James Chardon is only 26 years old, and yet even Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, could envy the professionalism the Swiss brand manager has used to build up the career of Kristina Bazan, the world-famous influencer. Armed with an array of awards, Kristina has been featured on Forbes’ famous “30 Under 30” list of young creatives, and has been working with luxury brands for years. Everything that there was to achieve in their field, they’ve accomplished.
He represents the new generation of brand managers in a world where many still focus on numbers when building personal brands, while the truth is that there are more important things than that. We met in Los Angeles and talked about the ways influencers’ lives change, and taking this into consideration, how to start refreshing or building your own personal brand.
Let’s get started…
1. CONCENTRATE ON NICHE CONTENT
“I think the answer is similar today to what it was 4 years ago: you have to concentrate on the content you create, and what you are going to deliver to whatever market you are serving,” said James. He isn’t talking about numbers, the thing some would kill for, but about quality content. Yet, most people still focus on numbers, because they want sponsorship deals and attention.
“To be relevant, you have to provide interesting content. The message needs to have its own niche. It can’t be similar to things that already exist, because it’s just going to be one of many,” James said. You could easily say, “Right, James, it’s easy for you to say this, but there weren’t nearly as many personal brands six years ago,” but this is exactly why it’s important to find a niche you can target.
2. MICRO ALSO WORKS
The other reason why it’s unnecessary to chase numbers, but instead to concentrate on the quality of the content and on building a community, is the rise of micro-influencers. “At that time [when we started Kristina’s brand], there was no such a thing as a micro-influencer. It was either you making it big enough so people recognize you, or you would be lost. It was really either-or,” James said. Nowadays, you can even start earning money with just a couple tens of thousands of followers. You don’t necessarily need to find sponsors for this, it’s enough to have a small community buying your workshops to learn from you, for example.
3. FOCUS ON SUSTAINABILITY
“What you are offering needs to have value long-term. Nowadays, what’s even more important is that it can’t be one-sided. It’s a very short-term career. For example, if a basketball player gets signed for the NBA, the first thing they say to them is ‘Listen, you can be a star, but the average career span is 4.5 years. After that, you are out, unless you are a super-super big star,’ and this is something no one wants to talk about,” James said.
You can’t rely on gaining followers, getting sponsors, and then living happily ever after for the rest of your life. Sadly, this is not how this market works. Even if you can constantly refresh yourself, thousands of new personal brands appear on the market every day, not to mention that it’s now harder to pay the bigger profiles’ prices.
“You have to think about sustainable ways to go on. If you become an overnight sensation, you have to be smart enough to know what to do with it. Lots of people get blinded by all the success when money and fame come in, and then it fades away pretty quickly. You have to know what you are going to do next,” said James.
This is why more and more digital content creators have started building their own businesses, and using their various platforms to promote it. But those with fake likes or a dead follower base behind them wouldn’t dare do this. “It’s not just about showing numbers, it’s not just about having a certain leverage when promoting certain products - it’s also about having values, and branding that is actually valuable by itself, to eventually be able to open your own agency and to have your own brand.”
4. WHAT IS YOUR REAL INTEREST?
Lacking this practice, many influencers are forced to promote products they don’t actually believe in, just because they need the money. They say yes to everything, diminishing the quality of their content in the meantime. “If you say yes to everything, there aren’t enough days to do everything. The most important thing is your real interest. What do you want to work on?”
This isn’t any different for James and Kristina, either: “That’s what we decided - that we were never, ever going to work for a brand that doesn’t spark some interest in us. If you don’t really see the point, even if there’s money behind it, never do it, because it damages your brand, the quality, and you’re going to regret it later on. Even if you have that instant reward.”
5. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
“On a personal level, I think it doesn’t really matter what level of success you achieve; it’s not really relevant to your career. There’s always going to be someone ahead of you or above you in terms of how much they make, or whatever you call success,” James said. This may be one of the most important things James points out, considering how many people waste hours every day, comparing their achievements to those of others, or not even getting started, thinking that there will always be someone better.
“What you have to be aware of is what your own vision is. Is it that the thing you want to do but you never started? If it’s that, you should start it today,” said James.
There’s something we all can learn from James Chardon: you cannot get blindfolded by the success when it hits in. You have to always be one step ahead of others even, when it seems like you position is pretty much secured in what you do. Because the truth is: in the world of social media nothing is guaranteed.
There’s something we all can learn from James Chardon: you cannot get blindfolded by the success when it hits. You have to always be one step ahead of others, even when it seems like your position as an influencer is secured. Because the hard truth is that in the world of social media, nothing is guaranteed, which is even more inspiration to work harder on quality content and to stay focused.
Nora Oravecz is a self-made social media personality, best-selling author, and speaker on a mission to help the next generation of influencers and entrepreneurs by exploring and sharing the stories of some of the world’s most successful people. Learn more: noraoravecz.co
Proofread by: Xylia Buros