5 Tips to Grow a Personal Brand
I am FINALLY sharing a recap of my presentation from the KC Influence event earlier this month. It was so fun to connect with incredible women (and a few men) that are building creative careers in the world of social media, blogging, marketing, and more! I am hoping you find these tips helpful as you build, grow or launch your personal brand!
Let’s start with the basics…
What is influence and How do you influence others?
Having influence is being able to the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself. SO, if you have a community of people that listen to you and want to hear what you are saying, AND will take action, you are already winning the game. Notice that not once did I mention your number of FOLLOWERS. It doesn’t matter if you can influence 10 or 1,000 people. If you are moving people to take action or to follow your lead, you are already off to a great start. From the brand side, I see people that claim to be influencers because of the number listed on their Instagram profile and I promise you, that doesn't mean a thing if you aren't actually influencing any of them to follow your lead.
How do you turn your influence into a profitable personal brand?
Over the course of doing this for 8+ years, I have seen bloggers/creatives/influencers grow exponentially, land brand deals and secure sponsorships. I’ve seen them focus on the numbers and not the people that follow them. I've also seen many quit. And most of the time this is because it's hard. It's time consuming. The ROI is not always there. And sometimes it's because they start their online brand for the wrong reasons (i.e. just to make money money and get free things.) That's not what building a profitable personal brand on social media is about.
No matter what type of influencer you are, if you want to make it profitable, you have to first create a brand that is authentic to YOU. And to create a profitable personal brand, you have to know WHO YOU ARE, WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUE and WHO YOU ARE TALKING TO.
Here is the most important question, “what value can you offer?”
This is not something to do if you are not willing to put in work. You will have to show up because social media keeps our attention span short. You will have to be creative to stand out when everyone is doing basically the same thing. You will have to focus on your "special sauce." What makes you unique? You will need to do things for free. Just because you enjoy it. I am not here to tell you how to land millions in brand deals. But I can share how to build a profitable brand that is FULFILLING.
1. Become known for something. How can you educate, inspire and encourage others?
What gift do you have that no one else can share? What are the things you can talk about over and over again and still make it exciting? A brand is so much more than a logo or its visual elements, and a personal brand requires you to have a story worth connecting with. I believe a personal brand is creating an identity that is a mix of who you are, who you want to be and who your audience perceives you to be.
“What makes your heart pound? What gets your juices flowing? What do you find yourself saying over and over again, because it's so central to who you are and how you (and your company) serve the world? That's your message. And that's the centerpiece for what will become your brand. It's you. Start there.” - Wendy Pitts Reeves, C2C Consulting, PLLC
2. Treat your personal brand like a business.
Pretend your personal brand was the only income you had. How would you operate? When you treat your brand like a hobby, it becomes a hobby. To run your brand like a business, you must have a strategy. For starters, set goals for yourself and then create an action plan to get where you want to go. Develop a strategy for your content and messaging and be intentional with everything you do. Have designated hours that you are working exclusively on your brand. And most importantly, be excited to talk about what you are doing, whether online or in-person!
It's impossible to see progress if you are not planning ahead or tracking your income and analytics each month. Set goals with KPI's (key performance indicators) and track your monthly progress. And just like a business, have materials and systems in place to make the behind-the-scenes of your brand run in a professional manner.
3. Focus on building a community that you care about.
It’s all about building a community. Everything you do for your brand should go back to building your community (or tribe). Without a community, your brand means nothing.
To create a community around your brand, I have a formula that I call the “ 4 C's”: clarity, consistency, connection, creativity, compassion. To break this down…you need to be clear on who you are and what makes you unique. Be consistent in sharing the same messages over and over again to create brand recognition and understanding. Make sure to connect with your audience genuinely and develop relationships. Be creative with your content and share your story to stand out. And finally, watch your community GROW through true connection and compassion.
How is the content you are sharing focused on building community? How will you inspire, educate, empower or encourage your community? Ask yourself these questions and create a gameplay.
4. Create services or products that your community needs from YOU.
Making money is important, but you need to focus on the areas that will best serve your brand and your audience. Affiliates are not the only way to be profitable as an influencer. I repeat. Affiliates are not the only thing you should be focusing on! I do not recommend putting all of your eggs into the affiliate basket if you want to be profitable. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done or can’t be done. But if you really want to create a business out of your online brand, you have to create an offering that your community wants from you.
Once you have built a loyal audience and they are devoted to you because you are continuously providing FREE value, it’s time to think about building revenue streams. Based on what they are asking you for, think of creative products and services you can offer. It could be a service (for me, I offer coaching + social media management). It could be an online resource, like an e-book or a course. It could be anything. The possibilities are endless. The most important thing to consider is if your audience truly wants and needs that offering.
5. Focus on AUTHENTIC partnerships & share your personal perspective!
Brands are seeking an ideal influencer to work with. They know their audience and the type of people they want to connect with. So, if you are naturally getting brand offers (paid), that's great. But if you are not, it's up to you to PITCH brands and to have a clear campaign idea. Things to think about…
WHY do you want to work with that brand. Do you already use their product? How has that brand changed your life? I would highly suggest focusing on brands you already naturally purchase from or would support. These are the partnerships that will feel truly authentic. In addition to the campaign itself, the brand wants to know that you will not only create great content, but that your audience will actually care about what you are saying. Find a unique story to tell for that brand. Get creative! Think about how the product or service helped you (and may help your community).