It’s hard to present yourself, especially if there’s nothing to present. While you’ve worked hard and created great things, your ‘personal brand’ and the work it includes lives only in the memories of people that saw it first hand.
Instead of focusing on others, this summer we’re going to focus on ourselves – on you specifically. Think of it as the summer of yourself, so I’d like to welcome you to .ME’s brand new step-by-step series focused on FINALLY branding yourself entitled: The Summer of .ME:
And no… We’re not going to start with a website, a blog or even looking at your profiles on various popular social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Don’t get me wrong. Here at .ME, we love nothing better than seeing bright people create awesome web projects, including personal websites. But, as a couple of my favourite designers used to say: you can’t have a web presence before having content for it.
While downloading the latest version of WordPress and finding a great summer WordPress theme on ThemeForest makes most of us smile and click a lot of buttons, it’s honestly a lot of lazy work. You read that right. IT’S LAZY. You can spend all the time in the world tweaking the theme to suit your needs, but if you still haven’t deleted the default “Hello world” post and created at least an “About me” page with more than 1 paragraph of content, you have – nothing. Nadda. Zero.
So let’s take a breath and ignore WordPress, Twitter and Facebook for a while. All those interesting platforms will come soon enough, but for now let’s focus on creating the content you need to fill them up to stand out from others. Because, unlike you, other people will stay lazy and have a web presence that never truly shows who they are. Their personal brand won’t give them the edge your’s will give you.
The first step is to open the closest word processor you have. It doesn’t have to be a sexy “zen writing” tool. It can be Word or notepad – it really doesn’t matter. Remember lazy work? Grab the closest thing you have and let’s be productive.
First of all, you need to “interview yourself” as an outline of the content you’re going to write for your website and other web platforms. Complete them in 5 to 10 sentences each – at least:
The work you do:
How to contact you:
Stop. Did you follow my rule about answering each of the questions with at least 5 to 10 sentences? Good. You now have content that speaks loads about you – more than 99 percent of web professionals out there.
But, it might be generic or you might have forgotten something so now you have to do the real work: Make the content special! By special I mean that the content needs to show how you are different than the hundreds of people doing the same type of work. While this might seem like a hard thing to do, in your heart you know that there is something you do differently than everyone else. Thankfully, if this is a truly hard question to answer, I have another hack for you:
This is a trick I picked up from Lea Alcantara. In her articles about branding yourself (that is more focused on design), Lea says that you should ask people around yourself to describe you in three words. No more, no less. And she doesn’t just mean your closest friends and colleagues that know you well, but also acquaintances as well as people on the street that have seen you for the first time. I’m not kidding. I tried it and it’s interesting what people think about you when they see you for the first time ever.
In our case of creating content for your personal brand presence, you’re going to be doing the same thing, but asking two different questions:
The first one is going to be: “What makes me different than other people you know?” which will answer what makes you unique. Ask the person to describe you, like in Lea’s example, in just three words.
Takeaway: This question will tell you what style your content should convey. If they say you’re very humble, your content needs to be “humble” and written with a soft tone. If they say you’re energetic, your content should follow! Your sentences should be short! And sweet! Awesome, get it?!
The second question is going to be: “What makes my work and my way of doing things different than other people’s approach?”. Now we get to the good stuff, because you’re going to ask the person to answer in at least 3-4 sentences!
Takeaway: The answer to this question will tell you how you work differently than anyone else. While your work might not yet be unique, your style will probably be – at least a bit – different. If they say you reach fast, that’s something you can pitch as a benefit in your content. If you have a long, but detailed process, you can say how detailed-oriented you are and organized. Both can be benefits and will appeal to different people.
After you know the facts about yourself (Hack 1) and what makes you different (Hack 2), we need to combine everything into a short “pitch” around which you can start writing all the other content. And no one has ever pitched anything like Steve Jobs pitched products like the iPhone and iPad.
What you have to ask yourself is – how would Steve Jobs pitch you? There have been people similar to you before (like there were tablets before the iPad), but you are special. Why is that? What would make you Steve’s “one more thing?”.
Think about it. When you have your pitch as 2-3 sentences that say who you are and what you do, write content based on the questions we explored as part of the first “hack”. This will give you enough material that, in our next post of the Summer of .ME series, we can focus on putting all that content to good use!
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