15 Tips for Building an Online Personal Brand

It's all about creating a reputation.

Personal branding is all about creating a reputation — aka, a brand — that represents the sum total of your career and professional persona. It’s about who you are, what you do, how you work, and where you are headed.

Like a consumer brand, a personal brand not only tells your story, it sets the stage for growth and will advance you towards your future career success. A personal brand goes beyond the basic resume to deliver a more complete picture of who you are professionally.

And it’s more imperative than you may think. When you hear the word branding, you may think about it only in terms of a business and not as something you need personally. But establishing a personal brand is very important and will help you advance down your career path. Here’s how to create your own:

Decide How to Brand Yourself

The first step is to determine how you will brand yourself. How do you want to be thought of professionally? Are you an expert in your field? Are you one of the best at what you do? Or is it more about the experience of working with you that should stand out?

Define these aspects as clearly and concisely as you can and put them into words that anybody from your intended audience will understand.

Define Your Audience

Do you know who you are selling to? Do you know how old they are, what they do in their spare time, what they value most?

Having a clearly defined audience ensures that your marketing efforts will be directed appropriately. It will hone your efforts and make them count, both from a time spent standpoint and from a financial one.

Develop a Strong, Professional Social Media Presence

Choose platforms that are appropriate to your line of business. LinkedIn and Twitter are the best ones to get started with, but having a Facebook business page and Instagram may also important.

Instagram is actually a great platform if your work can be represented in a visual way. Best of all, social media is free, until you get into paid advertising. But first things first – that’s not necessary right away.

Curate Content to Share Across Your Platforms

Content curation is a way to encourage interest in your brand on social media. You can’t be selling all the time because people will just switch off. Choose a few influential and/or entertaining sites that you like (hopefully related to your niche) and choose some of their posts to rebroadcast to your audience.

Mention influencers in your posts, and reach out to them for link-backs and cross-posts. Connect with your audience and they will keep coming back for more.

Register a Domain Name and Get a Professional Email Address

Get a professional domain name and create an email account for yourself. For example, JohnSmith.com. If the .com version is taken, register the .me version.

Create a professional email with your new domain name like [email protected] – this way you won’t be tied down to your ISP, or a free email service like Yahoo or Gmail. Using a domain name email gives you a more professional image right off the bat.

Get a Local Vanity Phone Number

A really unique way to help build your own personal brand is to get a vanity phone number. You can get either a toll-free or local area code, although a local one would be just fine for your personal brand. It’s pretty easy and affordable to do this and you can get a cool number like 555-john-doe.

Create a Personal Website and Tagline

Having your own personal website is a great way to develop your personal brand. It gives you a launching pad where people can go to learn all about you. You can put it on your business cards, and connect it your social accounts. In general, it’s just a great way to promote yourself on a professional level.

Also known as a personal slogan, a tagline should be short, concise, and to the point. You should be able to tell the world exactly who you are in 6 words or less.

Design a Cool Logo

Get a cool and unique logo designed for yourself and one that you can use on your website, printed materials, social accounts, and email signatures. If you aren’t design savvy, hire a graphic designer from a freelance site such as FiverrFreelancer, or Upwork.

Write Your Bio and Take a Great Headshot

If you haven’t got one already, write a great bio and take a professional headshot for yourself. If this is not your forte, find a bio writer on one of the freelance sites written above. For your headshot, make sure it represents the image you are trying to convey.

Start a Blog and Write About Your Expertise

Start a blog where you write about things you are interested in and know about to show off your knowledge and area of expertise. A blog is also helpful for having shareable content to post on your social accounts. It builds credibility and positions you as a subject matter expert.

Make Sure Your Information is Up to Date

Make sure every little thing you have posted online – listings, reviews, articles, guest posts, resumes, CVs – all of these should be up to date, current, and accurate with the appropriate links back to your home website and/or social accounts.

Actively Listen to News in Your Industry

Find out what the competition is doing and keep up with your peers. Follow thought leaders in your niche and connect with others who are doing similar things, even if they are in other cities or states.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

Recognize influencers in your niche and shine a light on their accomplishments, especially if it’s something or someone that has had a positive impact on you, what you do, and how you do it.

Join Industry Groups and Volunteer to Help Others

Contribute your advice, comment on posts that you find a personal connection to, and find ways of helping others in yours or in a complementary field. Ask and answer questions and encourage your audience to reach out whenever you can. The more active you are, the more relevant you become.

Develop Your Story

A strong personal brand is almost always supported by a compelling story. If you work in a range of disciplines, this is especially important, as having a common thread you can weave through will pull it all together. Think of a few individuals who have strong personal brands: Martha Stewart, Bill Gates, Richard Branson – these are all good examples of people with a strongly identifiable personal brand.

Developing a strong personal brand is important for you and your career. Potential employers will search for you online, and when they do, you need to be able to control what they are able to find. Even if you are busy enough without a website or social media channels, make sure that your message always comes across loud and clear.

 A version of this article was originally published on Glassdoor. It is adapted with permission.

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