Today's post might seem a bit unrelated to the topic of starting a blog or website, but I assure you, this is an ideal time to talk about your brand. Whether you know it or not, as soon as you get involved online you start building a brand.
1. What is my personal brand?
Simply put, your brand is what comes to mind when someone hears or sees your name. It's not just a logo or an ebook cover; it includes everything associated with you, from your status updates to your site design to your social media profiles. The internet is about individuals (not big companies or products) and has blurred the line between our personal and professional lives. So we should be thoughtful about what types of thoughts our name conjures up.
2. Why are we talking about my personal brand even before I start?
Jumping into the online fray without thinking about how you want to be perceived by others will, at best, limit your focus & effectiveness and at worst, cause you to dig yourself into an unpleasant social hole that could take months or years to dig out of.
3. What if I'm already online?
Well, today is the first day of the rest of your life, as they say. If your personal brand is strong, you're ahead of the game. If it's a little shaky, it's not the end of the world; simply commit to strengthening it from this point forward. If you've never thought about it before, now you have no excuse.
4. How do I develop a strong personal brand?
- Give serious thought to how you want others to see you. What words, images or feelings do you want to pop into someone's head when they hear or see your name? Thoughtful? Professional? Intelligent? Authentic? Helpful? Fun? Friendly? You might write them down. Whenever you post, comment, update, pin, tweet or otherwise interact online, make sure it's congruent with the qualities you'd like to portray. Be authentic and consistent. Related: Get a Gravatar.
- Figure out practical ways you can embody those characteristics. As we move along in the process of setting up our blogs, filter your decisions through the lens of "How can I enhance my personal brand here?" For example, if professionalism is important to you, when we talk about what to name our blogs, you probably wouldn't choose the name Casual Clothing Just for Fun. If healthfulness is important to you, when we talk about monetization (making money), you probably wouldn't choose to promote a fried chicken joint in your ads. Don't be rigid about it, just aware.
- Be consistent with who you are online and in real life. Don't try to portray yourself one way online when in real life you are completely the opposite. Talk about crazy making! Conversely, if you've chosen to exemplify a particular quality online, find ways to enhance that quality in real life.
- Understand that projects come and go, but your personal brand sticks with you. The blog you're about to start might very possibly morph into something totally different, die completely or launch you into something unexpected. For that reason, I would agree with Skellie in Rockstar Personal Branding (a free e-book on the subject; sign up required) when she said, "a good personal brand is the single most valuable investment you can make."
- Assume that if you put something online, it'll be there forever and it will be found. In other words, be careful and thoughtful about what you post online. Things have an uncanny way of coming back to get you. It's shockingly easy to find all kinds of information about you or things you said–even the stuff you thought was anonymous or private. So, post carefully and be aware of the character you exhibit.
- More practical tips: 5 Simple Ways to Start Building Your Platform Today. And here are all my posts about branding.
I'll close with another quote from Rockstar Personal Branding that I love and sums it up beautifully: "Your personal brand is the ladder you use to escape the average."
Other posts in this series
- How to Start a Blog or Website: Intro & FAQ
- How to Start a Blog or Website: Cheat Sheet
- How to Find (or Refind) Your Passion
- How to Decide What to Blog About: What Works for Readers?
- How to Decide What to Blog About: What Works for You?
- Understand Branding: 4 Tips
- Understand Keywords: Increase the Odds of Getting Found
- Writing Great Content: 3 Tips
- How to Write a Killer About Page
- 12 Blog Organization Tips
- How to Choose a Domain Name: 12 Tips
- How to Register a Domain Name
- How to Set Up Hosting and WordPress
- How to Change Your Nameservers
- How to Add a New User in WordPress
- How to Optimize Your WordPress Settings
- How to Install a Plugin
- My Favorite Plugins
- How to Get & Optimize a Feedburner Feed
- How to Choose a WordPress Theme
- How to Install a WordPress Theme
- Elegant Themes for WordPress
- How to Install Google Analytics
- How to Use WordPress: Tips & Tricks
- How to Start a Blog or Website: 10 Tips for New Bloggers