There’s never been a better time than now to build a personal brand with content marketing.
Not only is content marketing outperforming traditional marketing, but also personal brands are sometimes becoming more influential than big brands with much larger budgets.
With consumer trust in corporate brands at an all-time low and an increasing distrust of online advertising, personal brands are at an advantage. The Internet has made it easier for people to build their own online communities through marketing methods based on trust, value, and reciprocity.
Just how important is personal branding? Personal branding is becoming more of a requirement for anyone looking to grow their business, get their dream job, or level up their career.
84% of business decision makers start their buying process with a referral. Their next step is Google, and 65% of people feel an online search is the most trusted source about people and companies. We’re living in a world where strong personal brands (aka influential individuals) are making a bigger difference in sales and marketing than brands themselves.
Companies even recognize the importance of a good personal brand. Reputation damage is the number one risk concern for business executives, with 88% finding it a key business challenge and 87% rating “reputation risk” as more important than other strategic risks that their companies face. A strong, positive personal brand minimizes risk for these executives and their companies.
What is Personal Branding?
Before we talk about building a personal brand, let’s discuss what the term means.
“Personal branding” refers to the practice of marketing and packaging yourself, your career, and your experience as a brand.
When you think of branding, you probably think of images and slogans from big companies - for example, there's Nike (“Just do it” and the swoosh icon) or Apple (“Think different” and the apple with the bite out of it). These are successful brand campaigns that have become as iconic as the companies themselves. Personal branding isn’t much different.
With your personal brand, you establish an image, impression, and position. With this identity, you develop your own brand assets, which may include a resume, website, writings, products, services - even a logo, tagline, and visual images. Just like a big corporation, you create a value or mission statement that represents your “why” and your purpose, either as a personal mantra or to describe your business’s overarching goal.
The Internet and social media have increased one-to-one interaction, which has made personal branding more popular and increasingly important. Even CEOs of massive companies invest in their personal brands as individuals and as leaders.
How Does Content Marketing Build a Personal Brand
Now that you’re more familiar with personal branding in general, let’s discuss how content marketing promotes your brand identity.
Content marketing is the consistent, strategic creation and sharing of relevant, valuable content which generally doesn’t explicitly promote a brand, but looks to stimulate interest in its offers, ultimately driving profitable consumer action. “Content” refers to the blogs, social media posts, videos, podcasts, eBooks, infographics, webinars, and other material that you publish to represent yourself and your personal brand.
Content marketing is highly effective when it comes to:
- Increasing authority
- Promoting trust and likeability
- Building influence
- Improving SEO
- Generating leads and conversions
As ads become less effective, and consumers’ expectations increase when it comes to perceived value, content marketing becomes more important in the brand building and sales process.
The Power of Personal Branding + Content Marketing
More people - some 90% in fact - trust product or service recommendations from people they know, while only 33% trust messages from a brand. When you’re building your personal brand, you’re really becoming a more widely known and trusted individual, rather than a typical brand.
That’s what makes personal branding so powerful - just as people’s recommendations are more valuable than advertisements, so is content marketing, which increases consumer trust and brand affinity (especially over time). Consumers who read branded educational content are 131% more likely to purchase from that brand.
With this in mind, content marketing is a logical, effective method to build and maintain your personal brand. Content communicates who you are, what you do, and your values to your audience while increasing trust - all without coming across as promotional or self-interested.
Over time, your content builds a loyal, connected community that follows you, and is more likely to trust your recommendations, which includes the products and services you offer.
7 Ways to Build Your Personal Brand with Content Marketing
Personal branding and content marketing are a powerful duo when used together. Here are some effective ways you can build a personal brand with content marketing.
1. Write an eBook
One of the best, fastest and most effective methods to build a personal brand with content is to author a book.
Writing a book shows off what you know about your industry and niche. Through your extensive writing, you have an opportunity to share valuable, personal insight, as well as your own voice and perspective.
Book authorship is a powerful form of content marketing. Publishing a book boosts your credibility, visibility, and authority, and can also help grow your community.
A book calls attention to you, since it’s an accomplishment that not many have achieved. Additionally, writing a book sets you apart as the person “who wrote the book” on a topic, which can make you the expert. It’s an excellent marketing tool, not just for building your personal brand, but also for attracting leads and clients.
Writing a book may seem overwhelming and out of reach, especially if you’re short on time or don’t consider yourself a good writer. Don’t worry, you have options - and you don’t need a book publisher.
If you have a lot of blog content, consider compiling your most popular posts into an eBook.
Are you a better speaker than writer? Use your slide notes from a previous presentation, or jot down notes about your topic. You can even record yourself talking into your computer or smartphone. Outsource the transcription, editing, and formatting of your recording so that it’s ready for online or print publishing.
You can easily turn your eBook into a print version using options like Lulu and CreateSpace. These services enable you to print on demand, rather than having to order in large bulk quantities. Keep printed books on hand to give out at networking events to help you make a memorable first impression.
2. Blog Weekly
One of the best aspects of our digital world is that you have the ability to publish content with the greatest of ease.
By regularly blogging on relevant topics that interest your target audience, you build a community, and position yourself as an authority. Over time, this can help you become a trusted resource for information on your niche.
Blogging is a form of content marketing that has proven results. Check out some of these convincing blogging statistics:
- 81% of U.S. online consumers trust blogs for information and advice.
- 96% of B2B buyers want content from industry thought leaders.
- Small businesses that blog get 126% more leads than small businesses that don’t blog.
- Blogs have been rated the fifth most trusted source for accurate online information.
- 61% of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog.
To build a personal brand with blogging, focus on topics that you know about, and which pertain to the audience you want to attract. Talk directly to your reader, and share personal stories, experiences, and anecdotes. Offer valuable information with the goal of educating, entertaining, and motivating your readers.
It’s important to publish consistently since it takes a long time for blogging to reap benefits, especially when it comes to search engine ranking, visibility, and authority. Writing only a few blog posts on your website won’t have the results that regular blogging offers.
What about blogging on other platforms? Having your own home base (aka your own website domain) is preferred when it comes to online real estate and blogging. You don’t want to build a house on rented property, however platforms such as Medium and LinkedIn offer content publishing and increase your chances of getting noticed.
But beware, you don’t own these sites, so if they go away or change their policies, your results could be negatively affected.
You should also consider guest blogging on authority and industry niche sites to reinforce your personal brand’s credibility and authority. Writing for these websites gives you access to their wide-reaching audiences and provides additional social proof.
Medium and LinkedIn allow you to publish your blog content on their platforms. If you’re short on time and can’t create new content for these sites, you can also re-publish your existing blog content on them. This will increase your content’s impact, reach, and visibility.
3. Answer Questions
Your ideal clients are often looking online for help - they’re not only asking questions in Google, but they're also going to other platforms for answers. In other words, they’re searching for your expertise.
Assisting people with their most pressing questions is a gesture of goodwill, which also enables you to showcase your knowledge. In the process, you’re forming online connections and trust, while building your personal brand through content marketing.
Go to the platforms and places where people ask the most questions. For example, Quora is a website dedicated to answering questions. Create an account, choose your topics of interest, then start answering questions. It’s as simple as that. You can even include links to more information in your answers - but don’t be spammy or salesy with those links. Your goal is to attract an audience and build trust, not to sell anything.
Twitter is another platform where people are looking for information - performing an advanced search in Twitter helps locate tweets with questions and conversations that you can join in on. Searching popular hashtags in your industry is another way to find people on Twitter who need assistance.
And don’t overlook your own blog comments as a potential treasure trove of opportunities to answer questions from your audience. After someone has read your post and asked a question, be sure to reply with an answer. Other website visitors check the blog comments too, so don’t ignore questions. Take advantage of these types of online conversations since they contribute positively to your personal brand.
Need content ideas? When you’re answering questions, take notes because these are also potential topics to cover in your next blog post, lead magnet, video, or podcast.
4. Post Consistently on Social Media
Whoever your target market is, it’s likely that they use social media.
According to Statista, in the U.S. alone over 70% of the population uses social media, while the number of social media users worldwide is expected to grow to some 2.95 billion by 2020. That’s a substantial audience. Social media is your chance to network and interact online with potential prospects.
Unfortunately there’s also a lot of noise on social platforms. To stand out, and attract the attention of your ideal audience, post content that represents your personal brand’s values in a way that educates, entertains, or motivates people. This type of content should also maintain an informal vibe, which people prefer in their feeds. Your consistent effort with targeted content will entice the appropriate people to you and grow a community.
Pay attention to your goal of building a personal brand through your content. Since you’re packaging and marketing yourself as a brand, think of social media in those terms. Although you may shy away from being front and center, you're the CEO and leader of your own brand - so act like it through your content.
Don’t be afraid to publish posts or photos of your everyday life. Take advantage of the casual tone to publish more personal content, including your opinions and unique thoughts relative to your industry. These practices position you as a wise, but relatable thought leader and innovator in your niche.
Social media platforms rely heavily on visuals - to keep your personal brand identity cohesive and consistent in color, style, and format, use a free graphics tool like Canva. With Canva, you can develop templates, which makes creating themed and branded content much easier and faster.
5. Incorporate Video into Your Strategy
Video is a form of content marketing that will boost your personal brand quickly and effectively. And, as a form of free content, video is also easily accessible for your audience.
Since video is extremely engaging and personal, it often builds emotional connections much faster than blogging or other forms of content. Your face, voice, and personality can come alive and captivate with video. It’s more similar to in-person interaction, so it’s terrific for relationship building.
You may notice that video “shows” are popping up on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Anyone, anywhere has access to create an online show (just like a television program). You don’t need to be a celebrity or have any audience to begin video recording and publishing.
Video production can be overwhelming due to the costs that many associate with it, but you don't have to get too fancy or technical with your content. Use your smartphone to record or broadcast live video. People today want to see you unedited since it’s more authentic, transparent, and real.
Sometimes you may wonder what topics to discuss in your videos. Your blog is a terrific resource for topics. Conversely, if you don’t have a blog but have videos, you can turn your videos into blog posts. Repurposing content will save you time while amplifying your reach across multiple platforms.
6. Start a Podcast
If you’re unsure about video, podcasting is a good alternative. You don’t have the pressure of showing your face on screen, which makes podcasting less unnerving, and people will still hear your voice on a podcast, which is almost as good as video when it comes to humanizing yourself and building trust.
Podcasting statistics illustrate that the medium is increasingly popular.
- Podcast fans listen to an average of seven shows weekly.
- 48 million Americans listen to podcasts (more than double the number of people who watch NFL Sunday Night Football, one of the highest-rated television programs).
- More Americans know what a podcast is than know who the Vice President is.
Listeners are downloading podcasts on their mobile devices to listen on the go - almost 70% of podcasts are consumed on a mobile device. The mobility factor makes this type of content accessible, convenient, and appealing.
If starting an official podcast is out of the question, then an alternative is recording your blog posts as audio files. Creating an audio file is as easy as reading your blog posts into a microphone or headset on your computer and recording your voice. You can use apps like Stitcher or SoundCloud to neatly add the audio file to your blog post.
7. Appear in Guest Interviews
There’s a reason celebrities appear on interview shows in tandem with their movie releases - it’s a way to promote their product in a more conversational manner. At the same time, it gives movie executives the chance to capitalize on their celebrity star power (aka their personal brand).
When you appear on people’s blogs, podcasts, and video shows, you’re gaining more reach and higher exposure for your personal brand. Interviews give you access to other people’s tribes, and introduce you to new audiences.
One of the biggest advantages is that you gain immediate influence and authority through association. In the process of being interviewed, you'll be viewed as a legitimate expert in your field by the interviewer’s community. In other words, there's a trust transference that occurs from the interviewer to you as result of the interview.
Interviews are also a networking opportunity. You foster relationships and increase rapport with industry colleagues and leaders, which further promotes your personal brand.
Everyone knows it’s polite to say thank you. After someone has interviewed you, reciprocate the kindness through the offer of a customized freebie, which you give to your interviewer’s audience as part of your guest appearance. This gesture generates positive feelings from both the interviewer and their community.
A Few Final Tips About Content Marketing to Build a Personal Brand
Make Your Content Original and Distinctive
Don’t bother with topics that have been covered too frequently unless you have more to add to the conversation from a different perspective. Now’s your chance to show off your expertise and experience.
Be Authentic and Personal
You’re growing a brand identity that represents yourself. Communicate from your heart and from a position of authority to attract and grow your own targeted, niche-based community.
Create Relevant, Valuable, and Educational Content
People are interested in consuming content which applies to them, and helps them solve their problems. Always lead with value first and avoid content that puts your product before your audience (sell your brand, not your product.)
Content marketing is a long-term effort that requires consistency - especially when you're looking to build trust, recognition and influence. Don’t expect results without investing time or money.
Finally, don’t forget that a clear definition of your target market, strategy, and goals makes building a personal brand with content much more effective.
Using content is essential to building your authority - but don’t forget the importance of having well written social media profiles and custom branded images, as people will often look at your profile before or after reading your content. Your social media profiles are a very important part of your personal branding.
There hasn’t been a time when it’s been easier and more important to build a personal brand. I hope these tips help in your efforts.
A version of this post was first published on Top Dog Social Media blog.