Very few people in this world actually get to go to work every day and do what they really love for a living. Any freelance writer, actor, artist, musician or athlete can relate to what it's like to try to get by when you're not part of the top 1% that gains fame or fortune as a leader in their respective niche.
Funnily enough however, although many people who do rank in the top 1% appear to be much more talented or regarded as an overnight success, especially in comparison to those who maintain a regular full-time job in the daytime while doing what they love in the evening, the truth is that if you take the time to connect with your audience and build a loyal following slowly, anyone can reach the top. It does however take a considerable amount of time, hard work and yes, even financial investment.
As I continue my own journey towards becoming an expert writer and narrowing down my focus in the sports industry, I figured I would share some of the personal branding methods I've picked up along the way that have helped me gain new opportunities, including this gig writing for The Huffington Post.
Share Relevant And Trending Content On All Of Your Social Media Channels
Especially when it comes to Facebook and branding your own page, sharing viral content relevant to what you're passionate about can quickly gain you a following. Follow other pages in your industry and you can even dig up where they got their content from. As long as you're not infringing on anybody's copyrights, you can share that same content, and even support it with a little bit of advertising to quickly get new followers. After some time passes, you can start sharing content that leads your followers to your website or your products, or gets them to take action in whatever way you choose.
Give Away Your Own Quality Content
While many people will tell you to never give away your work for free, there are many reasons you should do that if you want to brand yourself. Firstly, it allows you to engage your target audience with your brand and doesn't technically cost you any money. If you're a solopreneur without a budget, sweat equity is your best friend. Give away some of your best work, be it an article, eBook, video etcetera, and allow people to be captivated by what you have to offer. The more and more you give away, the more your audience begins to develop a relationship with you that is based on trust.
They know that every time you give them something, it's going to be valuable. After some time, you can decide that you want to earn a return on your investment by putting together a package or product that your now loyal followers will gladly pay for because they know that you deliver the goods even before you ask them to put down a dollar.
My friend Donna gives her readers the option to check out a lot of her work via a free PDF download, and she openly encourages others to do the same. Digital publishing platforms like Amazon Kindle and even sites like this one, the good old Huffington Post, make it free to expose yourself to the world and gain credibility with your audience.
Photo Credit: Donna Jean
Join A Professional Association In Your Field
I'm a proud member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada and a few other writing related groups. Do a Google search for professional associations in your industry. If you look hard enough, you can probably find some very affordable options. The really good ones will allow you to meet people in your field that you can network with, give you access to professional development and training, and maybe even help you get things like health benefits or business related discounts, which can be very helpful if you're self-employed. And of course, buying into an association allows you to add yet another credibility indicator to your resume and website. Adding badges to your brand is probably the quickest and easiest way to gain the trust of your audience.
Focus On Building A Community. Sacrifice The Short Term For The Good Of The Long Term
If you need what a good friend of mine in public relations calls "now money", keep a regular day job. There's nothing worse than making your audience feel bombarded by promotional offers and sales pitches. Leave that for the long run. The reality is that in business, the 80/20 rule applies. 80% of your revenue will come from the most loyal 20% of your customers and 80% of your results will come from just 20% of the hard work you put in. Remember that. The name of the game is to get people to be loyal to you so that they always come back for more, not to convince 100% of your audience that they all have to buy from you right now.
Doing these four things will get you off to a great start when it comes to developing a loyal following and building yourself a personal brand. So while you may be used to putting in 40 hours a week in exchange for a guaranteed paycheck, spending a little bit of time and money up front building relationships with people and becoming a leader in your industry can be worth a lot more money in the long run. Pursue your passion and when the going gets tough, you'll stick it out and live the life you always dreamed of every time you go to work.