We follow people. This is true now more than ever with the popularity of social media. We can see this by looking at the follower count of celebrities and industry leaders. Even companies strive to make “personal connections” with their following. Why do you think they spend so much in sports & celebrity endorsements? We are influenced by people. This is why beyond any company we work for, any project we take part in, or any brand we run, we also must keep a personal brand. This doesn’t mean running a huge empire, but keeping something simple can set the platform for us to make a name for ourselves and open up opportunities. If companies see value in us, why don’t we?
Maintain your identity
When is comes to personal brands, everyone pretty much does the same thing. They make something really nice at the beginning, until they get hired or take on a big project, then they toss the brand to the side. The personal brand is always taking a back seat. This is horrible, what happens when we leave that job or finish that project? We come back to an outdated website, and scurry to make ourselves relevant again. Each time starting back at square one.
We ignore our personal brands as if to expect to stay at our jobs forever. That may have been the case for our grand fathers who worked in the same place for 50 years, but that certainly is not the case today. According to Forbes, our generation (Millennials) expects to stay at a job for about 2-3 years. Imagine every 2-3 years starting a personal brand from scratch. That makes no sense. What we need to be doing is building up and maintaining our personal brands throughout everything we do.
In the past 6 years of my design career, I’ve made that mistake. I’ve done freelance under 3 different names, I’ve lost sight of my brand when working for people, and I’ve had to start from zero time and time again. That was one of my motivations for creating this blog and establishing my personal brand of HelloMrPerez. I plan to continue growing and providing value through this brand, no matter what else I have going on. Sharing the insight that I gain, helps me establish myself as a professional in the field and if I find myself at a crossroads in between projects, my brand will be there to help me through it.
When investing in stocks, anyone will tell you that it is important to keep a diverse portfolio. It is foolish to have all your money in one thing. This concept also applies to our careers. We need to diversify our income so that we aren’t solely relying on a paycheck from one company. Leveraging our talents as creators, we can use our personal brands to offer services, products, or teachings to an audience.
- Services: creative work that can be fulfilled for a paying client.
- Products: creating digital or physical items made for consumption of a customer
- Teaching: sharing insight within a creative field.
Examples of this would be; a designer making websites for clients, a photographer selling unique photo canvas prints, and a musician teaching classes of piano. All of which provide great side income and have the potential to grow as our personal brands grow. These things provide extra sources of income. Taking on these side ventures, is what has helped me move up throughout my career.
I worked at a deli when I was 16, and I did freelance design work on the side. I grew my personal brand and this allowed me to do freelance full-time. In doing so I learned a lot and was then hired to work at a big web agency. While I was there, I began creating iOS apps on the side, that lead me to find a product that tracks app sales across multiple stores. When that product opened up a design position, I wrote to them with confidence, that I knew there product and would be a great asset to continue their growth. Without these side ventures and diversification of income, I would have never gotten these opportunities. Granite, you could also just grow your brand and sustain yourself just on your own platform.
Building a platform
Before we talk about anything technical, remember, we are the platform. Any technology we use will only amplify what we already bring to the table. If we have nothing to offer, then nothing will get amplified. We must always remember to grow ourselves, and our brands will grow with us. Now, the technical stuff.
There are two things that we need to start a personal brand:
- Social Profiles: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the main ones, depending on the work it might be nice to also use Pinterest, StumbleUpon, & LinkedIn to make sure we attract as many people as we can to our brands.
- Blog: this can be as simple or as complex as we need it to be. I love using WordPress for this very reason. We can start with a simple WordPress blog, then grow into something more.
I own HelloMrPerez for every social profile listed above, and this is a key part in reaching out to my audience. I use these profiles to grow the connection with my existing audience as well as reach out to new people. Ultimately, I bring them back to my blog. I first started off with just articles, now I have also included podcasts, and in the future I plan to open up a store. All of which I am able to do because of WordPress. I can’t stress how flexible this is as a platform, if you are curious on the cost, checkout “What is the value of a website.”
- Why haven’t you taken your personal brand seriously?
- What is stopping you from starting your brand?
- How secure are you that you will be at your current job for the rest of your life?