Most people hear “build a personal brand” and they automatically assume that I am talking about Instagram or Facebook. In reality, a personal brand is nothing other than your reputation.
What do people think of when they hear your name? What do they feel?
That’s your brand.
In this article, I will give some of my most valuable lessons I have learned that have helped me build successful brands and that I use on a daily basis to build a business around my own ideas.
Let’s get started.
Document Your Journey
I don’t really like Gary Vaynerchuk. I disagree fully with almost everything he says about social media.
But I have to give credit where credit is due. Gary Vaynerchuk is a master brand builder.
He has built a small army of impressionable minds who hang on his every word. He’s practically a celebrity. He has built an empire around the same principles that I use to grow my own companies. He’s doing it. Regardless of how I feel about him, I must come forth and say that the main principle I use to build my brand is something I learned right from a Gary Vaynerchuk interview.
The Best Way to Build a Brand is to Document Your Journey
In my short career of building brands, I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. I’ve seen a lot of “experts” and “gurus” selling online courses or teaching you how to be rich, which is fine… I guess.
The problem is that those people never last. Those brands come and go, they change with the seasons.
The reason is because you can only fake it for so long. People eventually catch on. People will always sniff you out for who you truly are.
So the best way to build an honest brand around your work, your ideas, your message and your services is to document what you have learned along the way. Share your experiences with other people so that they may get value out of your journey.
This is a win win for everyone. Your audience gets to learn from your mistakes, and so do you.
Avoid The Trap of Being an Expert
We all want to give advice. We all want to be experts.
I fall into this trap myself. I fully understand how tempting it is to paint a picture of who we wish we were. It’s harder to be vulnerable and to be yourself than it is to be a pre-fabricated version of an ideal.
But the vulnerability wins in the long run.
There is no debating your journey. If you build a brand through your own experiences, no one can ever say whether you are right or wrong. They may like you or dislike you, but they can never take away what you have given. No one can ever call you out for being a fraud.
You don’t have to be an expert. You can be a curator. You can be a researcher. You can be an interviewer. The worst way to learn is to pretend like you already know.
It just doesn’t work.
Pick a Medium and Stick With It
When building a brand or an online business, there is so much pressure to put out as much content as you possibly can.
I feel that this is terrible advice. More content is not better. In most cases, the answer is probably to make less content.
First, understand that attention for the sake of attention is not as valuable is people make it out to be. More attention is not better. The right attention is better.
This concept is the single biggest reason why all my companies turn a profit. I don’t bother spending money or wasting time trying to get as many people as possible to hear my message. Rather, I focus on finding a medium and a delivery mechanism in which the people I want to serve are hanging out.
For my personal brand, I barely use Facebook, I don’t use Instagram, I sure as hell don’t use Snapchat. I write long form blog posts and I send it out through email. That’s it.
I know my ideal audience member is someone who is patient enough to read. I also know that email subscribers have the highest retention rate out of any delivery system. So 90% of my brand is built through the written word.
Yes, I like to make YouTube videos and I plan to do more in the future. Yes, I have my own podcast and truthfully, I don’t spend enough time on my podcast as I believe that audio is the future.
But that’s okay. Because for me, the written word is what I am after. It’s what works for me. It’s where I will stay.
So before you get all fired up about the following you want to build, take a step back and pick one thing that you want to work on. Do that one thing as best as you possibly can. When you consider yourself an expert at that one thing, you’re allowed to move on to the next.
Blend Your Passion with Opportunity
I am really not a “follow your passions” kind of guy.
Frankly, I think “follow your passion” is terrible advice. Everyone needs to eat. Everyone needs to make a living. Not everyone’s passion is a viable business option.
Building a brand is not the same as a hobby. The two can intermingle, but to me, the purpose of your brand should be business oriented. (By the way, if you disagree, don’t let me persuade you otherwise. You do you!)
There is always a sweet spot. There is always a middle ground where your brand and your passions can work together.
For instance, I am passionate about helping people who struggle with addiction. I have built a brand around that. It’s not a hobby, it’s a brand. There is room for both to live together.
Or another example is one of my more recent projects called Keep Me Prime. I am passionate about health and fitness and longevity. But we are building a business, so there is work to be done. That’s okay because the passion and the work can co exist.
The point I am making is that you should never start a business around a subject matter you hate just because you think you can make a good profit. That shit will fail. It will fail because inevitably, you will come across some real challenges. If the only thing motivating you is money, then you will quit because you aren’t making any. I’m not saying you have to love it, but you at least have to enjoy it.
But on the flip side, just being passionate about something does not make it worth the time to build a brand around it. I’ve seen this with a lot of people starting t-shirt companies. Just because you think it’s cool doesn’t mean anyone will buy it. If it’s not working, it may be better as a hobby. As a hobby, at least you will enjoy doing it. But as a failing business, you will resent it.
I think it’s important to try your best to have fun. Not every day will be peaches and cream, but you need to enjoy the process.
I really mean this. I see people every day who put so much pressure on themselves to build a following. It’s not going to happen for you overnight and the reality is, maybe no one cares about what you have to say.
Don’t quit and don’t beat the shit out of yourself. Your worth and your value is not at all correlated to how many subscribers you have.
As long as you share your experience, you will come across people who are interested in what you have to say. Eventually, you will find other people who are interested in the same things you are interested in. You will find your tribe, you will build your reputation and you will build your brand.
Who knows where that will take you? All I know is that with that mentality, the future is bright.
Great advice Tim! Finally someone has said it. Dumped into my subconscious growing up was, “Follow your passion and the money will come.” Sure for some but not for everybody. In my case, the passion I “followed” is much better served & enjoyed as a hobby. Time to move on.
Tim Stodz says
Look I speak from experience. I’ve had three or four projects that I felt passionate about that just weren’t happening. It’s hard to let go of those things but when I finally did, other areas of my life become more focused.