Serious Question: Does Your Personal Brand *Really* Matter?
That said, I still have a lot of questions about personal branding — and I know I’m not alone here. What’s the difference between your personality and your personal brand? How do you discover your personal brand? And, the million-dollar question, how do you amplify your personal brand without losing sight of your business? That’s why I’m so excited to introduce you to my friend, Kate Talbot.
Kate has dedicated her career to helping companies develop and embrace their digital presence, so she is no stranger to personal branding. (She even parlayed her expertise into a column with Forbes. Pretty cool, right?) Kate confirmed my theory: Your personal brand can be the gateway to the big bucks.
“All the anxiety will dissipate when you see the opportunities that come your way,” she explains. “The more I worked on my personal brand, the more high-paying consulting gigs I was offered.”
To help, Kate is sharing her tips for discovering and embracing your personal brand.
Is it just me, or does it feel virtually impossible to distill a multi-faceted personality into a single, cohesive brand? Sure, my work is a huge part of my life, but it’s not the only thing I have to offer. On the other hand, I highly doubt my penchant for eighties music and encyclopedic knowledge of Home Alone will bolster my professional profile.
Turns out, establishing your personal brand is a lot easier than you’d think.
“When I was starting out, I went to a Nespresso on the Upper East Side and was watching a ‘Ladies Who Lunch’ charity event conversation,” Kate says. “These women all had glowing skin, fabulous dresses, and were confident in who they were (at least to an innocent bystander). I wrote on a napkin my brand qualities then and there: Classy, confident, sassy, and smart. It’s as easy as that: How do you want to come across and how do you transfer those qualities to the content that you create?”
To get the ball rolling, Kate recommends asking yourself the following questions:
- What inspires me?
- What brings me joy?
- Who is my target audience?
- How am I different from my peers?
- What are my values?
- What are the opportunities I have that I can capitalize on?
- How do I want people to see me?
- What content do I use to illustrate my brand?
For many, doubling down on your personal brand is nerve-racking — especially when you’re used to focusing on your business. So, how do you weave your brand into your company?
“Find out what works when connecting authentically with your audience and then go wild with content creation,” Kate says. “People connect first with people, so utilize your personal brand and transfer that to your products.”
One way to start? Posting daily Instagram stories. “Use the engagement insights to expand your thought leadership within your business,” Kate says. While you’re at it, be sure to celebrate your community. A like, follow, or reply is a small gesture that goes a long way. “You will build a community when you expand your personal brand,” she shares. “Be friendly to everyone and appreciative all of your followers, readers, and fans.”
Keep it Consistent
Let’s be real: Putting yourself out there is never easy (I know, I’m right there with you). However, it’s important to keep your professional presence consistent. “Be consistent with your brand messaging, values, mission, and color,” Kate says. “Use social media channels to promote your product consistently.”
Confession time: I dread promoting myself and my work. I work hard and am proud of everything I do; however, I always wince whenever I share any of my wins on social media. (It feels braggy!) But, since I know it’s a necessary evil, I share five recent articles on my Instagram stories every week. It’s a consistent way to share my work, plus having a schedule (and sticking to it) makes promoting myself less nerve-racking.
At the risk of sounding super cheesy, the biggest mistake you can make with your personal brand is not being yourself. You have a skillset, voice, and vision that cannot be duplicated, so why not show off what makes you unique?
“Don’t hide things that make you who you are to fit a narrative constructed by people who don’t align with your beliefs,” Kate says. “I love reality TV, so when I had the opportunity to interview Kourtney Kardashian and Stassi Schroeder, of course, I said yes! And I was proud. A huge part of building a personal brand is being okay with people not getting you, because the ones who do will be your biggest champions and help you grow.”
That’s some logic I can certainly get down with.
Hustler of the Week: Emma McGoldrick
What inspired you to become your own boss and launch ESM Creative?
When I first started college as a pre-med major, I taught myself design as a much-needed creative outlet. I felt very stuck in my non-creative field, so I switched my major to marketing and continued to learn design on the side as a hobby. I started doing some design work for college organizations and small businesses in my college town. During my senior year, I expanded my online presence and portfolio. When I graduated in May 2019, I decided to pursue ESM Creative as my full-time job and I couldn’t be happier.
Of course, you’re more than an amazing designer! Can you tell me about your other hustle, Golden Hour Guild?
When I started ESM Creative, I didn’t have any entrepreneurial mentors to help with the nitty-gritty. I had so many questions and Google only had so many answers. I started the Golden Hour Guild as a place for creatives to find those answers, meet each other, and to inspire others to create. I post a weekly portfolio challenge for designers who are just starting out. There’s also a free Facebook group for members and a Patreon page for one-on-one and small group interactions. I am in the process of building a mentorship network, which will launch this fall. (If you or anyone you know would be a good mentor for young entrepreneurs, please feel free to reach out.)
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since becoming your own boss?
Work-life balance! It took me some time to find a good balance and set guidelines for my workday. It can be hard when your monthly income is directly related to the amount you work, and it can begin to take over every part of your life. I have found having set office hours (hehe!) really helps me. I also track all my time so I’m able to see where I can optimize and what I need to work on. Another little lesson is knowing when to hire out; for me, this was hiring an accountant and an intern.
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