Companies aren’t the only entities that need branding. Many individuals also need to cultivate a “personal brand” for themselves in order to sell their skills and/or products. Freelance journalists, photographers, website designers, social media marketers, filmmakers, and tutors are just some of the many people who could greatly benefit from personal branding.
Even those who have a regular 9 to 5 job benefit greatly from personal branding. Statistics show three-quarters of all HR departments are required to research job candidates online. Of these departments, a whopping 85% state an applicant’s online persona influences its hiring decisions to at least some extent.
If you haven’t paid much attention to your personal online brand, now is the time to start. Here are some tips to help you make smart decisions as you build your personal brand.
Identify Your Area of Expertise
What talents, experiences, and attributes set you apart from others in your field? As an entrepreneur, you can focus on unique products and services, but you should also pay attention to any out-of-the-ordinary skills you may have. Employees can leverage their education, experience, and talents to identify an area of expertise where they can shine.
Your area of expertise should be specific enough to appeal to the right audience while still allowing room for you to brand out into other fields as needed. For instance, a math tutor may want to tout his or her degrees and unique methodology for helping struggling high school students learn advanced math, while at the same time allowing leeway to later branch out into teaching young children.
Create Personal Brand Assets
Entrepreneurs, like companies, need personal brand assets that can be readily identified by anyone perusing the internet or using social media.
The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. A visual brand that customers can associate with your company will help you catch potential customers’ attention and enable you to stand out from the competition. What’s more, a logo also shows that you are serious about building a business that will last long-term.
Don’t rush through the creation process; take the time to consider what type of image would meet your company’s needs now and in the future. Once you have an idea in mind, you can hire a graphic designer or DIY your logo using tools like Tailor Brands logo creator.
Colors convey meaning while also increasing brand recognition. Take some time to consider which color or colors would best identify your business. Red is great for a vibrant, eye-catching logo while green conveys a connection with the earth and is ideal for an entrepreneur selling eco-friendly products/services. Bright colors are ideal for a person who wants to work with children while subdued colors have an air of professionalism.
Your imagery includes not just your logo but also the type of photos you share on your blog and social media channels. People want to identify with you, which means they need to see a photo of you in order to get to know you better. Do you want to portray yourself as casual, formal, professional, funny, or personable? Your photo should match your skillset and be in line with the products/services you offer. If you’re an engineer, for instance, a formal image of yourself in formal business attire may be best. A petsitter, on the other hand, would do just fine with an image of him/herself surrounded by dogs and cats.
Decide Which Content You Will Share on Which Social Media Platforms
Before you start generating content, you’ll want to choose which social media platforms you will use. Facebook and Twitter are standard choices, but you’ll want to add at least one or two others to these in order to generate brand awareness.
LinkedIn is the platform of choice for business professionals, both those who work in companies and those who are self-employed. If you want to cast yourself in a professional light in order to land the jobs of your dreams, then creating a profile on LinkedIn is a good first step. LinkedIn is also an ideal platform for entrepreneurs selling services/products to companies rather than individuals.
If you want to reach regular individuals, get on the channels they’re on and spend time with them there. YouTube is great for individuals who offer classes. Pinterest and Instagram are designed to suit the needs of people who sell visually appealing products. SnapChat or TikTok may be the platform of choice if you’re selling goods/services to teenagers and young adults.
Once you’ve chosen your channels, it’s time to decide what to post on each one. In some cases, the answer is obvious as some channels (i.e. Pinterest, YouTube) only allow you to post one type of content, and LinkedIn is designed to showcase text rather than audio/visual content. In other instances, the answer isn’t so clear, so you’ll need to do some research and experimentation to see which types of content appeal to users in your target audience on any given channel.
Keep a Consistent Tone of Voice
What tone of voice should you use on social media? There is no one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on your target audience and your field of expertise. What can be said for certain is that once you pick a tone of voice, you’ll want to stick to it. Your tone of voice is part of your “brand” and your followers will expect you to use the same tone of voice across various platforms.
Create a Content Calendar
Don’t create a content schedule you can’t keep up with. Posting regularly for a few months and then dropping off social media for a few weeks/months will backfire as people realize you aren’t serious about engaging with your social audience At the same time, you can’t just post content once a month or even once a week if you’re serious about building your personal brand.
Create a realistic content calendar and then use automated programs like CoSchedule to schedule your posts. Automating the process will help you stay up-to-date on social media posting without taking time out of your busy schedule each day to post content on social media.
Engage with Your Audience
Most individuals know they need to engage with their audience on their social media channels in order to win over new customers and keep existing ones. However, many aren’t aware of the need to engage with potential customers on other, relevant channels. You can find such channels by networking with people on LinkedIn, joining Facebook groups related to your field of expertise, and following videos that appeal to people in your target demographic. Taking time to answer questions and offer free advice builds your brand reputation even if you can’t directly promote your products/services on these channels, as potential customers see you are more concerned about helping them out than making money.
Building a brand takes time and effort, but the results are well worth it. At the end of the day, you’ll have a name you can be proud of as you shine in your area of expertise and reap the benefits of providing top-tier information, content, and service to your target audience.