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How to Build Your Personal Brand Business

  • Post category:Business
  • Reading time:21 mins read

You’re likely aware that automation and AI will likely replace your job function in the near future. With that in mind, it is essential that you begin to build your personal brand. Furthermore, you should aim to build your personal brand into a profitable business model. So, the big question looming on the horizon is how can you make this happen? How are you going to adapt to the fast-paced and constantly changing world in which we live?

More specifically, what’s your process for developing your ideas and skillsets into a functional business enterprise?

In this post, we’ll explore how you can build your personal brand and develop it into a profitable business structure.

While you read this post, you’ll learn how to:

  1. Identify and target your ideal customer base
  2. Build valuable online assets that you own
  3. Establish an audience of subscribers who are chomping at the bit for your next post
  4. Create a self-sustaining media machine
  5. Create a product that rakes in the cash while you sleep

Ready? Let’s go!

Phase 1: Identify Your Ideal Customer

The most egregious mistake that any newcomer makes is that they’re not specific enough when they define their customer.

When you commit to building your personal brand, it’s only natural that you want to speak to the masses. I mean, it’s good to have a variety of options – right? This couldn’t be any further from the truth. You want to speak to a pointed customer segment – some refer to this segment as a niche.

You need to ask yourself the following two questions:

  1. What is my niche?
  2. Who is my customer?

The first step is to hone in on who it is you want to serve your content. You need to realize early on that you simply cannot, and should not, try to appeal to everyone. Doing so is a recipe for disaster.

You want your content marketing to appeal to a certain segment when you build your personal brand. These are the people whom you can serve better than anyone else in the world.

So…what does that look like?

Before we venture any further, let’s do a mini-exercise.

Take out a piece of paper and answer the following questions honestly and in as much detail as possible.

  1. What is your perfect customer’s name?
  2. Where do they live?
  3. What are their current pain points?
  4. How much money does your perfect customer earn?
  5. What does your perfect customer want?
  6. What is the ultimate outcome that your perfect customer seeks when they buy from you?

Remember, the more specific you are, the better.

Everything from this point forward is done with one thing in mind – catering to the needs of your perfect customer.

Sound good? Awesome. Let’s move on to phase two.

Phase 2: Create a Website to Build Your Personal Brand

You might be asking yourself, why start with a website?

Isn’t it easier to create a Twitter account? Doesn’t it make more sense to start with a Substack? Wouldn’t it be financially responsible to start with a Medium account?

The answer to all of these questions is yes. It would most certainly be easier to start with a Twitter, Substack, or Medium account. However, it would be an awful mistake.

When you build a brand on Twitter or Facebook, what you’re doing is building your brand on a property that you do not own. This is more commonly known as digital sharecropping. In short, you must always own your media. If you don’t bad things can happen – e.g. Twitter locks your account. Talk about a serious tragedy that’s next to impossible to recover from…

When you own your media, you own the audience. If you own the audience, you own their attention. Finally, if you own their attention, you make the money.

When you publish content on your website, the growth of the content will naturally compound over time. Each time you publish new content, it’s an opportunity for web users to find you and for visitors to share your content.

As your inbound traffic increases, the value of your personal brand also increases. The value of your website will also increase in terms of both the revenue it generates and the overall potential value for which you could sell it down the road.

Furthermore, there are more subtle reasons you should invest in a personal website. You can:

  • Control every element of the branding
  • Establish your SEO (more on that later on)
  • Use social media to funnel traffic back to your site
  • More efficiently collect email addresses
  • Easily convert traffic into sales, which puts cash in your bank account

Why Social Media is Dangerous, and How to Use it Properly

Building your personal brand on social media may seem like a great idea at first glance. However, there is one major downside to building your brand on a social media platform. When you build a brand on a third-party platform, you give away control of your audience. What does this mean? Well, think about it this way. Facebook owns your Facebook following, not you. Twitter owns your Twitter following, not you. This may seem like a stretch for most. However, it’s a very real threat – take former President Trump for instance!

It’s always a better choice to build your personal brand on a website, of which you own the hosting and of which you have total control. Remember, the only thing you truly own on the internet is your website and your email list.

How to Build a Website to Build Your Personal Brand

Creating your website doesn’t have to be a three-ring circus, so don’t overcomplicate this step.

Furthermore, you don’t have to break the bank or hire a custom web developer. There are a number of affordable options out there that make it easy to get your site up and running.

Here are a few options:

Call GoDaddy

GoDaddy may have an overall bad reputation, but its customer service is flat-out amazing. You can literally give them a call, tell them that you have no idea what you’re doing and that you want a hosted WordPress website.

They’ll walk you through the entire process – buying a domain, setting up your hosting, and installing a WordPress application.

Important: Make sure to tell GoDaddy that you DO NOT want a “GoDaddy” site. GoDaddy is trying to build their own website builder and it stinks. Make sure you tell them that you want an actual WordPress install. Use those exact words.

Upload a WordPress Theme

One of the awesome things about WordPress is that you can skip over most of the “design” process. How? All you need to do is upload a prebuilt theme.

If that seems a little too technical for you, don’t worry. YOu can hire a respectable freelancer on Fiverr and have them upload a WordPress theme for you. This shouldn’t set you back more than $500. If they charge you more, then they’re ripping you off.

You can shop around for a theme at places like Theme Forest or StudioPress. Once you find a theme that you like, you can send the files to your web developer, and they should have a website ready for you in a couple of days.

Hire a Designer

It can be hard to justify the cost of custom design work. However, you’re investing in your personal brand, so you’re investing in yourself.

In some cases, especially if you build your brand in the corporate space, it is worth it to make the initial investment for custom web design and development.

There’s no getting around it – custom websites can be expensive. They can range anywhere from $2,000 to upwards of $100,000. However, the difference is clear.

One Last Thing

I’ve used WordPress for every website I’ve built over the years. However, WordPress isn’t the only option out there. Many respectable website designers use Webflow. I’ve yet to try it out, but I’ve heard that it’s a solid option for creating a well-rounded website.

Webflow has a decent learning curve, but it allows you to build a website from the ground up without having to code. It’s a “no-code” solution that provides full customizability to build your website exactly the way you want it.

Phase 3: Publish (At Least) One Article per Week to Build Your Personal Brand

Alright, so we’ve established why you want to publish your content on your website. If not, review Phase One.

Now, let’s talk about the functionality of creating and publishing written content. There are two main reasons why it’s critical that you publish original content that provides value to your audience.

Writing is the Best Way to Become an Expert

Building a personal brand doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen by accident.

You need to provide value to your audience in a way that establishes you as an expert in your industry. Your ideal customer should look to you as an expert in the niche of your choosing.

So, what’s the best way to establish yourself as an expert?

Write!

Nearly all of the influential people whom I look to for advice and guidance got to where they are today by drafting and publishing finely crafted written content.

Three of my all-time favorites in the marketing and leadership niche are Seth Godin, Simon Sinek, and Daniel Pink. They’re seriously awesome and present some amazing ideas. You should definitely check out Simon Sinek’s TED Talk about how great leaders inspire action.

When you publish quality content by following a content creation system, you’ll establish yourself as an authority and industry leader. It is essential that you establish yourself as an authority and industry leader in order to effectively build your brand.

As time progresses, you’ll be able to leverage your authority and use it to sell your products or services. In short, the core of any lucrative personal brand is the written word.

Writing is the Best Way to Attract Organic Traffic via Search Engines

In case you didn’t know – Google loves words!

When Google unleashes its bots and indexes the internet, they’re looking at the words on different web pages and figuring out the purpose of each page. Google peruses the web and figures out which pages should rank high for different user search queries.

Over time, your site will build more authority and Google will reward your SEO efforts by directing organic traffic your way.

Google’s top priority is to answer questions that users ask as quickly as possible. If your content rocks – aka it provides a lot of value and helps readers – then Google will rank your page towards the top of its SERPs, which, in turn, will result in users clicking through to your website.

We’ll talk more about SEO later on. However, at this step in the process, you don’t need to worry too much about SEO. The important element now is that you need to publish content on a regular basis. It’s also critical that you understand that written content is the most valuable investment you can make when building your personal brand.

Phase 4: Create a Newsletter to Build Your Personal Brand

Before we dive into the world of newsletters, let’s do a quick recap of the first three steps to building your personal brand.

  1. Establish your niche and identify your ideal customer
  2. Create a rock-solid website
  3. Start writing and publishing stellar content

The next phase in building your personal brand is to collect email subscribers and distribute a weekly newsletter.

When someone gives you their email address, they’re giving you a direct means of communication to engage with them via email marketing. Remember, unlike a social media following, you will always own your email list. It’s yours. Nobody can take it away from you. Nobody can claim that you’ve violated their service terms and/or policies. You can take it with you everywhere you go.

Furthermore, email is a personal relationship. When your readers grant you access to their inbox, they’re usually doing so because they want to hear from you!

Here’s how you can create and distribute a jaw-dropping newsletter.

Understand Curation

In most instances, curation is the most effective means of producing an award-winning newsletter.

There is already a ton of great original content out there. So, one of the best things you can do is save your readers some time and compile important information and curate your findings into a single easy-to-digest publication – aka your newsletter.

Your job, in a nutshell, is to scrub away the less than awesome content and put together one newsletter that provides your following with the best content in a short amount of time.

Take Spotify for instance and the pre-made playlists they provide based on your listening habits. These rockstar playlists are a great example of curated content. The Spotify algorithms review your listening tendencies and provide curated playlists that usually align with your listening preferences.

Publish Your Newsletter on Your Website

The question as to whether you should publish your newsletter is a highly contested dilemma.

In all honesty, there is no right or wrong answer here. However, I’m not a fan of publishing your newsletter on your website.

Curated newsletters work best when they’re distributed via email.

Here’s why. Newsletters are usually less than excellent in terms of SEO. Search engines rank content that answers pointed questions. Curated newsletters don’t do this. In fact, they usually touch on a number of different topics.

Yes, newsletters usually focus on one niche or industry. However, the content in each issue bounces around from one topic to another within the niche or industry.

This sort of content confuses search engines. Furthermore, publishing your newsletter on your blog will clog up your link equity (more on this later) and make it more difficult to rank content in the future.

Here’s my advice. Create a page on your website dedicated to your newsletters and link your previous newsletters as an archive. Austin Kleon does a great job of doing this.

Examples of Newsletters that are Posted as Blog Posts

There are countless instances where people send out the content of the blog post directly to their email list as a newsletter. If you opt for this route to build your personal brand, then you shouldn’t worry about SEO. Instead, you should aim to promote your newsletter via other avenues.

Here are a few examples:

  • Scott Galloway sends his blog post directly to his email list every Friday
  • Dror Poleg also distributes his weekly blog post via email
  • Brian Clark, the founder of Further, writes blog posts on his website and then combines them into a weekly newsletter

Closing Thoughts on Newsletters

In the end, there is no “perfect” method when it comes to newsletters. You need to test out a few different methods and figure out what works best for you. I’ll always opt for the option that best protects the SEO of my website, but I’m an SEO junkie.

However, if SEO isn’t a priority for you, then feel free to publish your newsletters directly as blog posts and share the blog post in full via email.

The key takeaway here is that you need to publish a newsletter on a regular basis. You also need to make collecting email addresses your top priority when building your personal brand.

Phase 5: Start a Podcast and Use Twitter to Book Rockstar Guests

So, you’re likely wondering – why should you bother with a podcast if written content is the most important element of building your personal brand?

Well, the answer is most likely not what you’re thinking.

If you start a podcast because you’re in it for the money, or because you want to become famous like Phoebe Judge and the rest of the team behind Criminal, then you’ll be sorely disappointed.

Podcasts are extremely difficult to monetize. You will likely struggle to make any sort of legitimate income unless you have millions of downloads.

Furthermore, contrary to common sense and general logic, you don’t have to rely on ads to generate revenue.

Again, you’re likely wondering – how is that possible?!

Here’s how you can make it happen.

Podcasts are a Relationship Machine

If you have a decent-sized audience, you can book interviews with people who would typically never “grab a cup of coffee” with you.

Podcasts are mutually beneficial. When people come on a show with a solid following, they gain the exposure of the podcast’s audience. Furthermore, the host has the pleasure of speaking with the guest, learning from them, and most importantly, build a relationship with them.

Podcasts typically open up new investment opportunities and have the potential to forge relationships with new business partners.

So, what’s the lesson here? You shouldn’t approach your podcast as a direct monetization strategy. Instead, you should view your podcast as an extension of your brand, as a gateway into meaningful relationships, and a way to build a more intimate relationship with your audience.

Podcast Episodes Generate Backlinks

A secondary benefit of a podcast is that they’re great for cross-promotion and SEO.

When a guest comes on your show, it’s almost guaranteed that when you publish the episode, they’ll retweet it, share it to their email list, or even link it on their website.

Your guest is encouraged to share the episode because it gives them a chance to share their story and give additional insight into their brand or business. This is great for you, because it’s an effective way to get your message in front of other like-minded audiences.

Furthermore, podcasts are a great way to generate backlinks, and backlinks are great for SEO.

What is a backlink?

In short, a backlink is when another website puts a link on their site, which links back to your site. Google sees these links as signals of authority. The basic premise is that if a website that already has authority, is willing to link to your site, that must mean that your site is “worthy of being linked to.”

How Can You Earn Backlinks?

There are a number of ways that you can garner backlinks. Here are a few of the more popular means of collecting these valuable nuggets:

  • Conduct research and publish statistics that others cite in their own work
  • Provide a great quote that another website wants to showcase by linking to it
  • Write such an amazing blog post that other blogs will link to your post

Every time you publish a new episode, you need to share that episode with your guest and politely ask if they would be willing to link back to the episode. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.

Using Twitter to Find Guests

Twitter is a phenomenal way to book guests for your podcast.

Twitter is arguably the most underutilized social media platform. The culture of Twitter is such that people are more open to accepting direct messages (DMs) from strangers and interacting with each other via tweets, replies, retweets, and likes.

Yes, there are a handful of corners in the Twitter-verse that are toxic. However, if you start following the right people, you’ll slowly, but surely, assimilate into a society of top-tier achievers.

At this point, your email list should be large enough that you will have something to offer people who you are inviting to be on your show.

You’ll likely even forge meaningful friendships via Twitter. In a strange way, you may find that you have more “Twitter friends” than you do in real life. These “Twitter friends” are a great source to exchange ideas and help each other improve.

This is why Twitter is such a powerful tool.

While you’re following people, finding thought leaders, and building your network, you’re also engaging with people who will come on your podcast.

Once someone comes on your podcast, they’ll promote the podcast to their audience, which, in turn, helps grow your podcast. Furthermore, your guests will most likely follow you back and now you’ve created a group of followers who have more social media clout than the average person.

In short, Twitter is a winning platform and it’s most certainly worth looking into.

Phase 6: SEO Your Website to Build Your Personal Brand

At this point, your personal brand should be chugging along on all cylinders.

You’re building your email list, publishing content on your website, and building your reputation. At the same time, you’re using Twitter and your podcast to build relationships which will also get you links on other people’s websites.

Things are slowly coming together for you.

This is when you get intentional about the keywords you want to rank for and attract traffic with SEO.

Why Bother with SEO?

The answer is simple. Google generates 86.94% of desktop traffic and 94.99% of mobile traffic to websites between October 2020 and September 2021.

Desktop and Mobile Traffic via Google

If you properly optimize your website, you can open a powerful flow of free traffic to your website. Organic traffic is relevant because it has user intent behind it.

You’ll always know with certainty that the traffic Google is driving to your website is relevant because the only way someone would have landed on your website in the first place is by searching for you.

With SEO, you attract people who search for exactly what it is you’re trying to sell.

Let’s say you build your personal brand business around your love for lacrosse. Let’s imagine that you sell lacrosse equipment and you create training guides for players of all skill levels. Finally, let’s say someone searches on Google for the phrase “best lacrosse training guide for beginners” and your website shows up at the top of Google’s SERP.

What are the chances that person is going to subscribe to your email list, or even purchase products from you right away?

Odds are pretty high. It is the intent that makes Google traffic so much more meaningful than web traffic that comes from other third-party platforms. Your best bet is to trank for relevant keywords and keyphrases on Google.

Examples of Intelligent SEO Tactics

As you can see below, when someone searches “Andrew Roche Marketing” on Google, my site is the first result on the SERP.

Andrew Roche Marketing Google Search

This kind of traffic is extremely valuable since the intent of the search is directly in line with what the rest of my messaging and content is about. Furthermore, when people signup for my email list after clicking on this search result, what are the chances that users will be interested in buying one of my services?

High…very high.

Once you can create effective content that appeals to the readers and also appeals to search engines, you’ll start generating a plethora of valuable traffic that your opportunity for income will skyrocket.

Balance Your Content for People and Search Engines

Before we dive too far into SEO, let’s step back and recall the importance of Phase 2 – building your website.

When it comes to SEO, it’s extremely common for people to start seeing all of their content through the lens of search traffic. Far too many people make the mistake of over-optimizing their content so that it loses the tone and voice that your audience has come to appreciate and love.

You need to keep your audience in mind when drafting your written content. You should never write content only for SEO purposes. Most importantly, you need to write for your audience first. Your readers need to recognize your tone and appreciate your personal message.

So…what’s the balance? How do you write effective content that appeals to both your audience and search engines?

Here are a few best practices to implement when optimizing your website for keywords.

  • Select a keyword for each article. You have to be intentional. Decide which keyword or keyphrase for which you want to rank and then optimize your post for that keyword.
  • Make sure to follow best practices for optimizing your page. I highly recommend using the Yoast SEO plugin. In short, this brilliant tool creates a simple set of standards for you to follow for both SEO and readability.
  • Keep track of your keywords. Use a keyword tracking tool such as SEM Rush or Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest to track how your content ranks via search engines.

See? There are simple methods to add to your already powerful content strategy. You don’t have to treat your website like you’re an SEO agency. However, adding these simple habits can quickly 10x your business.

 

Andrew Roche

Andrew Roche is a Digital Consultant at Shift Digital. He is also pursuing an MBA in Marketing & Finance through the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University

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