Building a personal brand

Building a personal brand takes time, and has to be authentic. That’s what makes it so difficult. A lot of people who are looking to build an online presence are looking to do it overnight, and if they don’t see an instant return then they become discouraged and stop doing it. Building a personal brand isn’t a ‘get rich quick’ scheme, it’s something that takes years to cultivate and requires consistency.

An example that I’m going to use of a good personal brand is The Body Coach.

For those of you who don’t know who The Body Coach is, he is a fantastic bloke called Joe Wicks, well-known for his ‘lean in fifteen’ meals as well as more recently, PE With Joe which was free for the nation throughout lockdown.

His story is one that is incredibly admirable, and he is an excellent example of someone who has grown their personal brand exponentially, and not sacrificed his integrity in the process.

I first started following The Body Coach when I was 18, because his meals were easy to make and I was trying to have a healthy diet at university. Back then he was still doing his bootcamps in Richmond at 6am in the morning, and his content consisted of 15 minute meals.

He was consistent, posting a minimum of once a day and I absolutely loved how he was himself. He didn’t try to be anything he wasn’t, and as time went on his meals got better, his content got better and his following grew.

Back then, which was 8 years ago (god I’m old) he had less than 10,000 followers on Instagram. Today, he has 3.8 MILLION followers on Instagram, multiple recipe books, a YouTube channel which generated 500K for the NHS over lockdown and you know what – he’s the same person he was at the beginning. He was consistent, and consistently himself. That’s what makes a personal brand.

Now, the reason why I’m using The Body Coach as an example is because he kept his personal brand professional, and didn’t overcompensate with sharing too much information, or, being inauthentic.

Nowadays, I see a lot of individuals (namely recruiters) who share really pointless stuff on their LinkedIn profile to ‘boost their personal brand’. But, what is the point of it?

Does your target market really care about that?

Are you sharing stuff for the sake of it, and is it relevant?

For example, The Body Coach keeps his content niche and relevant. No one cares about the really personal things in his life because let’s be honest – if it’s not to do with his brand, it’s not relevant to share. People follow you as a salesperson, recruiter, account manager, marketeer – whatever your title is, for you.

Your opinions and insights matter, written in your style and at your own pace. Posting three times a week isn’t going to guarantee you a ‘strong personal brand’ if what you’re saying isn’t authentic. Building a personal brand takes time. Stop posting about your home office setup if it isn’t relevant, stop sharing memes on LinkedIn if it isn’t relevant. The list goes on.

If all your content does is plug your service/company, then you’re doing it wrong

Too many times I’ve seen people create content just to plug their product or brand, and it shows.

No, I don’t want to read 300 words if you’re going to make me pay for the full ebook at the end of it.

No, I don’t want to see you constantly plugging jobs you are advertising, even if you do a 30 second video introducing yourself.

It’s tacky, it’s lazy and it doesn’t add value.

You’re like an influencer who is desperately trying to plug a teeth whitening product on Instagram, no one believes you.

Let’s go back to Joe Wicks as an example.

One of his main revenue generators at the beginning of his career was his “90 day plan” – a bespoke fitness and nutrition plan to help you get into shape.

Did he aimlessly plug this content day after day to his followers? No.

What he focused on was providing free content to nurture people and get them to trust him, and his personal brand, before buying the plan.

The same principles should apply when you build your personal brand. You should be doing it because you want to add value and share your insight, not because you want someone to buy from you. Of course, that’s the long-term goal, but the short-term should always be to add value.

Just like right now, I’m providing you with free content – which has taken me a huge chunk of time to write.

If you take something from this blog, you may think “Okay, I like what this Claire girl has to say, let’s connect with her/follow her/engage with her”.

I’d much rather grow my brand that way, then post click-bait articles or pictures of my toast on LinkedIn because I’m trying to build my personal brand….

You’re way more likely to ‘buy’ from me in the future and use my services if you already trust the free content that I’m putting out there.

You have to mean what you say, so develop your own opinions

People can smell bullshit from a mile off, and this is why influencers on Instagram get cancelled all the time. Their personal brand is based on sponsorships and being told what to write, rather than them having their own opinions and being – you guessed it – themselves.

Examples of people aside from Joe Wicks who have a strong personal brand are:

Gabrielle Caunesil – French model and clothing designer who focuses on sharing value-adding content to her followers: exercise videos, recipes, mental health content, body positivity, uses her platform for causes she believes in.

Deliciously Ella – Ella Mills, plant based eating who focuses on sharing content through her podcast, newsletter, app for those who can’t afford her book, is probably one of the most authentic brands I follow.

Tabitha Brown – Referred to as “Instagram’s Aunty” she shares her day to day life, body positivity, recipes and again, is authentic and herself. Her day job is an actress, but you see the natural side to her rather than her account being controlled by a PR team.

Simon Sinek – Probably one of my other favourites, but Simon Sinek talks a lot about having an ‘infinite mindset’ towards your brand in his book ‘The Infinite Game’ and he definitely puts this into practice when carving out his own personal brand.

Steph Claire Smith – Australian model, actress and businesswoman. She has fitness plans, an app, Adidas ambassador and owns a sunglasses brand and a bikini brand. You rarely see her plug these items. She always shares free content and workouts.

You’ll see the synergies with all of these people, regardless of their platform, subject matter or specialism is that they all have four things in common.

They’re authentic

They add value with free content

They have been consistent for years to achieve this status

They don’t consistently plug monetary products or services to entice their audience

You shouldn’t be any different.

If you’re a recruiter, and all you’re posting about is jobs, how great your company is and recording videos of yourself talking about the same, generic topics – you’re not building a personal brand.

If you’re a salesperson continuously posting about a product, liking ‘sales memes’ and not engaging or creating content that is relevant to your buyer persona’s – you’re not building a personal brand.

If you’re a marketing agency that only posts about your company wins, the office dog and every piece of content costs your audience to download – you’re not building a personal brand.

Building a personal brand has to come with an infinite mindset, and with that means you must add value to every single person that you’re trying to target.

Think of it this way.

You’re at a client pitch, or you’re providing a demo, or you’re consulting a client for example.

All of that valuable information that you’re giving them (as long as it’s not sensitive) can be used to create content.

It could be 10 tips you give someone, or commenting on a news article, or sharing a podcast.

The possibilities are endless, but to build a personal brand takes time, and if you’re reading this and wondering where to start – look at Joe Wicks as an example. He hasn’t tried to reinvent the wheel, he is himself, and he adds value to every person in his target market that lands on his page.

The most successful people across social media, regardless of whether they’re in the ‘corporate world’ or not all have learnings and tips that you can implement yourself to create a strong and sustainable personal brand.

Good luck.

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