The Myth of Personal Branding
The myth of personal branding is told often these days. You have to be a brand. “I can help you to build your personal brand!”, says nearly everyone.
There are social media sites that can help you become a brand, tools, methods – I’m sure if I do a search on Amazon, I’ll find a personal brand building protein-bar.
Sometimes I read an article that talks about the topic.
Many of the people who advise on this topic are true experts that could help anyone grow their business and brand. I don’t envy them right now. They have to cut through a lot of noise. Obviously, this short read is not about them.
How about the others?
The myth of personal branding
Most articles contain valuable information regarding marketing strategy. I read on.
Often they also offer helpful tips on becoming better at social media (I would urgently need to implement that). I read on.
They share information about the psychology of colors. I’m fascinated. But I’ll stick to purple and black, thank you.
And they offer solutions. I love solutions. I love them even more if I have a problem or desire.
I have the nasty habit of often reading from the bottom. I scroll up because I have missed the most important part. Focus, Aurorasa!
Huh. It’s not there. Hmm.
Ok, let’s cut to the chase. I scroll down again. Even further. But I can’t find it.
Where is it? WHERE is it? It’s not there.
But somewhere in this article, they must speak about the client, the customer, the reader, the audience.
If you are just starting your freelance activity, online business, blog: Here is what you should probably focus on first.
The client is the center
I make so many errors, I get hot flashes when I even think about it. But you know what? Your audience forgives you nearly every mistake beside one: You don’t care about them.
Buyers are clever people. They know what to expect when they are dealing with a freelancer/solopreneur.
They come to you for your personality. They come to you for the helpful content you provide. They like you because you listen, they trust you because you care.
In an ideal world, you’d have everything. A wonderful presence, incredible content, top-notch design, sharp strategy, 24/7 customer support. In reality (according to Forbes) 88% of new business fail in the first 90 days.
So let’s make sure you have a future and worry about perfection later.
People who sell services in that area tell us that we need the poshest website or we won’t succeed.
Do you know Seth Godin? For the longest time, he has one of the most successful blogs. He is an authority in his field. Hired by Fortune 500, entrepreneurs, followed by millions.
He is a leader and influencer. Like hundreds of thousands of people, I read his newsletter every day. Now, go, look at his website: Seth Godin
… right? But how about his content?
He is a brand. He became a brand by putting his personality out and his incredibly useful content. (I’m not saying he did not have a strategy. I am saying that he foremost spent his time considering what his audience needs and not how he can create a personal brand.)
On his site, you can see perfect branding. I was referring to “fancy” looking website only.
Marketing and Branding
Please note that my thoughts are nothing more than an opinion. I have no idea about marketing whatsoever. I’ve been in sales for a few years. Technically, sales is a part of marketing but it’s isolated in the way that it requires a perfectly different skill set, social competence.
The little I know about marketing led me to believe: It’s a complex topic that requires serious study.
You don’t learn marketing from an article. You don’t learn strategy from an article, psychology, how to write compelling copy, design … and so on.
Now that you are a brand …
… what are you going to do with it?
It’s the same story as with the SEO craze. Obviously, you need people to see you so that they can decide if they trust and like you AND if they think you can help them run faster, better, prettier.
If 10 people visit your site and they find something of value you might win a client. Or a returning visitor, a new subscriber who will turn into a buyer if you continue to add value and earn his trust and interest.
If 10,000 people visit your SEO-optimized site that is built following the rules of great branding but it lacks value, you will not win a thing.
The next time they’ll see your perfectly colored logo on Twitter or LinkedIn, they won’t even give you a click-through.
So your first goal is to make sure that you understand what your audience needs and deliver it. Your unique way to deliver it, your personality, is the biggest part of “your brand”.
The lonely life of a solopreneur
I am a single coach. I am not an entrepreneur, not a small business – I am a self-employed coach/trainer. I don’t have a brick and mortar store, no employees (and no wish to EVER change that) and I do not take any financial risk. I’m not even innovative.
Some prefer the term solopreneur, entrepreneur, growth hacker, small business, thought-leader, disruptor, ninja …
What unites us is that we have limited resources. There is only so much time in the day. Certain tasks can be outsourced. If you’re just starting and don’t have a huge budget, you might find that you’ll have to do everything yourself in the beginning.
Every twitter tool, every stock picture, … (list every word that comes into your mind) comes with a charge. By the time you add up the cost of running a simple website properly, you might find that outsourcing marketing, strategy consulting and such are topics for the future.
How about your favorite personal brands?
Perhaps you like Seth Godin or Gary V? Whoever it is. Ask yourself: How did they become your favorite brand?
Were they masters at personal branding in the first place or people who added value to your life?
People you could learn from, who you liked and trusted? Who put out content that clearly displayed their expertise?
Look at the agenda of everyone who is trying to convince you of something that requires an investment of your most precious good: time. Add that into your decision-making.
- A social media site cannot help you build your brand. A site is just an outlet that allows you to post content. Which site is more interesting to you, depends on your target audience. Please do not even waste a single thought on branding before you define your target audience. This article contains info how to do that (last chapter): https://successful-online-business.com/2017/08/is-your-niche-profitable.html
- Your audience forgives nearly everything, but not if you don’t care about them
- Focus on your personality rather than artificially creating a perceived brand
- Let your work speak
- A high conversion rate is followed by a growing amount of visitors. A high visitor number without conversion is followed by nothing. Besides, perhaps, that Google thinks your site must be pretty uninteresting
- Don’t try to beat corporations with huge budgets and tons of staff at their game. You won’t
- Use your limited time to focus on what really matters – value for your client
- Persuading with value is more sustainable than manipulating with trickery
- SEO and everything that can convince Google to send organic traffic is good. But the first step has to be to have compelling content
I do recommend this book by Dr. Mark Goulston. It’s called: