Whether you’re looking to create a separate revenue stream by monetizing your expertise or you want to build a platform from which to launch yourself as an entrepreneur, building a personal brand is a necessity. In our ever-more-connected world, we look for names and faces we know from our interactions on social media, blogs, and other venues.
So how do you create a social media presence and personal brand that will help you take your experience to the next level?
It has been more than 400 years since Polonius first told his son, Laertes, “This above all: to thine own self be true.” The advice still holds in the 21st century. While the persona you present as an entrepreneur may be an enhanced version of yourself, it should still be you. You might push away the part of you that prefers intimate conversation over elevator pitches in a crowded convention hall, but you shouldn’t compromise your values or do things that you ultimately believe to be unfair or inappropriate.
When you are developing your personal brand, remember that this is ideally something you will maintain for years to come, as part of your entrepreneurship and business. If you find your “self” repugnant, eventually your audience will as well. Be just as proud of your personal brand as you are of yourself, and you are likely to be following the right path.
Developing a strong personal brand will help you create a solid business, find backers and supporters for entrepreneurship, and facilitate the development of strong income streams down the road.
Market yourself as an expert
Because you’re an expert in your field, you have skills that not everyone else has. You might be an editor, a pattern designer, a beta tester, or a programmer. Market your skills, even if all you do is create a page on your website about the topics and skills that you can perform. When you show that you’re willing to monetize your abilities, people are more willing to see you as an expert and this would be an opportunity to increase customer retention and profits.
How you talk about your industry will also go a long way in developing your brand as a thought leader. Are you one of the first to comment on breaking news in your field, or do you not even mention it? By seeming as if you are part of an inner circle, you will be perceived as more expert on other matters in the industry.
Start a blog
The first step for many people who are building their personal brand is to start a successful blog. Your blog address should incorporate your professional name. If yourname.com is already taken, consider adding your area of expertise: yournamewriter.com. Keep it simple, however, so that you’re easy to find.
Your site should have a few pages of frequently asked questions, information about you and your expertise, and what you have to offer, but your blog is the most dynamic, and therefore the most important, part of your site. Since it will be frequently updated, it shows Google that your site is well maintained and active, which helps you rate higher on search pages.
On your blog, topics to write about include: industry news, frequently asked questions, products and services available in the industry, and how your industry affects other areas of entrepreneurship.
Have authentic conversations on social media
One of the most effective ways to drive readership to your blog is to be an active participant on the social media platforms where people in your expertise field tend to hang out. Writers and other creative types spend a great deal of time on Twitter; visual artists tend towards Instagram; crafters love Pinterest. Wherever your audience spends their time, go there, and share your information.
But just sharing your posts won’t be enough; you also need to engage people, have authentic and honest conversations. Talk about what they’re doing, what they’re working on, and what they’re sharing, before you invite them back to your page to check out what you’re up to.
There is no field, from writing to art to programming, which is static. New developments are pushing every industry forward. If you want to be known as an expert in your field, you will need to continue to learn. This can mean taking classes in new techniques or programming languages, staying up to date on industry blogs, making friends with other experts and sharing knowledge, or reading new guidebooks on developing top skills.
The most important thing is to not let your knowledge become stagnant. Nothing destroys credibility faster than espousing knowledge that hasn’t been true for years. Staying up to date will help make sure your advice stays current and relevant.