Build Your Personal Brand
For many years, the province of British Columbia in Canada has had a tourism brand with the tagline “Super, natural British Columbia.” It aims to inspire people to visit and enjoy the many sights and activities in BC. And for many years, they have.
Likewise, other famous brands have taglines that inspire confidence. Think of McDonald’s — “I’m Lovin’ It!” Or Apple – “Think Different.” That might be your perception of branding, but did you know YOU are a brand?
What is Personal Branding?
Personal Branding is the process of bringing to light all that makes YOU extraordinary and attractive to your target client audience!
As we discussed in the introduction of this guide, the freelance economy is booming, and that’s all the more reason to STAND OUT from the crowd.
As Seth Godin says, “Being generic is a choice. If you are generic, a cog in the system, you will always be struggling – struggling to be paid fairly, struggling to get new clients, struggling to have the freedom to make a difference.”
Your personal brand determines the distinctive way you want to be perceived and remembered by others. It represents a blend of your personality, passions, principles, proficiencies, past experiences, and purpose. It sets you apart and makes you unique in the freelance space. And above all, it communicates clearly WHO you are and the value you bring!
Personal branding is necessary because it helps you attract and reach your “ideal client.” It also separates you from the growing base of virtual assistants and freelancers in your niche. Because people like to connect with people, your personal brand establishes a Know-Like-Trust factor. And it makes people aware of your services.
Tom Peters explains the importance of branding this way:
“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”
And now let’s go through some practical steps to building your personal brand.
Three Steps to Building Your Brand
These steps will give you clarity about your personal brand and get you moving in the right direction.
Step One: Define Your Personal Brand
Your personal brand is composed of several key ingredients: personality traits, values, passions, skills and experience, and your target market. You can determine these ingredients by asking yourself questions and gaining feedback from others. Let’s explore the process below.
Five Steps to Discovering Your Personal Brand
1. Conduct a Personal Branding Assessment.
- List 5 personality traits (e.g. Extroverted, Creative, Humorous).
- List 3-5 top core values (e.g. Honesty, People, Precision).
- List your 5 top work passions or interests. (Refer to Three Circle Assessment in Step 3.)
- List your top skills.
- List the types of clients you might be interested in working with (e.g. small business entrepreneurs, software developers, coaches).
2. Get Feedback from Others.
- What are some words you would use to describe me?
- What would you say are my three greatest skills or strengths?
- Can you think of someone historical, famous, or fictional that I remind you of? (Have fun with this one.)
3. Evaluate Common Threads.
- Are there any words, themes, images, or ideas that seem to stand out in the information compiled in Steps 1 and 2?
- Are there any similarities with your assessment and the feedback of others?
4. Define Your Prominent Brand Elements.
Build a list of the top 5 brand elements that best define you (e.g. creative, teacher, fun, caring, practical).
You can discover these elements by asking yourself the following questions:
- What are you best at? (Your Value)
- Who do you serve or wish to serve? (Your Audience)
- How do you do it uniquely? (Your Unique Value Proposition)
- What is your WHY? (Purpose, cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do?)
5. Create Your Brand Statement.
Using your brand elements, create a brand statement for YOU:
For example, “Craig is a fun, creative, and caring teacher who designs practical online training programs for Freelancers, VAs and Online Professionals.”
Step Two: Choose Your Brand Name
As you go through the selection process, remember two important considerations. First of all, be careful not to get caught up in “Paralysis by Analysis” when selecting your business or domain name. And, secondly, remember the value of your service (and the quality of your website content) is infinitely more important than your actual business or domain name. With that being said, let’s explore the types of business names you can choose from.
Three Types of Business Names
- Descriptive Names include specific action words or keywords that represent you, your services, or your target market (e.g. AuthorSidekick.com; CreativeVirtualServices.com; HelpwithPodcasts.com; CopywritingPro.com; CompleteAdminSolutions.ca).
- Branded Names include a person’s name or a unique brand name (e.g. SabrinaCompany.com; AliTheHappyVA.com; FreelanceU.com; Google.com).
- Hybrid Names include a combination of branded and descriptive (e.g. Craig’s Copywriting Services; Ignite Social Media; Search Engine People).
Seven Steps for Selecting the Right Domain Name
Once you have your business name, you can select a domain name for your website. Here are seven steps to help you select the right one:
- Research 3-5 target keywords and consider how to use them in your domain (Infusionsoft Help, Social Media Support, Email Copywriting).
- Select a “.com” where possible. A “.net” or “.co” might be a second option. And a country-specific domain may be appropriate if your clients are located in a specific place (e.g. .ca, .au, .co-uk).
- Make it easy to remember, type, read, and pronounce. For example, avoid putting vowels together, especially if you’re handing out business cards (AndreaAssistant.com).
- Keep it to three words or less (especially for branded domain names).
- Avoid hyphens to make the name less complicated.
- Watch out for trademark or copyright violations.
- Consider using adjectives with popular names (e.g. AllStarCopyServices.com).
Seven Ways to Construct a Domain Name
Here are some creative options for building your domain name:
- Personal (CraigCannings.com, SabrinaCompany.com)
- Compound word (YouTube.com, MoneyTree.com)
- Phrase (SmallBusinessAssistant.com)
- Blend (Microsoft.com)
- Tweaked words (SmallBizVA.com)
- Affixed words (Biznik.com, Friendster.com)
- Made-up name (Google, HubSpot, Etsy)
After going through these steps, check to see whether your preferred domain name is available by searching databases at sites like Namecheap.com and GoDaddy.com. You’ll also want to decide whether you’d like a public or a private domain name.
A public domain name means that when someone searches for you in the Whois.com database, they’ll be able to access your name, email address, and phone number. A private domain name is about $10 more per year but protects your contact information so people can’t access it. You can select this as an option if you buy your domain name through sites like Namecheap or GoDaddy.
Step Three: Write Your First Business Tagline
According to Entrepreneur.com’s Small Business Encyclopedia, a tagline is “A catch phase or small group of words that are combined in a special way to identify a product or company.”
When you consider business taglines, think of them as a “Mini Mission Statement” for your business!
A great tagline is memorable and includes a key benefit (what value you’ll bring to your target audience). It also differentiates your brand, making you distinct and unique.
Three Steps to Creating a Powerful Tagline
This is a repeatable process you can go through until you land on your ideal tagline:
- Describe your business in a bulleted list or paragraph.
- Cut it down to 2-3 sentences.
- Cut it down more to a phrase or sentence.
And remember, you can change your tagline over time. For example, the taglines for a company named VAClassroom have adapted as follows:
OLD TAGLINE: “Training Virtual Professionals for the New Internet”
NEW TAGLINE: “Training Virtual Professionals for the Digital World”
Now let’s figure out how to put your brand on display!
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