Rachael Ray celebrated the 2,000th episode of her successful food-focused talk show, the Rachael Ray Show, in October of 2017. But imagine for a moment if her show was suddenly canceled.
While it would be an unfortunate turn of events, Rachael’s career wouldn’t be over – far from it. Why? Because she has two other TV shows, best-selling cookbooks, a lifestyle magazine, a non-profit organization, a home collection, a cookware line, and a dog food line. Most importantly, she has a personal brand.
Her personal brand is the backbone of her success.
Rachael is good at what she does, sure. She’s a likeable person. People trust her—as evidenced by her 4 million Twitter followers. Where Rachael goes, her tribe follows. What Rachael sells, her fans buy. They follow and buy from her, not her business. And as a result, she’s set up for long-term success.
So how can you—a freelancer, solopreneur, or small business owner—build a brand centered around you and not your business?
Here are a few essential personal branding tips.
1. Start now
If you wait until your business or product has lunched to start building your brand, you’ll be behind the curve. Start working on your own brand long before you have anything to sell. Then, by the time you bring your product or service to market, you’ll also have a fan base to sell it to.
This is the same context that drives content marketing. If you reach your target audience early enough and win their trust, they’ll think of you when they need your offering. A personal brand simply places the emphasis on you, not your business. So people literally will think of you first.
2. Create an online hub
You need a single place where people can go to see everything they need to know about you—your bio, portfolio, blog, social presence, etc. Your online hub could be your personal website (e.g. JaneDoe.com). An online hub eliminates the need for your audience to hunt for you throughout the web. As a result, you’ll present a cohesive presence and grow your following.
It’s recommended to focus on owned media–anything under your direct control such as a website, newsletter, catalogs, and blog. But if you’re just starting out, you can use About.Me to group all of your important information and social links into one profile.
3. Use targeted social platforms
There is such a thing as the wrong network, that is one where your audience is not present. For example, Racheal Ray is active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest—all of these networks that make since for her celebrity foodie brand.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, doesn’t make much sense for her. She isn’t trying to recruit, get a job, educate, or even network. Her fans certainly don’t go there to get her latest recipes. They’re more likely to visit Instagram or Pinterest to find mouth-watering pictures of her latest food creations.
When you decide which social platforms to use, consider your ideal customers’ age, interests, motive for following you and the type of content you can share. And don’t forget other networks outside of social media: Quora, Reddit, and niche industry forums.
4. Create value outside of your network
Deliver unique and useful content to your audience. But if you want to grow your following and expand your reach, you’ll need to go beyond your network. Even well-established companies like Twitter understand thought leadership and share content in places outside of their own blog.
There are dozens of ways to tap into new audiences. For example,
participate in relevant industry forums
join and launch live Twitter chats
contribute articles to relevant magazines and blogs
become a guest on targeted podcasts
co-host a webinar or Facebook Live session
Build your personal brand
You don’t need a live TV audience to have a brand. Start now with one or two of these branding ideas, get comfortable, then try more if you want.
Don’t wait, or you may start too late to be effective. If the idea of building your personal brand overwhelms you, think of it this way – everything you post online is a part of your personal brand.
You’re no doubt already posting something online, so you’ve already begun your branding journey—congrats! Now it’s time to make your efforts more intentional and focused. As people get to know you and begin to trust you, they’ll naturally be willing to follow you wherever you go, buy your service or product, and recommend you to others.
This article has been edited.
Jessica Swanda is a freelance writer and marketer. She loves social media, digital marketing, and vanilla chai lattes. Her writing has been featured in Marketing Profs and Social Media Today. To see more of her branding and marketing tips, visit her website Proof Is In the Writing.
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