Do you have a tough time talking about yourself, especially about what you do well? Does it feel uncomfortably like bragging? If you said “yes,” you are not alone.
But whether you are a businessperson or a blogger (or both), “you need to get comfortable being uncomfortable and put yourself out there,” said Erin Lane of A Parenting Production, host of a live chat today in The Motherhood on developing your personal brand.
She and a group of co-hosts pointed out that success will come with developing and maintaining a consistent personal brand, paired with persistence in marketing that brand.
Why Creating a Personal Brand Matters
Erin’s advice can be applied to business, blogging and life in general: “You want to define yourself to them … not have them define you.” When it comes to blogging, “Doesn’t matter your readership … it’ll grow. And it doesn’t matter if you aren’t monetizing. Your readers view you in a particular way.”
Developing Your “Voice” – How to Get Started
So how do you WANT your readers or colleagues to view you? “To start defining your ‘brand’ start with the question, ‘What is your goal? To do what?’” said Lea Ann of Mommy’s Wish List. “This is your brand vision.”
She went on, “After you have a clearly defined goal, next question involves positioning yourself. Two points: Target – who are you talking to? Frame of Reference – what is your category, niche?”
For inspiration, Kathy of I’m a Danish Mama taps into the visual elements of a “collage where I can see all the things that go together … That helps with the feel of the brand. I also do a word chart where I list all the words that come to mind.”
Keep the creative juices flowing by thinking about “brands you admire, big box or small business,” said Rajean of Rajean Blomquist – Because I Said So. She had a few thought-starter questions, including: “What do you think of when you hear their name, see their logo? These are the types of images you should work on for yourself. What do you want others to think of when they hear your name, your company name, see an image associated with your brand and/or business?”
Ilina of Dirt & Noise added, “It helps to ask others their opinions, too, to get some external feedback on your brand and how you are perceived. It’s important to be earnest and not try to be someone else.”
Making Your “Brand” Recognizable
Once you establish a voice and a look for your brand, people will recognize YOU anywhere online. “If it becomes familiar to others as they seek your brand, it gives a sense of comfort and can establish trust. Both very important in branding,” pointed out Rajean of Rajean Blomquist – Because I Said So.
“I think a huge part of seeing your brand clearly is CONSISTENCY: do you have a branding document that has your fonts, logos and pantone colors in one handy place?” asked Kathy of I’m a Danish Mama.
And it’s not just about your blog, but your entire online presence. Kathy went on, “Are your avatars (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) all the same? Can one person find you in multiple places and know it’s you or do you leave them wondering?”
Lea Ann of Mommy’s Wish List provided advice on creating a consistent look: “Pick a color palette of THREE colors. Dominant, Subdominant, Subordinate (accent). Pick one font and stick with it throughout. Most font families have an italic, a bold, a condensed. One font gives you the impression of one voice, in other words, more consistency.”
If one of your goals is to publicize and monetize your “brand,” with the back-end work finished, it’s time to start marketing yourself.
It won’t always be easy, and rejection is part of the process. “There are always more ‘no’s’ than ‘yeses’ but the yeses come with persistence,” said Erin of A Parenting Production. “It’s easy to get dejected, but remember, EVERYONE feels that way at some point…even those you perceive to be extremely successful.”
Lea Ann of Mommy’s Wish List suggested that bloggers focus on showcasing “your relevant background” to PR people at the companies you want to work with. “It makes you an expert. Also, including links to relevant material you’ve written shows credibility and that they are not taking a chance on you. You are a proven entity.”
To get your name out there, Kathy of I’m a Danish Mama suggested subscribing to HARO (Help A Reporter Out). If you see requests from reporters on topics that align with your brand expertise, send an email offering yourself for an interview.
But don’t let your guard down, in person or online. “Remember that your brand doesn’t have an off button,” cautioned Erin of A Parenting Production. “How you are online and in person at events, conferences, etc, matters.”
Keeping Your Brand on Track
On a day-to-day basis, you should continue using your unique voice to create interesting content and promote your brand. “Don’t be afraid to tweet out, pin or share your own posts. Just do it sparingly,” Erin said.
Kathy of I’m a Danish Mama provided a good rule of thumb, suggesting that for every nine links or tweets you share on other people’s behalf, you can share one post promoting yourself.
As you create additional content, keep your brand in mind. To help, “choose 5 adjectives to describe it as if it were a person. Then everything you do should answer to those adjectives,” advised Lea Ann of Mommy’s Wish List.
Along the same lines, “A tag line is super important!” said Joy of Creative Mamma. “People get a sense of what they are getting from your blog just from that one little sentence!”
And never forget that YOU are your personal brand’s strongest asset. One “great place for your personality and voice to shine,” as Ilina of Dirt & Noise said, is in your bio or About Me blog page.
If you have additional questions or would like advice from Erin, you can leave comments on this post or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kathy of I’m a Danish Mama also offered her support via email at email@example.com.