One of the fastest and easiest ways to grow your small business is to have a personal brand. This is something I’ve always done as a business owner, both when I was just a photographer and now, as an educator, YouTuber, and (still) a photographer. Personal branding has been such a big part of my business and really, it’s why I’ve grown as quickly as I have. I’m often asked how you can build a personal brand as a business owner, so today we’re going to break down exactly what you need to do to start building your personal brand online!
What is a personal brand?
First things first, let’s talk about WHAT a personal brand actually is. A personal brand is what people’s perception of you is when you’re not there to tell them. Things like your personality, words that come to mind, and what you do are all a part of your personal brand. A big misconception about personal branding is that you have to share everything about yourself online for this to work. But that’s not true! I think it’s actually better to curate what you share (not in a way that’s not authentic) so you don’t feel like you’re telling your deep dark secrets to the internet. Share what makes sense and you feel comfortable!
Why is a personal brand important?
A personal brand is important because it allows you to grow an audience that loves YOU, not just what you sell. This gives you the freedom to pivot your brand as needed throughout your time in business. And personal brands raise the value of what you offer. There’s only one you – and that means you’re the only one that can offer what you do in the way that you do. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true! Personal brands also help you stand out in your corner of the market. No one can be who you are – they could be a photographer or educator, too – but they’re not going to do it the way you do it!
When you look at my business, I started 6 years ago as a wedding photographer. And that’s all I did the first 4-5 years of the business. But, I was growing a personal brand as I did that. They fell in love with me as a person and not just my photography. So as I transitioned into educating other business owners, I was able to take those supporters through my journey and they didn’t just leave when I stopped sharing as many pretty wedding photos. Because of my personal brand, these clients and customers have fallen in love with the things that make me who I am!
Who is your target market?
Before you start sharing about yourself and your personal brand online, you need to determine who your target market or client is. The things that you’re sharing about are things that your ideal audience is actually going to connect with, so that you know you’re building a brand that’s going to serve you (and them) well. I have four main categories I think about when I’m sharing personal things with my audience.
You might start sharing fun facts or little bits of your personality with your audience. This will naturally attract followers that share similar interests. For me, it’s my love of my two dogs, Chai lattes, and quirky facts like I love chocolate chips. These fun facts are definitely more surface level, but will bring people into your world because they can relate. Don’t be afraid to share these things about you! People will start to associate you with these items and that’s KEY because it means your brand is forefront in their mind! PS. If you’re struggling with which fun facts to share, you can “test” different fun facts about yourself with your audience. Share a few of those surface level facts about you and see how your audience reacts to those facts. Then you can use them more and more because you know people are connecting with them!
The second category I share about is my why. This is definitely a bit deeper than those surface level fun facts and it helps establish more of your values, which followers will relate to. For me, that looks like sharing about my marriage or having a business with freedom. Start to share about WHY you love doing what you do and serving who you’re serving. When I was a wedding photographer, it made sense to share about my marriage because that’s why I got into wedding photographer: I believe in marriage and love. Now, as an educator, I share a lot about how I want other business owners to have the confidence to show up and grow their business online.
The third category I like to think about is your strengths and how this can solve your followers’ problems! It sounds confusing but it’s not. As an educator, I’ve grown because I’m sharing about new technical tricks and tips on social media – like Instagram Reels. These technical things come easily to me but I know they don’t come easily to others. So I’ve used my strength to help other business owners find out how to use these things without stress!
I think when it comes to a personal brand, your style, logo, colors, etc. should represent both you AND your ideal client. It’s really about merging what feels authentic to you but what also attracts your ideal client. You just have to be strategic about your visuals, website, and the photos you use. If you need help with a website template, check out Elizabeth McCravy’s site. I got my website template from here and with the code “STEPHANIE”, you can get 12% off any template!
Where to grow your personal brand
So the next thing to think about is WHERE you’re going to share and grow your personal brand. It doesn’t do you any good to have a strong brand if you can’t figure out how to convey that online. The first place (and probably one of the best places) to grow your personal brand is on social media. Social media is more personal and day-to-day, so your followers can get a glimpse of what you’re really like. You should still point back to your website and blog while you’re working on social media. But, I truly believe social media is one of the best places to share your personal brand! People feel like they’re getting to know you, not just following a random account.
You also need to be sure whatever you share online is TRUE to who you are in real life. Be authentic and truly genuine to who you are as a person. If someone meets you in real life, you should be who they’ve followed online. Finally, when you’re creating content, incorporate parts of you in that content.
Personal brands in business are such a powerful tool to grow your business. Just remember: if you’re not actively repelling people, you’re not doing a personal brand right. There should be lots of people who say “yes!” because they GET you and plenty that say “nope, that’s not my person.” And that’s the point! Don’t let it discourage you. Stand confident in who you are, that’s what a personal brand is all about!
If you want more help, my business coaching is OPEN again! I’m so excited to be able to schedule these 1:1 calls with you. Email me for more information if you’re interested!