By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll know how to brand build from scratch and start making money with your personal brand in 2020.
Since launching CAPITOL STANDARD in 2015, I get questions all the time from readers, friends, and family around personal branding.
You want to know if it’s too late to launch your brand. If it’s worth it. The best way to go about it. What the brand should be about (can it be about everything?). And how to make it profitable.
This dedicated page is my response.
Creating this deep dive into the subject of personal branding took me weeks to prepare. To make it more palatable, I’ve broken up this guide so you can skip around to the sections most important to you.
Before we dive in though, I want to talk about personal branding and the role it can play in your professional success.
Personal Branding & Professional Success
Whether you’re an employee looking to make more money, an entrepreneur looking to scale, or somewhere in the middle looking to launch a side hustle, brand building matters for one simple reason:
That word conjures negative feelings in many of us. But it shouldn’t. Competition is good. And it can actually help you when building your brand (more on that later).
In a year as tumultuous as 2020, we’ve seen how a highly contractable virus, swings in the stock market, and disparities in our justice system highlight financial fragility.
(Wait, are you saying personal branding can fix these things? Of course not.) But with millions unemployed competition for jobs and where we spend our money is at an all time high. In an environment like this, the best brand wins.
If you can be found online (on social media or elsewhere), you have a personal brand.
According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process. Currently employed? 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.
A strong personal brand can be the difference between not getting hired at all to getting the interview and ultimately receiving an offer.
What about pay? Building a brand increases your credibility, grows your influence, and heightens your perceived value.
This means an employer would be willing to pay more for an employee who has a strong brand over one who doesn’t.
Since 2014, I have steadily worked to build my personal brand. Along the way, I’ve made every possible mistake. This guide will help you skip those mistakes, brand build the simple way, and make more money faster.
Each step takes a few minutes and your entire brand can be built in one day. Here’s a breakdown of what we’ll cover:
Build Your Brand in 5 Easy Steps
- Pick Your Brand Niche (and Name)
- Get Your Brand Online
- Create a Brand Asset
- Designing Your Brand
- Start Making Money with Your Brand
Disclosure: All products and recommendations featured on CAPITOL STANDARD are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our partner links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
What is a Brand?
Before we dig into building your brand, let’s first agree on what a brand actually is.
In short: your brand is a promise.
No, it’s not just a name or a logo. It is 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 own your career and financial future.
Should you build your own 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.
Pick Your Brand Niche (And Name)
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.
Create a 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.
Get Your Brand Online (Web Hosting)
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 Siteground. 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 Siteground. 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.
Click here to head to Siteground and click the orange ‘Get Plan’ button.
Choose Your Domain Name
Next, you’ll need to add your new website’s domain name (www.examplesite.com).
Siteground 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.
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
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.
Building a Beautiful Brand
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.
Want your website to look like the template below? Click here to buy it or view more just like it.
The Emily Grace WordPress template on Creative Market
Start Making Money With Your Brand
Write on Medium
This is one of the fastest ways to start making money with your brand as well as one of my personal favorites. I have talked about this a few times before, but reposting whatever you write about on Medium is a great way to start making money fast while building a brand.