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Entrepreneurs and some of the most powerful people in the world understand the need for personal branding

We’ve watched them build empires off a solid personal brand (think Oprah, Richard Branson, Melinda Gates, Daymond John, Arianna Huffington and more). 

This makes it all the more puzzling when my corporate peeps ask me if they should bother building a brand. The short answer: Yes. 

If you’re in a traditional 9-5 job and are looking to pivot or have your career take off, the reason you may be stuck is because you haven’t built a personal brand. You haven’t taken the time to define who you are, what you want, or the value you bring to the table. 

Perhaps you do know all these things (bravo!) but aren’t sure how to communicate them well.

Flash back a few years ago and I was in a similar place. It took time to understand what my value was. But once I was able to pinpoint it, things took off. 

You’re up next. 

With this easy, step-by-step guide to personal branding we’ll walk through the why and the how.

First up:

What is Personal Branding?

If you want the generic definition of personal branding, there are a million places to find it. I’d much rather share with you my own. After almost 8 years of building a brand online, I’ve learned that your brand is your promise.

A promise you make (and keep) to your audience. A promise you continue to reinforce each time you show up online (or in person for that matter).

My promise is to help you fast-track your way to career and personal branding success.

What’s yours?

Should I create a personal brand?

YES. Whether you’re in a job you love, looking for a new one, or launching a side business,  building a personal brand will help you rise in the ranks in your current job. It will make you a highly-coveted asset to other companies looking to hire professionals with your skills. And it will help you create additional streams of income.

Can my brand focus on more than one thing? 

The TL;DR is no, you shouldn’t. Here’s why: when you’re just getting started with brand building, it’s important to focus so your audience doesn’t get confused. The brain associates the world around us as simply as possible so we can quickly make decisions and function on a daily basis.

You’re likely awesome at many things. But if someone encounters your brand for the fist time and can’t deduce what it’s about in under 1 minute, they give up, move on, and forget all about you.

Focusing on one thing will make it easier for you to stand out and remain top of mind.


Step #1: Pick Your Brand Name And Niche

To get started, you’ll want to pick a niche for your brand.

Your niche is the general topic you’ll be focusing on when connecting with your audience. Some sample topics include personal development, money, health, fashion, food, tech, and more. A good rule of thumb is to start with a broad topic, then go deep.

For example, you choose the topic of money then dig deeper and decide to focus on saving money. Believe it or not, it’s possible to get even more specific. One way to do this is to focus on saving a specific amount of money (like save $100,000 in one year).

Another example would be to choose the topic of health. Then dig deeper and decide to focus on a specific type of yoga.


What if I can’t decide on a topic? 

One of the best ways to choose a topic is to look at your life and identify what you’re naturally good at. We’re all born with skills that come to us naturally while other people struggle with them.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help identify your natural gifts:

  • What do my friends, family, and colleagues ask me for help with over and over again?
  • What have I been paid to do at a traditional job or side job?
  • What am I good at (and enjoy doing)?
  • List of things I would be interested in learning really well:
  • List of topics I find myself attracted to:
  • List of markets I see people buying in:
  • List of markets I have connections in or know someone who does it really well:

Still coming up empty? Don’t worry about that. Start anyway. When you first start building your brand, it’s not going to be perfect and that’s OK. You will iterate and iterate until you find your groove.

What if someone has already found  success in the niche  I choose? 

Perfect! This is where competition can be a good thing. If someone else has built a successful brand around a subject, it means you have a model for success and all you need to do is put your own spin on it. It’s really important to understand that your voice matters.

Let me say that louder: YOUR VOICE MATTERS.

You have a unique view of the world and will approach the subject differently.

Even if you approach the topic in the same way, some people will simply prefer to listen to you, just like you are more attracted to certain personalities over others.

Naming Your Brand

Next, let’s choose a name for your brand. The name of your brand is what your audience will see first (like mypersonalbrand.com), so it should represent the subjects you’ll be creating content around. It can also be your own name or the name of your business.

Choosing a word that clearly identifies to your audience what your content is about (like traveltheglobe.com or fitwithsteve.com) is a simple way to focus your brand.


Can I change the name later? 

Of course. I wouldn’t recommend constantly changing the name of the brand you’re trying to build but a few changes along the way is totally normal. All you’ll need is a new domain name (which we will cover in detail next).

What if I can’t decide on a name or topic? 

Again, it’s OK. Start anyway. You’ll find your sweet spot as you make progress.


Step #2: Create a Personal Brand Asset 

Look at you. You’re branding! Now it’s time to create a brand asset. Don’t worry, I’ll explain what that is and give you examples. 

What is a brand asset?

In some circles, this has been called a value validation project.

But essentially, a brand asset is something you create that puts your skills on display. This can be a whole range of things, but the best brand assets make money. For example, are you a musician, you might create and sell beats.

Writer? You might create a guide to writing or publish an ebook and sell it. When you are creating your personal brand, it’s important to show your skills by creating something that is in line with your brand.

And creating a brand asset is one more stream of income you can add to your portfolio.

Step #3: Get Your Brand Online

The next step to building your brand is owning your online presence.

What does it mean to ‘own your online presence’?

Here’s one way to think about it: when you show up on platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram, you are in someone else’s house and you play by their rules. When you build your brand with your own website, you are in your house and play by your rules.

To build your own house, you’ll need a web hosting company.

 


What is web hosting? 

To make your website accessible to people on the internet, you need a “host.” A web host keeps your files safe and makes sure people can access your website when they type in your URL or click a link to your website.

How much does web hosting cost? 

Web hosting is affordable (around $4-$5 per month) with a high quality hosting platform like GreenGeeks. At well under $100 per year you can make one of the best investments in yourself by powering your brand with a good web host.

What is the best web hosting service to use? 

The website platform and web hosting combo I use is a WordPress website hosted by GreenGeeks. WordPress is a free publishing platform that powers over 60% of the internet. Some of the biggest, most profitable websites in the world are built on WordPress (including this one).

There are thousands of web hosting platforms out there. I have tried them all. I’m sticking with Siteground for two reasons:

  • It’s affordable. To boot they always have sales and specials that save you even more money.
  • Fantastic customer service. If you’re not a techie, like me, you’ll love the fact that you can call these people any time– day or night– and ask them a random question about your website.

Choose Your Domain Name 

Next, you’ll need to add your new website’s domain name (www.examplesite.com). 

GreenGeeks makes it so easy by letting you choose a domain name right on their platform.

And if you’ve already bought one from a cheap URL provider (like Namecheap.com) you can bring it over to Siteground as well. 

If the domain name you choose isn’t available, try another option. You can always change your domain name later if you’re unsure of the name you’ve chosen. For now, move forward by clicking ‘PROCEED.’

Next, you’ll be taken to the final step. You’re DOING it! 

Review and Complete Your Account 

Fill in the necessary account details like your name, email address (be sure to use an up-to-date email address as this is where your login details and account information will be sent) and address. Go over the information you have so far and make sure it’s correct. 

When you get to the Hosting Services section, you have the option to adjust the period of your hosting service. I recommend signing up for 12 months or more. 

As long as your website is up, you will need a host. So if you plan on having your website up for a while, you will want to continue with uninterrupted service. 

Work your way down to the bottom of the page and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Click ‘PAY NOW’.

Take a moment and breathe. You’re on your way to creating the career and financial future you deserve. 

Stand Up Your Website

Now that you have a web host, you now have a home to safely keep your website. Next, you will want to stand up your website by installing WordPress.

SiteGround will guide you through getting WordPress installed. You don’t have to do this step now, but if you’d like to click here for a step by step guide. 

I also have some helpful tips for you as well on the best tools to optimize your website, so stay tuned. 

Choosing & Installing Your WordPress Theme

Wordpress theme install how to step by step personal branding

After installing WordPress, you get to choose the way you want your website to look by selecting a WordPress theme.

There are tons available right on WordPress. You’ll find them by going to Appearance > Themes > Add New Theme > Popular.

More paid themes can be found on websites like Creative Market, Theme Forest, and more. I have some suggested themes below, but starting out with a free, simple theme in the beginning is perfectly fine. 

Step #4: Create Your Brand Identity

Phew, that was a lot. But now that you’ve set up your website let’s have some fun. It’s time to talk about design.

I personally love design. But even if you don’t consider yourself ‘good’ at design, there are a plethora of resources available to make your website beautiful.

Whether we want to admit or not, humans are visual creatures; and we judge things based on how they look. But making sure the look of your brand is high quality is not only skin deep. 

In a 2012 study from the University of Basel and Google, researchers found users judge a website’s aesthetic beauty and perceived functionality in 1/20th — 1/50th of a second. 

And, because of a little psychological bias called the Halo Effect, people tend to extend this judgement to all aspects of your brand.

This means in the time it takes to blink your eyes, a reader has decided whether or not to trust your brand, your website and you.

Design Resources for Your Brand

Canva for Creating Logos, Stock Photos & Social Media Posts 

Canva is the easiest design tool around. Launched in 2012, the platform makes creating any type of design– from social media content to presentation decks– easy and beautiful. Start by picking the type of design you want from a template and simply drag and drop the elements you want and remove the ones you don’t. 

The basic plan is free but free trials for paid plans are available often. Sign up for Canva here

Unsplash for Free, Stunning Photos 

Stunning photos can make or break your brand. Unsplash is a massive library of free photos shot by some of the best photographers in the world. Every photo is completely free to use however you’d like. 

On the flip side, if you’re a photographer and want to drive traction to your portfolio, set up an account and offer a few free photos on Unsplash.

Creative Market, for Modern WordPress Website Templates & More

Creative Market is where creatives buy and sell creative assets. You can find everything from WordPress themes to social media post templates. Using a platform like this makes it super easy to create a beautiful and consistent brand. 

Ursula Lauriston Avatar

Ursula Lauriston is the Founder & Chief Digital Strategist at CAPITOL STANDARD. A dynamic speaker and syndicated writer, she has been featured in Huffington Post, The Vault, The Muse, Washington Post, and more.