Brand 2

Whether you are a student looking for an internship or a small business owner, it is never too early to start thinking of how you are going to market yourself.

Discovering your individuality, identifying your niche and building a name in your area of expertise are all key components of personal branding. Regardless of your occupation, you should be able to promote your brand efficiently to set yourself apart.

Vox spoke with local content marketing agency Influence and Co. and creative branding company Housey Designs to compile a list of steps for developing your personal brand. 

Define your personal brand

When someone wants to start self-promoting, their instinct is to jump ahead. They post Instagram stories and wait for followers to immediately appear. But what's overlooked is the fact that deep-rooted brands require a lot of self-research.

The first thing to do is a “very intimate and honest self reflection,” says Emily Housey, CEO and founder of Housey Designs. “Write down your strengths and weaknesses, plus your values. Decide what makes you different, not better.”

To start, Housey suggests writing your own mission statement. “Hang it on the wall,” she says. “Write down in your notes to read it every day.” Having motivational quotes written in your room or your planner will subconsciously set your mindset for success.

Your personal brand is defined not just by you but also by how others perceive it. Research what others think of you. Housey says creating an anonymous survey with a tool, such as Survey Monkey, and sending it to the people you trust can help with this. You can include questions like: What are the two word associations that come to mind when you think of me? What do you think I am best at? If you could offer one piece of anonymous advice to me, what would it be?

Study industry examples, rising trends 

After you have completed an extensive self-reflection, look closely into the industry and what other successful people are doing.

“I would be creating models not idols,” Brittni Kinney Ratliff, vice president at Influence & Co, says. “Have three to five people that you think do a really good job in your space and look at the ways you want to emulate aspects of what they are doing without blatantly copying.”

Researching Google Trends, as well as studying your industry and determining its weaknesses will help you discover your niche.

Find your niche

“Develop a niche with flexibility,” says Ratliff. “Try not to be all things to all people.”

Keeping it broad at the beginning will only make it harder to find your target audience. After self-reflecting and outlining your strengths and weaknesses, it should be clear which niche suits your brand. It will most likely fluctuate with time as your brand evolves and your audience expands. 

Know your target audience 

Ratliff says to start with who can benefit most from your product or service and who can reasonably afford it. “And most importantly ask yourself ‘What problem am I solving and what emotional needs do I satisfy?’” Ratliff says.

To effectively reach your audience, it is critical to define its behaviours. Ratliff says to Google the best times to post the content. Then, check your platform’s analytics to determine when your audience is most actively engaging with your content.

Find the right medium for you

“You need to have something that lives out there in the internet that is not just your social media,” Ratliff says. “We all saw Instagram crash down this year. What are you going to do if that medium is shut down and your primary income and communication comes from there?”

Content marketing hub and spokes strategy implies that you own a hub, such as a website with your name and domain. The spokes are your social media channels such as Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok, which you do not technically own, but they support the hub and drive traffic to it. Both the hub and the spokes are critical. There are many reasonably cheap or even free resources where you may develop your hub: SquareSpace, WordPress, Wix, SoloFolio and more.

Build confidence

In any situation, building confidence, self-belief and self-love are extremely important. Whether you want to be an influencer or you are just looking to promote your service, “if you let what other people say determine what you post or do, you will start going backwards,” Housey says.

Housey shares one of her favorite quotes: “The people that try to drag you down are already below you.” She says she believes that no one more successful than you will tell you not to grow your brand.

All of these steps are interconnected. If you do not decide for yourself who you are and what your brand looks like, you could be easily dragged down by somebody’s unsolicited opinion.

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