5 Secrets to Branding Yourself (Successfully)

All my life I was swinging for the fence,
I was looking for the triple,
Never playing good defense

Gunnin’ for the glitter,
Every hot and heavy hitter,
She was never really there so I couldn’t really get her

 

That’s the first verse from Factory of Faith by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’m actually listening to it as I write this post. I find that listening to a playlist with a balanced yet mellow rhythm helps me concentrate best. That and a good read; nothing beats a quality book, blog post, or short story.

So what do these lyrics have anything to do with branding yourself?

I’m going to take the first part of this post to outline a series of steps using the lyrics above. These steps will detail specific strategies for you to take advantage of in order to develop your own brand. I’ll do my best to make sense of my insane thought process. Here goes nothing.

 

1. “Factory of Faith”

That’s what you have to be. You need to instill confidence in your brand and exhibit passion in every way that you can. For myself, I express my passion for personal branding, business, entrepreneurship, and ideas through this nifty collection of writings I like to call a “blog”. Have faith in yourself, because without self-esteem you will not have the motivation to expand or develop your brand.

2. “All my life I was swinging for the fence”

For those of you unfamiliar with baseball, the term “swinging for the fence” has its meaning rooted in the part of the game where the batter swings at the ball and tries to hit a home run (to hit it over the fence, or swing for the fence).

A lot of entrepreneurs and those trying to build their personal image on LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook, end up aiming far too high. They buy followers or likes, or add random people to their network, hoping to get recognized by the few real connections they have.

This is not a way to brand yourself. Being modest in the beginning will pay off in the end: you will connect with people genuinely interested in you and what you have to offer.

3. “I was looking for the triple, never playing good defense”

Tying into the previous explanation, when you always aim high you have your sights set on only one goal: to increase your audience / public awareness. You want to be known, so you spend excessive amounts of time and money to grow your brand inorganically. This will end up hurting you in the long run.

Instead of looking for that triple (a 3-base hit in baseball) change your perspective and realign your goals with something more beneficial to you in the long run. Whether this is “playing good defense,” or posting industry-relevant content on Twitter, always look at branding yourself as a fragile opportunity to increase your public appeal and build trust with your audience.

4. “Gunnin’ for the glitter, every hot and heavy hitter”

Now while Anthony Kiedis might have intended this to have a different meaning, I’m going to put my own spin on it. Basically, this verse describes someone who is on the flashy, spicy, showy side of things. This type of person will buy out huge advertising campaigns and try to get his or her name out there, by any means necessary.

This works for some people, especially if the target audience has a favorable response. But for most? I would not recommend buying out the local highway billboard just yet. You’ll see why in the next verse.

5. “She was never really there so I couldn’t really get her”

This is why I don’t recommend starting out with a big flashy bang. The beginning of this song talks about a guy who took a high-standard approach to women, expecting them to be a certain type of girl, and getting lost in their showy appearances, but in the end realized that he didn’t spend enough time building himself into the right kind of person, in order for him to find the right kind of girl.

Okay, this is by no means a lyrical interpretation blog, but the concept makes sense! Think about it. You’re spending all this time working on the tiny details (I know I have) or pushing out flashy-in-your-face marketing campaigns on social media, so much so that you forgot to focus on actually building your brand for the right kind of audience.

BABABAM!

That’s right. I just blew your mind. Or maybe I didn’t. Either way, I know I’m impressed with myself. And so now that you’ve got that swimming around in your brain, let’s wrap up with a few bullet points.

  • Have faith in yourself
  • Confidence is key
  • Have the right goals in mind
  • Build your brand before your image
  • Find the right kind of audience for your brand
  • Cater to this audience and feed them your knowledge

 

That’s all I’ve got for now! I hope this helped you understand the branding process a bit more.

IMG_5900.PNG

5 Ways to Build Your Personal Brand

brandpng

It’s 2015: Your Personal Brand Matters

Building your personal brand while also building up your employer is so much easier if you work for a company that aligns with your own beliefs. If you actually like what you are doing at work, it is easy to incorporate it into your own efforts. You should already have your place of employment linked to your LinkedIn profile, but you’ll want to include it in your Twitter bio, Google+ bio and any other relevant channels.

As long as your efforts to build your personal brand are parallel to those of your company, your boss shouldn’t mind you spending a little time during the workday creating these efforts. You may want to run it by her just to be sure, though.

Why Build a Personal Brand?

Let’s take a quick step back. Building a personal brand sounds an awful lot like adding more work to your plate on purpose. I suppose you are, but there are a lot of benefits to doing so.

According to Neil Patel and Aaron Aguis, a strong personal brand can lead to:

  • A better job (inside or outside your current company)
  • Better contacts and clients for your company
  • Industry recognition

How Do I Know What my Personal Brand Is?

Good question, and, unfortunately, no one can answer that except you. I talk a lot about content marketing because that is where my passions and skills lie. But that is true for a ton of other people, too. To identify what makes you special, develop a “mission statement.”

A while back I decided that I could be different by consistently talking about my serial entrepreneurship and actuarial background, in overlap with my love for Tweeting and taking selfies. As stated in my Twitter bio, it helps define my style and ultimately, my own personal brand.

Tips to Grow Your Personal Brand without Sacrificing All Your Free Time

OK, let’s get to the meat of it. Like I said, I have been working hard over the past handful of years to build my brand, but others have obviously been more successful, emerging as industry celebrities.

So here I’ll share advice for building your personal brand—while continuing to work hard at your company job—from those VIPs, as well as a few tips I picked up along the way.

1) Schedule Social Media Posts for 15 Minutes Each Morning

In marketing today, it is nearly impossible to build a personal brand without the use of social media. Why? According to The Undercover Recruiter, “Social media tools have the tremendous power to put you in contact with thousands of people.” It’s the best way to communicate with like-minded people across the globe.

Each morning, take just 15 minutes to schedule tweets and updates on your chosen channels. For some, that may be Twitter and LinkedIn, but depending on your target audience, you may find Tumblr and Pinterest are better uses of your time. Automatic scheduling tools, such as Buffer, make scheduling quick and efficient.

Additionally, don’t forget to engage with your contacts. Consider posting and responding to relevant LinkedIn group posts and say thank you when someone retweets you. While social can be automated, it’s that personal touch that can really make your brand stand out.

2) Write for Your Company Blog

According to The Guardian, a business blog is one of the most cost-effective and easiest ways to promote a business. It is likely your company already has a blog up and running, and it is probably gaining traction if it is being managed properly.

Getting involved with your company blog is a no-brainer. The blog managers will be thrilled to have another writer on board, but, more importantly for you, you have easy access to a blog already established in the industry.

Blogging for your business blog once a month—or once a week!—will help get you out there in record timing. And the backing of a business in the industry certainly doesn’t hurt. Best of all, this can be done on company time so you won’t have to sacrifice evenings or weekends to start building your personal brand.

3) Take Time to Keep Up with the Latest Trends

This one is something my colleagues and I have learned over the years, as it helps in so many ways. It is obvious talking about timely topics in your social media posts and your blog posts is helpful.

But when you can lead your client or company in the right direction because you are up to date on Google algorithms or know shoppers referred by Pinterest are 10 percent more likely to make a purchase than visitors who arrive from other social networks, you are going to look gooooood.

This helps your personal brand inside the four walls of your office, but extends beyond that as your colleagues start including you in their thought processes, social updates and strategic meetings.

So when you have 10 minutes to spare before a meeting or at the end of the day and don’t want to start a new project, start educating yourself about trending marketing topics. Check out sources like Marketing LandSocial Media Examiner and The Next Web. A service like Feedly will keep things quick and easy.

4) Write Guest Posts for Relevant Outlets

Sujan Patel writes guest blogs for a slew of outlets, including Forbes, Business Insider, Fast Company and Inc. While you may not get your byline on one of these publishing mammoths immediately, you can guest blog for targeted websites in your industry.

Patel admits guest blogging is crucial for branding, as it gets your name in front of your target audience. And, if you provide a link back to your business (which you should do), your company will reap the benefits of your efforts, too.

KISSmetrics suggests finding sites that fit the following criteria: the content is focused on your industry or niche, the audience aligns with your topic, the readership is engaged and the site is active on social media.

5) Say Yes to Events

Even if you are shy, do not pass up on the opportunity to meet new people at peer events.  Whether it is a meet up or your local HUGS event, take advantage! The more people you meet means the more LinkedIn connections you will make, the more Twitter followers you will get and more opportunities to be featured will arise.

As your personal brand develops, you may be asked to take part in panel discussions, video or blog interviews or even speak during an event or webinar. Because you will be representing your company as an expert in the industry, you will likely be encouraged to take part in the event, even if it is during office hours.

Being asked to take part in speaking engagements is how you know your branding efforts are working. Seriously consider the opportunity! This is just the beginning.

Personal brands are not built overnight, so be patient. Follow these steps to start experiencing recognition, but more importantly, be authentic and follow your gut. Your diligence will pay off—at the office and on your own time.

What have you experienced as a great way to build your personal brand?

Shoot me over an email and let me know! I’d like to share as many tips with my readers as I can find!

Best of luck to you – and thanks for reading!

My Biggest Mailing List Mistake

While I wouldn’t consider it a complete failure, I do look back now and realize that my biggest mailing list mistake has cost me a number of subscribers, below-average open/click rates, and most importantly – my confidence.

When I first started this blog – back in December of 2014 – I had one thought in mind: help people become entrepreneurs, or at least become better at being one. I myself have had my share of successes and failures, and so I found that it would be a great opportunity to impart that knowledge onto others. It was a good mission!

And so I began building my blog. The posts, the creative energy, the stimulation of marketing-moxie – it was all so good. I started off by writing about all my ideas – some of which you might remember. Ideas such as my Content Writing Service, which netted me $700 in just one month, or the Gyroscale: Accuracy in Gravity, which led to some great emails.

All of this was an attempt at helping others kickstart their entrepreneurial spirit by offering already-brainstormed ideas for free (initially there was a price, but I ended up changing my mind). But with all this great, informative content, where was I to get my readers? My subscribers?

That’s where things took a turn for the worst. At the forefront, it did not appear that there was any damage done, but little did I know. So I went ahead and began asking around, doing some small self-promotion, nothing too big.

I had already put together an email list of friends and acquaintances who were either entrepreneurs or expressed interest in that area. I also had a list of college emails from people who were involved in business clubs. You can probably guess where this is going.

So I went ahead and took that list and put it to use. I think it was around 100-200 emails in size, I don’t quite recall how many exactly. Many of them bounced, but I’d say that I was left with around 150 (this includes the list of friends I mentioned).

Running my first email campaign was nerve-wrecking. What if I didn’t include enough content? What if it wasn’t good? What if it was spammy? All these what-if’s had my mind racing.What if?

But the analytics from my first email were incredible. I had a 58.1% open rate and a 12.9% click rate. I was ecstatic, on cloud nine, in a state of euphoria. However, that didn’t last for too long.

After about the 5th or 6th mailing, I began to realize that my numbers were dropping. From that golden 58.1%, I had open rates <20%. My click rates were nearly nonexistent. Granted, the list had grown to about 380 subscribers, with a handful of people who unsubscribed.

Now is when it all started to go downhill. The next five mailings saw anywhere from 3-7 unsubscribes, an average open rate of 15%, and a click rate of <1%. What had I done wrong? What?

Let’s backtrack. Just a few paragraphs back, I mentioned that you can probably guess where this is going.

I had already put together an email list of friends and acquaintances who were either entrepreneurs or expressed interest in that area. I also had a list of college emails from people who were involved in business clubs.

This is where I went wrong. This was my biggest mailing list mistake. Sure enough, anyone who was interested in business, finance, or entrepreneurship would have loved my initial emails. Some of those initial readers are still subscribed! But the majority?

If you one day began to receive emails from someone whom you know, and they seem to be sharing genuine advice about a topic of interest, you would most likely keep reading their emails either out of eagerness or out of courtesy – right?

But say this is a couple emails in. Say the eagerness or courtesy has run out. Say that the emails aren’t of interest to you anymore because you never really signed up. Say that I made a mistake.

After taking a moment to compare my initial subscribers (the ones I added) to now the 400+ which had organically subscribed, I noticed that while the initial subscribers had great stats the first few mailings, their interest / traction seemed to trail off. Whereas now, my current list, has a steady open & click rate, and the analytics I have garnered has been much more beneficial.

So now, my golden rule: learn from your mistakes. Of course I could tell you not to add emails which aren’t real organic subscribers, or not to post poor-quality posts. But that’s what everyone will tell you. And everyone has a different experience.

Fail to plan, plan to fail.

Learn from your mistakes, plan to make the right changes, and you will grow into a much more successful entrepreneur. But fail to do this – to learn and to plan – you are planning to fail.

 

I wish you the best of luck in your planning.

IMG_5900.PNG