The First Steps to Building A Personal Brand and Growing Your Influence
What is an Influencer?
Influencer is a really hard term to define because it can be taken in a few different contexts.
You might think of an influencer simply as someone who influences others. Seems simple enough but if you think about it all of us influence others every single day whether we have a large social media platform or not. Our energy, our day to day interactions and our language all influence the emotions and experience of those around us. So just in case you were doubting it, you already are an influencer.
The 2019 definition of Influencer might be, ‘someone who makes money off Instagram’ or ‘someone whose full time job is being a YouTuber’. Or someone who makes some income off sponsored posts but it isn’t their full time job. OR maybe it’s someone who has a large social media following whether or not they use sponsored posts or not. I think all of these qualifications ‘fit’ and I think in all of these situations the person would be considered an influencer.
Which leads me to a point of something that frustrates me, and that’s when people say “I hate when people call me an Influencer”. I don’t think that’s fair because if you are showing up on social media and sharing then you need to own your presence and take responsibility of your influence considering that yesterday maybe only 300 people watched your stories but tomorrow it could be 20,000. The internet is a crazy place. I’m not saying everyone should self proclaim as an influencer but I don’t think it should be taken as something offensive.
To me I always think of an Influencer as someone who is using their voice to teach, educate or persuade an audience online or offline.
Either way, Influencer is very hard to define and this post is going to discuss building a personal brand and developing your Influence (regardless if sponsored posts are part of that for you or not).
What is a Personal Brand?
A personal brand is an extension of your personality. More importantly your actual personality. People can spot and feel inauthenticity from a mile way so the more authentic you show up from the beginning the better. It can be tempting to feel like you need to act a certain way on stories, or make your photos looks a certain way, but a successful personal brand is never copying someone else.
Taking inspiration from how someone handles their audience, writes their captions and takes their photos is one thing but you never want to copy their voice/speaking style.
How Can I Be a Personal Brand?
In your day to day life there are probably things your friends think of when they think of you. ‘Oh she loves _____’ , ‘Oh she hates ______’, ‘Oh she’s always doing ______’, ‘Oh she’s always talking about _______’. By showing up online as yourself your audience will begin to notice these patterns too. Having a pattern can definitely be intentional but it should always be genuine. Don’t be afraid to share about something you love over and over and over…and over. If you think of your favourite influencer you could probably list some of her favourite things, that’s not because she mentioned it once it passing, it’s because she probably talks about it alllll the time.
^creating themes and re-occurances within your page helps your audience get to know what you’re all about! They can be serious, or fun and should be a combination of both! I intentionally have donuts as a prop in my photos fairly often because I freakin love them and who doesn’t? It’s a pretty relatable love so it helps foster connection and engagement. I also intentionally put my phone and camera is a lot of photos as a segway to talk about my job.
If you’re at that point where your Instagram is doing well as a personal page, maybe you’re getting a few hundred likes and you want to turn it into something more it’s important to get VERY CLEAR on what you want. Pretty, edited iphone photos alone aren’t growing massive accounts anymore. Unless your photo is top notch quality, and stunning surreal editing you are probably not going to get away with using a generic one-liner caption. So don’t be surprised if you aren’t getting any engagement when you aren’t giving people something (like a value giving or story telling caption) to engage with on your over edited iphone 5S photo. Sorry but if you’re taking this seriously you need to get serious.
Personal brands, for many, are a business, and businesses make plans.
Here’s what you can do.
3 Strategy Questions For Your Personal Brand
Start by answering these 3 strategy questions (get as detailed as possible):
Who is my target audience ie. who is my ideal follower?
Get specific here, chose an age, an occupation, a gender, a location, even lifestyle traits, what does your ideal follower do for fun? What’s important to them? What do they like to eat? What do they like to watch?
What kind of content does he or she want to see?
If you are planning to monetize your personal brand by creating a product or service you have to give the people what they want. This is where lots of us get tripped up, we want to make content that’s fun and easy to us but it isn’t content that our audience wants to see. Of course you can tailor your audience and overtime you will attract people who do like your content but make sure you are in tune with who your content is actually attracting.
What’s my mission for your brand? Who am I going to help?
It’s important that we show up on Instagram to serve. If you want people to follow you you have to give them something worth hitting the follow button for right? Even as a personal brand using your page like a blog, you should have a goal and a clear vision of how you help and who you help. Maybe it’s about fashion, or beauty, or healthy recipes or fitness or interior design or religion or feminism or politics. All you have to do is talk and share about what you’re passionate about.
After the strategy questions we just went through comes the fun stuff, the creative ‘rules’ you set for yourself that don’t really need to be written down on paper but things that are intentional:
What filter or presets do I consistently use? What’s my editing style?
For example I always use two editing apps, Lightroom and VSCO. My photos are contrasted, slightly desaturated and very warm.
2. What font do I use most of the time on stories?
If you use the same font and background colour MOST of the time your audience will start to recognize this style as yours.
3. How often do I post?
4. What are my brand colours?
You can have brand colours without have a website. Brand colours will probably naturally be reflected in your photos because of your wardrobe, where you like to shoot etc. You don’t have to go crazy trying to buy a bunch of yellow clothes and furniture just to have yellow as a brand colour. You can incorporate it naturally into photos, edit your photos with a certain colour hue, and use as the highlight colour for text in your IG stories.
5. What do I post about?
Get clear on this.
6. How often will I post on stories?
7. How do I give value to my audience?
Take some time to work through these questions. Once you’ve answered these questions all you have to do is rinse and repeat. Staying very consistent and very true to your purpose WILL create growth.
It might take a long time, it might take years, but if having an online presence is that important to you then it’s a no brainer right? If you truly want to be a blogger or influencer with a personal brand in 2019 and beyond you have to play the long game. The internet is going to keep evolving but it’s not going anywhere. If you want this, it’s yours for the taking.
Bottom line for creating a personal brand is to be authentic in what you share, have a clear purpose, give value and consistently show up.
Here’s a workbook style download that has all these questions so you can print it off and work it out!