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Intro personal branding

You are a 'brand' whether you like it or not. It's better to think about how you want people to see you. Personal brand is your reputation with other people, or in other words what other people say about you when you're not there. A personal brand differs from a company brand, because it is best to incorporate your personality. That actually makes it stronger.

Why I Made This Guide

For the past 6 weeks, I've been posting an article and a podcast every week. My goal is to learn about content marketing and build a personal brand.

People in my environment have challenged me to start with personal branding. I didn't like it at first. With the help of Michel Ariens I started posting on LinkedIn. In challenges he helped me to get started. I have documented that journey in this manual.

I am not an expert and knew nothing about this when I started. I have documented my experience and you can find it here as a summary. No fuss from content marketing experts who want to sell you something, but a story of someone who started where you are now: heard of content marketing, but never started with it.

Who is this for

? This manual is written for entrepreneurs who want to do more with personal branding.

If you haven't started personal branding yet, today is a very good day to start. Start small and keep it human. If you keep it close to yourself, it's much easier to post. All you have to do is make one post. And then again tomorrow. A good tip: you know a lot of things that are interesting. Because you're an expert, you don't see it yourself anymore. What do customers or colleagues ask for your opinion or advice about? Share the answer on LinkedIn or Instagram and see what happens.

I'm going to take you on my journey to build a personal brand. I'm not an expert, but I'm tracking my journey. We probably run into the same things. If I found the solution, I'll share it with you. Much has been written in English and this article is a summary of the most popular articles. You can find the sources at the bottom of this article. So let's start at the beginning. 

What is a personal brand? 

Wikipedia gives this definition: 

Personal branding is the conscious and intentional effort to create and influence public perception of an individual by positioning them as an authority in their industry, elevating their credibility, and differentiating themselves from the competition, to ultimately advance their career, increase their circle of influence, and have a larger impact.

This article states that personal branding is the process of building a personal brand. I use the terms interchangeably, because that distinction is far too theoretical for me.

What is branding?

Most information starts with explaining what branding is. Entrepreneur.com gives this definition: 

The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.

Branding is the association people have with your name. This can be with major brands such as Apple, Coca Cola and Uber. But people also make an association with your name, whether you like it or not.

How do you start with personal branding?

In this podcast, content marketer Michel explains exactly how to start with personal branding. From content strategy, content production, promotion of your content and pitfalls of content marketing. We explain how you can build a personal brand from 0. This podcast was started from personal needs. I wanted to start a personal brand and had no idea where to start. I enlisted the help of content marketing expert Michel Ariëns. In this podcast we go through the practical steps of setting up a personal brand. I share with you what I run into and Michel gives advice on how to solve the challenges that arise along the way. A podcast to boost your online reputation and influence your career. Every week I research new expertise, skills and knowledge to build your personal brand online.

Step 1: Think carefully about why you want to start a personal brand

To better understand how I could start a personal brand, I interviewed content marketing expert Michel Ariens. We made a podcast of that. In the first episode Michel asks me why I want to start a personal brand. That is a confronting question and I invite you to ask yourself these questions as well. 

Step 2: Choose your type of personal brand and type of channels where you will post

There are 3 types of personal brands:

  1. Entertaining personal brand - Kim Kardashian ;-)
  2. Informative personal brand - Someone who 'made' it and writes about it, like well-known writers
  3. Documenting personal brand - I don't know what to do yet and I'm taking you on my journey.

Make sure to pick one of these and stick to it. Mixing it up doesn't work well.

Then choose the type of media where you will post: Instagram, Youtube, blog, etc. Where will you write/post?

Step 3: Determine topics and your target audience

OK, you're going to start. Fat! Focus your enthusiasm though, because posting about anything is a waste of your energy. You want your content to actually be consumed, so you'll need to define topics and target audience. For some people it is simple to do this, I myself had the greatest difficulty with this. Michel gives me tips in this podcast episode. Want to take that one step further? Then you create a content strategy.

Step 4: Promote your content

Once you've written content, you'll need to promote it. A LinkedIn or Instagram post has reach through the platform, but that is not the case for every content type. Content promotion is an essential part of content marketing. Specifically for SEO you can do keyword research.

Step 5: Scale up your content production

Once you've got the hang of it, the next step is to create a content calendar. I myself have made 2 calendars of this: a production calendar and a promotion calendar.

Why is personal branding important?

If you are committed to building a personal brand, you will notice that you get more leads. People will approach you with questions and even if you can help them. I have experienced the power of this myself. Over the years, so many people have come to me via-via with questions about growth strategy and growth hacking.

Why a personal brand?

This research states that personal branding in 2020 is a leadership quality and not a self-promotion. This article argues that personal branding is part of the journey to define yourself as a leader. It determines how other people look at you. Forbes argues that your personal brand should represent the value you can consistently deliver to your potential customers. That's not just self-promotion. Managing your personal brand requires you to be a role model, mentor and/or voice that others can rely on.

The end result is that you become so well known for one important thing that important clients, employers or recruiters come to you. A personal brand is there to build trust and reliability.

You are a brand whether you want to or not

This article from Wix states that you are a brand too whether you want to or not. So it is better to consciously think about which associations people make with you. Branding is the feeling people get from your content, from working with you and what they hear from others about you. The association that people have with you is therefore partly based on communication over which you have no control. But you do have some control over that. That's what building a personal brand is all about. Producing content on topics you want to be associated with. By creating content, I want to control the image and associations that people make. It is an overall picture based on all 'touch points' that people see from me, from Whatsapp conversations, LinkedIn messages, dinners, etc.

Personal branding is your reputation

Another word that is used in the articles in reputation. That helps me, because even if I haven't written any content about my work myself, it's still being discussed. I have worked as a freelance growth marketer for 8 years. A number of companies I have worked for have grown so fast that this is known to quite a few entrepreneurs in Amsterdam.

That is my reputation and it has arisen unconsciously. So I don't start completely from scratch, because I regularly receive calls from people who reach me via via. “I'm looking for a good growth hacker and I heard I should be with you.” Conversely, there will also be people that I have a bad reputation with other people, but of course you don't hear that yourself.

That's why you should be responsible for your own personal branding. If you can't control it, you allow others to do it for you. It's as simple as a friend tagging you in an unprofessional photo on social media, or someone else describing what you do full time and being completely off.

Personal brand is your promise to customers

The third way to approach personal brand: your brand is the promise to your customer. Your brand says something about what people can expect from you. It also says something about which products or services 'suit' for you and what you are an expert in. 

A brand is therefore a layer on top of the executive work that you do. Branding is important for companies, but also for freelancers or entrepreneurs. After all, you are the face of the company. A brand makes you unique. A brand is derived from who you are and who you want to be and how people see you. A personal brand is therefore a reflection of yourself. However, it is an avatar and not who you are 100%. 

Personal brand reflects your personality

The great thing is that you are unique as a person. You can share your personality and interests in your personal brand. Set yourself apart from the competition by showing more of your personality is a tip from QuickSprout.

Professionally, your personal brand is the image people see of you Influencer Marketing Hub. It could be a combination of how they look at you in person, how the media portray you, and the impression people get from the information about you available online.

Personal branding expert Andrew Ford states that your personal brand consists of:

  • Your unique skills
  • Relevant qualifications
  • Your personality
  • Your experiences and the journey you go through

So you create an avatar and you decide how much personality you want to add. You can either only write about your field or add your personal style to it.

Personal Branding Podcast

One of my personal goals for 2020 is to learn to write better. So I started writing articles in Google Docs about little things I've learned. When I shared that with friends, there was a lot of overlap in our interests. I wrote for the form, but the content caught on. When the lockdown started, I got the idea to learn to build a website. This way I can learn something new and I have an asset that I will (hopefully) enjoy after COVID. That's what this website has become. I got a lot of satisfaction from building this website. The next step of this hobby project is the promotion of the content. The challenge then became 'building a personal brand'.

I want to do the distribution through content marketing and SEO traffic. I have sufficient knowledge of SEO, so I can apply that myself. I will also write about that in the future. I have no practical knowledge of content marketing. That is why I enlisted the help of my friend Michel Ariëns. He is a content marketing expert and will help me build a personal brand. Every week Michel gives me practical tips to build a personal brand step by step through content marketing. Every week we record our conversation and we have made a podcast of it. Michel helps me every week by explaining in a conversation what I should do next. We decided to record the conversations and make it a podcast. Michel helps me answer the question: How do you build a personal brand?

Personal branding for entrepreneurs

In this podcast you will learn how to set up a personal brand as an entrepreneur or freelancer. Content marketing expert Michel Ariens explains to me how to start a personal brand from scratch.

Podcast explained what it means to be a personal brand entrepreneur in the 21st century. Everything from building a personal brand to delegating like a king, to creating and launching products and services online, to promoting yourself as the leading leader in your industry and beyond is covered.

Personal brand for freelancers

You are your brand as freelancers. It is therefore important that you share what you do. This way, potential customers know where to find you and you can establish yourself as an expert. As a freelancer, agency founder, or entrepreneur, you probably already know the importance of building a brand. With a brand you can distinguish your company. But you can also apply branding to your person's brand.

Personal branding selects your ideal customers

With personal branding you show what you find important and with that you also select your ideal customer. You can share scalable information. In the articles I write, I share my knowledge and experience. I used to do that one-on-one when drinking coffee with business friends. Until I found out that many more people were interested in how I build funnel or approach growth hacking.

Personal brand has a lot more reach than you think

I now get messages from people who read my content that I don't know. Or even from people I do know who have started something new that I can help with. So I didn't even know I could help them. Personal branding is also a way to bring out a personality. You attract like-minded people, and that's one way to grow.

Personal branding builds trust

By branding yourself as an individual, you add a whole new layer of trust to your interactions with customers. This gives your business so much more opportunity to grow - and you'll meet great people along the way. Personal branding comes across as a big, fuzzy concept, but it's actually quite simple: If you take the time to formalise and define a personal brand, you can build strong brand awareness and credibility in your business. It helps you put yourself on the map and build positive relationships. And for companies of all sizes, that's always a good thing.

Considerations for Building a Personal Brand

Creating a personal brand requires extensive self-reflection and introspection. It helps if you know yourself - which surprisingly few people do. Most people find it extremely difficult to describe themselves, although they often find it easier to explain how they want to be.

Personal Branding Requires Audience Knowledge

If your ultimate goal for personal branding is to improve the performance of your business, you first need to know who your ideal customers are. You have to ensure that personal branding fits the target group. This is not new. This has been done for years. Think of the image that Hugh Hefner portrayed almost all of his adult life Influencer MarketingHub as an example. 

He probably had never heard of personal branding, but he allowed himself to become the face of the Playboy empire and lived the lifestyle that his magazine readers envied. However, he could not have led his lifestyle had he run a more conservative company that caters to more politically correct clients. Ultimately, you want to build a reputation as someone who cares about the kind of people your potential and existing customers make.

Make sure you stay human

A crucial part of personal branding is making sure you come across as a human being, with the same issues and problems as the target audience. The only difference is that you can show that you have found a solution to some of these problems - which you want to share with others.

You don't want to come across as a stereotypical used car salesman, even if you're in the car sales business. Cynical consumers see companies as a matter of selling. The whole point of personal branding is to step back and share knowledge and not just sell it.

Social media is crucial to the success of a personal brand

Nowadays you cannot ignore the importance of social media. Part of your personal branding consists of social networks. Make sure you are present and reachable. So do not block your profile.

I have the most trouble with this myself. I find it difficult to share a lot on social media. That's one of the things I need to get over to make this a success. I'm going to share with you how I do that. Sign up for the newsletter if you want to stay informed about my journey to build a personal brand.

Benefits of a personal brand

Personal brand builds trust

This research shows that 81% of people trust a large company more quickly if the CEO is active on social media. SEO legend Rand Fishkin sums it up nicely in this tweet:

Best way to sell something - don't sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect, & trust of those who might buy.

If you share knowledge and value, people will come to you. Reviews for webshops are crucial, but so are your 'reviews'. A personal brand is like your online review.

Personal branding increases your reach

Every now and then I shared an article on LinkedIn. The power of that is enormous. People in my network who had nothing to do with growth hacking have read these articles. Now that they have a position where marketing suddenly becomes important, several people have contacted me. Personal brand extends your reach further than you might think.

Customers expect a personal brand

You have a reputation, whether you like it or not. So you better be aware of your reputation.

Personal branding quote Jeff Bezos

Potential customers can decide if they want to work with you

This article gives the advantage of filtering customers. If you specialize in a niche, a personal brand is a great way to ensure that potential customers know exactly why they should be with you. It's a filter both ways. This saves time, because you don't have to talk to customers you disqualify. On the other hand, you get leads that are already warm, because they know what you're doing.

Personal branding makes you accessible and human

This article from Wix states that you become more accessible and human. It's less marketing and more your story. It ensures that people can better imagine what you are doing.