“How do I create a personal brand?”
It’s a question I get asked a lot.
I used to think personal branding was a fallacy. A misinterpretation of people and their company.
Now, more than ever, I realize that the most powerful move you can make is to become a brand. In any area.
It’s 11 p.m. on December 18th, 2019 as I write this and a lot of you reading right now are either inspired to chase your goals beginning 2020, or need help in figuring out what those goals are going to be.
Hopefully, this post will shine a much-needed light on that dark, hesitant area of your mind.
Although I’ve worked with some major clients, it’s always been harder to try and brand myself. Naturally, we are our own biggest critics.
I personally always set myself rules, guidelines, and targets and I’m going to share them with you.
Step 1. Find a Constant Theme of What People Think About You
Julius Caesar used to have a member of his staff follow him around to lightly whisper “You’re just a man” in his ear. It kept him level-headed, humble, and honest.
If you want a personal brand, you have to reach outside of this stoic philosophy and embrace the idea that you’re more than a man or woman.
Amplify aspects of your personality to create a character. To many of you, I’m Geraint Clarke; marketing consultant, magician, blogger, but I’m still a nobody outside of my chosen niches, or when I’m buying toilet paper in the supermarket.
The first exercise is to find a constant theme of what people think about you as a person. I did this by making a Facebook status and seeing if the responses aligned with who I wanted to be.
Something simple like:
“This is a very serious request and I need your help. If you could describe me in one word, what would it be? Please no joke comments like ‘tw*t’, I’m taking my career more seriously and need help branding.”
My responses were all about charm, mystery, travel, and financial freedom. So I amplified those areas that people believed about me and created rules based on that. This way, you’re still being authentic as a person, you’re just being an exaggerated version of who people think you are.
The internet is like a first date that repeats every day. You’re only ever showing what you want to show.
Try to remember that initially, whilst building an audience, you need to be flawless. This is a romance between you and your potential fans.
You can be honest, but don’t be careless.
You can be open, but don’t be transparent.
Before we get deep into that however, we need to decide who your audience is going to be.
Step 2. Find Your Passion
What would you do if money was of no consequence?
Who would you hang out with every day if you had the choice?
What makes you happy or content for hours?
Playing music? Magic? Writing? Painting? Singing?
I get messages every day from people saying they’d love my job. Answer me this. What is my job? Do you know what I do?
They don’t want my job, they want my success. My tiny slice of industry fame. They want the answers I seem to have — and the freedom.
Find what makes you happy, what you’re passionate about and forget about the path everyone else seems to be taking. Forge your own way.
If your hearts not in it, you’ll give up more easily.
Step 3. Play to Your Strengths
Don’t ever chase money or fame. Chase your passion. Chase what makes you happy. Play to your strengths.
Henry Ford once said:
“If money is your hope for independence, you’ll never have it. The only true value a man can have is a wealth of knowledge, ability, & experience.”
That is my favorite quote of all time, as it inspired me to learn as much as I can, find my passion, and become the best at any job I’ve ever had.
If you don’t have that drive in you, it’ll be harder for you to make this happen. You’ll provide your own excuses or resistance forwhy it isn’t possible.
I once worked in a call-center and hated the job. I did everything in my power to make that job more enjoyable. I got pay raises, great review scores, got promoted to 2nd line support — until I was ready to leave.
Life gave me lemons and I sucked on them, then worked really hard so I’d never have to again.
Choose what you’d do for free. Then do that.
Step 4. Creating a Character / Brand
“The secret of designing cartoon characters… you make a character that you can tell who it is in silhouette” — Matt Groening
I used to listen to Russell Brand paraphrase that all the time, but it gave me a great idea for personal branding.
What cues, clothes and characteristics can influence your brand?
When on video, in photos, or when out in public, I have worn the same style of sunglasses without fail, for six to eight years. Ray-Ban, tortoise-shell wayfarers.
As you can see from the image above (and below) my plan worked and the style has become recognizable in silhouette. When fan art or art by friends is created with my likeness, they always put the sunglasses in. It’s a part of my brand now.
What aesthetic features can define your brand? Glasses? A moustache? A fedora?
Don’t Break Character
I never give opinions socially on anything that isn’t about my brand. eg. sports, terrorism, TV finales etc. I only post things that contribute subtly or obviously to my brand image.
For you, you need to create brand values and stick to them. The truth is, nobody cares about your opinion unless it aligns with their own.
Which means potentially losing your current audience, and finding a new one.
Your brand values should include tone, color scheme, promoted emotions, what you want people to understand about you and how they can connect with it.
It could be anarchic, grungy, crude and unforgiving.
It could be soft, charming, intelligent and informative.
Your content must constantly reflect what message you’re trying to convey, in a style and tone that matches. Deviate at your own risk.
Step 5. Your Chosen Media — Increasing Your Audience
Choose the right media for your passion and brand. Some people jump on new and emerging platforms to get ahead, where there is less competition, becoming a ‘Tik Tok’ or Instagram story celebrity.
This does work.
However, you need to make the right choice in platform for your chosen niche. When I posted photos of my morning coffee on Instagram, my engagement was through the roof. Now that I post blogs, it’s died on Instagram.
Choose the media that best supports your passion
Blogging = Own site, Medium, Facebook.
Vlogging = Youtube, Snapchat, IGTV.
Music = Soundcloud, Instagram.
Graphic design = Pinterest, Behance etc.
Obviously you should try and use other social platforms and media to filter into the platform you’re trying to build the most.
The Friends to Fans Switcheroo
Years ago, I befriended thousands of people on Facebook from a fan page of a site that I was about to publish my product on. I went after their most engaged followers (The ones liking and commenting on their posts).
I got to know them, got to like most of them, and then asked that respected audience to help me promote my new products. At the time, both became best sellers.
That is not a coincidence.
I’m not saying the products weren’t good. They were. I put years of work into each of them. I just cheated the system and had an audience big enough to market those effects for me.
On a budget of nothing.
Find a social platform, website, or mailing list that has an audience for what you want to share. Look for like-minded people, influencers or popular brands on that platform. Borrow some of their following by collaborating with them, interacting with their fans directly, following their accounts, liking their posts and slowly but surely a small percentage of them will be curious enough to take a look at you.
If you’re producing good content, and you have a good brand image, they’ll stick around and support you too.
As I write this, another Medium writer called Mark W Lamplugh Jr just commented on my previous story. He writes about similar things to me and wanted to let me know exactly that. At just the right time that I’m making this exact point.
He’s interacting with like-minded individuals to build his audience. Now his response to my story is free marketing within this post, for him.
It’s that easy. Coincidence? I think not.
Step 6. How to Monetize
Kevin Kelly says you only need 1,000 true fans to make a living. Go check out his blog post on The Technium.
What Kevin is saying is if you have 1,000 true fans, fans that will buy your every book, album, download, pdf, t-shirt etc. That’s all you need to do what you love.
It’s not about the size of your audience, it’s about how committed they are.
You just need to be aware that it takes time to slowly build your client base.
Regardless of what I do for a living, writing is new for me. I only started writing on Medium in April 2019. A mere eight months ago.
Already I’m a contributor to a few publications and am lucky enough to have my work curated into topics. Imagine where I’ll be this time next year. It just takes consistency.
Everything I’ve learned and am preaching right now, I’ll be putting into practice in this new venture of mine on Medium.
Where can you be by this time next year with the work you’re about to put in?
If your passion is writing, take a job as a copywriter, contribute to blogs as a guest contributor, slowly gain a following for your work, start your own blog when you have the time. Build an audience from there.
Years later you’ll be in a position to write a book. Now you’ve leapfrogged through the system to realize your dream of becoming an author. Along the way you’ve gained fans and now your book has sold 1,000 copies from amazon in a day.
You’re a five year, overnight success.
I know it may seem like I’m simplifying the process, and I am. However, when I look back on my career thus far, every move I’ve made has contributed to where I am now.
My choice to go into affiliate marketing after University gave me the knowledge to lecture in front of some of the top brands in the world years later.
This lecture, when on social media, got me noticed by a big magic company, and now I’m combining my passion for magic with my career of marketing to sell secrets on a global scale. It’s perfect.
Regardless of whether you believe it now or not, every move you make can bring you closer to your eventual goal, even if the two seem un-related initially.
So what are you waiting for? You’ve got a brand to build.