Updated: 4th February, 2022
Whether you’re a creative or have a big message to share with the world, you’ve probably thought about personal branding. While some have visions of logos and fancy photoshoots, being the face of your brand entails so much more. In fact, it touches every part of your business, from your copywriting to the way you interact with your audience.
Personal branding is how you and your business are seen by others. It's your unique ideas; your values; what you bring to the world; and how you can help your audience, all tied up in how you present yourself. Let's start off by exploring why personal branding is important for creatives and changemakers, specifically in relation to your online presence. Then stay with me as we get into how to get started with your personal branding.
Every touchpoint with your audience is an opportunity for you to show people who you are. In return, how you appear online allows others to subconsciously understand why they should interact with you. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling a product like a book or music, or you're selling services – people need to connect with you as the person behind what you’re selling.
Why Personal Branding is Important for Creatives and Changemakers
Surely personal branding is part of all that marketing stuff that gets done once you start to become successful? Do you really need it if you're still growing your business? An intentional personal brand shapes the way people perceive you. So you want to start working on your personal brand early on to make sure every piece of marketing his the mark and making a difference.
With the constant demand for people's attention online, creating a bond between you and your audience is vital to fast-track your goals. Personal branding answers that question everyone has: “why you?”
One common misconception people have around personal branding is that it's some kind of vanity project or facade. This couldn't be further from the truth. Personal branding is a blend of you and your audience. It highlights you and your message in a focussed way, so your audience recognize your value.
Getting Yourself in Front of the Right People
You’ve laid the foundations for a career in your chosen field, and you’re working hard at it. The next thing on your agenda is getting yourself in front of the right people and creating relationships. You'll want to connect with potential fans; clients; people you can collaborate with; important connections; and so on. All these people will play some part in your overall business growth. They are also the ones who will help you create buzz about your latest project, or get more work for you in your industry.
This is where making an impact comes in. Everyone is bombarded by messages of “Look at me! I have this great product/service – you really need this”. Establishing a strong personal brand will act as ‘pre-sales' to do a lot of the hard work for you. This is because personal branding is the secret ingredient that differentiates you from others so you can stand out as the best choice.
It also helps build trust with your audience because all the pieces put together gives your audience a mental picture of who they're connecting with. It's easier to build a community of real fans as people feel they know you; and it leaves your audience wanting to know more. This is the start of making you memorable.
Being memorable is of course key, but please don’t discount trust. Trust is an enormous factor in making connections with people who can help you. When it comes to choosing the right person to work with, influencers and potential collaborators want someone they can trust. After all, they have their own brand to protect, and understanding who you are eliminates any unwanted surprises for them.
This is why I suggest you start working on your personal branding before you begin promoting big projects. You don’t need to go the whole hog with extensive branding from the start, you can build on it as you go along. But at the very least, you want to get clear about who you are and what makes you different. And, the big question – why your audience should pay attention to you. What value do you provide them? You also want to lay these foundations before you start spending money on visuals such as logos and fancy websites, as it will absolutely save you money in the long run.
Social Media & Personal Branding for Creatives and ChangeMakers
At this point you might be thinking, “That’s cool, but people will either like my work or they won’t – how does personal branding change anything there?”
Again: Attention and connection. If you’re trying to extend your reach online, you need people to care enough to read your social media posts and ultimately see what you do. By the same token, once they visit your website, you want them to stick around long enough to see what you have to offer. Personal branding allows you to be magnetic to those who are your ideal client.
Personal branding gives you focus so you can create content which keeps your audience interested and coming back for more. It also helps your audience become invested in your journey. This is how you create super fans. Fans who feel invested in what you’re doing are the ones will happily spread the word, becoming a free publicity machine for you.
Most people get this backwards on social media. They think they need to build a quick 10,000 people following on social media – then somehow all these people will magically become raving fans. That’s taking the long road.
Think about it. If you have tens of thousands of followers and what you’re posting sounds the same as everyone else, or isn’t gelling with your audience – there’s no reason for them to interact with you. This is where social media algorithms kick in and reduce your exposure to only a small fraction of people. And that of course includes posts announcing you’ve just released a program, new album, going on a book tour and so on.
AGENTS, DEALS AND JOBS OH MY!
Apart from connecting with your audience and others as we already spoken about, your personal brand will save you an incredible amount of time and unnecessary frustrations when you’re promoting yourself. If you’ve ever sent out a press release, one-sheet or engaged in any promotion but heard nothing back – you’ll know what I mean.
Knowing who you are as a brand and expressing it, makes it easy for others to know you’re the right fit for the project. Agents, companies and media love working with people who already have some sort of cohesiveness to their brand – and they can immediately spot that person from their marketing materials. It shows you understand who you are, where you’re going, and that you’re coming to them with a dedicated fan base, or you’re on your way there. That makes you highly marketable and valuable to them.
HOW TO GET STARTED WITH PERSONAL BRANDING
What's going to help you stand out? I alluded to it before, and that is ‘you and your message'. You and how you distinctly serve your audience are going to be the biggest difference.
So you might be thinking, “Awesome. Then I don’t need to do anything except be unapologetically me.” But the trick is to make sure you present that real you in a way that others notice. There's a big difference between being authentically you, and creating a connection that fascinates people.
One way to get started is to make a list of things that clearly distinguish you as a person and the work you do.
- What’s different about your approach to your craft or the way you show up in your work?
- Are your opinions on your work different to others in your industry?
- How is your personality different?
- How is the way you express yourself different?
- What aspect of your life experience now shapes your work?
- Where is the link between what makes you different and what your audience is interested in right now?
Take your time thinking about what makes you different and keep adding to your list. You can also look back at what others have said about your work and why they enjoyed it, or why they appreciated working with you. If you’re new to your field, it’s time to let go of the humbleness and start some free-flow writing of what you think makes you stand out. This list is now going to create the foundations of all your future marketing.
ONE LAST PIECE OF ADVICE
Now here’s the key that trips up so many people. You want to ensure you’re consistent with that brand. Your social media posts, your videos, one-sheet, copywriting on your website; every part of your marketing needs to reflect your personal brand. Don't just think about it – take a good look at all the content you put out, and make sure everything is aligned. It's amazing how many social audits I've done where the brand is not clearly reflected, even when the person actually has a good understanding of their brand. It’s this consistency of alignment that creates the type of impact where people can’t help but think of you.
So now it’s time to get out there and show your audience you are. In the meantime, if you've been ‘doing all the things' and nothing is quite working, you'll want to download my “Marketing Truths” booklet to get you off the marketing merry-go-round and put and your business in front of the right people and opportunities.