If you are like me and understand the importance of branding yourself and sharing knowledge with others, you might be wondering how you can get started building your personal brand. If you are really like me, you will want to have a strategy in mind when you start launching your new image to the public.
I discussed the importance of personal branding and explored the reasons why I wanted to create a strategy in my last article. If you are like me and realize that there is power in a personal brand, but don’t know where to start you are in luck! If you want to connect with others and learn to share your ideas with them on an emotional and intellectual level then this guide is for you.
Action Steps for Building Your Personal Brand
Let’s develop a purposeful, personal branding strategy together! If you can provide answers to these 8 action steps you will know you are ready to start building your personal brand.
Obviously, starting your new brand should take some planning and dedicating your time to the project. Over the next year, I am going to fully launch my personal brand online. Before I get started I will want to establish my brand image. I also want my brand to be guided by my core values, goals, and purposeful messaging. I also want a logo and themed website to really share and add value to my audience and integrate into my business goals with Outer Banks Media.
In the 8 steps I’m following, you can see how building your personal brand gives you all the power to define yourself and align your actions with your intentions. Let’s get building!
Step #1: Know Your Why
The first step to building your personal brand is to know your why. Remember, you get to define your own goals, the things that drive you to do what you do, and what you going to achieve with your brand.
You can start out by asking yourself the following questions:
- What motivates me to get out of bed in the morning?
- What subjects am I most interested in?
- Where are you right now in life?
- In 3 years, what do I want to accomplish?
- What kind of projects am I involved in or wish to be a part of?
Pay attention to your answers! You may identify values, beliefs, and goals that motivate you. You can even ask your friends and family to point out the things that make you unique.
Just for fun, here are some of my whys in life:
- Curating my home full of antique furniture and yard full of flowers
- Doing my hair and makeup, shopping for the latest trends, and being a girl’s girl
- Cooking with ingredients grown from my garden and setting up stunning tablescapes whenever I have the chance to cook for guests
- Traveling and trying new restaurants, especially in Northeastern North Carolina and Hampton Roads Virginia
- Writing and helping create brands for my awesome clients at Outer Banks Media
Self-Exploration is Key
Even if you do not know the answers to all these questions, it is okay! When was the last time you really stopped to think about yourself and what makes you do what you do? You may feel uncomfortable at first or like you are wasting time, but really just think about it.
I really found a lot of inspiration and self-exploration in creating vision boards for myself. I identified four areas (cooking, fashion, traveling, and food) as my main points of interest and curated imagery for each. Landing is a really nifty, free tool that I used to make online mood boards that really made me start thinking about myself!
Step #2: Set Your Goals
With a full understanding of who you are and the values and strengths that guide what you do, setting goals for your personal brand can happen somewhat effortlessly. Goals will give you clear direction and purpose while creating your brand. Plus, a solid plan in place will make it easier to identify measurable outcomes and help you stay motivated with set dates to complete by a certain time.
Harness your passions and think about where you see want to see yourself in one year, three years, or even five. Are there new skills or knowledge you want to focus on? Your personal brand can evolve with you, so it is okay for there to be room for improvement and changes over time.
Your goals can be flexible, but they will hold you accountable. That is why you should set realistic goals you can achieve and evaluate your progress on a regular basis.
You can use the SMART Goal acronym to remember to make your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Sensitive.
Write down your goals to clarify your thinking and adjust your statements as needed to stay on track.
Some examples of the goals I set for myself while building my personal brand include:
- Post on TikTok at least once a week
- Write five blog articles in the next five months
- Launch my website by the end of the 2023 calendar year
You can tell that the goals I listed have specific actions that are related to my overall personal why. The goals are realistic to the point where I am not setting me up for failure and I can track my success by my goal deadline.
Step #3: Niche in on Your Audience
When I first decided to start my brand my biggest personal doubt was, “Who the heck actually is going to care?” If you are sharing a vulnerable side of yourself online you will want to understand what niche you fall into for your audience.
Narrowing down your niche will help you appeal to the right viewership and like-minded individuals. Knowing what you are good at and what your goals are can help you select a focus area for your personal brand.
If you are still not sure what your niche is you can take a look at what other people in your industry and area of expertise are doing. You do not want to copy what your competition is doing. Rather, you will need to differentiate yourself. Sometimes there are gaps in the market just waiting for you to fill the void with your knowledge and unique skillset.
Some examples of how I narrowed down my niche and areas of focus are:
- I purchased my home at 23 and it came fully furnished with vintage furniture, glassware, and more.
- I am overdressed for nearly every occasion I go to in Northeastern North Carolina, at this point it’s my signature move.
- I live in a town with one-stop light where agriculture is king and everybody knows everybody’s business.
- I travel often between being a partner to someone in the military who is originally from California, my work at Outer Banks Media, and close proximity to the North Carolina and Virginia border.
It might not seem like much, but differentiating factors are a bit more targeted and offer a more unique perspective and framework for content. They also make you more relatable to your audience and ultimately more memorable.
Step #4: Develop Your Brand Identity
At this point, you should be starting to have an image of who you and what your personal brand should look like are in your head. Developing your brand identity is an essential part of your personal branding and will help your audience remember your personality visually.
Some key pieces of your brand identity include:
- Brand Name
- Logo Design
- Fonts and Typography
- Photos, Videos, and Design elements
- Brand Voice and Tone
Your brand identity should capture most of your personality. You can reflect your brand’s core values through your brand imagery while packaging your passions into a perceptible display for your audience.
The selections you make for your brand identity create consistency across your website, email communications, marketing materials, and social media. These embellishments make experiences with your brand more memorable.
I made my brand kit for free with Canva. They have lots of templates you can use to create your brand kit and logo. I plan to upgrade my logo and have someone else capture my image at some point. Remember, these goals are meant to be flexible. For now, we are focusing on getting started and progress does not have to be perfect.
Here is a breakdown of some of my final selections for my brand imagery:
- Brand Name: YaGirlSmalls
- Tagline: Cheers to the Chaos
- Brand Voice: Fun, Informative, Southern
Step #5: Develop a Content Strategy
Your brand image acts as a framework for how your brand appears. Now you need a framework for how you will get your brand out there and establish your authority over your topics.
You can develop a content strategy for high-quality and relevant blogs, social media, video posts, and podcast posts that are relevant to your audience and niche. Planning your content calendar can outline and introduce the topics, mediums, and schedule your personal brand will need to create. At this time you can also consider ways to repurpose your content on different platforms, note key dates, and promote any affiliations you may be a part of.
You will also need to consider who your content strategy is directed towards. Some points to consider about your reader or viewers include:
- Demographics: Who is your audience? Are they male, female, or other? What is their age? Where do they hang out online?
- Interests: What does your audience do in their free time? What do they like and dislike?
- Problems: What issues does your audience have and do you know how to help solve them with your content?
- Emotions: Do you understand and relate to how your audience feels about their interests and/or problems?
- Needs: What will your audience accomplish with your content?
You can research your audience and their behaviors to find areas where your brand can provide relevant content. Some easy and free tools to find topics and gauge coverage from competitors is to use tools like
- Google Trends
- Doing your keyword research by doing some Google searches on relevant topics
- Scrolling social media hashtags
Collect the information you find and use your research to guide the topics you select to include in your content. Some ideas I gathered from my research include:
- Vintage Franciscan Ware Table Scapes
- Best Restaurants in Suffolk, Virginia
- Makeup Vanity Tours
- Copycat Chickfila Cookies
Remember, your content does not always have to be dictated by data. The best ideas and content comes from the heart. Post what you please as long as it is respectful and useful to others!
Step #6: Build Your Website or Blog
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at this point, that is okay. Building your website is the step that takes the longest when you are building your personal brand. Luckily, with the content strategy and calendar you created, you will be ready to start publishing branded content as soon as you launch your website.
If you are still on the fence about if you need to have your own website or blog, you need to! Having a website is essential to starting your personal brand especially if you want control over your online presence. If you work for a company, you may have the opportunity to publish articles on their website. Having your own website allows you to design, publish, and own content that directly reflects who you are.
Search Engine Optimization for Niche Keywords
Your website is your personal hub for showcasing your ideas. You can use the platform to portfolio recent work or simply get your message out there. If the design is user-friendly and the content is optimized for search engines and keywords in your niche having a website can really boost your visibility online
SEO relies heavily on credibility. Your brand’s online presence grows when you are committed to building trust by sharing your story, and new ideas, and staying seriously committed to producing content on your website and driving traffic back to your site on social media.
I am going to use my website to accomplish the following:
- Provide learning materials
- Connect with my audience and build relationships
- Monetize my content
- Network and reach more brands that align with my values
Step #7: Share Your Journey on Social Media
Every step of the way you should try and share your experiences on social media. Your journey is unique and people enjoy the honest nature of sharing authentic moments online. Documenting your life online is no easy task. That is why it is essential to revert back to the content strategy you create to guide what you share and when.
I have decided to batch-create my content. I schedule the posts a month in advance to keep balance in my routine. Occasionally I will post a candid of what I am currently doing when I feel like it. That is the key to keeping your personal brand fun and not another urgent task.
Remember, you can repurpose content across platforms. Your website’s content almost always should be shared on your social media platforms as it encourages search engine indexing and readership.
Sometimes I film myself working around the house and doing my day-to-day tasks. Even if I do not post my videos I find filming to help me remember my days working from home easier. I also use them as a way to brain-dump lots of ideas. Sometimes I do not use the content immediately but have it stockpiled for future publications.
Branding Your Social Media Profiles
You also will want to make sure that all of your personal social media accounts utilize your brand image. On Instagram that could look like cleaning up and planning out an aesthetic feed or simply taking a new headshot and updating your cover image to call out your brand.
You should also optimize your social media profiles for keywords related to your page to help users find your account and find hashtags relevant to your content and what your followers engage with. You may have stumbled upon some of this information while developing your content strategy.
Be sure to look at inspiration posts and competitor accounts you look up to. What hashtags are they using? How do they format their bios and pinned posts?
Collaborate and Network with Other Professionals
Collaboration and a network of other professionals in your industry or niche are so helpful for your personal brand. Knowing the right person can expand the opportunities on your horizon and even teach you new skills along the way.
You can get started with networking and connecting your personal brand with others by:
- Attending events, conferences, or workshops
- Engaging with people on social media or online forums
- Inviting others to create with you
Step #8: Consistently Add Value for an Authentic Community
Once you are consistently publishing on social media and your website you need to ensure you give the people what they want… value. At this point in your brand build you should understand the problems your audience has and have empathy towards them. Your job is to provide solutions to those problems for them.
You cannot add value and build community if you are not authentic. You need to build trust with your audience. Your content strategy for publishing posts will help you be consistent with your audience in sharing and regularly connecting with them.
I like to remind folks starting out that quantity does not mean quality when it comes to content. Your number one goal as a content creator should be to meet the needs of your audience and remain truthful in your endeavor.
Ask your community for feedback, respond to comments, and monitor your content to continuously improve your work. You can evaluate what is working for your personal brand and adapt your strategy accordingly.
When things do not work out it is okay! You should be transparent about your successes and failures with your personal brand. Remember, we are here to learn from your lessons along the way.
Tell Your Personal Brand’s Story
The 8 steps listed above are not all necessary to build your personal brand. The tell-tell sign your brand is ready to be shared is if you are ready to start telling your personal brand’s story.
You should be prepared to work incredibly hard when first starting your personal brand. Results will probably not happen immediately, so be persistent with your efforts will be a valuable investment for you.
To truly succeed with your personal brand, however, you have to be true to yourself, with an authentic and real personality that other people can identify with. As you uncover the differences that set you apart from the rest of the population, you will be able to find new ways to share your expertise with whatever niche in the world you connect with the most.