Let’s play a little game.
What’s the first thing you think of when I say ‘Michael Jordan’?
What about ‘apple iPhone’?
This automatic association is a result of the successful personal brands these individuals have established for themselves.
Your personal brand is made up of the expertise and experiences that define you.
When you have a strong personal brand, your target audience will instantly know what you do and what you are great at whenever they hear your name.
Why Personal Branding Is Important?
Let’s return to the Michael Jordan example (who is my favorite athlete, by the way!):
Do you remember when he sadly retired from basketball and started playing baseball instead?
Even though his baseball skills definitely did not reflect his basketball skills, when he made the switch, his followers stayed with him and started watching him play baseball.
I’m sure some people even started watching baseball for the very first time when Michael Jordan started playing it.
The point I am making here is that your personal branding follows you wherever you go, and you can never stop benefiting from it.
If you quit your job, your personal branding (and followers) will remain, and a simple availability announcement could be all it takes to land you a new job almost instantly.
If your business closes down, you and your personal brand will still be around, so your followers will follow you wherever you go and follow whatever new startup you establish.
So if you have a powerful personal brand, everything you append it to will win.
Sadly, personal brand development is often overlooked or shelved in the ‘not-now-maybe-later’ category.
As I mentioned with the two examples above, anything you append your personal brand to borrows the capital of your brand, so you are not starting from square one if you lose your job or your business goes bust.
The healthiest way to start thinking of your current job or business is like a ‘rented house’.
Rather than having a ‘rented house’ define who you are, focus instead on defining your ‘rented house’ with your personal brand.
This mentality will aid your search engine optimization efforts as well!
Let me explain.
Did you know that, besides the home page, the most visited page on any service website is the ‘about us’ page?
Why is that?
Visitors want to learn about the mysterious person behind the iron mask in order to decide whether or not they can trust the business.
Usually, the ‘about us’ page is decorated with vague mission statements and inflated solution descriptions – this does not satisfy the intent of the searcher, which will cause them to bounce off your page and impede your SEO score.
With a strong personal brand, having your name mentioned in the ‘about us’ page will strengthen your semantic SEO (related search phrases), which will result in your web page appearing in a lot more search query results.
Personal Branding Success Stories
To whet your appetite, let’s discuss some personal branding success stories:
Rand Fishkin (founder of Moz) established his personal brand based upon his elite SEO expertise.
Moz leveraged Rand’s personal brand capital to eventually achieve a yearly revenue of about $38 million dollars.
In a tweet in 2015, Rand stated that the secret to selling anything is by first earning the respect, awareness, and trust of your audience.
Serial entrepreneur Garry Vee has used his infectious charisma to grow his personal brand since his early wine tasting channel days (Wine Library TV).
His following seems to still be increasing. Notice how he is obviously focusing on increasing his personal brand followers and not just the following of his companies.
Larry Kim grew his company Wordstrem from its humble beginnings in a bakery to become the world’s biggest PPC management software company.
In an article he wrote for medium.com, Larry stated the integral dependence of company growth on personal branding:
“Simply put, the harder you work on your personal brand, the more benefits you can expect to experience. As with anything in business, you only get out what you put in.”
In a tweet in 2015, Larry revealed the monstrous growth rate of Wordstream – a powerful demonstration of the fruitfulness of his personal branding labor.
Get Your Story Right First
Establishing your personal brand starts with your personal story.
But with an ever-increasing competitor base, it’s a challenge to get your story heard above all the noise.
The way to overcome this barrier is by bringing something very unique and memorable to the table and to deliver it via storytelling.
Here is an example:
“Hi, my name’s Deepak Shukla. I started Pearl Lemon in a bedroom in my mum’s house after a failed application to the British Special Forces, and I was broke, and I had to get out of home.”
I bet you would love to keep reading and learn more about it.
If your personal story is capable of captivating an audience, people will want to learn more about you.
Achieving a willingness to learn more about who you are and what you do is an imperative first step to building a powerful personal brand.
When crafting your personal story, aim to answer these important questions:
- What is your area of expertise? – try to be as specific as possible.
- Who is your target audience? – Demographic, age, position, occupation, etc
- How can you help your target audience?
- Do you have evidence to prove you are good at what you do? – Testimonials, white papers, etc
- What do you hope to achieve with your personal brand?
The Problem With Personal Branding Nobody Talks About.
Let’s be real.
If we strip down to the core essence of personal brand development, what is it really?
Building your personal brand is a process of creating content that, in all honesty, boasts about how good you are and why you are the best at what you do.
How are you going to grow a following if you are not establishing yourself as an expert in your field?
And how are you going to establish yourself as an expert in your field if nobody knows how good you are?
While to some, promoting oneself is an effortless endeavor, to many of us, it comes across as egotistical and even narcissistic.
It’s natural to be humble and, therefore, be deterred from creating self-promoting content.
But, as I mentioned earlier, establishing a strong personal brand is incredibly beneficial and should not be overlooked.
So what can humble people do to establish a personal brand?
The answer is simple, really.
Get someone else to do it for you!
I, too, struggle with creating self-promoting content, but once I hired a full-time brand manager, the growth of Pearl Lemon and deepakshukla.com exploded!
It’s not hard to find someone to manage your personal brand – we all have people in our life that think great things about us.
And if you don’t have a particular person in your life, you would like to hire as a personal brand manager, just hire a really good writer that genuinely appreciates your expertise.
Now I know what some of you might be thinking right now:
“Dee, I can’t afford to hire a full-time writer.”
If personal finances are an issue, simply hire a University Intern to do it for you at a cheaper rate.
Don’t let humility or finances prevent you from getting it done, establishing your personal brand is one of the most important investments you will ever make!
Yes, the initial stage might be a little shaky, and yes, the first few publications may not be perfect, but that should not phase you, everyone struggles with the initial phase.
The most important thing is that you actually start. By simply taking that step, you are already well ahead of many of your competitors.
Personal Brand Content Strategy
Before you start producing content, it’s important to have a personal brand content strategy.
Whenever your name is typed into a search engine such as Google, the first page displays about 10 results.
Your personal brand content strategy should aim to dominate this first page of results.
The way to achieve this is by getting at least 10 different websites to include your content.
Though this may seem like a daunting task, it’s actually much easier than you think.
Let start with the easy wins:
Getting your own website is a must-have for all personal brand developers.
Your personal website is a portfolio of all your achievements.
Your brand manager could create regular blog content to showcase all of your success in the form of case studies, customer testimonials, public speaking summaries, etc.
All blog content can also be SEO optimized to control the keywords they rank for.
When building personal branding content, all of your primary keywords need to be your full name.
You can also include your geographical location after your full name in some of your written content in order to be as specific as possible.
Here is an overview of where you should include your primary keywords in your blog in order to rank for them:
- In the URL (the URL of each page should include the keyword that the page is ranking for)
- The H1 title tag – Use the keywords at the beginning of the title tag
- Within the first 25 words
- In an H2 or H3 tag.
- Naturally, throughout the content (at least 4 times without overstuffing it)
- In image Alt-Tags (naturally while maintaining an accurate description of the image).
For the visual learners, the team at Moz have created a graphical overview of a perfectly optimized page for the keywords “Chocolate Donuts”
Linkedin is a very powerful and often underutilized marketing tool.
On your home page, there is an option to create write an article for all your followers to see.
The article creator platform in Linkedin provides your brand manager with fantastic options to create clean and professional looking content for you.
You can even embed videos!
Be sure to SEO optimize each article by including your full name in the headling and also naturally throughout the content,
Linkedin has released a new feature that now allows you to write a post (like a status update) and mention certain connections.
And the best part?
You do not even have to be connected to an individual in order to mention them!
If you are publishing an article that includes research on insight by a particular influencer, by tagging them you could earn a lot of publicity which will result in extra personal branding points!
To write a post simply click “start a post” on your home page:
Then when writing your post, type “@” followed by the name of the person you would like to tag
In order to rank in search engine results, make sure your LinkedIn account and all the other social media accounts you use have 100% completed profiles.
Here is an anatomy of a perfectly completed LinkedIn profile:
- A clear background cover image related to your personal branding,
- A clear and professional looking profile picture
- A clear statement of your areas of expertise.
- Contact information.
Answering questions on Quora is a fantastic method of demonstrating your expertise and growing a following.
Quora posts often rank well in question-based google search queries, so you can really get a lot of exposure with a successful quora post.
In order to make your Quora post as potent as possible, aim to craft the most in-depth and valid answer possible.
In order to be able to reply to a Quora question, you must sign up first.
These include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest.
Make sure all of the profiles are 100% complete and that you use your full name in all of the text areas when you write about your story.
Social media platforms operate on the basis of user engagement. So in order to maintain a healthy profile, make sure your brand manager is consistently posting new content and engaging with other users.
Like LinkedIn posts, you can also mention key influencers in your social media posts whenever you create content that involves their work.
A great way for you to build your personal brand on social media is to have your brand manager create some content about a recent success you have had, which included an outline of the steps you undertook to achieve it, and then offer the content as a free digital download via an ad promotion.
This is a great way for you to quickly establish yourself as an expert in your field to a very large audience.
On the landing page you send visitors to, you could include a form that prompts for a name and email prior to the download link is available.
That way, you can create an email list you can regularly send new content to!
Let’s look at how this would be done on Facebook.
You would start by creating a post on your own Facebook page (or your personalised like page) outlining the details of the free digital download and include the link for it.
Then click “Boost Post”
Next set up your target audience.
Under “detailed targeting” you can choose to target a specific age, demographic or certain interests.
When selecting the interests of your target audience, select prominent experts in your field to make sure you are targeting people that actually want to learn from experts.
Then select your daily budget, and you’re done!
Start with $5 a day and then increase it if you notice positive engagement with your advertisement.
If you create your own website, post on LinkedIn, answer Quora questions, establish social media profiles, and optimize the content on all these channels with your full name, you should dominate the first page of Google whenever your name is searched.
But your personal branding content is not only limited to these options; you can further expand your canvas by creating guest posts for prominent blogs, creating content for public relations publishers, writing for magazines, etc.
So there really is no limit to how high you build your personal brand.
Another thing worth mentioning in the same breath is that if you prefer to focus your personal branding efforts on one channel rather than multiple, that’s perfectly ok.
Larry Kim (founder of Wordstream) established his personal brand by focusing on one channel only – Medium.com.
Larry continuously published high-quality content on the platform until his expertise established an impressive following. He eventually became one of the top 10 bloggers on the website.
Investing in your personal brand is the most valuable investment you will ever make – job opportunities and even businesses may rise and fall, but your personal brand will always remain with you.
Whether you write the content yourself or hire a brand ambassador, make sure you start creating awesome personal branding content ASAP!