As a business owner, branding yourself is one of the smartest things you can do to grow your business, attract clients, and generate revenue. For years, entrepreneurs have been building personal brands in the areas of personal finance, life coaching, design, writing, and more.
If you’d like to do the same but you’re not sure where to start, then you are absolutely in the right place. 🙂
Today, I’ll be going over the 7 steps you need to take to build a personal brand, start your online business, and begin generating revenue. The one thing I want to mention right off the bat is that even though I’ve broken the process down into only 7 steps, each step does require either some soul-searching, hard work, or both. This is not a get-rich-quick kind of deal.
Are we good? Great, let’s dive in!
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one of my links I may make a small commission (at no added cost to you). I only post affiliate links for products that I have personally used and recommend.
What Does “Branding Yourself” Mean?
Before we start talking about the steps you’ll need to take to be successful, I’d first like to talk about what “branding yourself” really means.
You’ll probably be relieved to hear that, no, you absolutely do not have to do all those things to build a successful personal brand. Granted, all of the people mentioned above are hugely successful, but you certainly don’t have to emulate their strategies or their cheesiness factor.
Building your personal brand is about building a sustainable business with a consistent message that is tailored to your individual goals and your specific audience.
Branding yourself generally means:
- The content being shared on your website comes primarily from you and your experiences
- Your face is on the home page
- Your name is the domain name (but not always)
So, let’s say that you’re an artist and you’ve put up a website to showcase your work and perhaps draw in prospective clients. You’ve got your name and photo posted on the site somewhere, and you’re hoping the site will help generate income. Well, even if you’re not as successful as Bob Ross, you’ve already started creating your personal brand. If you haven’t started thinking of yourself as a brand, you most definitely should.
Related reading: What is Branding? And Why Is it Important?
Step 1: What is Your Vision for the Future?
The first thing most people want to do when they start thinking about branding themselves is grab a domain name and throw up a website. And I completely understand. In terms of taking action, that seems like the most logical thing to do.
But before you do that, I strongly urge you to first consider your vision for the future. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Where is your personal brand going to take you? Why are you creating this business?
Because without a clear goal, you cannot develop an effective strategy. Take it from someone who has made that exact same mistake. If you don’t lay a basic roadmap for where you want to go, you’ll likely find yourself being distracted by all of the other tourist attractions (possible ways to expand your business) that you’ll encounter along the way. And your original idea? It’ll still be as far off as it was when you started.
So, your best bet is to define your goal from the beginning, and keep your eye on the prize with every decision you make in your business.
Step 2: Pick a Niche
After you’ve clarified your vision, the next thing you have to do is pick a niche.
For most people, it’s relatively easy to pick a general topic. For example, if you love fashion, you might be inclined to build a personal brand around styling clothing and accessories.
The thing is, 15 years ago, that strategy probably would have worked just fine. But these days, there is so much competition online that it’s much easier to find an audience if you “niche down” and really focus on one specific aspect of a general topic. So, instead of building a brand around a very broad topic like clothing and accessories, focus on a specific aspect of clothing and accessories. Maybe your brand can focus on clothing and accessories for a specific size range, age group, or style category.
Make sense? Great.
But now you’re probably wondering, “Of all of the niches out there, how do I brand myself in the right niche? I don’t want to waste my time, so how do I know which niche is going to be profitable?”
The best way to choose a niche is to look deep inside yourself and consider the following questions:
- What do you love to do? What are you good at?
- What topic do you know a heck of a lot about?
- What problems or pain points can you solve for your audience?
When you can find that one singular niche that fulfills all three of these requirements, bingo! That’s a great niche for you.
If you’re having trouble thinking of a great niche, then you ask yourself a couple of followup questions:
- What unique skill or advantage do you possess (that others don’t)?
- What have you been trained to do?
The one question that I would not recommend asking yourself is: What niche is profitable?
The reason why I say this is that every niche has the potential to be profitable. Yes, some niches are easier to break into than others. But there are people making money in every niche out there from tai chi to horse training to yoga for dogs. Remember your vision for the future. Do you want to make a quick $20 in a niche that you’ll get sick of in 2 months (not what this article or this blog is about), or do you want to grow your business and set yourself up for long-term success? (Yes! Choose this one!) If you’re in this for the long haul, then you should first choose a niche that you love, and choose your revenue streams second.
Step 3: Develop Your Brand Strategy
Now we’re getting to the real work!
Developing a brand strategy is usually where people start to get frustrated with the process either quit or simply skip this step altogether. However, I encourage you to stick it out and just get the work done. Because if you don’t develop a strategy, when you hit roadblocks (everyone hits roadblocks) you won’t have a guide to keep you on track, and all of the other efforts you put into branding yourself will go down the tubes.
Your brand strategy is your plan for:
- Generally achieving your end goal
- Getting your brand out there
- Growing your following
- Connecting with your audience
- Nurturing your followers toward becoming loyal fans of your products
Your brand strategy is very much like a blog business plan, but focuses on brand awareness, developing a consistent look and feel across platforms, and, perhaps most importantly, finding the right audience to receive your message.
Part A: Audience
To start developing your brand strategy, ask yourself questions like this:
- Who is my ideal audience?
- Where does my ideal audience like to hang out online?
- What are their hobbies?
- What products and services do they use?
- What Facebook groups do they visit?
Part B: Connecting
Then, you’ll have to figure out how to connect with your ideal audience and start building your brand reputation. For example, you might start by using social media, paid ads, and getting featured in major publications. Later, you might graduate to speaking at conferences, conducting webinars, and joint venture opportunities.
Part C: Serving
A major part of your brand strategy is figuring out how you will serve your loyal fans. And here’s where I encourage you to also keep in mind your vision for the future as well as your personal strengths. For example:
- Do you want to run an online business while you travel? If so, then you’ll probably shy away from activities like creating video that involve a lot of equipment.
- Are you good with people? Maybe your personal brand should focus on serving clients on a more personal basis.
- Are you good at public speaking? If so, then speaking at conferences and events should definitely be a part of your brand strategy.
- Do you love writing? Perhaps you should focus on building an e-book empire.
Part D: Revenue
Finally, you’ll need to consider how to earn revenue by branding yourself. You can offer books, courses, workshops, or professional services. See Step 7 for more ideas and recommendations. (Plan for it in Step 4, execute it in Step 7.)
Step 4: Start a Blog or Website
Now it’s time to dive in and start carrying out everything that you’ve planned in Step 3.
At this point, you can either choose to start a blog or not. I highly recommend starting a blog because blog posts are a great way for your audience to get to know you and get a taste for the kind of value you provide. By tracking your most popular blog posts, you’ll also get a feel for the kind of content that your audience likes and wants to see more of.
Step 5: Start Branding Yourself Visually
After you create your initial online presence, you can start getting your visual branding in order. This includes:
- Choosing a WordPress theme
- Designing a logo
- Choosing your signature colors
- Branding your social media
- Branding your printed collateral (business cards, letterhead, etc.)
If you’re not sure which WordPress theme is right for you, I suggest reading my previous post on How to Choose the Right WordPress Theme for Your Blog. And, if you’re not too keen on spending a fortune on your personally branded logo, be sure to check out my post on How to Create a Simple Logo in 5 Minutes.
The key to a successful visual branding effort is making sure that all of your visual elements remain consistent across all platforms. So, use the same colors in your graphics. Use the same profile photo, and the same description. They way, when your fans look for you on, say, Facebook, they know it’s you and not someone else by the same name.
Step 6: Build Momentum
Now that you’ve got your visual branding done and your website is up, you can begin the process of connecting with your audience and growing your fan base. You should have already determined where your ideal audience likes to hang out—that’s where you should focus the bulk of your social presence.
But don’t just focus on Facebook likes, Twitter followers, and Instagram followers. You should also be building an email list. I’d say that your email list is worth its weight in gold, but since it’s digital and weighs nothing, let’s just say that your email list is super duper incredibly important.
Because your email list is your list of raving fans. Think about it. You might get thousands of likes on Facebook, but what if Facebook suddenly decides to shut down your account (which they’ve been known to do)? You might have hundreds of Instagram followers but which if someone hacks in to your account and deletes them all? Your email list is yours and no one can take that away from you. Plus, the people who opted in to your list are also the most likely to buy from you when you have a product to sell. So, start building your email list ASAP!
Related reading: Why You Should Start Building a List of Email Addresses
Step 7: Sell Something
Finally, the last thing you need to do to establish your personal brand and start earning revenue is to release a product. Now, I know this is scary, time-consuming, and many people absolutely loathe the idea of “selling,” but the reality is that if you’re seriously considering branding yourself, then you really should be selling something. Tony Robbins sells courses, events, and coaching. Suze Orman sells books, kits, and courses. Even Kim Kardashian sells a membership program (didn’t think she sold anything, did you? 😉 ).
Although some personally branded bloggers do manage to make a full-time income without selling their own products, keep in mind the other ways that they are generating revenue such as affiliate marketing, in-person appearances, social media mentions, public speaking engagements, and endorsements. They’re still “selling,” they just aren’t selling their own personally branded products.
So, what can you sell? Well, I’ve mentioned a few ideas above. You can also sell e-books, e-courses, one-on-one coaching sessions, professional services (graphic design, book editing, legal advice, interior decoration, etc.), physical products—the sky is the limit!
Now, it’s your turn to take action and start branding yourself. I have to admit, building your own personal brand is a bit scary. It’s not easy to put yourself out there and expose yourself to the world at large. But people just like you do it every day and they manage to bring in a full-time income. So, if you have something to offer the world, I wholeheartedly encourage you to pursue it.