Bloggers would make a lot more money if they were half as good at business as they are at writing. Many of them are great writers but simply don’t know how to use their personal brand to market themselves to employers and clients.
What is personal branding, anyway?
Most people hear personal branding and have a vague idea that it’s “How I talk about myself” or “What people think of me.” But if you really want to sit down and start understanding personal branding, how it works, and what you should do about it, the first thing to do is get a solid, not general, understanding of what it is.
That said, defining “personal branding” can be tricky. There are plenty of “experts” out there who will characterize personal branding in plenty of different ways. As a relatively new idea that is changing and growing even as we define it, the specifics of the definition of personal branding will continue to evolve as the ways that a personal brand forms, exists and changes.
You vs. Everyone Else
Personal branding is all about presenting the essence of what makes you stand out, but one of the challenges is that it’s not just you who is talking about you. Everyone you are associated with also has something to say about you, your work, and your reputation. It’s important to understand that all of that is, in fact, part of your personal branding.
Businesses are still figuring out what to do with the amount of consumer information on the Internet, from product reviews and blog posts, to social media posts and forum conversations. Just as the key aspect of branding in today’s digital world is the sum of everyone’s perspectives, digital and word of mouth, not just what a company says about itself, so too is your personal brand a combination of not just what you say about yourself, but what others say about you.
Many sources of information
When branding started in the Mad Men era at the middle of the century, the main conduit was mass-media like radio, television and print. The messages were broadcast to consumers, and that was essentially the final word about the product on a large scale. When Coca-Cola advertised itself as “refreshing,” or Folgers said its coffee had “better flavor,” there was nowhere to go to see other opinions, aside from talking with your friends and family.
In today’s media world, a simple Google search will help you determine if the claims in an advertisement hold up when consumers actually try the product.
The same is true for personal branding. What other people say about you is also part of your personal brand. In the age of the Internet, potential employers, clients or your competition will look up your name and reputation on the Internet, and they won’t just find what you say about yourself, they will also find what others say about you.
Control your brand
You may hear the mantra that businesses no longer fully “own their brand.” What that means for a business is that the conversation about their brand shapes what that brand is. Your personal branding efforts are open to the effects of what other people say, and any conversation about you on the Internet is therefore part of your personal branding efforts.
This doesn’t mean that personal branding is out of your control: you are still responsible for setting the tone, managing your reputation, and taking part in that ongoing conversation about you. What it means is that when you consider how the essence of what sets you apart is presented on the Internet, what others are saying about you is part of that responsibility.
Don’t stop here
The Internet has loads of information on personal branding, and a lot of it’s pretty good. But if you really want to get serious about making money blogging, read a few good books on personal branding and watch my video:
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What is Personal Branding?
by Jim Kukral & Murray Newlands
This is a guest post by Murray Newlands. Murray is the CEO and Founder of Influence People, a San Francisco-based online marketing and blogger outreach consulting firm. Jim Kukral and Murray Newlands recently wrote What is Personal Branding? How to Create a Memorable & Powerful Brand that Sells YOU! to help people learn how to market themselves.