Chances are you hate to hear the words, “You need to build your brand.” Thinking of yourself as a brand may feel gross or even wrong. But it’s not. Building a personal brand simply means defining and clearly conveying what you’re all about — who you are, what you do, and why you do it.
Defining your brand is about defining your values. What is most important to you? What beliefs are core to who you are and what you do? What’s your mission?
To be clear, a mission is not the same as a vision (though you need to define both). A vision is about you and what you want for your life. A mission is about how you want to help the world and is more related to your values. A mission is something that is aspirational, meaning you will never fully achieve it.
My mission in life is to empower women and girls to be the authors of their own lives by helping them to write and live lives worth writing about. But I will never fully achieve this. I will never wake up one day and declare that all women and girls of the world have been sufficiently empowered!
Spend about 15 minutes jotting down your thoughts about your values, mission, and core beliefs.
But, wait! There’s more!
Have you ever read a blog that seems to cover every topic under the sun and yet still feels cohesive? That, my dear, is a sign of good branding.
If you want to blog about more than one topic, you still need a clear and cohesive theme. One way to establish this theme is by establishing your worldview.
You don’t have to write a manifesto to do this (though I do recommend writing a manifesto eventually).To get started you just need to do a quick fill-in-the-blank exercise.
Writer and blogger Jeff Goins says you can define your worldview simply by completing the following sentence: I believe every _________ should ______________.
My worldview statement, for example, would read: “I believe every woman should write like a lady and think like a boss,” or in more practical terms, “I believe every woman should share her story and get paid to do so.”
Your worldview should be something that not everyone would agree with, so don’t write something like, “I believe everyone should be nice.”
Your worldview should be specific and perhaps even raise some eyebrows. Not everyone agrees that writers should think about money when sharing their work. And those people are entitled to their opinion, but as for me and my house — we have bills to pay!
Your worldview should permeate your content for your blog, your social media posts, and more.
So what’s your worldview?
While a mission is about what you want to do for the world, a vision is more about what you want for your life and it is something that changes as it is something you do want to accomplish by a specific time — at which point you’ll then get to work on a new vision.
Lois Weinblatt, a phenomenal business coach who specializes in helping entrepreneurs get clear on their vision and bring that vision to fruition, says a good place to start is to imagine the life you want 5 or so years from now and simply describe it. Write it down!
If this seems too tough, I recommend starting by simply describing your ideal day.
We often hear writing gurus talk about finding your voice as if it’s a lost sock or a misplaced set of keys. You don’t need to find your voice, you just need to use it. That’s the only way you will hone your voice and figure out how to truly define it.
Make a list of adjectives want people to use when describing you, your writing, and your blog. Now take a few moments to read through five old blog posts or one longer piece of writing and ask yourself if those adjectives could be used to describe your work. If so, you’re on the right track. If not, you need to work on creating content that better aligns with the brand you’re trying to build.
As writers, we tend to only think about words, but in the age of the Internet and social media, visuals are SO important. Consider the visuals you will use to help people recognize your brand. Invest in a professional photo shoot so you will have a professional headshot as well as fun lifestyle photos to use on your website and social media platforms. What will be your signature colors? The signature colors for See Jane Write, for example, are hot pink, black, and white. What logo would you like for your website header and business cards?
If you do speaking engagements and readings, you should be mindful of your look, too.Consider if there are certain things about your look that are or could become your signature. Maybe it’s your curly hair. Maybe your nails are always painted with fun colors. Maybe you wear eye-catching earrings that always spark conversation. Maybe you always rock fierce heels. Maybe you always wear a pair of Converse. Maybe your makeup is flawless. Maybe you don’t wear any makeup at all.
If you want to create content that will help people connect to the brand you’re trying to build, you have to vulnerable. When building a personal brand, you have to get personal.
But not too personal.
If you’re struggling with determining how personal is too personal, just remember that your blog is not your therapist. When you’re facing a life crisis, wait to write about it after you’re on the other side of it or if you’re still going through the hardship, wait until you have a valuable lesson to share that you’ve learned from the experience so far.
I’m not going to say only share what you feel comfortable sharing because to be good writers we must get out of our comfort zones. But ask yourself why you’re uncomfortable. Are you holding back for the sake of privacy or popularity?
If you don’t want to share something because you feel it would invade your privacy or the privacy of others, don’t share it. But if you don’t want to share something because you’re afraid people won’t like what you have to say, feel that fear and share it anyway. (Side note: Be smart. Don’t share something that’s going to get you fired — unless you feel that strongly about the subject and you’re ready to quit anyway.)
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