We have entered an age where the founder of a company is as well known as the company itself. Why? Because people are fascinated by people. They want to know who came up with the vision, what their plans are for the future, and most of all, what they stand for and where their talent comes from.
Having a personal brand has become a staple in the world of entrepreneurship. It is one of the biggest differentiators when it comes to building buzz around your company, attracting an audience, and even achieving business goals like raising a certain amount of money or acquiring distribution, for example. Because the truth is, people want to work with people they trust, people who have a certain level of public credibility.
Building a personal brand for yourself as an entrepreneur is the fastest and most effective path to the above.
However, there is a reason why only a handful of thought leaders really stand out in each industry. If anyone could build an effective personal brand, then everyone would do it. But the reality is that it’s not easy. It takes a lot of hard work. And it’s also an investment in yourself that takes a long time to pay off.
If you want to build a personal brand for yourself, here are 7 mistakes the vast majority of people make along the way–and things you should steer clear of in the process:
1. You don’t have a firm grasp of who already owns your market.
The first step to building a voice for yourself in your space or niche is understanding whose voices are already the loudest. If you don’t know who is already capturing the eyeballs you want, how will you ever know how to compete with them?
And the end of the day, it’s a competition for attention. Someone is either watching your YouTube videos or they’re watching someone else’s. They’re either reading your articles or they’re reading someone else’s. If you want people to pay attention to you, then you need to really understand who they’re paying attention to right now. You need to be aware of your competition. And then you need to question how you can create even more valuable content than them.
2. Your content isn’t valuable enough to a viewer, reader, or follower.
Building an audience means that you have to be your harshest critic. You have to be able to step back from the content you’re sharing and ask yourself, “Is this something that is truly delivering value to someone?” And even if you think it is, you should wake up the next day trying to provide even more value than whatever it is you shared the day before.
The best content creators and biggest thought leaders in each industry push themselves to become the go-to knowledge source. Their content goes the most in depth, it provides the most value, and as a result, everyone knows to go to them.
If your content isn’t performing, it’s not your audience’s fault. You need to question whether what you’re sharing is valuable enough.
3. You aren’t consistent.
In the same way a television show sets the expectation to tune in every Wednesday night at seven p.m., that’s what you need to do with your content. Posting infrequently causes your audience to wonder if and when you’re going to post again, which doesn’t give them much reason to “tune in” on a regular basis. For example, I personally post (at least) 1 article a week here on Inc., always in the morning. Seriously, go check.
You have to create a cadence with your viewers, readers, and followers. You have to find a rhythm with what you’re sharing so that they know to always check your pages on Monday mornings, or every evening before bed, etc. You have to establish that relationship and then stick to it long enough for people to make it a habit in their daily lives–no different than how people sit down in front of the television for their favorite show at a certain time each week.
4. You aren’t patient.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, building a personal brand is a big investment. It’s not something that happens overnight, and it certainly isn’t the result of one piece of content performing well or going viral. It’s the slow and steady process of building an audience around who you are, what you do, and the content you share on a regular basis.
Many thought leaders, famous YouTubers, and successful content creators will attest to the years they invested into their personal brands before things really “took off.” And the reason is because it’s a process for you, the content creator, to understand what your audience is most attracted to and how you can deliver that value in your own unique voice. That’s something that takes time.
If you aren’t willing to be patient with that process, you’ll never build a loyal audience.
5. You are trying to be too many places at once.
People forget that just because anyone can create a Facebook page, a Twitter account, an Instagram profile, etc., doesn’t mean you have to. In fact, it’s far better to pick one platform and own it, than try to be everywhere at once and deliver sub-par content all across the board.
Especially when you’re struggling to balance building your personal brand with say, building your company, it always comes back to a question of time. The best time investment you could make is to pick one social media platform that caters to the type of content you want to share, and invest significantly in building an audience there.
Once you have an audience on one platform, then you can direct them to a second and a third. But build one primary platform first. And that’s exactly what I did, I was big on Twitter, then Facebook, then YouTube and now Instagram. I currently have over a million followers now across my personal and brand accounts.
6. You spend too much time posting content and not enough time collaborating and marketing it.
Creating valuable content is only half the battle. Once you create something of value, it then becomes a question of getting that content in front of the right people.
One of the best ways to do this is to collaborate with other thought leaders in your industry–or even collaborate with thought leaders from other industries and find a common parallel to discuss.
It’s a much better use of time to create one valuable piece of content a week and then spend the rest of your time figuring out how to get people to know about it, than to post content 7 days a week but never get that content shared or seen elsewhere.
You have to find a balance.
7. You don’t share enough of what makes you human.
This is the most important part of building a personal brand, and it’s something so many people struggle with: it’s called a personal brand for a reason.
If you aren’t showing your personality, if you aren’t giving people human aspects of yourself, then you will never build the sort of loyalty the world’s top thought leaders have built for themselves. A perfect example is what Gary Vaynerchuk has done with his love for the New York Jets. He isn’t trying to become a sports analyst or anything like that. He just loves the New York Jets, and he wants his fans to know that about him. Why? Because it makes him more human, more relatable.
Diversity is what makes people interesting. Having hobbies and interests are what make you well-rounded. And if you don’t share those things with your audience deliberately, they’ll never know that about you.
If you want to build a meaningful personal brand don’t forget to be human (or in my case, alien.)