You have to start building your brand from the very start of your business (but that doesn’t mean it’s too late if you haven’t already).
Building your brand is continual. You're going to build your brand with your blog, graphics, networking, and everything else you do online. You need to have a solid plan from the start so you can succeed in branding yourself and building a real business.
It really helps to have a plan from day one – that's today for you. You'll be a lot more likely to be successful if you do this. Don't do things backwards-- I'm going to walk you through what it takes.
I’ve seen so many people start to brand themselves one way, and then have a change of heart and start off in a different direction. To me, that confuses their followers and makes them consider whether they want to go off in that direction with them.
Consider These Things First …
There are some things you have to consider when it comes to branding yourself. First and foremost, who are you? Who are the people you're trying to serve? What is it that makes you special and will make people want to listen to you? It doesn't matter what you're trying to do online, this is something you have to figure out.
I also want to mention that it doesn't matter how experienced or inexperienced you are, there's absolutely something special about you. Maybe you are extremely approachable, maybe you’re fantastic at researching and won't stop at anything until you find the answer, maybe you are great at presenting new ideas, maybe you're very creative, or particularly empathetic.
Perhaps you have a great story and went through a lot to get to where you are and you can share that with people. Maybe you have found shortcuts, or expert-level solutions and you can’t wait to help others get their hands on this knowledge. Whatever it is… Figure it out.
Along with this, you have to consider what sets you apart from other marketers who might seem similar on the surface. There's a lot of competition out there. The chances are that you've chosen a very crowded niche to enter because that is where the money is. That's absolutely fine and you can make money by standing in front of it.
For instance, it is extremely possible for you to make money in the "make money online" niche – that's the audience that I generally target. Some people look at that niche with disdain, but I know that there are a lot of people that desperately need to learn how to make money from their computers for a large variety of reasons, and since I’ve been doing that successfully myself, I want to help them do that also.
But you have to figure out who your audience is specifically and what they want. You have to figure out what it is about you that makes you different from everyone else. It might be your approach, your materials, or the fact that you target a specific niche within a niche.
Also, consider what you want people to think of when they think of you. Think about some of your favorite brands and marketers. In a few words, what is the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of them? Now, figure out what you want to come to mind when people think of you and your business. This is an extremely valuable exercise.
In my case, I like people to think of me as someone who’s watching out for the people who are following me. I like to go where value is, rather than after the money. If someone is charging a super premium price for something, I’ll be off looking for something with similar features at a discount.
Others might go the other direction, and there’s no shame in that. They might want to be the first to recommend or create products that are groundbreaking and revolutionary, regardless of price.
Some like to brand themselves in a particular niche, such as an expert in Facebook advertising, or self-publishing, or offline marketing. Those who hop from niche to niche tend to be less successful over the long term.
You need to paint a very clear picture of who you are and how you're going to brand yourself. This is helpful for you and for your audience. You have to know who you are, what you stand for, exactly who your target audience is, and exactly what they want. Once you figure that out, you can move forward and start to brand yourself and become successful online, even if you're starting from scratch.
Examine Brands and Marketers You Admire
When you’re trying to brand yourself and start a business, it's helpful to look at those who've already been successful. Since we’re talking about branding, you should examine brands and marketers that you admire.
First, figure out who they are. For example, even though I’m successful online myself, I definitely look up to many other marketers. I study them, buy their products, read their blogs or emails, and so on. I can easily identify who I admire most within my niche and I can identify how they have branded themselves.
After you figure out who these brands or marketers are for you, consider why you identify with them. There’s something about you and something about them that just clicks. This can be hard to put your finger on, but just try. Do some soul-searching. As you start to brand yourself, there are going to be people who really click with you and look up to you in your niche.
Note that this special connection won’t happen with everyone in your target audience. You’re going to have some people who turn into brand evangelists and recommend you all over the web. They’ll buy all your products and shout your name from the rooftops. Others will enjoy you, but it will be more of a passive relationship. Still others won’t like you or get your style or brand at all-- it’s time to give yourself permission to be okay with that.
It's a universal truth that you can't please everyone. Just because you love a particular business or marketer doesn't mean everyone does. In fact, you may feel in tune with someone who is actually quite controversial. Figure out why that is… Why are you attracted to them? This can tell you a lot about yourself and what kind of audience you will attract yourself.
This is actually a great lesson for you as you move to build your brand. You're not going to be able to please everyone. Sometimes, you’ll actually help more people if you take a stand and really focus on a particular sub-niche audience rather than the entire audience of the entire niche.
Now, go back to thinking about the brands you admire. Why are they well known? How did they get their start and what steps did they take to get to where they are right now? It can really help to reverse engineer the success of others, including how they branded themselves. The most successful marketers and businesses did this purposely. They figured out who they were and presented that to their audience.
After you've done some soul-searching and digging, it will be time to apply what you figure out for your own plans. There's a reason you are attracted to these businesses. Consider how that affects your business and how you plan to brand yourself for the people who will be attracted to yours.
Once you realize who you’ve drawn to, because of their successful branding, then you will be more able to create your own brand. I’m not saying to copy anyone, but you can draw from their success and perhaps enhance it in some subtle ways, while losing some of their attributes that don’t particularly resonate with you, or are difficult to pattern after.
Remember, there are billions of people as a total potential market, you only need to resonate with a very small portion of that market to be incredibly successful, but the whole point is you do have to give people a glimpse of who you are and what you stand for.