Personal Branding seems to be the new buzz word in internet marketing.
With good reason – do it right; do it well and that shit works.
So called gurus talk about the reasons it’s so important and how to claim your piece of the promise land.
But what about the things they don’t talk about?
I have friends that would run screaming if I ever told them they had to put their mug front and center of their business and website. I’ve watched people get it wrong from day 1. I work with network marketers who struggle to understand “personal” in the realm of what they’re programmed to do in MLM. I’ve also seen businesses go soft on their clients because they don’t want to lose the income by telling them to scrap it and start again.
You can google how to build a personal brand, but most of what you’ll read is general feel-good advice. That’s not to say it isn’t good. But I’m all about giving you the below-the-belt hard hitting advice, and it’s not always pretty.
WHAT EXACTLY IS PERSONAL BRANDING
This isn’t a definition, but it’s definitely going to be something useful. Personal branding = quickly tapping into the things any good business wants and needs: likability, trust, awareness. It’s a total cliche, but people don’t buy from businesses. Or websites. Or logos. They buy from people.
If you have anxiety around baring your soul, it’s time to get over it. This isn’t about becoming best friends with everyone who reads your site by telling them your deepest darkest fears or get so familiar that your cycles sync up – it’s about showing the world who you really are.
One day, after reading a blog post that was on my front page, my dad sheepishly said to me .. honey, you have a swear word on your website. I don’t think that’s very professional and I think you should take it down. I didn’t swear in front of my parents until I was in my 20’s. But if authenticity rules the business planet, then that well placed “fuck” is going to stay right where it is.
Does it put people off? Probably. Do I care? No.
YOUR BRAND HOME
Your website is THE place you need to build. It’s your mortgage-free home on the internet that no one is going to take away from you.
My sister-in-law wanted to start her own little company selling some of the products that she had made. I offered to build her a website. We never had the time during their short visit to go over the particulars, but a short time later she messaged and said she had her website up. It was a Facebook page.
Let’s be clear – a Facebook page, a freebie website, a Tumblr account, an Etsy store … none of these are going to work. They’re like vacation homes. Nice to have, some of them are even a must-have, but you need your forever home.
Facebook can shut you down, Etsy might find you in violation and close your store, a free web host might close their doors. They’re not going to give you any warning and everything you’ve built is gone in the blink of an eye.
There’s 2 things this is going to accomplish by having a real website (3 if you’re in MLM):
i) It helps you build authority.
Ya, it’s a buzz word but there’s no reason for anyone not to have a website anymore. If you can’t afford less than $100 a year to have a site, go punch your 9-5 clock. It’s harsh, but it’s a reality. If you can’t make at least $100 in a year to cover that expense, you have far more concern than me telling you to go back to the drawing board. Sweetness, you’re not going to make it work.
What’s the first thing you think of when you try to look up a business online and can’t find a Facebook page or a website? “Does this place still exist?” If you have a website, if you’re putting out useful content, you’re seen as someone who knows stuff.
ii) Educate and Entertain
It doesn’t have to be clown school and Harvard, but you do need to provide these 2 things to people. Show them that you know your stuff, teach them something they didn’t know before, let them have that win and you’ve got a customer for life.
Entertainment can come in the form of sharing stories. This is where you work on becoming likable. Sneak peeks into someone’s life gives the reader a feeling that they know you more (and we know what happens then).
iii) If you’re in MLM – you sidestep pretty much all the rules.
Grab your contract with your network marketing company and look for the parts about advertising – especially online. I just finished reading one of my Brand Soldiers contracts that listed paragraph after paragraph of things they couldn’t do – no you can’t have your own website to sell our products, no you can’t mention our products on a business page, no you can’t do this and you can’t do that.
Most people read those things and decide there’s nothing they can do but hassle their friends and family, post incessantly on their social media profiles and then give up about 3 months later when they haven’t made a single sale, haven’t recruited a single person into their downline and their spouse is freaking out at the amount of money they’re spending.
Now go read Facebook’s advertising rules. No MLM business opps. No MLM products. People fall into two categories: those that know they can’t post a single damn thing and people who believe their upline when they say that you’re never bothering anyone with your pitch – you’re trying to GIVE them something, not TAKE something.
How do you get around it? Build a damn personal brand. Every MLM is going to fit into an industry. If you have the interest and skills related to that industry and there’s a need, you start building a business around it. The goal: to create a business you love and own and your MLM slowly becomes one small part of that new business.
Hint: if you don’t have passion for the industry or if there’s no real pain that you can solve in that industry, you can either decide to be OK that you will likely never have the lifestyle that’s promoted by these businesses or you can drop the business now before your spouse takes away your credit cards.
The harsh reality is that the vast majority of network marketers just don’t make any money with this model. It’s not a broken model, and it’s usually not the product that’s the issue. It’s the way we are taught to prospect in MLM. But that’s for another day.
Yeah, but how do we do it?
i) Understand that everything you do with your brand has to be consistent.
You can’t have a black and white site that touches on the dark side of humour and then have every social media post go out looking like a sparkle fairy just tossed biscuits.
ii) Create a page for new readers.
This can be a “start here” page or just use your about page. The goal – to let them know that they’re in the right place for what they want to accomplish. In under 10 seconds.
iii) Create stuff.
These layers are going to help you to build out your brand and let people get to know you and your style. Blog posts, podcasts, videos, livestreams on Facebook, webinars, audio files.
iv) Show them that you’re worth your weight in gold and give them a quick win with a killer opt in.
I talk all about lead magnets over here. Yes, you need one. No, that first title and draft are probably going to need to be re-jigged.
YOU’RE JUST NOT GOING TO MAKE IT (SORRY)
I wholeheartedly believe that everyone (yes, even you) has a story worth sharing. You’re either gold or fool’s gold.
When I left Avon to start my virtual assistant business, the district manager was sitting at my kitchen table and looked me square in the face and said, “You’re good at what you do – really good. But no one is going to pay you $30 an hour to do it”.
In that one sentence, she made me question everything I was going to do and want it even more.
I had never done anything like virtual assistance before, so technically I had zero skills. One of my best attributes is my ability to learn and pivot – quickly. I had a laundry list of things I was good at, and I knew I could turn those into desirable skills for entrepreneurs. I was fool’s gold.
By the time I transitioned my virtual assistance company into my personal brand where I helped network marketers brand themselves and build online businesses, I was gold. I had specific skills and knowledge and experience that translated into money.
Laugh if you want, but there have been people that have turned red from fear and anxiety when I tell them to buy a domain in their own name. They find excuse after excuse to use a traditional business name rather than their own name. The thought of having their face on a website header makes them want to puke.
Here’s the deal. If you think you’re ever going to sell your business, create a business name. Otherwise, use your own name.
What I teach network marketers holds true for any of you. If you ever decide to change things up, you’re going to want a brand that can change with you – not something you’re going to need to spend the next year changing.
Think about it:
i) you’re a network marketer working for Avon and then you ditch the program and go to Young Living Essential Oils. If my website, logo, branding, social media accounts, contracts, courses, books and everything government related is in that name how the hell do I quickly pivot into essential oils? I don’t, that’s how.
ii) you’re a massage therapist that goes by the name of “Massaging Hands” and your doctor tells you that after 15 years of deep tissue massages, you’re body is toast. Time to move on. So you decide that you want to start doing more energy work like reiki and you want to hold classes. Hrm, that business name isn’t going to do you much good now is it?
This isn’t like your nightmares where you wake up at school or work naked. You’re not baring all. You’re going to be friendly, not familiar. Sneak peeks, not the Full Monty.
WHY THE HELL DO I HAVE TO DO ALL THIS WORK
My job isn’t to convince you of anything. My job is to show you the door and how to work the knob. Whether you’re a network marketer or any other online entrepreneur you can turn everything you do into a money-making machine. Yes, it’s going to be hard work. Yes, it’s going to take time. Yes, I’m here to help you – but not if you want me to do all the work for you and drag you along huffing and puffing the entire way.
As your business and brand expand, grows, evolves you can turn that into any number of profitable ventures:
self publish, get a book deal – it doesn’t matter.
build a course to hit more people with your awesomesauce knowledge.
not a fan favourite because it’s a 1:1 model but it’s a great way to keep developing your skills, bring in some instant cash and get some testimonials for your work.
you’re probably not going to get your first gig at an international conference where every internet influencer attends so start small and local. These will turn into new clients, new readers and eventually bigger paid speaking gigs.
v) Affiliate Marketing
this is ideal if you don’t have anything of your own to sell.
vi) Membership sites
again, not something you usually start off with. As you build out different products and become more known in your industry, consider adding a membership site for people to keep digging deeper with you every month.
I teach my Brand Soldiers a simple way to keep their prospects moving through their funnel all day long, from every corner of the globe.
THAT’S A WRAP
If you scrolled all the way down to the bottom of the page because the post was too long and you want the juice tl;dr version of this post I’m here to kick your sweet ass back up to the top of the page.
I’ve told you what personal branding is and isn’t.
I’ve shown you how you can mass bomb your entire business if you don’t get it right.
Insights on what you can do with a personal brand .. yep, they’re there too.
If you’re still huffy, head over to my Facebook group and pop your question in there.