The Beginner’s Guide to Personal Branding

Deciding to build my personal brand online was one of the best career decisions I ever made.

It allowed me to start a business, get paid for work I love doing, and eventually leave my job.

If you act on the information in this article, you will attract better opportunities, higher-quality clients, and more industry recognition.

What Is Personal Branding?

Personal branding means packaging yourself and your career as a brand.

I want you to look back at the picture above this post. When you see Oprah and Obama, what reaction do you have?

It’s probably instinctive, emotional, and related to a specific problem that they solve (or don't solve) for you. That's what a strong personal brand feels like.

It doesn't matter if you love them or hate them, as long as you feel something. This is the reason why Oprah and Obama have two of the strongest personal brands in the world. It's also the key to building your personal brand.

When we are interacting with others face to face, we can adjust our behavior based on the group we are interacting with. Online, we don’t have that same luxury. We need to put some stakes in the ground.

Believe it or not, all of us already have a personal brand online. We’re already making some sort of impression. It may as well be one that we control.

Why Is Personal Branding Important?

Here are three reasons why you should start building your personal brand today:

1. Gain trust and credibility

Whether it is through a regular blog, a simple portfolio site, or social media, your personal brand is how people perceive you online. It’s up to you to shape that perception in a positive way. Give as much value as possible on a specific topic and you will begin to position yourself as an expert.

2. Meet awesome people

One of the reasons why I blog is because it helps me connect with the people I want to meet. As your brand starts to grow and get more specific, you will start to attract people who believe what you believe. This network will be invaluable whether you are taking a traditional career path or growing your business.

3. Magnetize opportunities

Once you have created a “home base” website for your personal brand, you are already way ahead of the competition. Not only will you have somewhere to send people who want to learn more about you, but you may also begin to see new opportunities falling into your lap. Now you've created a marketing machine that does part of the work for you.

How Can I Start Building My Personal Brand?

If there is one action step that I can recommend, it’s this: secure a personal website (i.e. www.yourname.com). You don’t have to spend weeks on this, and it doesn’t need to be fancy. The goal is to have something that you can control and shape over time.

Personally, I use Squarespace for this. It’s a lot simpler than Wordpress and it looks great right out of the box. I’m not an affiliate for them, and I don’t get anything if you decide to use them…I just love the company.

The great part is, Squarespace will give you a 14-day trial, so you can start building a website and see if it works for you. This is how I got started on my journey. If you take this step, you’ll be well on your way to building a strong personal brand that stands out from the competition.

Anything to Watch out For?

As you begin to build your personal brand online, here’s a tip: be human.

The goal of branding is authentic connection, so you don’t want to fall into the trap of appearing overly professional or generic.

It’s important to remember that you are a person, and that the people interacting with your brand online are other human beings. Your communication should feel like a conversation.

This means being vulnerable, especially if you decide to write a blog. It means being honest about your strengths and weaknesses so that you can attract opportunities that are actually a fit for you. It also means writing your About page and other bios in the first person, using words that you would use in real life.

Building your personal brand can take time, but trust me: it’s worth it. If you already have a separately branded company, it will help you secure coaching, consulting, and speaking opportunities. If you're just starting out, it is one of the fastest ways to jumpstart your career or business.

So, what are you waiting for? There's no time like the present.

(Photo credit: Joe Crimmings via cc)

Greg Faxon

Greg Faxon, 2829 Connecticut Avenue NW (Apt 513), Washington, DC 20008, United States