How to Know You are Ready to Start Building a Personal Brand

Building a brand is hard. For anybody. Here’s why you should do it anyway.

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Building a brand is difficult. Building a personal brand is, perhaps, even more difficult. And it can only be done when you know what it is that you have to offer the world. It is perhaps inevitable that there will come a time in your life when you will begin to seriously consider building for yourself a personal brand. Before that, let’s get back to the basics of a personal brand, what it is, and who needs it.

I would say anyone who wants to make money has a personal brand, whether they are aware of it or not, and certainly whether they have begun to invest in one or not. So the answer to who needs it is –everyone. Your personal brand is really your business. Whether or not you work for somebody or for yourself –in today’s economy, you are going to need a personal brand. Your brand is the companies you’ve worked for, the school you went to –yeah, sure. But more importantly your brand is what you can do as a person, what you can bring to the table. It does not necessarily mean you are a social media influencer able to bring x number of followers to the table. That, after all, is a unique skill and not everyone has it, just like not everyone has coding skills. Ordinary people have a personal brand, just like ordinary people have LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, too.

It’s funny how every year around May I start getting LinkedIn connection requests from people who are looking to connect with me usually from one of the two Universities I attended. These connection requests are not the usual sales connection requests you grow accustomed to receiving as a marketing professional. These are from bright eyed, clear faced soon to be or recent college grads ready to make their mark on the world.

A lot of folks have already begun building their personal brand before even college. These are the kids you see on LinkedIn who already seem to have lengthy profiles before they have even turned 18. Or they are the Logan Pauls of the world who got famous creating content for social media. The “Social Media Entertainers” as they are called.

Don’t worry, whether you started making Vines back when Vine was still a thing or you are just looking for your first job after college, or you’ve been in the field for a few years and are ready to make the next big jump. It’s not too late to get your brand working for you. In fact, many full blown companies with lots of employees are only just now thinking of making a brand. They’ve been providing value for a while, selling their software or product or whatever to people and realize that they need to start investing more in their public image, their content, their digital presence. This is a good time to start writing more about what they do, and marketing themselves because now that they’ve already been providing value for some time, they have a story to tell.

A lot of us writers are caught up creating content for the brand we work for, or for the brands of our clients, depending on our jobs. One common question writers have is whether or not it is enough to simply create content for their employer/client, increasing their digital presence and brand overall, without adding any value to their own personal brand. Is that enough?

It depends on your perspective. On the one hand, each company that you work with, and every project that you have a hand in carrying out, becomes a part of your brand. However, there’s nothing like having something published in your own name. In many ways, what you write or create online in your name will carry your brand in a very unique way. For this reason, it’s worth your time to create for yourself, not only for your clients’ brands.

A few ways you can improve your personal brand without investing too much time/money:

  1. Write guest posts.
  2. Write on Medium.
  3. Post regularly to social media.
  4. Handle your own video projects.

The list goes on, but you get the point.

When Are You Ready To Build Your Personal Brand?

Like I said, your personal brand is already being made. But you will know when it is time to double down on your own personal branding once you know these key components about yourself:

  1. What are your strengths.
  2. What is your style?
  3. What is your market?
  4. What is your interest?

Let me dive into these a little bit more.

Your strengths are going to define what you do for a career. If your strength is writing, then you will have to find what kind of writing you want to do, what do you have a knack for, and what can you learn? You might be a: content writer, technical writer, journalist, social media writer, screenplay writer, newspaper writer, blog writer –it doesn’t really matter as long as you are good at it and can find a way to make money doing it. Once you’ve decided on this, you’re one step closer to building your personal brand.

Are you really that angsty teenager with a quirky wit, or have you just not grown into yourself yet? The bonus of not building your brand until you’re grown up is that you’re actually grown up and know who you are. The videos you uploaded to YouTube when you were fifteen might not represent you now that you are twenty-five. I’d say the twenties are a good time to start building your personal brand –you’re probably smart enough by now to not mess it up. It’s going to be hard to pretend to be something you aren’t. So just do you.

This is my favorite one –finding out how the hell to actually make money doing what you do. The cool thing about this step is that it actually involved turning what you like to do (eg writing) into a paying gig. Don’t be fooled –you aren’t going to love it every day. Doing a hobby for a living, even, is still hard work and you’ll probably have days where you wished you just sanded benches for a living or something. But once you find a market that is profitable for you, and start building a presence for yourself in that area, you’ll be rewarded, hopefully, with money enough to quit your day job. Some forms of writing, you should know, pay better than others. Just like anything. Well, there’s plusses and minuses about everything so that’s up to you to figure out which ones you’re okay with and which ones you aren’t.

If this step seems a little vague, it’s because it’s supposed to. The final step and question you’ll have to ask yourself even after you’ve started making a living at your passion project is “what am I really interested in?” Are you okay with being a junior copywriter with hopes of becoming a senior copywriter one day, or do you dream for something else for your life? Ultimately, how you style your personal, online brand, will have a lot to do with what your interest is in growing in your field, or how much you want to do something else instead.

Chances are, if you are reading this blog post, you’re ready to start building your brand. So let’s get started!

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