There are several reasons why you might want to build your own personal brand. Perhaps you have a business that would benefit from a strong leader brand, or maybe you want to position yourself as an authority within your industry. It could be that you write a lot and want to use the net to boost your profile and have people recognise you for your work. Whatever your reasons, a personal brand can do you a lot of good professionally whether you work for yourself or for someone else.
So how do you get started? First, it’s wise to put a little planning in and to decide upon your short term and long term goals. Decide what you want to realistically achieve within a year, two years, five and ten. If you find it difficult to put in long term planning, then just look at the next couple of year, but do set yourself targets so that you have a clear goal in sight. Remember too that you need to decide exactly who you want to be, so rather than give yourself a vague label such as entrepreneur or writer, tease out your exact area of expertise and then craft yourself a personal bio. There are a huge amount of people that describe themselves as industry gurus, ninjas or evangelists – don’t do this, it’s highly off-putting.
Build a Website
For your personal brand you’re going to need a website. You don’t have to know how to code in order to build one, although it’s useful if you have a bit of an eye for design. You can choose to go with a free blogging site such as WordPress.com or Blogger, or you can buy a domain name and have your site hosted. I personally would always go with the latter. To start with, it’s a good idea to get a domain name that ideally is your own name, this will help to cement and strengthen your branding later on.
To do this, first just put in a Google search for your name + domain name registration. It’s likely that you’ll get a few options such as .com, .me and so on. Choose as many as you like bearing in mind that if your brand really takes off, then these might later become unavailable. Once you’ve done that you’ll also have to purchase hosting, which should be pretty cheap as it’s for personal use. Choose a host that offers a click-and-build website option – the majority of the larger hosts do this now.
When it comes to the site itself, keep it simple and don’t clutter the pages up with reams of text and images. The front page should have impact – you can include a photo of yourself, or you can choose to present your brand in another way.
Any media that you use must be available to you copyright-wise too, so ensure that you have the right to use any images, illustrations, video, music, etc.
- Pixabay – a collection of free images created by the Pixabay community that allow you to use any without attribution. There’s an option to leave a donation for the artists on the site if you’re so inclined.
- Unsplash – free, high-res images for you to use as you like, there are 10 new images added each day.
- Little Visuals – get seven free, high-res images sent to your mailbox each week, there’s also an archive of previous weeks available for download.
- Morguefile – search a large database of completely free images.
- Free Image – an open source collection of images, you need 7zip in order to download.
Get Started on Social
For your brand to be effective, you will of course need to get yourself on social media. It’s never too early to start so as soon as you decide on your branding, get your social accounts set up. You’ll need a Facebook account to make a page, Twitter, G+ and LinkedIn as a bare minimum. Depending on what you do, you can make accounts too within Pinterest, Instagram etc.
To get your social working for you it will be necessary to put the work in and really get social. You will have to spend time on each site replying to messages and shares personally. Many people, even those who are successful online, don’t do this, but I’ve found that it gives all of your accounts a boost with regard to followers and it creates a sentiment from the very start that you appreciate your fans – and in turn, they appreciate you and share more of your posts.
You can use software to help you build your following. Hootsuite and Rignite are great for scheduling posts and you should use these to stagger posts going out over a 24 hour period for at least a few months, depending on the content. Try to write posts that are ‘evergreen’ in that they will still be useful in a couple of years time. You should mix this up with industry news pieces which won’t be shareable beyond the first month or so after you write them.
Organise and Post Your Work
As soon as your website is ready, you should populate with work that you already have completed. Choose your best work, and get it scheduled to go out on your social accounts. Consider publishing the very best ones to LinkedIn to further extend your reach. Your blogging, vlogging or photography should say a lot about you as a person. You shouldn’t be afraid of expressing personal opinion and allowing your voice to shine through. People like to hear the personal voice, it helps them to connect with you emotionally, so don’t be shy.
When it comes to personal opinion that could be considered controversial, you can still voice it so long as it’s not offensive. We all have personal opinions and it helps you to come across as human when you share yours.
Your work should also impart your knowledge on your chosen subject. Try to avoid writing the same old stuff as other people do, look for new research, study it and have your own take on it. You should aim to post at least a couple of times a week, although daily is better where possible.
Once you’ve done all of this, then you can really get out there and get involved. Share your work extensively and invite comment – even hold a Google Hangouts session with some of your more ardent supporters. More importantly, share the work of others, comment on those you find useful and search out and get involved in communities where others in your industry frequent. Get networking and speak to as many people as you can daily and you’ll soon find that your network is growing at a blistering pace.