You're an entrepreneur, poised to make your mark on the world. And you've heard all about the importance of a personal brand -- its potential for generating income, creating power, and influencing others.
But where do you start? What are the first things you have to do in order to create this entity known as a personal brand?
Rather than make you wade through a full-length book on the subject, I've assembled this tactical, go-to guide that you can use as your brand-building blueprint.
How long will it take me to build a sizeable personal brand?
A personal brand is measured not by the number of followers or fans, but in the significance and depth of your connections. As with any type of relationship, this can take time to both build and curate. With six months of hard work, you can have an impressive personal brand.
How much time will I have to spend on my personal brand?
If you want to gain ground quickly in the creation of your personal brand, I suggest you spend at least ten hours a week on it. Ten hours allows you to build out your social profiles, add connections, write or create social media updates, and create one blog post. To go to the next level -- i.e., more content and advanced strategization -- you'll need to spend more time.
Eventually, you may get to the point where you need to hire an editor, social media manager, or ghost writer. Certainly you should use a social media automation tool like Buffer or Hootsuite. These resources will save you some time, but don't expect them to relieve you of the need to spend lots of time on your personal brand.
It's important to realize that brand-building does take time -- a lot of it. The entrepreneurs with massive personal brands spend enormous amounts of time developing and maintaining it.
What do I need to get started?
First, you need a vision for your brand -- who you are and what it is you'd like to accomplish. Second, like any marketing strategy, you need to define exactly who you're trying to reach with your brand. Once you've got these concepts firmly in place, you're ready to get down to work.
Create a personal website with your name.
The home of your personal brand is your website. This is what people will see when they Google your name. I recommend creating a website using your full name, such as neilpatel.com.
Collect email addresses.
Your website is one of the few places online where you can collect email addresses. Use a service like AWeber or MailChimp to build a mailing list. To collect email addresses, offer to send people spam-free updates via email.
Build a strong "About" page.
One of the most-visited pages on a personal website is the About page. Use your About page to describe yourself in the best light possible. Don't stretch the truth, of course, but focus on your accomplishments. Be sure to feature a professional photo.
Writing is the single most time-consuming component of building a personal brand, which is why some entrepreneurs choose to outsource this task. I recommend that, at first, you be the sole writer of your blog and always maintain close control over what you publish. You can, of course, hire the services of a copyeditor or proofreader.
Your blog becomes the basis of your personal brand, defining who you are, what you stand for, your opinions, your trademark style, and your vision.
Develop an email address with your website URL.
Using your domain name, create an email address for yourself. Your first name is fine -- Mike@MikeWazowski.com (not a valid email address).
Customize your email signature to include links to your website and social media profiles.
A professional email address is essential for developing personal brand integrity. When you reach out to people personally, or send email updates, you want your email address to enhance your brand.
Create a Facebook fan page.
Your personal Facebook profile isn't going to accommodate all your eventual fans. You should create a fan page instead.
Build out your LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn is the Internet's de facto public resume site. Optimize the heck out of every aspect that LinkedIn provides, including job descriptions, headlines, summary, showcasing your work, and earning recommendations.
Connect with as many people as possible, especially other professionals with large followings. Since LinkedIn displays a maximum of 500 followers in a user's public profile, you should aim for a minimum of 500 first-level connections.
LinkedIn is a powerful source of brand-building, and this includes more than just creating a profile. I recommend that you post regular updates, publish content, join groups, and interact with others personally (using messages).
Develop a Twitter profile and start tweeting.
Earning a Twitter presence is also critical. Stay active by posting updates several times a day.
Become active on Google+.
Google+ remains a viable platform for your personal brand presence. Be sure that you completely fill out all of the information you can.
Identify any other social media platforms to join.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ are the big ones, but they aren't the only ones. Depending on your niche and target audience, you may wish to join additional social media networks. For most entrepreneurs, I would recommend Pinterest, Instagram, Periscope, and Reddit.
All of your social media accounts should have a consistent handle. If you're "Bob Smith" on Facebook, you should be @bobsmith on Twitter and Instagram -- not @BobSmithFootballLover091.
Guest post on other niche sites.
Guest posting is where personal branding starts to develop its multiplication power. Everything that you've done so far is intended to create a solid and reputable foundation. Now, you're ready to expand. Provided you have a solid brand foundation, you will easily gain guest posting opportunities with other blogs.
Accept and create speaking engagements.
The more you become known, the more you'll be sought out for your expertise. Do your best to accept any speaking engagements, no matter how small or unpaid they may be. Additionally, you can create your own speaking platform by hosting free webinars or a weekly podcast.
Brainstorm and strategize further opportunities.
Eventually, you may be ready to go bigger and further with your personal brand. There are ways to land interviews, national TV coverage, and wide public recognition -- even your own TV show! As your brand grows, spend some time considering how to take it to the next level.
Building a personal brand is a lot of work, especially at first. But you'll discover that brand-building has a snowball effect. Although you'll spend a lot of time and effort on it at first, a personal brand eventually builds up its own momentum and ability to grow.
You may struggle hard for your first 10 likes, comments, or followers, but eventually, you may be growing by hundreds of followers a day without expending any additional effort.
In spite of the self-growing potential, a personal brand requires your constant attention. Just as you always make sure you're groomed and well-dressed, you must also ensure that your personal brand doesn't fall into neglect.
Careful attention and consistent effort will reward you with the powerful personal brand that you need.
What steps have you taken to build your personal brand?