Recall your experience when you visit Zara to when you visit Gucci, both are fashion brands, but your experience is different. The former is all about fast fashion, whereas the latter is a luxury brand.
Personal branding is the same. Rather than organizations or products, it’s about people — like you and me. A personal brand is who you are, what you do, and how you are perceived by others. Lets’s dive deeper and understand why and how to build a personal brand online?
Your Personal Brand Stays with you forever
When you meet or are about to meet someone, you check their social profiles as soon as possible. Be it a celebrity, a stranger you talked to, a tinder date, a Tedx Speaker, or the next potential employer.
This helps you to know them, and form an opinion of who they are. The way they portray themselves and the way you perceive them from their online presence, it’s all because of their personal brand.
It is safe to say we all have a personal brand; however, not all of us leverage it fully. It’s a digital age and everyone is online. With strategic personal branding, you can level up your game and show people your true personality. It can help you get better job opportunities, connect with like-minded people, and build a community.
So, stand out from the crowd and build a personal brand so the next time someone searches you, they see who you really are.
If you are an absolute beginner, this post will help you learn how to build a personal brand from scratch.
But before you get started, I’ll give you a heads-up. It might seem overwhelming and you might not get it right the first time. But building a personal brand is all about exploring and experimenting. So, do not give up and keep pushing.
Now, know the essential components of a personal brand:
You: A personal brand is a reflection of you.
Your Audience: Building a personal brand is directly connected with the people you serve. If you cannot connect with the right people, you will not have a good personal brand.
Your Brand Story: This is an extension of your personality. Your brand story tells your journey and distinct attributes.
Social Media Platform: It is where you will build your brand.
Content: You need to connect with the audience by sharing valuable content — be it blogs, experiences, achievements, tutorials, or your work.
Credibility: Credibility is the most essential factor of your brand. This helps you build a tribe of fans who are loyal to you and would help you grow.
When building a personal brand from scratch you need to understand these components. Now, let’s start breaking things down for you.
How to Build a Personal Brand Online:
The first and foremost is to understand who you are — your core values, skills, strengths, and weaknesses. Sit down at a quiet place and recount your journey, experiences, skills, achievements, values, and failures.
Here are a few questions that you can start with.
What do I like and dislike?
What do I like working on the most?
What motivates me?
What are my achievements?
What is my goal?
Which projects fuel me and which projects drain my energy?
What traits do people mostly compliment me on?
What things do I need help with constantly?
When you answer these questions, you will uncover skills and attributes that make you distinct and the areas where you need improvement. Don’t be afraid of noting down the smallest of your achievements. You can even ask friends colleagues and family members to help you so that you have an overall perspective of who you are and how people perceive you.
Define Your Audience and Niche
Remember that you cannot help everyone. Find a specific set of people you want to help or engage with. It could be recruiters, students, or fellow mates. Then, find a sweet spot between your audience and your expertise. That will be your niche.
A niche is a well-defined service that you offer to a specific audience.
Why should you niche down?
Less competition, more expertise: It is much easier to build your expertise in one area than refining your knowledge in a broader category.
More conversions: People are more likely to hire someone who is an expert in their subject. For instance, you would consult a dermatologist if you suffer from a skin disease rather than a physician.
Better Relations: You can easily have engaging conversations with others and build a quality network.
To find your niche, start with a broad category that you want to work in, and then, narrow it down at least three times.
Let’s see how Irene did it.
Irene likes to write, design, cook, and try new products. She has won several design competitions and has been working in the design industry for 5 years. However, she can spend hours creating illustrations and teaching others.
So, the niche she chose is illustrations for books.
Remember to find only one niche that you have the most expertise in because it’s easier to start. There are fewer chances that you will abandon things in the middle.
Find Your USP
A USP is like an elevator pitch — the shortest sentence to explain what you do. Keep it simple, distinct, and memorable.
Remember the brand taglines? They remind you of the company and stick to your mind forever.
Start with this formula:
I help __________to __________ by__________.
Keep your message clear. You can polish your statement further over time.
For instance, Irene’s statement is “I help writers publish illustrated novels by creating wonderful illustrations.”
Build Your Brand Story
Everyone thinks they’re the hero in their own story.
A brand story helps to build trust among your audience and gives them a sneak peek into your life. To build your story, start with why?
Know why you’re building your brand and what is the one thing you want to solve.
It should be an extension of your personality. The best way is to know your journey. Figure out how you reached where you are. And then, shape your story.
Optimize Your Social Profiles
Now that you have your brand story and USP, align your social profiles to tell one message.
If you have a website, optimize it accordingly. Include the following:
About you (Your brand story)
Value proposition or USP
Relevant achievements and experiences
Professional photo of you
Links to your socials
Clear call-to-action (What action do you want your users to take)
If you don’t have one, don’t get overwhelmed with it. You can create it later.
Select Your Platform
Select a platform where you want to build your brand. It’s tempting to post everywhere when you start. However, the excitement dies down eventually, and you will abandon your journey in the middle. So, select one platform, learn everything, get established, and then diversify. This will also help you gain traction on other platforms because people who genuinely like you will follow you everywhere.
When you select a platform, ask yourself these questions:
What is your purpose? What type of content do you have fun creating?
What is the best way to show your content? Where does your audience usually hang out?
And then, select the platform that aligns.
For instance, if you are a sales executive and want to connect with recruiters, you can opt LinkedIn. However, if you’re a designer, Instagram is the best option because it focuses on visuals.
Irene is also an illustrator and her work is more visuals. So, Instagram is the best platform for her.
Share Valuable Content
“Stand for something. Make your life mean something. Start where you are with what you have. You are enough.”
― Germany Ken
Content is the medium of expression and communication. A personal brand is all about building a bond with people.
Many people assume that sharing free content is a mistake. It’s not. When you help others, they connect with you. Providing valuable, sharing helpful content, and genuinely helping your audience prove that you know what you’re talking about and build authority.
Moreover, people are willing to pay you more readily when they see your free advice works. In other words, conversion rates increase.
There are more than 100 types of content that you can choose from, for example, blogs, videos, reels, long captions, infographics, illustrations, case studies, testimonials, etc.
Choose the content that would resonate with your audience.
For instance, Irene, being an illustrator, likes to create more illustrations. So, illustrations, processes, sketches, and case studies are the best types of content type for her.
Develop a content strategy
Creating and sharing content can be challenging if you don’t have a content strategy in place. For starters, classify your content under three broad categories. These are called content pillars — Education, Authority, and Entertainment.
The education pillar contains all the informative content like tips, tricks, and hacks. Under authority bases content, you can share recent industry trends, your experiences, accomplishments, and even testimonials. It helps build credibility. For entertainment, you can share quotes and relevant memes.
Create different types of content such that it is distinct and noteworthy.
Research what people like, what problems they face, what are the recent trends, and create content around it. This will help you broaden your perspective and have a different outlook on things.
Build a Community
As said earlier, your personal brand is about your connection with others. Doing everything and not engaging with your audience fails the purpose.
Connect with your audience. Comment on other creators’ posts in your niche. Acknowledge people who connect with you. You can even send them a short note and start a conversation.