Why You Need A Personal Brand & How to Build Yours Online
In this post, we’ll go over what a personal brand is, why it’s important to have one (no matter if you’re a freelancer or employed full-time), and how you can build one yourself.
If someone asked what makes you different from all the others in your field, would you have a good reply? And no, saying you’re “motivated and hardworking” just won’t cut it. We all are —or at least we say so. But if you can say a solid reason, that means you have, or at least started building, a personal brand. That’s what can make you apart from others with similar qualifications and experience on paper. The key to your success so to say.
In this post, we’ll go over what a personal brand is, why it’s important to have one (no matter if you’re a freelancer or employed full-time), and how you can build one yourself. We’ll cover creating your own website, curating your social media presence, and more.
What is a personal brand?
When you talk about a brand for a company or product, you know how much goes into it.
The way they talk and communicate, their identity. The way they design things and appear visually, their look and feel. Are they youthful, bold, and full of colors? Or monochrome, classy, and luxurious?
The branding includes the unique selling point or USP as well. What makes you choose them instead of all the others? What makes them unique and one of a kind?
We’re simplifying it a lot now, but these are the things you have to figure out for yourself when it comes to your personal brand.
How does branding become personal?
Your look and feel will be determined by the images, fonts, and colors you use on your portfolio website and social media. Your brand identity and personality will be based on how your write and communicate there, on other online platforms, and even via messages.
And your USP? It forms from your personality, passions, and professional goals.
Creating your personal brand is like taking control of your reputation: intentionally shaping the image and narrative others will have about you.
There might be hundreds or thousands of others with similar qualifications as you out there. It’s your brand that tells people why you’re different, and ideally better than them all.
The benefits of personal branding for writers and marketers
While it can be beneficial for anyone and everyone to have a strong personal brand, it’s especially true for people who actually work with branding.
For copywriters, content writers, marketers, and social media professionals, creating strategy and content that’s on-brand is a crucial part of the job. For marketers, even creating a strong brand identity for a business could be a task they get.
So while it may not be strictly required to build a personal brand in these fields, having a strong, intentionally crafted one is often expected. And definitely beneficial.
Why is building a personal brand important for freelancers
As a freelancer, you not only need to do your job right. You also have to nail every other aspect of running a business, including getting new clients.
When potential clients are looking for someone to hire, they look for reviews and recommendations and check portfolios, websites, and social media profiles. Of many freelancers and businesses. Based on the impressions they get from there, they’ll then reach out to a few people.
You’ll probably guess what we’ll say by now: it’s the freelancers’ personal brands that influence these impressions. And with that, essentially the decisions on whether they’re a good candidate for a project or not.
A strong personal brand and marketing portfolio will show them your passion and expertise while giving them a sneak peek into what working with you will be like. Whether your personality and interests are a good match for them and the project they have in mind.
They might seem like small and subjective things, but these are what people rely on when choosing from options similar “on paper”.
Why full-time professionals also need a solid personal brand
Okay, needing a strong personal brand is almost self-explanatory for freelancers, as they have to impress clients over and over again. But what about professionals working full-time? You only have to impress your employer once, during the interview. Then you’re good to go for a long long time. Right?
Firstly, because even getting that interview isn’t that easy these days. With dozens or even hundreds of people applying for the same position, you need more than a good education and nice work history to stand out and be called in for the interview.
Sure, having a great resume helps. But we all know that recruiters also search for us online before reaching out. That’s when they’ll come in contact with your personal brand, or the lack thereof. And with so many applicants to choose from, that very well may be why they choose you instead of someone else.
Why you need a personal brand once you’re hired
But it doesn’t stop there. If you work for a competitive company, want to grow professionally, and advance in your career, you’ll need a solid personal brand even after you get hired.
Your brand is the tool that’ll help you show your value to the company day after day. That you’re reliable, loyal to the company, and well-connected in the industry. That you’re more than just an average employee. An asset, rather.
Why is that important?
If you want to be considered for top-tier projects and assignments, not to mention promotions, outperforming your colleagues in work only often won’t be enough. You have to be memorable. Present. Trusted.
How to build your personal brand online
Having a personal brand that does so much for you sounds amazing. But also a little hard to grasp. How do you actually build such a thing?
Don’t worry, it’s not nearly as abstract as it might sound at first. To help you with getting started, we’ll outline some questions you need to answer first to get to know your own personal brand yourself. Then we’ll go on with the practical part of communicating it online.
Questions to ask yourself when working on your personal brand
As we wrote before, your personal brand is about communicating your USP, a.k.a. what makes you special, based on your personality, passions, and professional goals. You do that through what and how you write and say, and how you present yourself and your work visually.
To make sure you can communicate that in the most genuine, yet intentional way, you should first answer these questions below.
What’s your purpose behind building it?
First things first: why do you want to build a personal brand?
While it’s about you no matter the goal, the way you present yourself can change slightly based on the purpose. If you want to establish yourself as an authority for clients vs. as a motivated team player for your employer, you might need a different approach.
What is your passion, and what drives you daily?
Your personal brand goes beyond the tasks you do daily. Its aim is to communicate your passions and personality in a genuine way. Because when people feel they understand your motivations and visions, they also feel they can trust you better.
So first clarify it with yourself. What is your passion? What are your favorite and strongest personality traits? What’s your purpose and vision that drives you in your personal life and career?
How do you want others to perceive you professionally?
Once you know the answers to these questions, sit down and imagine a person with these qualities, values, and motivations. The ideal of how you want to be perceived.
How do they present themselves? How do they talk and dress? What platforms are they active on and how are their posts there?
What do you know about their work and their goals? And how did you find those out? Do you know what they do outside of work? Any passion projects or volunteering maybe?
The answers to these questions (and maybe a couple more you can think of) will give you the base for your personal brand. The image you want to convey of yourself.
Is your current online presence and communication aligned with that?
The last step before taking action is taking a look at how you present yourself now. Go through and check your:
- Portfolio website (if you have one)
- Social media profiles and the posts you published there
- Presence on other websites and online communities and the way you communicate there
- Profile and activity in your company’s internal systems and channels (including Slack, Teams, etc.)
Basically anywhere you appear and communicate online. Are they aligned with the person and brand you just outlined for yourself?
If not, try to pinpoint the areas where they’re not. Maybe you need a more sophisticated profile picture. Align the way you communicate everywhere. Make your personal website more professional. Stop posting about certain things, but start sharing more about others.
Write a list of do’s and don’ts that you can rely on when you execute the next steps.
The building blocks of a personal brand online
Once it’s clear what you want to represent, it’s time to implement it for your online presence and start communicating with everyone accordingly.
Create your own personal website and portfolio
Your personal website is the cornerstone of your online presence. As such, it has to be perfectly on-brand, conveying the image you carefully planned. Here are our top tips for creating your professional website:
- Write a killer tagline. It’ll be the first thing people read on your site, so you need to catch their attention.
- Add a picture of yourself. A photo helps build a more personal connection and will keep people on your site longer.
- Match your brand’s look and feel. Make sure your site matches the vibe you set for your personal brand. That includes the colors, fonts, and images you use.
- Add testimonials for credibility. Trust is an important element of personal branding, and recommendations from real people can help tremendously with that.
- Showcase your work in a portfolio. Don’t just talk the talk, show samples of your previous work and prove you know what you’re doing.
- Start blogging. If you aspire to become a thought leader in your niche, a blog on your website is the perfect outlet for you to start in that direction.
- Get your own domain. The most professional websites all have custom domain names. It shows that you’re willing to invest in yourself and your online presence.
Don’t have a website yet? Not being an expert in website building shouldn’t hold you back.
With a portfolio website builder like Copyfolio, you can easily create a site for your personal brand. Color palettes and font presets keep the design consistent, while SEO will give you more visibility. Buy or connect your own domain and build your pages super quickly with sections. Sounds promising? Click here and get started for free now!
Curate your social media presence
While your website is likely to pop up first on Google, recruiters, potential clients, and colleagues will probably look you up on social media too. Whatever they find there, if anything, it has to align with your personal brand.
There are a few different scenarios you might encounter here.
- The content you have on social media is already pretty much on-brand. This is the best case, as there won’t be much to do then. You should still consider which platforms you want to keep completely public, and which would be better off as friends-only, for privacy reasons.
- It’s a mix of “this feels on-brand” and “maybe this shouldn’t be here”. In this case, you’ll either have to carefully go through it all and delete whatever you don’t want there… Or make the problematic profiles private. And if it’s on a platform where you think you should be active, you can always create a new, public account too.
- You either don’t use socials at all, or it’s not very professional. Then the first question to ask is whether you need to be present on these platforms or not. Depending on your niche, you can get away with having a strong LinkedIn profile, and skipping all the other channels. Just make sure that whatever you don’t want there is deleted or set to private.
Be active in your online communities
Online presence doesn’t stop at your website and social media. There are multiple other online platforms like forums and blogs where you can be present.
If your aim is to be known as an expert in your field, or to make valuable connections, being active on these pages is definitely beneficial for you.
But being there is only part of it. Because whatever you say, and however you say it, also have to match your personal brand. Make sure that the content of your posts is top-notch and is presented with an on-brand tone of voice.
Make yourself seen on work platforms
It’s not only your external communication that matters. Companies often have internal channels as well: on Slack, Teams, or other internal sites and forums. The way you communicate on these (if at all) also affects your personal brand.
As a first step, try to be active. Don’t be afraid to post things, join conversations, and reach out to people. And while you do that, keep the guidelines in mind that you set up for yourself. It might seem like a quick and simple message, but the impression it makes adds to your reputation.