If you’ve ever used Google to research a product, you know how integral personal brands are in today’s economy. Bloggers, social media influencers, and online reviewers serve as the new word-of-mouth. Who can trust those paid Amazon reviews anyway?
But how do those writers build a personal brand worthy of your trust?
I’m here to tell you that with patience and perseverance anyone can craft an effective personal brand—even me!
Meet Me, a Real-Life Digital Nomad!
I started building my own brand in 2019, and today, I travel the world as a digital nomad.
One of the reasons why I like working remotely is that I can travel and work at the same time. As an ambitious entrepreneur, I had a dream to make money online while traveling the world. And it worked. So, while I am being sun-kissed on that island, I can craft marketing content for my audience.
However, I was creating content for years before I started building my personal brand. And brands work just like the stock market: Invest early to take advantage of compounding returns over time!
My mission is to help others avoid making the same mistakes. Start building your own personal brand from scratch as soon as possible.
Need some inspiration? Listen to Lord Robin, “It’s not too late to start! Start right now anyway. Set goals and take action. Have the courage to fall, fail and suffer. Don’t quit. Persist with courage. Success will be achieved anyway and be yours 100% guaranteed.”
1. Establish Your Authority Online
Establish yourself as an expert in your field. There are many ways to do this, but the most obvious way is by an authoritative presence online. I have been freelancing since 2018 – but I didn’t start building my personal brand until 2021! Sheesh, how late can one be?
Learn from my procrastination. Here are some methods you can use to establish your authority:
- Website. You can use a website as a portfolio or a place to get in touch with potential employers or customers. It’s also an easy way for people who want to learn more about you (or hire you) to find out more information about your skills and availability. A fully fledged website (portfolio, about, contact, story, blog) isn’t an option in today’s fiercely competitive market. (I learned this the hard way. I have lost clients in the past because I wasn’t “well-packaged.”)
- Certifications. Use LinkedIn Learning Certificates, Indeed Skills Certificates, course completion certificates, and professional certifications to highlight your expertise. Any time you can get a third-party vote of confidence, take it!
- Guest posting. Write a guest post for another authoritative website! Even without a backlink, a guest post is valuable, since it features you as an expert in your field. It might even be worth paying for a guest post opportunity if it advances your professional visibility. Otherwise, you can write for free at places like Medium.com.
- Consulting. Offer your services as a consultant. Choose jobs within your skill level, charge a fair price, and you’ll quickly garner a library of testimonials.
- Social media. I’ll talk more about this below, but having your own influencer page or social media brand can instantly boost your credibility.
Just don’t lie about your skills. If you’re still learning, be honest – and just invite people to accompany you along the way!
2. Craft Your Brand’s Voice
I started crafting my brand’s voice on LinkedIn and Twitter in 2021 and positioning myself as a problem solver for brands in the tech, SAAS, e-commerce and cannabis industries. My strategy? I pumped out informational posts on these channels on how they can solve their marketing needs. Brands have contacted me via those channels to help them with their marketing because I was publishing consistently.
Once you’ve built up a few pieces of content and established your voice, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to present yourself.
The first place people will encounter your brand is on your website or blog. So, what do they see when they land there? Your bio should be succinct and pithy; no one wants to read an essay about who you are before getting into the meat of their article.
On the About page, include information about why you started this blog in the first place—in other words, what drives you as a writer/blogger/podcaster/etc.
Give people an idea of what topics interest them or why they should follow along with what interests them (e.g., if I’m passionate about cooking with local ingredients).
You don’t need every detail here; just give them enough information so that when someone arrives at this page after following one of your links (or being referred by another blogger), he or she knows whether this is relevant content.
Remember, you’re building a brand, not just telling your autobiography! Think of yourself as a persona. Do you want to come across as counter-cultural, motherly, witty, luxurious, or trustworthy? You need to present with a recognizable and unique voice.
3. Build Your Social Network
Whoever you meet, digital or otherwise, you want to be able to stay in contact with them. Your network of contacts should be able to help you advance your career and maybe even find you a job if necessary.
However, it’s not just about building relationships for the sake of it. It’s about building relationships with people who can help you and your career grow.
You can start building your network of contacts by joining nomad communities.
This will put you in touch with people who have the same working and living situation as you. You can also join groups and forums specific to your industry. Try to be active in these groups and forums, and make an effort to meet other people in person. If you are in a city that is popular among digital nomads, you can try to attend events and meetups related to your industry.
I have lost count of the number of groups I belong to on social media and how many people I have in my network. Here are some places to join communities:
Avoid social media platforms that discourage group communication, like Instagram or TikTok.
4. Build Relationships With Your Audience
When you are starting out as a digital nomad, it’s very important to build relationships with your audience. It’s often possible to build up your personal brand through social media and email marketing, but you’ll also want to consider other ways of reaching people too.
Social Media Marketing to Build a Brand
Social media is a great way for digital nomads to reach their target audience and build relationships with them over time. I didn’t utilize these platforms on time to make more money because I felt freelancing wasn’t a brand. How wrong was I?
There are various platforms that can be used for this purpose including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Don’t forget about YouTube channels or podcasts where you’re regularly publishing content on the internet that people can subscribe to or listen in on their own time.
Email Marketing to Build a Brand
This is one of the oldest forms of online marketing available today but still remains incredibly effective. Whereas old-school physical print advertising was limited by geography, email has no such restrictions.
Oh gosh, this was my gravest mistake ever! Not building my email list on time. And now when those who started early are reaping the rewards of their labor, I am just building mine. I’m Jacob Marley and you’re Scrooge; learn from me!
Nobody told me how tough it is to build a personal brand while helping others build theirs. But building a personal brand is one of the most important things you can do as a digital nomad. It’s also one of the most difficult, as it requires dedication, patience, and consistency.
Only the strong survive. That’s good. The weaker ones will be weeded out, and you’ll emerge on top.
So don’t become so engrossed in building others that you neglect your brand. If I find myself procrastinating about posting that LinkedIn post or guest post, I tell myself, “If my clients are making money from their brands, I should too.” After all, I intend to retire when I get to 40. But if you stick with it long enough, building your personal brand will pay off in many ways:
- Your business will grow faster because people will trust your name more and be more likely to buy from you when they see that others have had positive experiences with your products or services
- You’ll find it easier to connect with other people who share similar interests and values
- If you decide to change jobs or start working for another company later on in life (or even if not), having an established reputation can make finding work much quicker and easier
Now, back to my beach!