People don’t do business with companies; people do business with people. In fact, 92% of consumers trust referrals from people over brands.
As difficult as it might be for the introverts and behind-the-scenes folks out there, if you are a solopreneur, you are the face of your company. In order to build trust with your company, people need to resonate with you and who you. Creating a strong personal brand is especially important for business owners like you.
But what is personal branding? Does it mean you have to post on social media about what you’re wearing and eating every hour of the day? Not unless you’re a diet or fashion blogger! Personal branding involves creating a reputation for yourself (through clear messaging in social media, networking, press, and/or published content) that makes your audience trust you and see the value you and your business provide.
If you’re just beginning to develop your personal brand, the process can be a bit overwhelming. Here are 6 personal branding tips for solopreneurs:
Establish your core values
Start off by making a list of what’s important to you. Do you want to be warm and gentle, or up-front and straight to the point? Is your tone more serious and straight-laced, or do you like to use a little more humor? Define your traits, values, and voice. Then dedicate yourself to letting those values bleed through every decision you make or action you take.
Quick tip: Write down your core values on post it notes and stick them all around your office so you’re always reminded to remain on-brand.
Have a compelling story
There’s a great story behind how you got to where you are today. Did you always used to watch your mother put on makeup in the morning—and now you own a beauty empire (like Kylie Jenner)? Did you notice a discomfort in your own life and seek to create a revolutionary product to fix it? Discover the compelling core of your story, and proudly tell it in a memorable way. Aim to make it relatable, but most importantly, keep it honest. Your audience will be able to tell whether or not you’re being genuine. [Editor’s note: Need help telling your story? Our Write Your Own Story Journal was designed to help you discover your story and get it down!]
Quick tip: All good stories have a protagonist, conflict, and resolution. Make sure whenever you tell your story (through your content, website, resources, etc.) you establish yourself as the protagonist, the conflict as the gap in the market you intended to correct, and the resolution as how and why your product or service is revolutionary.
Find your niche
When it comes to marketing messages, focus is key to success. If you try to speak to everyone, you’ll end up speaking to no one. You’ll resonate more and have to talk less if you focus in on one specific group of people you want to be heard by—you’ll have less competition and more results. Then do your research. Search your product or service and your competition. See what kinds of people would need your help. Would your product or service most benefit a stay at home mom on a budget? A large organization with a lot of resources? The more specific you can be the better.
Quick tip: Describe your ideal client in depth (including demographics such as age and gender, and personality traits and struggles) and let that guide your description of an audience.
Join a community
Find people who care about the things you care about! Join groups on Facebook and LinkedIn to interact with people in your industry and target market online. Networking is extremely important in order to get your name and face out in front of people who care about your mission and need the value you bring. Attend workshops, seminars, speaking engagements, networking events—any group that is likely to have like-minded people in it. Meeting people in person is the best way to show off your own unique personality and style, which is great for proving the authenticity of your personal brand.
Quick tip: Eventbrite is a great way to find local networking and industry specific events in your area. (There’s a bunch of free events on there as well!)
Leverage social media
Social media is both the easiest and most difficult way to build awareness for your personal brand. If you’re careful not to get sucked into the social media vortex, you can test different strategies for sharing your brand on social media and slowly make it an easy and natural part of your engagement with specific groups of people. Just make sure that whatever you post, it’s true to your values and personality. If part of your brand is being a community advocate, post a photo of you supporting local businesses at a festival. If part of your brand is being funny and quirky, post a meme once in a while.
Quick tip: Utilize industry-specific hashtags to interact with people in your niche and reach your target market.
With any new experiment you undergo regarding your business, it’s important to measure your efforts in order to stay focused—or find out whether something isn’t working and should be abandoned!
An easy way to check on your online presence is to Google yourself to see what comes up on the first two pages, including photos, social media accounts, press, etc. What you’re seeing is what your audience is seeing! If you see something that doesn’t adhere to your personal brand (such as a questionable photo of you at a party ten years ago…), try to correct it. Googling yourself is also a good way to see where you should step up your personal brand. If you’re seeing a lot of Twitter posts pop up, but your audience is mostly on Instagram, make a note to start posting more on Instagram. Do this assessment every once in a while to make sure you’re appearing how you want to to your online audience.
Quick tip: A good way to rank high on Google search results is to start a blog that practices proper Search Engine Optimization (SEO). An easy way to start practicing SEO in your blog posts is to research and use popular industry-specific keywords that will get your audience to find you and your content.
Bottom line: Define what values mean the most to you, so you can be conscious of them both on and off line. Make your story relatable and engaging, but make it honest! Focus in on your niche so you know exactly who you’re trying to reach. Interact and network with like-minded people on social media groups and at events nearby. Use social media to spread awareness about your personal brand, but don’t post something that doesn’t adhere to your brand. Google yourself every once in a while to make sure what your audience sees is what you want them to see, and to see all your personal brand efforts in action.
Alicia Galan is a certified Content Marketing expert by Hubspot Academy and the Content Manager at Sunbird Creative. We are a boutique branding agency based in Harlem, NY that helps solopreneurs and small business owners carve their niche in the world.