial conversations that happen at a specific time. They're usually weekly, and in the marketing world, they use particular hashtags so people can join the conversation and even potentially get the topic trending.
When you travel with your brand, make sure to have promotional materials ready: links to your website, business cards, brochures and product or service samples.
Your audience and community will get value out of your brand if you encourage them to sign up for your newsletter, ask you questions on social media, contact you about your servives, sign up for free trials and contribute to conversations.
While a personal brand can translate to long-term success, getting value for yourself in the short-term is important too. Whether that means becoming a micro-influencer and netting some swag or chatting it up with one of your favorite industry professionals on a podcast, make sure get some value out of all that you do to serve your fans.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor