As a content writer and brand strategist, I help companies build and elevate their brand every day. As a solopreneur, I also pay attention to my personal brand because I am a reflection of my company. That means every social media post, every photo, every video, and every message I send online can change how someone perceives my business.
Your Online Profile = Your Brand’s Reputation
Your personal brand assists potential clients, prospects, suppliers, contract workers, collaborators, colleagues, and others in learning more about you. For those who need to know, it offers recognition and understanding into your work. Human interaction is still a vital touchpoint. However, your digital reputation may be even more important but it never completely goes away. The Internet is forever. So, it is imperative to intentionally and thoughtfully develop and manage your personal brand online.
Our entire professional and personal digital activity creates a searchable online profile that can shape your company’s reputation. An active and positive online personal brand can prompt customers to find you, interact with you, and purchase the goods or services you offer. It also helps you build credibility and trustworthiness for yourself and your business. Your brand should position you as an authority in your industry. Intentionally creating your personal brand gives you a say in promoting yourself and your business and control in crafting an accurate picture of your identity.
What is a Personal Brand?
A personal brand and a business brand are comparable. It is an overview of who you are, what you do, your life’s purpose and/or professional goals, the values you uphold, and how you live out those values. Your personal brand can help you stand out from your business competition and communicate the value you bring to customers, just like a company’s brand does. Your brand tells prospective clients about your distinctive identity and the benefits you offer. Your brand is, in essence, your unique story and your reputation. Your personal brand highlights your experience and abilities, inspires confidence, and underlines your dedication to your profession and field.
TL: DR: Your personal brand is the feeling an individual experiences when encountering you or your business.
Steps to Creating a Strong Personal Brand
Creating a personal brand may seem daunting, but if you are online, you’ve probably already begun. But, is it the story you want to tell? If so, fantastic! You are on your way to building an authentic personal brand. If not, don’t worry. There are things you can do to change your existing online persona.
Here are the steps to take in creating a personal brand. Remember, you are building a brand as a business owner, so use that lens when addressing these steps.
- Outline who you are and what you want to accomplish.
- Determine your niche, value proposition, and differentiators (USPs).
- Define your audience.
- Develop your brand identity, including your mission, purpose, values, voice, and visuals.
- Connect with others (colleagues, clients, partners, collaborators) who share the same values.
- Establish yourself as an expert in your field.
- Create and share content that reflects your brand.
- Thoughtfully promote your brand online through social media and other platforms.
- Participate in relevant events and conferences.
- Measure and track the success of your brand.
Be sure to focus on featuring yourself as a solopreneur, emphasizing your unique skills and expertise, and creating online content that resonates with your target audience. Additionally, look for opportunities to collaborate with others in your field, which can help expand your reach and visibility. Finally, be sure to continually track your personal brand, so you can make adjustments and improvements as needed.
Your Brand Identity
Developing your brand identity is the most important step on the list above and the most difficult. There are steps you can take to build your brand identity.
- Define your mission (WHAT you want to do), and values (guiding principles).
- Create your purpose statement (WHY you do what you do).
- Determine your brand positioning (market differentiators) and unique selling points.
- Develop a brand voice, tone and tagline.
- Create a logo and other visual elements.
- Write on-brand marketing messaging including your elevator speech.
Following these steps, you will create a strong and recognizable brand identity to help you stand out from the competition and make a lasting impression on your target audience. Putting your brand story’s key messages in writing is beneficial. When creating content, you can use it as a jumping-off point. You can also use your key messages to write your brand statement or elevator pitch. This concise (1–3 sentence) statement encapsulates who you are, what you have to offer, and what makes you unique. It should be interesting enough to draw readers in while also conveying value.
This piece of the brand puzzle was the most difficult for me. As a marketer, I can talk about my clients all day long. But to take a step back and come up with a clear and concise message for my own brand took a lot of soul searching and ruthless editing. But it’s important to be able to communicate the value you offer and the benefits you provide your clients to anyone who wants to know.
The #1 Rule to Building a Strong Personal Brand
Be authentic! The foundation of a successful personal brand is authenticity. It is important to be genuine and true to who you are in all of your interactions, online and in-person. In your communication, be truthful and reflective of your values. Being true to yourself will help you differentiate yourself from your competitors and build credibility and trust. Honesty, genuineness, and transparency are so critical to cut through the deafening noise of hype and trend, especially online.
Nurture Your Personal Brand
The process of creating a personal brand is ongoing. Consistency is crucial. That means creating and publishing regular content is always compatible with your values, mission, vision and the rest of your brand. Everything you create should be “brand-right.” That also means engaging with others online and off in a way that reflects your brand well. But, you can keep building and refining your brand over time by keeping an eye on audience feedback and market trends. Learning new things, strengthening your abilities, and enhancing your expertise only elevates your brand.
As a solopreneur, your personal brand is embedded in the minds of people you engage with. The effort to convey and present your value to the world is personal branding. What other people have to say about you is the foundation of your true personal brand and ultimately, your business. But you control your brand because the core of personal branding is what you say about yourself. Don’t leave such an important piece of your work life to chance.
I am a writer. Writing is my creative outlet and my joy. I believe that words bind us together as humans and that the best stories remind us of our humanity. I specialize in telling brand stories that engage and inspire.
My favorite projects are when I get to help build a brand. Strategic branding is so important for any business. Discovering an organization’s “Why” is so satisfying.
My “Why” is making the world a better place. It’s why I worked for a nonprofit for 7 years before becoming a freelancer and volunteer as a member of the Columbus Museum of Art. My chihuahua Grandon may think differently. He thinks my “Why” is taking care of him. He’s not totally wrong. He definitely runs the household. When I am not writing, you’ll find the two of us walking in the park or just around our neighborhood.