Alright, let's start on something we can all agree upon. “Personal brand” really isn’t a super sexy term.
Maybe you associate it with shameless self-promotion or a guy in a suit forcing a business card into your hand. But the truth is, personal brands can be awesome and everyone already has one—even, scratch that, ESPECIALLY creatives.
In this digital age, we are all putting out some sort of message about who we are. And even before the digital age we did the same thing. We told the world how we wanted to be experienced—by how we dressed, the non-verbals we used, and how we presented ourselves in public.
Now, we present ourselves in public in front of hundreds, even thousands of people every day via social and digital media. The content you post, the responses you post on other people’s updates, the photos you share and even the grammar and spelling habits you have all reflect your personal brand.
No pressure, right?
Before you decide to close up shop on all your social media accounts and move to Fiji, I gotta tell you—this online persona is GREAT for you as a creative.
You get to control the narrative of who you are online. Want people to think of you first when they think of graphic designers? Want to come to mind as a hard-working, hustling actor? Or how bout a sought-after writer? You can establish any of these narratives by being intentional with your personal brand online.
So where do you begin in the quest to be intentional with your personal brand?
1. Determine your UVP. If you’re a creative, or a freelancer, or a solopreneur, you need to flesh out your unique value proposition (UVP). What is your ‘unfair advantage?’ If you were an investor in your career (which—you are, by the way) how would you pitch yourself as a worthwhile investment? Why should an investor put their eggs in your basket as opposed to someone else’s? These are incredibly important ideas to flesh out. They affect everything: how you spend your time, money and brain power. How does your UVP impact how you present yourself online? How does it change your website? Your social media presence? Which social channels you spend time on? The tone of your posts?
2. Polish your schpeel. Pop quiz: can you stop right now and verbally explain what you do and how you serve the world in 30 seconds or less? You need to be able to clearly, confidently and unapologetically tell the world what you have to offer. Why? You make a lasting impression when you can confidently share who you are and what you do. And the better you can get at explaining who you are and what you do, the easier it will be for other people to understand your work and think of you first when they need someone just like you for a project.
3. Decide your approach to social and digital media. Your public persona should support your personal brand. Do you know why you’re on the various social media channels you are on? A few years ago, I decided to get intentional with my social media. I have accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram for work. And I have accounts on Pinterest and SnapChat for personal use. Anything that I post publicly online has been created with my personal brand in mind. It is consistent with how I present myself on my websites and in the public sphere. I encourage you to take some time to think through your purpose for each social network that you are on. Why are you there? What do you want to accomplish through it? What can you accomplish through it? Adjust your approach accordingly.
4. Start now. It takes a little while for a personal brand to catch on so be consistent and go ahead and dive in. If you are “rebranding” yourself in a new line of work or thought, know that it takes some time for people to connect you with your new “thing.” So go ahead and put the time in. Be consistent and when people need someone with your skillset they will think of you.
Your online presence gives you an incredible opportunity to share exactly what you want to share with the world. With an intentional approach you can craft a personal brand that will help connect you with the kind of opportunities that inspire and fulfill you. The world of online personas can be kind of weird, but if handled with care, digital media can provide you with the potential to create incredible opportunities. Remember, your story is begging to be told.
If you’re in central Virginia, I’m giving a two-hour workshop tomorrow night on all things freelance—including diving head first into personal brand. If you have a passion that you want to earn a living from, but you’re not sure where to go next, this workshop is for you. Grab your ticket here.