Dear Socially Stephanie,
I'm a life coach whose client base is mainly professionals looking for the next step. Being a life coach means that when it comes to branding my business online, it's my personality that will sell. How do I get found online while engaging in some self-branding best practices?
Brandless in Branson
Dear Brandless in Branson,
I'm happy you came to me about this question. It must be hard to give people life advice, while not having someone to go to for yourself. Well, fear no more-I got you.
The first thing I want you to do is simple: Start a blog and populate it with all the great advice you have to offer for the types of clients you're looking to attract. Since your success relies so heavily on your ability to take people to the next level, you have to show them online that you-and only you-can make that happen for them. Not to brag or anything, but advice columns work. :)
To make this work, you are really going to have to develop a strong content strategy and define yourself in a nutshell. Think of this as your USP: unique selling point. Your USP is what differentiates you from similar people in your field. Are you really good at being a professional cheerleader, pouring on the encouragement and TLC? Or maybe you are a tough-love type of coach who breaks your client down to build them up. Think of this as how you would describe yourself in one or two sentences if you were at a networking meeting. Remember, the more niche you are, the better off you are going to be -- because the more niche you are, the less competition you will have.
Now that you know who you are, bring that into every part of your online and offline persona. All of the content that you create -- your website, your blog posts, your Tweets, coaching materials -- should come back to this in some way. This is where your branding will really shine. Your USP will become your brand. Stick to your guns here and embody your brand and you will be found. And that, my friend, is the beauty of the Internet. It's huge, and there are millions-no, wait, strike that-billions of people searching for things every day.
I hope I don't really need to mention this, but you'd be surprised how often I do: Make sure you have contact information on your blog and your site. No matter where someone finds you, you'll want them to be able to reach you with a minimum of fuss. I can't even begin to tell you how many jobs I've worked on where I was searching for someone's contact info and it was nowhere to be found. It's a lost opportunity. So put "make contact info easy to find" at the top of your to-do list.
Now that you have your content strategy squared away, it's time to promote yourself. Here is where the fun begins. Remember, your content is only as effective as the promotion behind it. So let's get to work.
Since you work with professionals, I'd say it suits you to focus on LinkedIn. Start building your networks and sharing your content on your LinkedIn newsfeed. For that ultimate power boost, sign up for 50-yes, 50! That's the limit-related groups on LinkedIn, and share your content there as well. You'll be seeing your credibility soar in no time at all.
And finally, there is always ye old trustworthy servant, Twitter. Of course you want to share your content on Twitter, but the real power of Twitter lies in its real-time search feature. There are 2.1 billion searches a day on the platform, which makes it the second-largest search engine behind Google. This is an opportunity for you. Search for people who seem to be troubled in their careers, talking about therapy and coaching, and respond to them. These are potential clients and referrals for you.
You have your work cut out for you. But you can do it! Good luck!
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Illustration by Jesse Wells