Do you know what people are saying about you when you are not in the room?
That’s personal branding, in a nutshell.
Because of the constant growth of the virtual world, managing our online identities and taking care of our personal brands has become an imperative.
Even if you are (for some reason) not looking to build your own personal brand, people are still going to judge you by your content and form their opinion about you based on what you post online. We’re all doing that, both in offline and online worlds. This is why you better do something about your online image anyway and make sure you beat them to the punch. Blogging is your most powerful weapon here.
Defining Your Personal Brand
Your blog is the cornerstone of your personal branding efforts. Everything you write gives the brand called YOU a voice, so choose your words wisely.
Blogging is your main means of communication giving the fact it reveals your personality, mindset, and intellect. It’s where you showcase your creativity and point out the strengths that make you unique.
Take travelaway.me as a great example. It is a travel-oriented blog shining a light on a more personal tourist experience. Created by a Romanian girl named Miruna, this blog is an inspiring resource of traveling tips and ideas, and stories of various cultures as well. The value of this blog lies in the fact every post is written from personal experience, so it is guaranteed to bring unique insights to readers.
But Miruna doesn’t stop there. Her blog reflects her passion towards travelling and her curiosity for the hidden places in the world, but also her writing skills and future ambitious. In addition, there is a “Work” website category where she showcased her finest published work and directly stated she’s a freelancer available for hire. People who are interested in working with her can simply click on the button, which redirects them to the contact page. Therefore, her wholesome website serves as her portfolio and empowers her personal brand in the online arena.
A different kind of personal blog that puts emphasis on the visual comes to us from Todd Dominey (dominey.me), who’s a Director of Design at MailChimp. There are several great personal branding lessons you can learn from Todd. The main function of his website is to showcase his photography work, which is why he doesn’t use text at all. Simple and intuitive design helps users navigate the blog with ease, while a brief “About me” page displays all professional information regarding his career, and gives site visitors an opportunity to contact him.
So, blogging has various shapes and you need to adjust it to your industry. In any case, standing out is a smart move in the oversaturated and highly competitive market.
Blogging can be just a hobby that serves as a proof you spend your free time wisely, by researching, learning new things, and sharing your thoughts with readers. And that’s completely legit. But if you want to make the most of it, blogging shouldn’t be a random activity you occasionally turn to. It should be planned, even strategic.
Think about it: you cannot reach your goals if you don’t know what they are, right?
But before even laying a finger on the keyboard, you should define your personal brand. Of course, this is not set in stone, and it’s completely natural for your brand to evolve. But a little bit of soul-searching can reinforce the brand image you want to achieve.
Here are four questions that can help you produce content that works for your personal brand:
- Who am I?
- What I want to achieve?
- What are my strengths?
- What are my weaknesses?
Having at least a draft of the answers helps you build up your content strategy. The topics you choose need to align with the brand you’re launching.
The Power of Quality Content
Let’s say you’re a freelance graphic designer who wishes to continue elevating your career in this industry. You should choose relevant design-related topics that will provide value to your readers.
There is too much recycled content online, which is why being fresh should be your top priority. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes, a simple switch of perspective can attract readers.
Wondering what works the best?
Expert insights, hacks and shortcuts that save time, personal experiences, latest trends and news from the industry, essay forms with well-argumented controversial position, and long-form articles that are comprehensive guides to a specific topic. That’s how you build authority and elevate your personal brand.
To improve the quality of your writing and create engaging content, stay focused on the following things:
- Provide value: be original and do a proper research before writing a post
- Mind your headlines: an extensive study conducted by BuzzSumo has amazing data-driven conclusions you can use; formulate titles that are captivating and hook the attention of readers
- Define the communication tone: you need to take in mind your target audience and their habits – think about the way they are used to interacting
- Get emotional: implement common places into your blog posts to appeal to the emotions of readers – this creates a bond between you and them and helps you position your personal brand (use the method of storytelling)
- Talk with your readers, not at them: blogging is a two-way street and you should always try to maintain a positive, conversational atmosphere and ditch any traces of arrogance (people love the idea of Internet as a place of sharing ideas)
Wanna collect more tricks and tips before entering the blogging world? Check out our free “How To Start A Blog” ebook that covers the topic from A to Z!
Know Your Audience
You’re certainly familiar with the philosophical thought questioning perception: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Similar thing applies to personal branding as well. If there is no one to assess and acknowledge your accomplishments and personality – does your personal brand even exist? The fact is, your personal brand is completely dependable on human relationships and other people’s perceptions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a control over it. You just have to find the right way to manage your online reputation.
When it comes to blogging, you’re completely in charge. Your website is your space of freedom you can use as you please.
But those with a profound business sense know that positioning your personal brand is not about writing what you want to write about, but what your readers what to read about.
Wondering how to get in the minds of your relevant readers? Here’s a few ideas:
- Conduct a competitor analysis: Have you spotted a few individuals from your industry who are rocking their blogging and already managed to build a name for themselves? Go through their past posts and see what topics are the most popular and start brainstorming.
- Understand what your audience is interested in: Valuable content is the one that’s both intriguing and provides concrete answers. Position yourself as a knowledge-leader by investigating what are those frequently asked questions in the community and then invest time in creating blog posts that provide consumable answers. You can use forums like Quora and Reddit, or snoop around Facebook groups.
- When all fails, ask directly: Being active in communities is great for keeping up with the trends, but it also enables you to make new connections. Ask people directly to share what they would love to read about or conduct a survey to get to know their profiles better.
This doesn’t mean you’re compromising your ideas for the sake of career progress, but just bending them to meet the needs of your target audience. Knowing what type of content is on the list of the most wanted, means staying relevant and eventually will generate word of mouth for you.
Remember the funny thing about personal branding: if you don’t narrow your niche, you’ll be simultaneously nowhere and everywhere.
Skyrocket Your Personal Brand With SEO and Social Media
As you can see, your blogging efforts are crucial when it comes to building a personal brand. But your content, no matter how awesome it is – doesn’t mean a damn thing if no one knows it’s there.
This is why you need to work on content distribution. There are certain tools (such as Contentexchange.me we wrote about) that can help you reach a wider audience, but promoting your content through other channels is equally important.
You can use forums (e.g. the mentioned Quora and Reddit) and other relevant communities, depending on the industry you operate in. Remember: you should not act spammy and simply drop a link in the comment section as an answer to someone’s question. If you want to stand out, you should focus on educating your readers, helping them out, and participate in discussions. There, you can reference your published blog posts as useful resources.
Guest posting is also a great system of building relationships (and possibly long-term partnerships), and getting your content out there. You can use tools such as HARO to instantly connect. If you haven’t explored the possibilities hidden behind email marketing, start working on it.
Mingling around different corners of the Internet is how you get your name heard. That’s another step towards making a stronger personal brand.
Your website is the main thing that reflects your personal brand, but it’s not the only one. Keep in mind that, once you define your personal brand, you should act accordingly across all your channels.
Social media is a precious channel you shouldn’t take for granted, especially LinkedIn as a professional-oriented network, and Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – as the most frequently used. The whole world is online, commenting, liking, and sharing through various social media networks. Include social sharing buttons to your blog posts and reach more people easier.
And what about SEO? A whopping 93% of web surfing experience begin with some type of search query, which means optimizing your content will help your personal brand become more visible. Here are some basic SEO tips you can implement this moment:
- Focus on long-form articles (1000+ words work the best, but never put quantity or quality)
- Do a keyword research (Google Keyword Planner has a free version you can try out; insert keywords in H1 and H2 for better rankings)
- Optimize your ALT tags (insert keywords in image names so that Google can index them)
- Careful with linking (link to trustworthy websites, as Google takes in mind with whom you connect online)
What Google values the most are those websites that make the Internet a better place, so focus on providing value, at all times. Besides, well-executed blog posts will help you get recommended, be it to potential business partners or readers. That’s how you ensure you network all the time, even if you’re not present – because your content speaks volumes about your personal brand. In order to help you find out all the secrets of better rankings, we prepared a free ebook covering this topic!
Pick .ME for Building Your Personal Brand
Domain .ME has been globally recognized as the most personal domain across the world wide web. It drives focus to your uniqueness and originality, allowing you to position your personal brand on a solid ground. There are many benefits of choosing .ME:
- It is an SEO-friendly domain, recognized by Google as a TLD
- It is easy to create a call-to-action and create a name for your website that’s memorable
- It ensures a more personal note to your website
- It signals site visitors you’re open minded and not tied to the outgrown conventions
- It helps you differentiate yourself in the sea of other talented professionals
- .ME is all about YOU
In addition, Domain.me has a strict Domain Abuse Policy and works hard everyday to make the Internet a better place, safe for all its users. It truly celebrates individuality and the beauty of being connected, allowing everyone an opportunity to express their personalities.
Show the world who you are, show your expertise and originality. With .ME, you can blog your way to success: what are you waiting for?
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2016. Some things have changed since then, so we decided to update the post accordingly.