Today’s digital space is crowded, with countless companies competing for the attention of a global audience. This means it is no longer enough to just be there. Standing out and projecting a clear, recognizable online voice is often the only way to attract an audience in the digital space. Lacking that recognition makes obtaining business opportunities/ customers/ potential employers/ readers much more difficult.
As it turns out, a unique voice is not an easy thing to create. A prime example of a hard worker with crazy business experience and skillfully honed personal branding? That would be the dictionary definition of one Gary Vaynerchuk. Fangirling aside, coming up with a personal (but professional) voice or brand that excites and engages an audience requires planning.
Having a hard time? We’ve got some advice for you.
1. Become a (Relevant) Expert
There is a real need for experts to give definitive answers in the presence of so much digital misinformation. Find what it is that you are particularly knowledgeable about as it pertains to your professional field, and own it. This is your strong suit and basis for attracting an audience. Do make sure this expertise relates back to your profession, or there will be a disconnect between what people seek you out for and the brand you’re trying to form.
Everyone needs a good source of information. Once you bring in enough readers, you will begin to attract media interest from journalists in need of sources. Maintaining a connection with these journalists will allow you to reference your company, and gain exposure. Here is an example of what this might look like as a byline, in this case for a guest post written by Dan Miller (@dnm54):
And don’t worry about being the only expert in your field. What matters is not so much the originality of the idea (what’s original anymore, anyway?), but originality of execution. Differentiate yourself through your brand.
2. Define Your Brand & Personality
Meditate. Consult a spiritual guide. Look within yourself. Whatever it takes, you will need to reach a decision for what qualities make up your brand. Are you innovative? Resourceful? Environmentally conscious? Funny? Opinionated? Make sure your audience understands those qualities, and that you stick to them. Straying too far will make people doubt your authenticity, and lose both their trust and interest in you.
Part of being authentic requires that, while you may be creating this brand for professional purposes, you don’t forget to insert your personality. It’s all about human interest. The more people feel like they know you and relate to you on a personal level, the more likely they will be to come back to your website or social media account. Take Marie Forleo (@marieforleo), business and life consultant, for example. Her website is the right mix of business and personality. She provides professional guidance, but inserts plenty of personal touches–everything from the language she uses, to the website’s design has the stamp of her voice and character.
It’s that character, encompassing your quirks and passions, that makes you unique and ultimately captivates your audience.
For some easy personal touches, make sure your blog/website contains:
Your name as the domain
Photos of you
An “about me” or bio page
Links to your social media
3. Be Presentable & Present
Let’s face it: it’s hard not to judge books by their covers, or websites by their design. You’ve got a great personality and great content to share with the world–don’t scare your potential audience away with a horribly designed web page. Consider the look and feel of your page as a visual way to get your personality across. Everything from colors to fonts can be used as a reflection of your brand.
Not great at website building? You’re not alone. Check out website builder services such as Squarespace or Weebly. Alternatively, you could try WordPress or hire a WordPress professional for increased customizability.
Of course, it doesn’t end there. Having a beautiful online space for your readers to find you is one thing, but you must also know where to find your readers. More than half the battle is being there, wherever it is that your target audience gets most of their content. It might be Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora–whatever that digital space may be, make sure to be consistently present where they can see you and be reminded of your brand.
4. Be Patient
The last piece of advice is a bit of a bitter pill to have to swallow, and that is: patience. Even with a great personal branding strategy, it will likely take some time (and not a small amount of luck) to establish a solid audience and your reputation as an industry expert. Just as it is impossible to ensure that a video will turn viral, it is impossible to tell which blog post/social media post/update will be the spark that grows your digital influence. Continuing to strategically put out quality content nonetheless still gives people the chance to discover you, and gives you a better shot at growing your brand.
Take, for instance, branded.me’s Ryan O’Hara. Even with creative promotional tactics and a strong branding background, it took him several years to grow an audience and achieve the success he has today.
After compiling enough content with a website in place, you can also get proactive while you wait with paid promotion. Sponsored content on any of the platforms your potential audience visits most will significantly improve your chances for conversions (and if you are looking for info on paid social promotion, we have previously addressed the topic here, here and here). You are also more than welcome to track the performance of said promotion through RTB-Media.
It may take a while to gain traction but the important thing is to keep at it.
Comment below with any other personal branding suggestions! We’d love to read them.