Happy Friday, y’all! Can’t believe the weekend’s already upon us, and I couldn’t let the week pass by without making good on my promise to share a summary of my panel on “Building a Personal Brand” from Alt Summit (with lovely co-panelists, Cassandra LaValle and Jasmine Star.) When I asked if this is something that you guys would want to hear about, I never expected such an overwhelmingly positive response, so, here goes! A quick heads up that this is probably the longest post I’ve ever written, so if you’re not interested, feel free to come back by later today for a glamorous place card tutorial. Otherwise… let’s dive right in!
Okay, so “Camille Styles, Inc.” happens to be my actual company name… but all of YOU have a personal “Inc.” too (aka your personal brand, peeps.) You might be wondering, “Do I need a personal brand? How will it help me?” Well, think of it this way: If YOU are the brand, and no one else is like you, it’s the surest way to set yourself apart and position yourself in a completely unique way in the marketplace. In a society of total overstimulation and oversaturation, this is crucial, whether you’re a blogger, business owner or creative person carving out your niche in the community. Most importantly, building a personal brand allows you to turn your passion into a career. More on this later, but always remember: Everything you do (good and bad) defines your brand!
Start small, dream big.
As I look back over some of my early blog posts, and even some of my business decisions from a year ago, I realize…I was completely clueless. But you know what? The important thing is that I dove in headfirst and took the necessary steps towards doing what I love, like starting a blog, even though I didn’t know a thing about blogging. Over the last three years, I’ve learned, grown and found my voice, all of which was only possible because I just went for it. So remember: take one step at a time, and before you know it, you’ll have built something truly great. Another important strategy is to find a niche. We already talked about living in a world that’s oversaturated with information, but by finding a special niche and establishing yourself as an expert within it, you won’t get lost in the crowd. And this unique selling point of yours will become the thing that pops into people’s heads when they think about your brand! Don’t forget, there will be times when you want to quit, no matter how determined you are. You’ve got to start with a dream and hold onto it through the challenging times, because this dream will be what keeps you going when the going gets rough. And try to enjoy the journey, okay? ‘Cause if you’re not having fun most of the time, then what’s the point?
Lay the foundation.
This is the part where you define your personal brand. It starts with soul searching: know your strengths and passions, because your goal in all of this is to get paid for doing what you love! Next it’s time to set goals: determine your vision, then map out the step-by-step process of how you’re going to get there. Finally, write a brand statement. This not only defines who you are to the world; it keeps you on track by serving as a way to quickly check if your daily activities align with your ultimate vision. For example, my brand statement is, “Creative parties :: Inspired entertaining.” Whether I’m working on a blog post, styling a photo shoot or writing a magazine article, I always check to see if what I’m saying and the way I’m saying it fits into this overall brand statement.
Shout it from the rooftops.
Also known as defining your personal brand….making sure everyone “gets” it! This step starts with authenticity. Does your audience know who you are and what you stand for? Your personal brand will only resonate with others if you’re being true to yourself and what you believe. Also, are you infusing your personal brand with your unique personality? Sometimes when I sit down to write a blog post, I think about my blog as a great party and my readers as my guests. It reminds me that I need to bring something valuable to the conversation, whether it be honesty, wit or style, and there should ideally be a give-and-take of riveting conversation. Finally, you’ve got to communicate your brand with creativity. Remember: with a personal brand, YOU are the content… so make it high-quality, compelling and original!
Your “personal branding” checklist.
A few practical things to keep in mind when building your personal brand:
- Business card (and other collateral.) Everyone needs one, and make sure it communicates what makes you great!
- Consistent visual elements. Your fonts, colors and logo should be the same everywhere so that your messaging is consistent and your audience associates all of those beautiful elements with you!
- Get social. We’re lucky to live in a day where Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels have leveled the playing field with the “big guys,” allowing us to communicate our personal brands to mass audiences from the comfort of our own laptops. It’s important to remember that your messaging across all social platforms should be consistent so that your audience understands the unique “voice” that should be associated with your brand. For instance, my brand is positive and inspirational, so I don’t do a lot of complaining over Twitter. It’s not about being fake, it’s about being strategic with what we put out there. Also, is your headshot conveying your brand statement? Just something to think about…
A quick word about sponsorships.
This one is targeted a bit more towards bloggers, although it can really relate to any business partner, client or vendor. Whether you like it or not, the sponsors and partners associated with your site are a reflection of your personal brand. They should be in line with your aesthetic, ethics, goals and editorial content. And remember: teaming up with the right sponsors can actually add value and help grow your personal brand!
Okay you guys, this is officially the longest post I’ve ever written. So don’t leave me hanging… please weigh in and tell me what you think about all this personal branding business? Is it the key to success, or do you think it’s a bunch of bologna?