We wish we could tell you that a swanky corporate job could protect your financial future.
We wish we could say that it’s all going to work out – that you’ll slowly and steadily progress up the ladder to a point where you’re indisposable.
We wish we could guarantee that merit, talent and hard work are always rewarded, and all you have to do is keep giving it 100%.
But while we’re optimistic, here at writefully, we’re not deluded. When we’re talking about the future, honesty is the best policy.
Here’s the truth: if you believe in yourself and the skills you have to offer, a personal brand is your best bet for the future.
With inflation, job insecurity and AI’s slow but steady rise, you need to start leveraging your skills and expertise to make money – rather than your time.
Anyone can replace a mindless drone. But no one can replace the genius who programs that drone.
Understand strategy, leverage your skills and learn how to market yourself online – that’s how to build a personal brand.
When you walk into work every day with your head held high, knowing there’s an online journal of your achievements, proof of your industry expertise, and a history of your results – that’s true security. That’s power.
the impact of a strong personal brand at work
Unless you work in a lean, mean startup machine, chances are your contributions are getting lost at work – and it’s not due to a malicious boss or jealous coworkers.
It’s simply because most corporate structures are all about the bottom line and keeping the cogs of efficiency turning. It’s hard to value individual human contribution when AI is taking over vast portions of everyday artistic and logistical processes.
Even if you work in a company with a fantastic culture and a talented HR department, chances are any recognition you get for your efforts and talents is only perfunctory – it’s very unlikely you can leverage your workplace achievements for anything more than a 10% raise at the end of the financial year.
Even more reasons for you to start building that personal brand at work, don’t you think?
You see, employees with personal brands transcend the tag of being an employee. When your boss knows you influence the culture online by sharing your skills, you transform in their eyes. You go from needy underling who needs to be managed to collaborator and expert intrapreneur working within company guidelines.
Sure, there are plenty of examples of influencers who became influencers because they ran their own businesses and spoke about it.
But for every 10 entrepreneur influencers, there are 100 intrapreneur influencers who started building their personal brands while working a 9-5. You have to keep the bills paid and the money rolling in at the end of the day.
cases in point:
This author is a wonderful example of building your personal brand at work because she actually made this the focal point of her blog. Having worked various office jobs, she wrote about the challenges of fulfilling creative pursuits – while balancing a day job. Emma has cultivated a huge following with her authentic storytelling and relatable content.
No matter what your field or industry, your audience is always looking for a good story.
A former Navy Seal and author of the book ‘Extreme Ownership’, Jocko built his personal brand around leadership and discipline while working as a leadership consultant. He uses podcasts, books and speaking engagements to further his online credibility.
The more polarising and direct your opinions are, the greater your chances of finding an audience.
This entrepreneur co-founded Moz: an SEO company, while working full-time. He influenced the online culture regarding SEO by using his blog, Whiteboard Friday series, and speaking engagements. His latest pursuit is a market research company called SparkToro.
It just goes to show, your personal brand can be the stepping stone to a ton of opportunities.
benefits of successfully branding yourself
If you build a personal brand – and you do it right – you can reap the rewards for years to come.
Here are just a few perks to building a strong personal brand:
✅ more eyeballs
When you start building online and reach a certain threshold, there’s a tendency for your online authority to bleed over in your work life. Colleagues might ask you about helping with their own personal brands or ask you to share your online content. Either way, you get visibility and exposure – which leads to professional opportunities.
✅ more authority
More followers (rather, more quality followers) includes more weight when it comes to every valuable nugget of insight you share online. There’s no doubt that colleagues will feel the same way about your expertise as well.
✅ networking opportunities
You can talk to experts and industry leaders from anywhere in the world, thanks to the Internet. A strong personal brand gives you the credibility to start the conversation – and then make sure you’re always part of every conversation.
✅ career advancement
When your employer sees you as a collaborator and an asset, instead of a liability, they’re more likely to open doors for you, reward you with better opportunities and provide you with the type of job security that can’t be matched.
how to build a personal brand
When you look around online, building a personal brand can seem like the most intimidating thing in the world. There are so many creators out there.
How do you stand out and showcase your skills and authority? How do you cut through all the noise? Here’s a reality check for you: only 1% of active LinkedIn users create content, and they get 9 billion impressions a week.
On Twitter, only the top 10% of tweeters contribute 92% of tweets in the US.
Consumers will always outnumber creators by a large margin. All you have to do is start creating and stay consistent – branding yourself on a daily basis is key.
You don’t even need to have a large following. JK Molina, famous Twitter influencer and creator of the Tweet Hunter Twitter growth tool, has a motto: likes ain’t cash.
What he means is that audience-pleasing content might attract the most likes and followers on Twitter – but that doesn’t mean your audience believes in you. A big following is nothing if your audience doesn’t respect your authority – or buy from you when you offer your services.
Your goals also depend on how niche your expertise and audience are – if you’re building a brand around tax investment schemes for 8-figure entrepreneurs, your audience automatically narrows – but your ticket price rises.
Whereas, if your brand revolves around personal finance, you have a much bigger audience, but you’ll probably have to price your services at a more nominal rate.
It’s the age-old question: would you rather have 1,000 loyal fans or 100,000 passive followers?
The difference between the two is everything – and definitely a question you must answer as you build your online persona.
Now let’s look at some personal branding tips to direct you on your journey.
identify your strengths and weaknesses
The best personal brands are built on a foundation of self-awareness. You must know all about your strengths, weaknesses and values before starting your journey. And the Internet is full of sites that help you assess your personality. There’s the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, the Big Five Personality Traits test, the Enneagram test and so on. You could also go down the old-fashioned route and talk to colleagues or friends – asking them about your strengths, weaknesses and experience of working with you.
Maybe you’re a really good public speaker – or a bonafide wizard with words. Then put out talking-head video content or blog posts and essays. If you’re a good designer or editor, focus on carousels and designed visual content. Play to your strengths so you can focus on expressing yourself – instead of HOW to express yourself. For any skills you lack, you can either hire someone to complement your work or collaborate – exchanging your skills for their time and expertise.
Personal branding can get lonely at times. Think about joining online communities and think tanks with other potential influencers committed to similar goals.
set clear goals and metrics
What doesn’t get measured usually falls by the wayside.
If you want to become a voice of influence in your industry, you need to define what success means to you – one month from now, one year from now, three years from now etc.
You have to focus on a combination of tactics (short-term) and strategy (long-term) to cultivate a successful personal brand.
Say you want to become a renowned voice in the personal finance space:
✅ your one-month plan: defining your personal brand statement, refining your content strategy, and creating some trial content about personal finance.
✅ your one-year plan: getting to 1000 followers organically while appearing on podcasts and participating in communities about personal finance.
✅ your three-year plan: getting to 100,000 followers (steady growth compounds over time!), taking up speaking engagements and 1-1 consulting gigs.
When you define your strategy this way, the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) define themselves.
Are you getting more good quality followers every month?
Is your engagement rising?
Are you attracting inbound leads?
Keep adapting your tactics according to the answers to these questions.
create a personal brand statement
Intimidated by the proposition of building a personal brand? Defining your personal brand statement can help.
Here’s our simple 3-step process:
- do your research
Sometimes, your Ideal Client Persona (ICP) can be sitting right next to you at work. Understand your company culture and values – then scale that understanding to talk to professionals across different organisations in your industry. If you want to make content and build authority with your colleagues at work, what better place to start a conversation than the water cooler?
- create sample content
Try your hand at various types of content – but stick to your strengths. Figure out what sort of content you can create consistently and then weave your content strategy around that.
- create a unique value proposition
You can’t build authority by jumping on the bandwagon. Sure, you can get your first 1000 followers by following trends, but you want to forge your own unique identity as soon as possible. That’s how you cultivate a community of loyal fans.
Finally, write a statement about your online persona. Consider what problems you solve for your audience and what unique mechanism you’ll use.
Helping ————————– (target audience) get ————————-
(outcome they want) by ————————— (your secret solution).
If you’re in the mindfulness space, your personal brand statement might be:
Helping busy entrepreneurs get mental clarity and peace by providing meditation tips, mindful strategies and focusing tactics.
networking and relationship-building
Personal branding opens you up to so many more opportunities to network with people you’d never have been able to, 20 years back.
Nobody notices a wallflower at a party – and nobody notices a lurker online.
You have to stick your hand into the clay of the culture. You have to participate and help shape the conversation.
Comment on interesting posts, DM interesting people, appear on podcasts and participate in spaces. Set up collaborations – whether they’re posts or video or audio content. Go to the company events, participate in cross-functional teams, and seek mentorship from experienced authority figures.
You don’t have to limit yourself to the virtual space, either. The best part about working in a corporate structure is all the people you get face-time with. You can even set up crossovers between your online brand and work life by asking colleagues and mentors to lend their expertise to your content.
build your online presence
Luckily, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel while branding yourself. There are a loads of free tools at your disposal: everything from content planning to scheduling and distribution.
✅ leverage social media
Choose the platforms that work best for your strengths. If your content is more visual and video-oriented, stick to Instagram. If you’re all about detailed essays and in-depth posts, try LinkedIn. If you’re equally at ease with short-form and long-form content, then Twitter just might be the place for you.
✅ create an engaging online profile
Use your personal brand statement, find the perfect profile picture and craft the sharper bio to tell your audience about what you do. You want anyone who visits your profile to understand how you can help them in 10 seconds or less – that’s how you convert lurkers into followers.
✅ put out content and show up every day
Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was any successful personal brand. If you want to turn your followers into fans, you need to know what you stand for – and try your best to create content around your values. Don’t be afraid of repeating yourself – people have especially short attention spans on the Internet and could do with being reminded twice – even multiple times.
✅ maintain a consistent tone across touchpoints
No matter where a prospect discovers you – LinkedIn, Twitter or a blog post – they need to instantly recognise your persona. The best creators have enemies or polarising opinions that they lead with – no matter what the platform. If you follow Alex Hormozi, for instance, you know he’s going to preach about the benefits of marketing, fitness and entrepreneurship – whether that’s in his video, short-form or long-form content.
reinvent your personal brand as you grow
What moves on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening? Humans. We crawl on all fours as a baby, walk on two legs as adults, and with a cane in old age. No one stays the same forever. You’re constantly reinventing yourself in life – learning new skills, meeting new people and chasing new experiences.
Let your personal brand reflect your life. You don’t want to change your content and strategy on a whim (always be clear on your purpose), but you don’t need to stay rigid and inflexible, either. The best creators listen to their audience and give them what they need – under the guise of what they want. It’s a fine balancing act, for sure, but well worth it when the engagement and follows come flooding in.
Just look at Gary Vee. He started creating wine reviews early on YouTube with the goal of bringing more eyeballs to his family’s wine business. Over time, he leveraged his audience to create more content around entrepreneurship, and the very act of content creation itself.
Fast forward a decade or so, and he’s running VaynerX: a sprawling media company, along with a bunch of other companies.
His personal brand evolved in the public eye – along with his life. If you stick with the same values as you started with, your audience will be more than happy to come along for the ride.
You don’t need to stick to professional content all the time, either.
Share a little bit of your personal life or some interesting anecdotes or relatable observations. Let your audience see there’s a human behind their favourite online personal brand – with all your foibles, quirks and tiny fallacies.
You need to work hard to build, but you also need to have fun. Otherwise, what’s the point?
crafting a personal brand at work for your future
The best entrepreneurs don’t live in the present – they live in the future, five years at a time.
Now, you don’t need to be a prophet to start creating content, build authority, or cultivate a personal brand. But you do need to start – and start soon.
Be mindful of the rules and regulations at your workplace as you build your brand. You don’t want to spill confidential company information while sharing your expertise online. As long as you’re aware of the boundaries separating your work life from your online persona, you can make your brand blooming brilliant. Limitations can be freeing. You can’t think outside the box if there’s no box in the first place. So do your research – but you don’t want to drown yourself in analysis paralysis. Bias yourself towards action.
Then there’s trends. They come and go. And real-world events can seismically affect professional maps and career trajectories. The sooner you start building, the quicker you can fail. The quicker you fail, the more you can learn, the more you can implement and the more control you can gain over your destiny.
We hope this blog has given you loads of clarity on how to build a personal brand – it sure has got our creative juices flowing.