When I started my first online business – TrenDigital (a marketing agency) – I used my personal brand to grow it. In under a year, I was able to grow this business into a 6-figure+ marketing agency.
A couple of years later I started working with other entrepreneurs that had personal brands. Through my work, I helped them either start or grow an existing business around their personal brands. I’ve learned a thing or two about what it takes to do this successfully.
In this blog post, I am going to give you a high-level overview of the different elements that need to be in place in order for you to start and grow your own personal-brand-based business.
This is what we will cover:
- Getting Started
- Building A Personal Brand
- Building A Business Around Your Personal Brand
- Growing A Personal Brand Based Business
- Mindset & Habits
Begin With The End In Mind
Beginning with the end in mind is one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. As he puts it:
“To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you are going so that you better understand where you are now and so the steps that you take are always in the right direction.”
Without this clear understanding of your destination, you will waste years trying to find your way. You don’t want to do this. Time is precious.
Answering the following questions will give you clarity over what your desired destination looks like. These questions are meant to be thought over and answered in rich detail.
- What are you going to be known for?
- What is your brand going to be about?
- What kinds of people will make up your audience?
- What value will this audience get from following you?
- What problem are you going to solve for your audience?
- How are you going to monetize your brand?
The last question is worth spending some time on as it relates to how you are going to turn your brand into a business. I’ll let marketing legend – Seth Godin – illustrate the importance of this one.
“Effective marketers don’t begin with a solution, with the thing that makes them more clever than everyone else. Instead, we begin with a group we seek to serve, a problem they seek to solve, and a change they seek to make.” – Seth Godin, This Is Marketing
Building a Personal Brand
What is a personal brand?
A personal brand is a brand that is built around who you are as a person, your values and interests, and the thing you came here to do. Your purpose.
Furthermore, when it comes to a personal brand, it’s not what you say your brand is. Your personal brand is what people think and feel when they hear your name. What do they associate you with? What do they know you for?
There are 4 elements to a personal brand:
- The Personality – The person that is in front of the brand. This would be you.
- The Audience – The people that follow the personality for the value he/she provides.
- The Content – The bridge that connects the personality to the audience and vice-versa.
- Relationship – The quality of the connection between the personality and the audience.
How To Build A Personal Brand
Step #1 – Choose your audience – Niche Down
The first step in building a personal brand is choosing the people you are going to help (your audience) and the problem you are going to help them with.
These are the people that you are going to attract as followers, nurture into fans, and convert into happy clients as time goes by.
Because you are building a business around your personal brand, there must be alignment between who you are, what you are going to sell, and your audience.
Here’s what I mean by alignment – Alignment is one of the most important concepts in building a personal brand. There must be congruence between who you are, the content you are putting out, and what you are selling. Without congruence, there is no trust and without trust people won’t want to engage with your content or products.
Here’s an example of a personal brand that is not in alignment:
An office worker, who builds an audience around entrepreneurship and sells a product on how to lose weight.
Here’s an example of a personal brand that is in alignment:
A fitness trainer who is fit, who builds an audience around fitness and sells a product on how to transform your body in 12 weeks.
Step #2 – Get clear on and establish your desired positioning
After you’ve nailed down who your audience is going to be, the next step is to get clear on your positioning.
Your positioning is simply how your personal brand is seen by the market.
Here’s the important thing about positioning; positioning CAN and SHOULD be influenced.
Because the better your positioning in the market:
- the more magnetic you are going to be to those you seek to serve.
- the more you will be able to charge for your products/services.
- the less resistance the market will have to pay you what you are worth.
So how do you establish positioning?
You must first get clear on your desired positioning – how you want your personal brand to be seen.
The following are the components that make up your positioning.
- Messaging: What your brand is all about, how you communicate with your audience, and the story of the brand. (why you do what you do)
- Look: This is the personality of your brand. How does your brand present itself to the world visually?
- Feel: What emotions does your brand inspire in those that come across it.
When crafting your positioning, is important that you keep in mind that the brand it’s about you, yet not for you. The brand’s for your audience. Your job is to find the overlap between who you are, what you are all about, and what your audience is going to find attractive and valuable. The moment you embark on this journey, you stop using your brand for personal validation and start using it to enrich the lives of those that decide to follow you.
*That last paragraph deserves a re-read.
After you are clear on how you want to be perceived by the market, it’s time to help the market see you in this way. To do so, you are going to let everything you do with your brand reflect your positioning. You must be disciplined with this.
Anything that is not in alignment with the brand, hurts and weakens the brand.
This brings us to our 3rd step in building a brand.
Step #3 – Start Creating Your Audience By Creating Content
The way you are going to create this audience is by first identifying what platforms your audience is hanging out on and then creating content that is going to attract them to your brand. But not just any content…
You need content that:
- Your audience is going to appreciate and get value from.
- Is in alignment with your desired positioning. (messaging, look, and feel.)
When it comes to your content, it’s gotta be good. Real good. If you are new to the content creation game you are probably not going to be that good at first. And that’s okay. Content Creation, like riding a bike, is a skill. You get better at it over time.
When I first started creating content, I wasn’t that good. I still cringe at some of my early attempts at content creation. But I’ve never stopped creating and learning. Because of this every year I get better at creating content. So if you are new to the content game, don’t let your early attempts discourage you. Keep creating. Keep learning. Keep getting better. Because a personal brand-based business does not work without good content.
Here’s why your content or whatever you put out into the world must be top-notch; I’ll let Ryan Holiday illustrate this point:
“Work that is going to sell must appear as good as, or better than, the BEST stuff out there. Because that's whom you are competing with: Not the other stuff being released right now. But everything that came before you.” - Ryan Holiday Perennial Seller
To play well you must know the rules of the game.
Building A Business Around Your Personal Brand
Now that you have a personal brand, it’s time to build a business. Note that you can and should build both your brand and your business simultaneously. While it does help to have a brand before you launch a service or product, it is not a prerequisite.
If you started with the end in mind, you now have an audience that has specific problems you are fit to solve. They see you as a trustworthy person that can help them (this is why they follow you) and they are ready for your invitation to take them onto the next step.
See how that works?
So how do you go about turning your audience into happy customers?
You do so by creating products and services that provide relief to their pains and help them make their dreams come true.
Your goal here is to create THE THING they’ve been looking for.
Not what you would like to create.
The first will make sales easy. The latter, an uphill battle.
If in doubt, ask. Conduct market research.
Ask your audience what is their biggest problem in X area. What keeps them up at night about X. If they could change a thing about X what would it be. Etc.
Once you know what THE THING your audience wants is, it’s time to create it.There are many different ways you can create and deliver that thing:
- Information Products
- Online Experiences
- Coaching Programs
- Physical Products
Before you choose the product or service you are going to provide, make sure that here too, you begin with the end in mind.
- How much money do you want to make?
- How many hours per week do you want to work?
- Do you want to build a team or work on your own?
- What are you going to price your product or service at?
- How do you want to deliver your product? In person? Online?
- How many units do you have to sell each month to reach your financial goals?
The product or service you decide to create will be determined by your current skillset and the answers to those questions.
I am personally a fan of digital products as they scale well and tend to have a low overhead.
I am also a fan of high-ticket products as they give you a lot of economic leverage. (make a lot of money without a lot of work) To learn more about high ticket offers check out this in-depth article I wrote a while back: The 5 Elements Of Strong High Ticket Offers That Sell
If you can combine both, you have a recipe for a high-margin business that can scale fast. Again, this is just my personal preference. It might not be the right course of action for you. Let the answers to the questions above guide you.
Growing A Personal Brand Based Business
You have a personal brand, an audience, and a product or service you are ready to sell. Maybe by this point, you’ve already sold a couple of people. You’re ready to take things to the next level. You are seeking growth.
Growth comes from more exposure and more sales. One leads to the other.
Let’s talk about getting more exposure:
Because you have a personal-brand-based business, as your personal brand grows, so will your business. They are one and the same.
When it comes to growing your personal brand and your business you have two options: Organic & Paid Marketing.
Organic Marketing – This is earning attention without paying for it. It’s earning attention through sweat equity. To grow your audience organically you will be using content and social media platforms. When growing organically I encourage you to seek the platforms and features within those platforms that will give you the most exposure and growth.
Paid Marketing – This is earning attention by paying for it. Usually in the form of ads. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok allow you to pay to put your content in front of people that fit the demographic of your target audience. This is by far the fastest way to grow but it requires capital and knowing how to advertise effectively and profitably. (A skill worth learning)
There are thousands of words I could write on each one of these growth methods. For the sake of keeping this blog post high level, I will stop here.
Your Sphere Of Influence
As you grow your personal brand, you’ll need to convert more and more people into clients. Here, I want to introduce you to the concept of Your Sphere Of Influence.
Your sphere of influence is made up of the people that you can reach out to with a marketing message. These are non-followers, followers, email list subscribers, podcast listeners, social network friends, family, etc.
Your sphere of influence is made of 3 types of people:
- Unaware – People who match your audience but don’t know you.
- Aware – People who are somewhat aware of you, maybe they are following you. They are watching.
- Problem Aware – People who know who you are, know what you do, and are a match for what you are selling.
Your goal is to:
- turn unaware people into aware people
- turn aware people into problem aware people
- turn problem-aware people into happy clients
As you get more exposure, your brand will grow. As your brand grows you will have the opportunity to make more sales. As you make more sales, your business will grow.
Rinse & repeat.
Yes, I know this is an oversimplification of this process, but remember, this is meant to be a high-level overview of how-to-do-this.
Understanding the big picture (macro) is needed for you to know where to best allocate your time and energy. (micro)
Mindset & Habits
The hardest thing to manage in a project is not the project but your psychology. While it’s never been easier to build a business, it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to require everything you’ve got. Your mindset is the operating system that runs the show. Without a strong mindset, the reality of what it takes to be an entrepreneur will wipe you out. From my own experience, your mindset is the most important asset you can build and develop.
After your mindset come your habits. You can know how to do the thing, but if you can’t sit down and get the thing done, time will pass and you will have nothing to show for it. I know this sounds obvious. But doing the work is its own hero’s journey.
Here are the most impactful books I’ve read on mindset & habits:
- Mindset – Carold Dweck
- The War Of Art – Steven Pressfield
- Turning Pro – Steven Pressfield
- The Compound Effect – Darren Hardy
- Principles – Ray Dalio
- 7 Strategies For Wealth & Hapiness – Jim Rohn
- Deep Work – Cal Newport
- The Slight Edge – Jeff Olson
That’s it for this one.
If you would like my help in starting or growing your own personal brand-based business you can apply to work with me here.