Whether you own a company, work in one, or work alone as a freelancer, personal branding is important because it leads to more contacts, more clients, better recognition, and a better job. It is especially important online, where everyone has an opportunity to shine and be seen as an expert.
What is personal branding?
Personal branding is a process of marketing yourself as a brand. A personal brand reflects the way people see us. Working on it, polishing it, and making it interesting will make you more desirable in a competitive market.
If you are a business owner, your personal brand could get you new clients; if you're an employee, it might land you a better job someday. Same goes for freelancers.
Of course, that's possible only when (and if) you reach the point where people see you as a true expert in your field. And getting there isn't easy. You have to work hard to get people to trust you and reach out to you when they have questions. You need to be a reliable partner to everyone in your target group so you can grow as that group grows.
At some point, you might ask yourself if it's all worth it. And the answer is, Yes! It is definitely worth it. Building an online reputation is especially important today when anyone can go online and look you up. They need just a few clicks and just a few minutes to decide whether to contact you or your competitor.
How do you build your online reputation?
To build your online reputation and your personal brand, you need to present yourself as an expert online, someone people will want to hire or buy something from. There are many ways you can achieve this status, and all of them can be summed up in one word: content.
Content is the way to show the world your experience and expertise, and as you become better know, your brand grows. Your name becomes more familiar to your target audience, and they turn to you over and over again.
The "easiest" way to start building your online reputation is with a blog. Anyone can start, but you have to be persistent and know what you're doing if you're going to get noticed.
Blogging can be your secret weapon, whether you are writing for your company, your own website, or any other site. As long as you are credited as the author of value-packed content, it will work in favor of your personal brand.
So how do you start a blog that will serve as the backbone of your personal brand?
When I say it's easy to have a blog nowadays, I mean it's easy to build one. (Providing high-quality content is another story.)
If you don't want to blog on your company's website, or don't have your own, there are various ways for you to start blogging and building your personal brand. You can use a platform such as Blogger or Medium. Another option is to make your own website with WordPress or another of the increasingly popular website builders that make it easy for people who want to handle their websites themselves, but don't know much about coding.
With website builders like Ucraft, Wix, Yola, and others, all you need to create a website is determination and a certain dose of creativity to make your blog look professional and appealing to your visitors.
What kind of content should you publish?
Now that you have a place to show off your expertise, it's time to start writing. Finding topics to write about can be challenging at times, especially if you are at the beginning of your blogging career.
Start by figuring out who is your target audience. Does it consist mostly of business owners and business employees, or are you targeting consumers directly? Are you doing business locally or globally? Millennials or Gen X? You want to create content based on the needs and desires of your audience. Content you provide should answer their questions, often before they even ask.
Next, you can browse through your competitors' blogs and articles to see what kind of content they are producing and what is working for them. You don't have to pick the exact same topics, but you'll get a general idea and maybe even get inspired in the process.
When you know topics you want to cover, you need to decide on the format of your content. Don't just write and publish text all the time. Rather, try to make your blog a bit more varied by adding occasional infographics and videos. People will love seeing something different from time to time, and visual content tends to be shared more online.
How do you promote your content to reach more people?
Having high-quality content on your blog will mean nothing for your personal brand unless it actually reaches people. Just sitting around and waiting for people to see your blog won't work. It is your job to promote it to reach the right people.
Share your content on social networks: your personal profile, professional page, and targeted groups. Doing so will give it the initial push; and, if it's engaging and interesting enough, people will start to share it themselves. Of course, your ultimate goal here is to generate traffic to your website/blog.
In addition, reach out to your industry's influencers directly. You can quote or mention them in your posts, then reach out to say you wrote an article in which you used what they said. And ask for their opinion and advice. Many of them will reply to you and even share the article on their social networks. If they don't, you can always ask them a specific question for your next article or engage with them in some other way so that they notice you and potentially share your content later on.
Another idea is to write an article or post in which you mention certain tools and reach out to the companies that made them.
Although it sounds relatively easy (setting up a blog, writing content, and promoting it), the process of building your personal brand online can be arduous and long.
The important thing is not to give up right away... Your blog is most likely not going to be very popular when you first start out, but keep in mind why you're doing what you're doing: You are building your online reputation and personal brand one blog post at the time. There are no shortcuts. After all, if you give up on your own brand straightaway, who is ever going to believe you are a trustworthy expert?