How to Build a Personal Brand from Scratch and Become an Influencer in Your Industry (The Complete Guide)

How to Build a Personal Brand from Scratch and Become an Influencer in Your Industry (The Complete Guide)

Today I will show you exactly how to build your personal brand step-by-step. 

After reading this guide you will

  •     Know personal branding in-depth
  •     Learn why building a personal brand is important
  •     Find out what can happen if you have a brand
  •     Discover smart ways to build your brand
  •     Gain the confidence to start off

Chapter 01 : Introduction

What if I tell you that you already have a personal brand.

Everybody has. Think about it.

If you have an account on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn – you have a personal brand.

A personal brand is your story.

A personal brand is how people perceive you.

A personal brand is something that people think about you, without knowing you personally.

Today, anyone on the internet can find you on social media and scroll through your account.

People can see your recent posts, activities, read, watch and know so much about you. They can create an image about you without knowing you personally.

Whether you like it or not, people will judge based on what they see online.

For example, when you share on social media everyone can know about

  1. An event you recently attended
  2. A guest lecture you gave
  3. Any useful information you posted
  4. A vacation you had recently
  5. Regular updates from your life

When you apply for jobs, a recruiter might go through your online presence and try to understand you better.

But, if you have a personal brand you can use this for your benefit.

Imagine a potential recruiter/client finds you online and gets impressed with your profile, then sends you a message for discussion.

You both meet, have a brief discussion, and you get an offer.

It would be amazing. Right?

Well, it’s not a fantasy, I have received multiple job offers without chasing recruiters because of my personal brand.

Now, I want to share with you everything I have learned in the process.

Hopefully, you will implement and get similar results.

Let’s begin.

Chapter 02 : What Is Personal Branding?

personal branding

If you think you have to look like a celebrity and have a personality like a TV host to start your brand, you are wrong.

If you think you have to share everything from your life when you build your brand, you are wrong.

Personal branding is about telling a story you decide to share.

But…

It’s not about telling a lie.

It’s about telling valuable things and sharing a part of your journey.

It’s about giving information in a strategic way.

For example, if you are a graphic designer, you can regularly share photos and content related to your creations to build your personal brand.

When an interested visitor goes through your profile he/she might get impressed and offer you work. 

Your personal brand gives recruiter/clients an opportunity to know more about you.  

The internet equips everyone equally to become a star, but you should know how to use it.

When you don’t leverage the things available for free, you lose opportunities.

While interacting with clients, I have observed that people think they need to be someone very different from who they are in order to build a personal brand. 

That’s not true.

People say that they don’t have the personality to come out in front of the world in a presentable way.

I don’t agree with any of the concepts because you don’t have to please everyone.

The first step of building a personal brand is knowing who your target audience is.

Then, all you have to do is share your knowledge, experiences, and stories from your life. 

You can do it because people would like to hear stories when told in an interesting way.

It doesn’t matter if a thousand people have spoken or written about the same concept, you can always share how you feel about it or give your opinion on the topic.

For example, if you have worked for a decade in a factory as an operations manager, people would love to hear from you about your experience, some concepts you applied and some stories.

I may not be interested, but it doesn’t matter. People in operations would love to listen to you. 

Chapter 03 : Why Do You Need A Personal Brand?

It takes a lot of hard work, time and patience to build a personal brand. There are no shortcuts and you will hardly see any success in the beginning.

So, if you are looking for an easy way to earn money or find a job, you should try other ways in parallel.  

But, if you are tired of proving your capability to recruiters/clients and you wish somehow they would find you & get convinced, personal branding is must.

Here are five reasons for you to build your personal brand.

Gain Trust

Your personal brand explains who you are, what you do and why you do it. In simple words, what motivates you in life? 

When your intentions are clear and your story sounds genuine, your audience begins to trust you. People feel more comfortable as they can predict what you will do.

Building trust is the single most important thing when you are looking for a job or searching for your next business lead.   

When you face an interview you want it to get hired, but a recruiter looks for clues to analyze if they can trust you. Similarly, your clients want to look through your eyes and understand if they can trust you with their money.

Bigger perception

Your brand gives you the space to connect with your audience at an emotional level, not just intellectual. This allows you to persuade people as buying decisions are taken on emotions. 

Differentiate from competition

Your personal brand gives you the ability to separate yourself from the crowd and position yourself in the mind of your customers. As your brand becomes stronger it elevates you above the rest and you have to work less to convince your audience.

Authenticity

Your personal brand starts with who you are and what you stand for. It’s built on your skills, values, goals and your passion.

You don’t need to fake or try to be anyone else. By being totally authentic, you make it much easier for your target audience to make a decision.

Go-to person (Expert)   

When you share highly valuable content related to your industry, people start perceiving you as a thought leader.

As your brand grows, people recognize you before you meet them. You will be remembered as the go-to guy in your field.

Chapter 04 : Find Yourself

The first step to build your personal brand is self-discovery.

Take a piece of paper answer the questions below:

  •     Who are you?
  •     What do you stand for?
  •     What are you passionate about?
  •     What do you believe in?
  •     What are the values you believe in?

These are not questions that you can answer within an hour. You need to think deeply and explore yourself to write a meaningful story about yourself.

Take your time and frame your answers intelligently because the strength of your personal brand will depend upon how well you know yourself.

Once you are done with the above questions move to the next set of questions.

Ask yourself:

  •     What’s your goal?
  •     What do you want to become in 5 years?
  •     Why is it important for you to be what you want to be?

Unless you have a clear goal in your mind, you won’t be able to create a strategy, and execute your ideas. Define the bigger vision of your life and break it down into smaller goals that you can achieve.

Once you define your goals move to the execution part.

Ask yourself:

  •     What are the skills needed to achieve your goal?
  •     How many skills do you have?
  •     Which skills should you learn?
  •     How much time you can devote to developing yourself?
  •     How much time will it take to achieve your goals?

Knowing yourself and creating goals doesn’t mean anything unless you identify the gaps, create a strategy to work on it and achieve your goals within a certain time.

Remember, When you take up the task of discovering yourself, you need to be brutally honest with yourself and analyze your strengths. If needed, take professional help to give you the initial boost. 

Here’s an awesome tool you can use to understand yourself better. 

Chapter 05 : How to Build a Personal Brand from Scratch

personal branding

When you try to build your brand, you need to drive your audience to a certain place on the internet. It can be a website or a social media page. 

To build your online presence, you need to engage with your audience in all four formats of communication (text, image, audio & video) with equal intensity. 

When you reach your target audience in multiple ways, it will be easy for them to recollect you or your brand. 

Let’s understand the options you can explore to build your online brand one-by-one.

Start a Website/Blog

I know you will say, “Is it really necessary? It looks pretty complicated?”

Well, if you are really serious about building your personal brand, you need to get a website.

It looks professional, you can have an online address and separates you from the crowd. 

Before you get scared and stop reading any further, let me tell you something. 

Creating a website is not tough. You can do it yourself without knowing to code. WordPress is an excellent platform to build your website. 

It may not look awesome but you will have something to start off. You can keep on improving it with time. 

I will show you how you can do it without any expert help.  

But first, think about a name. Think about the name you want to use to brand yourself. 

It can be your name, something you closely associate yourself with or a new word. 

Note: Your domain name has to be unique and available. 

Lean Domain Search is an amazing tool to find names. It will suggest you a list based on your inputs in the search bar. 

Tip: Keep it short, unique, and easy to remember.

I used growth dish for my website because my ultimate goal is to help you grow in your career, life & business. I connected it with recipe because I am a foodie and to make it unique. 

There are three things you need to know when you create a website – Domain, Hosting & Theme.  

The first step towards creating your website is buying your domain name. I recommend NameCheap. It’s cheap, simple and has amazing offers. 

Once you buy a domain name, you need to get a hosting – a place to store all the information. Some of the popular names are – GodaddyBluehost & Hostgator

I recommend SiteGround, because of high-quality customer service and uptime. Also, it’s recommended by WordPress. 

After you make the payment, your website will be live and you will get access to the WordPress dashboard. You can customize your website according to your preferences.  

Once you are done with domain and hosting you will need a theme to make your website look good. 

You can use free themes, but if you want your website to look and feel good go for a premium theme. You can find amazing themes on Themeforest & Studiopress.

A personalized email address on your domain name will help you look professional while you interact with clients. 

That’s it. 

Your website is ready for creating your brand. It can take a couple of hours in the entire process depending on your experience. 

Create Social Media Pages

social media channels

This topic is vast. 

You need to understand the social media platforms where you can find your audience. 

You have to find the platforms you are really comfortable using. 

Some of the common social media channels are – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn & Twitter.

Each platform became popular for different reasons and people expect different content in each of them. 

The right strategy is to choose one platform and gain your command. Once you reach a level, use the network to grow your other social media channels. 

Let’s discuss each of the social media platforms briefly. 

Facebook 

One of the first social media channel to have more than a billion users. People go on Facebook to share snaps from personal life, casual updates and life events. Facebook keeps updating their algorithm to improve newsfeed and promote ads based on interest. 

Instagram

It’s more image friendly and became popular as smartphones got good cameras. You cannot use this platform on desktop. Apart from images, short videos are able to hold visitors for long. 

Twitter

Is text-heavy with focus on short conversations. Hashtags are really popular and you get only 280 characters to express yourself. Twitter expects you to engage with a network through reply and retweet. 

LinkedIn

One of the dark horses of social media, LinkedIn is more professional and focuses on learning and career growth. On LinkedIn, people look for opportunities and build relations in the industry. 

Start A Podcast 

start a podcast

A podcast is your voice recordings stored online. You can have your online channel and store all your recordings in one place, anyone on the internet and find it and start listening without any cost.  

Imagine this as your website in audio format. 

Podcast is still undervalued and lesser-known, but it’s fast gaining popularity.

If you don’t start a podcast start soon, you are going to miss the early mover’s advantage. 

Anchor.fm is the easiest way to create your podcast and it gives you online space to store them. Your voice gets distributed on platforms like Spotify, Google, iTunes, etc automatically.

The best part? It’s free. 

Unlike a website, you don’t need to pay for domain or hosting to start a podcast. So, start today. 

Start Your YouTube Channel

Youtube channel

Videos are going to rule every form of content. 

Each social media platform is promoting short videos to increase engagement with the audience. 

If you can record videos and share it regularly on YouTube and other social media channels, you can expect a dramatic rise in viewership. 

As the attention span of people is reducing every day, short, engaging and useful videos are becoming the preferred choice of consuming information.  

Write a Book

Write eBook

I know it’s tough. But, writing a book is a great way to build your brand. 

Do your research, create an outline and dedicate some time every day to write a book in your area of expertise. Within 2 to 3 months you should have a rough draft ready. 

You can publish it an Amazon as an eBook or make it available on your website. 

You will earn royalty from the books sold and gain trust of your audience.  

Every medium and platform we discussed are equally powerful. You need to find out the one you are comfortable with and start off. 

Make small efforts regularly to build your presence every day.

Chapter 06 : Brand Promotion

Once you build a brand, you need to maintain it. 

The industry thumb rule is you should spend 20 percent of your time in content creation and 80 percent to promote it. 

But, mindlessly posting on social media is not going to give you results. 

You need to have a strategy, change the perception and become a thought leader. That’s how you become a brand.

How to manage your personal brand

Content Marketing Strategy

To nurture your relationship with your audience over time and manage the way people perceive, you need a content strategy. 

Whether it is a Blog, Social media posts, Podcast or a YouTube video you need to develop a strategy to deliver useful information to your audience regularly.

To create a content strategy for your personal brand you need to follow the steps below

Identify your audience: The core of creating amazing content for your audience lies in understanding your user. You need to create a persona and know exactly what they do. You need to know which companies they work for and how much they earn and what would they like to read. 

Discover the pain points: To create content that resonates with your readers you need to know their desires and what they are struggling with. Once you have an idea about it, you can create content related to them and drive engagement.  

Know your strengths: If you talk about things you know little, you are unlikely to gain the trust of your readers. It’s important for you to know what you are strong at and then share your thoughts. This will help you position yourself as a thought leader in the industry.  

Choose a medium: If you are a designer and you are looking for more clients or a job, some of the best platforms are Instagram, Dribble & Pinterest. Someone looking to hire a designer will definitely search for designs on Instagram or dribble. You need to use such insights to build your profile. 

Interact and improve your content: As you keep sharing more content online, you will get a response from your audience. Some might be good, okay or awesome. You need to understand the kind of content that resonates with your audience and focus on it. 

Help People in Need

Want to know why you should help people?

It will make you happy. 

Help someone in need and spread goodness. It’s simple.   

Helping others should be a natural extension of your personality and business. Unfortunately, we are self-obsessed and look for profit or self-interest in everything we do. 

Pure business and no humanity will destroy civilization as people might lose hope in goodness. 

But, you have work to do and family responsibilities. How on earth are you going to help other people in need?

Well, you don’t have to spend millions to help someone. You can start in a small way, contribute and make a difference. 

Building a personal brand is different from anything you have done so far in your life because you are trying to change the perception of people. 

You need to find out ways to improve your image. 

The interesting thing that I have realized is, you cannot fool your audience. 

So, you have to help real people in need, before you share those stories. 

There are a ton of things you can do to help people without spending money. 

You can 

  • Teach someone a skill you have learned for years 
  • Guide someone in a career with your experience. 
  • Share your experience with college students
  • Help someone find a job in your industry

There is no harm in being a good person. Right?

When you help someone in need, they are likely to help others. 

It’s only when you truly start helping people you will be able to realize the kind of peace you can get from the process.  

If you are already doing things to help people, share the stories with your audience and if you haven’t done anything like that in your life, start now. 

Better late than never. 

Become an Influencer / Thought Leader

If you want to be taken seriously within your industry start sharing highly useful relevant content and do it consistently. 

When you try to position yourself as a thought leader, you need to provide value to your audience and showcase how you impact businesses with your skills. 

Here’s a list of things you need to do step-by-step to become an Influencer

how to become an influencer

Focus on a Niche

You cannot write about everything under the sun to create your brand. Even if you can, you shouldn’t.  

Your audience doesn’t want to hear everything from you. They want to know what you are good at. 

You have to pick your area of expertise, stick to it and consistently create content in multiple channels.

You need to know your subject in-depth, understand complex topics and write about it from experience, not theoretical stuff. 

When you stay true to your core, people start recognizing you for the valuable information you provide. Your name will become synonymous with your industry.  

Grow your network

Your network is an asset. 

It might appear stupid to make efforts daily to connect with more people in your industry, but it’s worth it. 

Initially, it’s pretty tough, especially when you don’t see any signs of a return in the initial days. 

But hold on to it. 

Once, you touch a good number, your network will grow exponentially with little effort. You can focus on creating high-quality content. 

Share your knowledge

To build yourself as a thought leader you need to create an enormous amount of content and share it with your network/followers. 

Your audience should be able to find you through multiple platforms and know about your expertise. 

So, you need to be highly active on social media, publish guest posts on publications with high traffic and collaborate with Influencers to become popular. 

A lot of people fear that if the share everything they know for free, they won’t get clients. 

In reality, it’s actually the opposite. When you share more information in public platforms about how exactly you add value to your company or clients, more people would love to connect with you. 

Have an opinion

Remember the daily debate on TV News?

You and I both know that they do a lot of crap talk. They talk mindlessly for 15 mins which can be summed up in 2 mins.  

The thing to learn here is, they can articulate thoughts, combine facts, and tell a story. They can add their opinion and make an excellent point. 

That’s a skill. 

If you have it, great. If you are weak at it, build it with practice. 

You might not be able to provide a solution to every problem in the world. However, you can definitely add perspective and give your opinion. 

The important thing is to be diplomatic when you say something. Avoid controversial topics in the beginning and try your best to not hurt anyone’s sentiment.  

Engage with your followers

If you consistently create and share good content, interested people will follow you to stay updated.

Your followers will increase dramatically. It’s not tough. 

The difficult part is to engage with your followers to get deeper insights and maintain brand value. 

The best brands in the world take feedback very seriously and analyze the information to decode the interest of the customer. 

That’s exactly what you need to do. 

Whenever someone comments on social media posts, blog or writes an email to you, read it, understand it and reply to build a relation and know them better. 

This will indirectly help you create better content for your business and gain trust. 

Chapter 07 : Pro Tips

personal brand

Professional Head-shot

When you are trying to build your personal brand, your image is going to represent you. It’s as important as your logo.

You will need multiple high-quality photographs, so go for a photoshoot.  

Selfies, photos cropped form a vacation trip or simple ones in your passport won’t help you build an image. You need to hire a photographer and explain to him/her exactly what you want.

You don’t necessarily need to be in strict formals to look good. It’s your pose, smile, and confidence that matters. Avoid highlighted backgrounds or flashy clothes and try to get the focus on your face. 

A professional head-shot will help you create a killer first impression. 

Tagline

Your tagline should summarize your vision within 3 to 5 words. 

A good way to create a tagline is understanding how exactly you make an impact in people’s lives. 

For example

Jeff Bullas – Win at Business & Life in A Digital World

Zen Habits – Smile, Breathe & Go Slowly

Online Editing Tool

You cannot afford to make silly grammar mistakes when you are a public figure in your industry. 

Bet it an email, blog or social media content, your writing should be error-free. But, you don’t have enough time to check grammar every time you write. 

That’s why you need an online editing tool that’s integrated as a chrome extension to help you write grammatically perfect sentences.  

Grammarly is an amazing tool to make your writing error-free. I have been using it for more than a year now and I am totally in love with it. 

Communication Skill

If you aren’t good at public speaking, don’t panic. It’s a skill and you develop it with practice. 

Want to know how?

There are multiple ways. But, first of all, you need to have the desire to be a speaker and understand the need.

You need to know that unless you are good at communication, and convincing someone, it will be incredibly difficult to crack an interview or find a new client. 

Here’s how you can improve your communication skills. 

  1. Read books
  2. Take online courses
  3. Start writing
  4. Record yourself

Basic Designing Course

This is one of the most underrated skills. 

Basic understanding of design is going to help you present yourself better in multiple ways. When you know which colors look good together and how to structure an impressive banner etc. you are one step ahead in the race. 

Here are a few online design courses you can consider. 

  1. Graphic Design Bootcamp (Udemy)
  2. Photoshop for Entrepreneurs
  3. Free Graphic Design Courses (SkillShare)

Chapter 08 : Case Study

Chapter 09 : Common Questions

Can you get a job/business lead from a personal brand?

Yes. You can definitely find a job or your next client from LinkedIn if you work consistently to build your profile and presence. It might take some time, but your efforts will pay off. 

Majority of the people never get success on LinkedIn because they consider LinkedIn as a job portal.

It’s not. It’s a community of working professionals, so you need to focus on building relations. Once you grow your network and share valuable information with your network, you will get engagement. 

That’s the starting point of success.  

Can anyone build a personal brand?

Absolutely. 

All you have to do it showcase your skills, present your achievements and build trust. You need to share your story with the world. Everyone likes a story. 

You don’t need to be someone else to build your brand. You need to be true and learn the art of things you should share. 

How much time will it take?

It depends. 

It can take a couple of months or a year. It depends on how much time you are willing to devote to build and maintain your online presence.

You can hire freelancers, mentors, and specialists to do the job for you. But, unless you make an effort, you won’t be able to build trust. 

How much money do I need to Invest?

It depends. Starting a website can cost you anywhere between 100 to 200 dollars. You can start recording videos on your smartphone but if you want to look good, you need to invest in a DSLRVideo mic and video editing software. Similarly, for Podcast, you need to invest a good mike

What are the benefits of Personal Brand?

When you build a personal brand you can 

  • Find a job
  • A recruiter can approach you
  • Clients will find you
  • Get opportunities to collaborate with people/businesses

More than benefits, it’s about helping people with something you know. 

Chapter 10 : Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed reading this guide.

Now, I would like to hear from you. When are you going to start? What’s your goal? Which platform are you going to choose for building your personal brand?

Are you excited to start the journey? Do you have any questions?

Leave a quick comment below and let me know.

Sharing is caring. Share this article with your network. 

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Written By Surojit Mahato

Written By Surojit Mahato

Surojit is a writer, marketer, and a storyteller. A renowned digital marketing professional, trainer and a speaker at industry events and colleges. Co-Founder of GrowthDish and author of 27+ business case studies published and sold globally.