In the middle of May 2020, I realized there was something wrong.
It’s not only the content I put out, but also my entire business model where I thought I had it clear.
It’s not. Why? Because I had to redefine it and it became so much clearer.
Not only that, my eyes were opened.
I realize that many people who talk, write and give advice on personal branding are all (in some way) the same. There’s nothing new and different about those kind of contents.
I’m no exception.
The whole point of being a successful brand and creating good content is to make sure you stand out. And I hate to say it, but many people fail in doing this. Worse, some think that they are in some way differentiating themselves.
Including me… that is, before this realization.
If you check out my profile on Instagram and everywhere else, you’ll notice I talk about marketing and more specifically, personal branding.
If you’re reading this article, you should already know the importance of personal branding and what it is.
Simply put, personal brand is your reputation. Personal branding is the promotion of your brand.
Personal branding is becoming common talk for entrepreneurs.
Gary Vaynerchuk has been talking about personal branding for years and is a huge advocate for it.
No entrepreneurs now would disregard the importance of personal branding. It seems like those of us who listen to the bigger influencers want to model after them and seek to put ourselves out there.
Personal branding can be one of the most affordable ways to gain attention fast and a good leverage for your business.
In fact, with the Internet and social media, building a personal brand is becoming affordable and easy.
Or has it?
Let’s take a look at Fadila’s Instagram account (open this in a new tab on your PC). There’s a reason I’m not taking any big accounts from the social media space.
She’s not huge, but if you follow her on Instagram, you’ll notice that she started this account on March 18, 2020. In exactly 2 months, she grew her account from less than a 100 followers to 1,700 followers.
And now, she’s running a beta version for a course that she has created and started monetizing her account.
At least to these 1,700 followers who follow her, she has a value-giving personal brand.
Of course, there are many other Instagram accounts who are able to grow their following up to 10,000 followers in less than 2 months, but I dare say that Fadila’s account is super engaging. More than those who have 10 times more followers than her.
All of these takes hard work. If you don’t believe it, ask her how much energy she put into doing this.
If you’re not clear as to why you want to build a personal brand on any online platform, you won’t last!
The Usual Talk
If you’re someone looking to grow a personal brand. You may have come across many different articles about personal branding.
Like me. If you have read and seen enough, you’ll notice that there’s a pattern.
When you google “How to start with personal branding,” I can bet that everything you’ve read will be along the lines of (not according to order):
- Define and discover yourself (value, vision, mission, passion etc)
- Define a problem you can solve
- Find your niche and angle to solve those problems
- Set up your channels (website, blog, or social media)
- Develop an identity and style for yourself
- Create a visibility strategy (A.K.A promoting yourself through various ways)
- Build a community around your personal brand (this is a bonus one, some blogs have it)
- Monetize it
Now, in no way am I saying that these are bad advice and low quality guides. In fact, if you dig deep enough into the web (that means other than page the 1st of Google Search Results), you’ll find some really valuable and actionable guides for personal branding.
Then again, these are the usual things one would read about personal branding. And you know what?
I’ve had enough of it.
If you’re building a personal brand, you had better have the first part figured out because that is the most important thing. Namely: your self-discovery, the problem you can solve, your niche, and your channels.
(However, I’ll tell you don’t have to be 100% clear with those parts in the beginning, we’ll leave this for another article.)
The Missing Link
What I’m looking for (and that could be you too), are guides or examples of someone who had built their personal brand intentionally from the ground up.
Listing out things that he or she had done, record down the results and specific strategies that actually boosted their reputation. Which ultimately led to more sales and profit for their business.
Every huge personal brand on the online space right now, when giving out advice, is from the perspective of what they do best and have succeeded. For example, Neil Patel will tell you to grow a blog and use content marketing to build your personal brand because he’s successful with his blog.
A CEO who has used Youtube to build their personal brand will tell you that making video on Youtube is the most effective.
And frankly, that’s okay. That’s just the format and approach they have used to build their personal brand.
The question then becomes which format, approach, method, and strategy you should use to build yours?
This is what I did.
During the period where I had the realization, I did a review of my entire business model and my personal passion.
I then revised my business model and also researched content on the Internet relating to personal branding to look for gaps. Things that personal brand articles don’t always talk about.
For many of you this is going to be a valuable exercise because it will give you more clarity. I will deal with the details of this review exercise in a separate article. Broadly speaking, this was my thought process in sorting things out:
#1 Reconfirming my passion
First, I looked into what my biggest passion is and what I thought I could really bring value in.
There are about 7 Billion people in this world and the chances of people loving and being passionate about the same thing as you do is 100%.
But the more important thing is to first confirm your passion. Really know what you are good at.
And if you are at the very beginning of finding out your passion, you need to validate it. That means offering what you can do to those who are willing to accept your help.
You can also draw from what you are really interested in and what content you always consume. Another way is to look at your role models and find out why you are so interested in them. What do they talk about?
For me, it was marketing. Having read and studied so much (in exactly 3 years) about marketing, I realized that building a personal brand is something a business owner, or anyone for that matter, can do which does not cost them lots of money. It’s also something that anyone can do.
#2 Redefining my position
Marketing is something that many people talk about on the Internet. In fact, there are many people who were far better, more experienced, and have a higher credibility compared to me.
I had to find an angle and approach to tackle, Which lesser people are aware of. Slowly build up from there. This is one thing that will also be true for you.
But remember this rule: The bigger brands are almost always going for the mass and general market. If you are a smaller brand, leverage on a specific and targeted niche. No one can exactly cover everything in the market.
What I’m trying to say is, let’s say you are the 10,001st coach to the 10,000 who talk about health. The way to be the one that stands out amongst this massive crowd is to target the audience that these 10,000 coaches don’t target.
There’s another way around it too! You can talk about something specific related to health that these 10,000 coaches don’t cover.
This is what I did, I saw that there are many people who talk about personal branding and marketing. But, they few of them have a targeted niche and most are catering to entrepreneurs in general.
As I am also running an agency, my current circumstances encouraged me to find a faster way to get buy-ins from my clients to engage my service. So, it only made sense to me to look for a market that already knows the importance of personal branding and is in the works of building a personal brand
The market segment that pops up immediately was coaches, trainers and speakers.
That’s how I redefine my position. Everything else became common sense, like where to find them and what to talk about (more on that later).
The part of finding your niche (or whatever people call it) has a specific process. Here’s how I did it:
- Explore every component about marketing and pick one or two specific subject matter (personal branding)
- Figure out who needs and want to learn about that subject matter (coaches, trainers, speakers)
- Research on how big or small the competition is (you don’t want a niche that has no one is talking about). Neil Patel has a tool in this article where you can put your niche’s keyword in to check if it’s a big enough and not too small.
- Learn about specific topics regarding your chosen subject matter and solve a specific problem related to the subject matter.For example, If I were to talk about personal branding, what are the problems that coaches, trainers and speakers face when building a personal brand? What are they looking for specifically and what is the reason for it taking a long time for them to build it?
- From number 4, you will come up with many different angles. This can be applied to different niches and industries as well. Here are a few examples from the dentistry niche:
- “General oral health” subject catered towards children – Suitable for an audience who are parents.
- “General oral health subject” catered towards adults – This could be narrowed down to target a specific type of crowd. For instance, women. (Then you narrow it down even more) Women working 9-5 with little time to take care of their oral hygiene.
- “General oral health” subject catered to everyone. This is the content you can find mostly everywhere online. Best not to pick this.So, if the competition is widely on (c), then consider the other options of (a) and (b) or something else.
- Also put your circumstances in context. Think about whether the niche is suitable for you to cater to right now.
#3 Revise my business model
This is the most vital part of the whole review. This is where your personal branding foundation will be built upon. This is also the part that tells you what will be the fastest and shortest way to make money from leveraging on your personal brand.
Very early on as I was starting my business, I used the lean business canvas invented by Ash Maury to craft my business model.
I was too general in the beginning, and now I’ve learned to make it more specific towards a target market.
You do not have to do it my way precisely, but here are the key parts you should consider reviewing and revising for your business:
- Your customer segment
- The problem they are facing (need to be tested)
- The service/product you can offer to solve their problem, these are your revenue models (need to be tested)
- The solution they can expect from your service/product (also need to be tested)
- Your Unique Value Propositions
- The Channels that matter the most in looking for your customer segment.
If you have been in business for a few years, doing this will be very easy for you.
Note that there are parts where I have “need to be tested” in brackets. These are things that can only be validated once you have done your research and survey from existing customers or audience.
This is where many coaches and business owners think they have figured out. They only have scenarios in their heads, which should never be the case.
Having it recorded or written down tells you exactly which part of your business needs tweaking and validation.
So, go ahead and do it. I’ll have a separate article in the future on how to fill up each of those components in the lean business canvas. For now, if you need help, hit me up and we can settle it in no more than 30 minutes.
#4 Redirect my energy
Ahh, this is the part where I felt relieved and excited.
Once you’ve done 1 to 3, you’ll probably get goosebumps! At least, that was true for me.
The outcome of the whole review exercise should bring you more clarity. It should bring to light what you should be focusing more on and what you’ve done wrongly before.
These are the few things that happened to me naturally after completing the exercises above, although it cannot be said the same for some of you. If that’s the case, you’re the kind that needs specific content with a step-by-step guide. No worries, stay tuned for my future content.
I immediately knew:
- Who I can potentially collaborate with (Those who have coaches/trainers/speakers as their target audience).
- Where to find these people online and which community I can be a part of.
- What kind of content to focus on.
- Which platforms to focus on when it comes to appearing in front of them
- How to conduct interviews and surveys to test my assumptions (based on my business model)
- How to create activities that really matter to the success metrics I’m measuring for my business and convey this to my team, so we all focus our energy on things that are of priority.
The next thing I did after this was to write down a “What Matters Most Now” list for myself and my team. This was something I did to pen out my thought process of the things that are of priority for me.
With everything that is said above, this is what I’m committed to create.
A massive library of content related to marketing with the focus of elevating your personal brand.
That means you will see stuff like:
- How to develop a content strategy for your personal brand
- How to promote your content through social media
- How to measure your personal brand’s success
- How to do daily activities that matter to your personal brand growth
- And much more
I’ll also be sharing:
- Case studies from personal brands that have met their objectives
- The few approaches and tactics I use to grow my personal brand
- Stats of my personal brand growth (according to how I measure it, it’ll be different for many people).
Occasionally you will see similar content others have written about personal branding, because of the basics. These are sometimes “fluffy” content. The exception that lies with me is that I will be laying it out step-by-step and providing the thought processes.
Here’s a personal note:
Like everyone who is starting out, I’d really appreciate your support.
Feel free to provide your thoughts and feedback relating to what I talk about. I do enjoy a good conversation about marketing.
In fact, if you feel that you can be a part of building this massive library, your contribution will most definitely be welcomed. As of now, I haven’t thought of doing a podcast, or other forms of user-generated content. However, any ideas are welcome and we can definitely discuss it.
Join me on this mission to create a massive library on marketing and learn how to grow your personal brand.
(I hate to receive lousy and repetitive newsletters like you, so I’ll definitely find ways to make sure you mark mine as read as it reaches your inbox).
Focus in possibilities,