It’s common for baby boomers and older millennials to see “influencers” as lazy Gen Zers who don’t want to get a ‘real job.’ To them, influencers sit on their phones all day, take pictures, and get free stuff! But what this older generation doesn’t see is the time and effort it takes in creating and upholding a personal brand (& of course, all of the other business behind-the-scenes of being an influencer – contracts, negotiations, social media, email marketing, etc). If you’re looking to grow in the online space and work on building your personal brand, here are eight tips for you!
But before we get started, let’s define a personal brand.
Jeff Bezos describes your personal brand as, “what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” It’s more than just how you show up online – it’s about how you make people feel when you’re around them, how you carry yourself, and how you interact with the world around you. Building a personal brand is marketing yourself as an individual – what makes you special, your interests, passions, how you’re different from others in your ‘niche.’ If you find a way to “sell” yourself, you’ve discovered your personal brand.
Now that you know the basics, how do you build a personal brand?
Get to Know Yourself
As cliche as it sounds, before building a personal brand, you must know yourself first. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before actively working to build a personal brand: What do you want to be known for? What motivates you? What are your long-term goals? You can dabble in different areas and be considered a lifestyle niche – maybe you like fitness, reading, cooking, and traveling. In my opinion, to build a personal brand, you don’t need to focus on making one activity your thing. All of your passions are what make you, you! Embrace it.
Say “yes” to any and all social events! You absolutely never know who you might meet. If you’re not vaccinated and still COVID-cautious, host an online happy hour! Voice memos on Instagram are also a great way to build a connection quickly – but video chatting & meeting in real life is always better!
I’ve made genuine friendships online by just reaching out to people I enjoyed on Instagram and complimented them! Humans crave connection; don’t be afraid to reach out!
Know Your Audience
The way you communicate online if you’re trying to reach females ages 18-25 or males ages 45-60 is going to be drastically different. Not only will this determine the primary platform you’re using to connect with your audience, but you’re also determining how you’ll present yourself online. Let’s face it: Our parents probably don’t understand the current trends and memes online, so you likely wouldn’t talk about that online! However, if you’re trying to connect with women ages 18-25, you’re likely going to stay on top of trends and stay relevant!
When you’re narrowing your target audience, don’t just think about gender and age. What are their life goals? Challenges? Passions? What is their financial status? Marital status? Religion?
While these things may not seem entirely relevant as a personal brand rather than a business if you’re wanting to become an influencer, brands will want to know about your audience. A trendy clothing brand likely wouldn’t pay someone to advertise their clothing if their audience is mostly men over the age of 40.
Don’t discount your audience. Show up to your 400 followers the same way you would with 400,000. ‘Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have.’
Connect With Your Audience Online
Choose one platform outside of social media to connect with your audience. While it’s still important to connect with your audience on social media, also reach them on a platform you OWN! Consider starting your own website with a blog or a mailing list. YouTube videos are also an extremely popular way to connect with your audience and build a personal brand.
Pro Tip: If you’re starting a blog, I highly recommend posting your blogs on Pinterest. Pinterest can drive so much traffic to your website! And while every visitor on your site may not turn into a subscriber/follower, you’re still increasing your reach.
Create Your Own Style
For the love of GOD, please avoid stock photos. I know how easy it is to hop on Unsplash or any other popular, royalty-free stock photo site and download a picture a woman holding a cup of coffee. Of course that could be you! But then there are people like me who have spent hours scrolling through these sites and can easily spot a stock photo from a mile away.
If you’re going to take a photo from Unsplash, please at least credit it & don’t try to pass it off as your own! This also applies to Pinterest – posting a Pinterest photo and tagging Pinterest as the photo source does not count as giving credit. Please don’t do this!
But I also know consistently creating content can feel super overwhelming. My trick? Schedule content days! Hire a photographer or find another influencer friend in your area, pack a few changes of clothes, and go take photos around your city! You can also schedule out time to take flat-lays in your home by yourself. Batch creating this content takes so much pressure off setting up a camera everyday to take a good picture for Instagram. Trust me.
Be consistent. You don’t make friends & really know someone you only met once, right? Why would social media / blogging be any different? (Coming from the gal who hasn’t posted a blog since February, oops!) I know showing up consistently can be draining, but the batch photo creation will definitely help!
Not only should you consistently be providing content, but you should also be connecting with your audience online, too! Respond to every. single. comment. Interact on stories! Go through your followers and ‘like’ some of their recent images. The quickest way to build a personal brand is to be visible & active!
Avoid “Get Famous Quick” Schemes
‘Get Famous Quick’ Schemes include, but are not limited to: buying followers, using the follow/unfollow method on Instagram, participating in loop giveaway. I know how easy it looks, but with Instagram, you’re only hurting yourself in the long run!
Focus on genuine relationship building with your audience, and they will become your advocates.
Don’t Let Businesses Take Advantage of You
Once you do start landing brand deals, don’t let businesses take advantage of you. You have the power to negotiate your terms, ask for more compensation. It’s been proven time and time again that people buy from those they know, like, and trust. Influencers are a gold mine for this, and brands are willing to pay for this!
You don’t have to wait for brands to come to you. Pitch yourself to businesses you love! You can even reach out to local talent agencies in your area to see if they have an influencer division or if they’re looking to add influencers to their list of contacts. Now I’m not encouraging you to bombard hundreds of brands with the same copy/paste message in their inbox asking for free products. Be genuine and authentic. Tell the brand why you’re interested in working with them & most importantly, why this relationship would be beneficial to them.
If you’re ready to do ONE thing on this list, I would love to network with you! Reach out to me on Instagram @bylaurenann and let’s be friends 🙂