How to Create Your Personal Brand

Personal Brand

“Creating your personal brand” is included in many lists of things a contractor needs to do in order to successfully market themselves, but what is a personal brand, and how will having one help you secure your next contract?

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Your “brand” is a series of ideas that people associate with you and your limited company. When a client or agency contact hears your name, what do they immediately think of? – that’s your brand. You can’t choose not to have a personal brand, because everyone makes an impression on the people they meet and work with, but you can take control of it and make those impressions work to your advantage.

Defining your brand values

Before you can start building your brand, you need to decide what you want it to be. The mysterious quality of “authenticity” is important here, so you’ll need to ask yourself some questions.

  • What do you love about your job? What it is about your contracting business that keeps you going? Of all the hundreds of things you could have done to make a living, what brought you here and why have you stayed? If you’re stuck, imagine you’re talking to the ten-year-old you – explain to them why they’re going to be a contractor in a way that makes them excited about it.
  • What value do you offer? What effect does your work have on your clients’ business? What problems do you solve? How does involving you help them succeed?
  • How are you different from everyone else? Presumably there are other contractors doing similar work to you. How are you different from them? What’s unique about you and the way you do things?

So now you know:

  • Why you do what you do,
  • The value you offer your clients,
  • What sets you apart from the crowd.

These are your brand values.

Living your values

It’s one thing to write down a set of values, and it’s quite another to live by them day after day, in every interaction with every client, colleague and supplier. That’s why it’s important to be authentic. Your brand should reflect the best things about you, but it needs to be you, not someone you made up because you think that’s what people want to see. Be honest about your strengths, passions and ambitions. It’s much easier to project an image of the “best you” than to pretend to be someone else.

Making your brand work for you

You’ve taken control of the impression you send out into the world by committing to your brand values and living them every day. If you work in a particularly small or specialised field that might be enough, but most contractors will need to use their brand to catch the interest of new potential clients. Word of mouth will help, and it’s an indication that you’re getting it right. For example, if all your current contacts think of you as an approachable and trustworthy expert, then you know you have a brand that’s worth sharing. Where you go from there depends on what you do and who your audience are.

Your website

Having your own website is a good way to improve and extend your online footprint, and it’s one part of your online presence that’s completely under your control. It doesn’t have to be huge, elaborate or expensive; a simple 2 or 3-page site with your CV, a photo of you and a short bio will be enough. You can add more pages and more information as and when you need to. It’s usually best if the domain name matches your name or your company name. Make sure the look and feel support the image you want to project and include information about the value you offer and what makes you different.

Extend your reach by sharing content

This might seem like a daunting prospect, but it doesn’t have to be too difficult or demanding. Your clients need your expertise, and presumably others will as well. Is there a question that you often hear from your clients? Why not write a blog post with the answer? People searching for a solution online will find your post and visit your website, making you more visible to the very people who need your expertise. The more useful content you share the more people will find you, and the more you’ll be seen as an expert in your field.

This approach is most effective if you concentrate on helping your audience solve their problems rather than promoting your services, but you should include an easy way to contact you, find you on social media or subscribe to your mailing list.  

Try to make your blog posts similar in look and feel, so your audience can instantly recognise them as yours, for example, by always using the same font and choosing images of a similar style and shape to support your posts.

If you want to be bit more adventurous you might consider using podcasts, recording instructional videos for YouTube, or engaging directly with your audience using Facebook Live. Again, the key is to find a channel that works for you and share content that’s useful to the people you most want to reach.

Use social media to promote your brand

The first step here is to find out which platforms your target audience use, and how best to interact with them. For example, if your audience use LinkedIn more than Facebook, your carefully crafted Facebook posts might be going to waste. Also, since LinkedIn is intended as a professional network and Facebook is more personal, you might find the tone of your posts needs to be adjusted to be effective.

The basic principles remain the same, though. Make yourself useful to your audience, be generous with your expertise and engage with them as often as possible. Keep your brand values and objectives in mind to build a network of people who trust you and your brand.

If you’re sharing content on your website or another channels you can use your social platforms to promote this material too.

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Don’t be afraid to try things out

Often the only way to find out what works for your particular target audience is to try things and see what happens. Your chosen social platforms will have tools to analyse the reach and engagement for all your posts, and there are a vast range of analytical tools available for your website, including the ever-popular Google Analytics. If you try new things all the time and repeat the ones that succeed, you’ll find a formula that works for you and your audience.

As well as analysing the performance of your posts and activity, you can also ask your audience for direct feedback. Ask them what kind of information they need and how they prefer it to be presented. Make it easy for them to contact you with questions, and take note of what they ask for future posts. 

Building a personal brand can take some time; it can take months for your content to start ranking in search engines and building a following and reputation is a matter of sustained effort and consistency, but it’s well worth the effort in the long term.

If you have any questions about this or any issue, please contact our expert team on 01296 468 483 or email info@orangegenie.com.

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