Tag Archives: personal brand

Building your personal brand: How I would do it 30 min a day

Personal branding is becoming more important for individuals in the Gig economy. It is important since it ensures “inbound” leads for freelancers, opportunities for individuals at larger companies and also makes it easy for entrepreneurs to raise money or hire people.

Let me outline what personal branding is:

To me personal branding is creating enough value for the set of people who you are trying to influence or persuade. Those “influencers” know about your work in a certain area, domain and would consider you to be the preeminent expert in that area. The “recall” for your name associated in that area, should hence, should be significant.

Let me also outline what personal branding is not:

I believe personal branding is not about blowing your own horn, bombarding people with messages and content that’s not unique or differentiated.

The best way to create a personal brand is to create compelling content. Or so I thought.

That’s not sufficient any more is what I have learned over the last 6 months.

The “community” or influencers who you are trying to influence are equally if not more important.

Personal Branding Map
Personal Branding Map

The 2X2 Matrix above shows the 4 types of personal brands according to me. If you have good content and build a great community you are perceived as a leader. That’s where you should aim to be.

Initially you wont have either, and so the question becomes where do you start?

The nuanced question is – where do I start if I have limited time – say 30 minutes a day?

My experience states you are better off building a community and not spending time initially creating content.

You can curate great content from others – in the form of an email newsletter, or frequent (2-3 posts and links on the topic) daily.

Spend time reading about the space you want to build your personal brand before you have an opinion or a point of view.

Learn about the different people, their points of view and the pros and cons before you start to write and speak about the topic. Engage with people on twitter, by asking questions, connecting with them and learning about their point of view first. Then spend time building relationships.

I wanted to also put my money where my advice goes. So, for the next 3 months I am mentoring 2 of my friends Marc and Nancy to build their personal brand using my suggestions and strategies. They are not known as experts in their space. They are trying to build their niche  – Nancy as an angel investor – her niche is to be determined and Marc in the SaaS space – his niche within SaaS is also TBD.

Over the next 3 months I will report once a couple of weeks on their progress, the tactics they are using and the methods they have followed.

The measure of their success will be determined by 3 specific goals they have set out for themselves.

  1. Both want to be invited to speak at a major event (which is yet to be determined) as an expert on the space they chose.
  2. They want to be interviewed by either a podcaster or a blogger on their thoughts on the space.
  3. They want to be associated with a unique piece of content (examples Dave McClure and AARRR or Sean Ellis and Growth Hacking.

They both have specific metrics on # of engagements (key influencers who know them, etc.), # of Twitter followers (which I think is a useless metric, but nonetheless) and email open rates, etc.

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The one thing I learned blogging everyday for 180 days

Community first, content next.

Today marks 181 days of my journey to blog every day. Over the last 6 months I have written about entrepreneurship and technology. Most articles are about 500 to 1000 words and some are fewer. During this period my “audience” has grown from 70K subscribers to nearly 100K (Still shy by about 3000 subscribers).

Mukund's Email Subscriber Base
Mukund’s Email Subscriber Base

According to my email metrics, about 19-25% of people open my emails daily. Not sure how many actually read. Besides this I have a few thousand Twitter and Facebook readers and about 1000 app subscribers.

There are many things I have learned.

First, is that writing is not at all hard. In fact, it is pretty easy. My writing routine is pretty simple. I get up, finish working out, and take exactly 21 – 32 minutes to write a new blog post from scratch. No pre-writing, no backlog of posts etc. I start with a blank slate on 95% of the days.

Second, writing makes you focus. When you have little time, like most of us do, then it makes you concentrate and get it done, prioritizing it over other things.

Third, it teaches you discipline. If you get into the habit of writing daily, then it is rewarding to see the body of content in a few months.

Fourth, quantity does not equal quality. I have written 180 posts, but most have not hit the bar in terms of get more readership over and above my usual subscriber base.

Fifth, writing is a counter productive way to spend 30 minutes to achieve you goals of building a personal brand. There are other, better, easier ways to do the same for 30 minutes a day.

The most important thing I have learned, though is that building a community, one fan / audience member, individual, reader at a time trumps generating lots of content for many people to read.

If you are considering blogging, writing, etc. I would recommend you first understand your goal

Is it to build a personal brand?

Is it to showcase thought leadership?

Is it to share your thoughts and expect nothing in return?

Is it to build a base of followers?

Regardless of your goal, I would still recommend you engage with your “community” via tweets, commenting on their post (Facebook or Twitter), connecting with a large set of people before you start writing.

What I have observed is that people who connect with their audience get away with writing really poor content, since people really like them.

If, however, you dont spend time building and engaging your audience, you should be prepared to have “killer” content each time, which is highly unlikely given that you might have to write frequently.

In fact, only 11 of my 180 posts have crossed my own threshold of over 30K readers for the post.

The number one thing you should do if you are starting or want to start building your audience base is to engage with them. Comment, reply or write to them on Twitter, their blogs, etc. Dont start writing.

Then make sure you engage and build your base of engagement with 1-2 posts each week, still keeping up your engagement.

Then you can get a schedule as rigorous as writing daily.

To build a large audience (similar to a media property such as BuzzFeed, etc.) you might need lots of content which is good, but for an individual, that’s impossible.

The same goes for your startup’s blog.

Build your community and audience first, then build an editorial calendar to hyperfocus on a specific topic and keep the schedule.

This also changes how you spend 30 minutes a day to build your personal brand. I will share that part with you tomorrow.

Here are two other posts I have written about what’s working in B2B startup blogs and how to focus on better insights not a better narrative.

What’s working for B2B startup blogs and what’s not working as well? #entrepreneur #marketing

Content Marketing is being touted as the way to educate your customers and create your brand. For both startups and individuals trying to build a personal brand, content marketing is always being pushed as a means to engage with your audience.

Even though blogging has been the staple of most content marketing efforts on the small startup side for the SMB prospect, and the whitepaper as the staple for the B2B marketer in the enterprise, the rules of the game have dramatically changed for “quality” of content. The bar is much higher given the amount of content and the need to fight through the clutter and noise.

The primary changes are thanks to the mobile phone and the reducing attention span that most folks have.

The things that I think are not going to work anymore:

1. 0-1000 word blog posts. Most folks dont have the time to read a lot of text. On the phone text is being swiped faster than photos.

2. Infographics – most infographics are pretty useless and the bar for what constitutes a good infographic is great analysis and visualization, not just a bunch of numbers.

3. Anything blog post hthat’s not topical, since the shelf life of any blog post is now heading to minutes, not hours. If your blog post is something you are looking to create a book (for personal branding) out of your blog post, you might want to rethink that strategy. Books are being read solely by older audiences now and video trumps reading thanks to shorter attention spans.

What works then to draw an audience and help build a brand?

1 Content Marketing that works
Content Marketing that works

1. Blog posts that are data rich, visually attractive or long form – CB Insights, Crew and Buffer are proving that there’s still a place for great content in the traditional blog post. If you are into writing long form (1500+ words, choose to host and publish on medium instead of your own domain).

2. Video: Short, 3-5 min produced how to videos, interviews are still working well.

3. Podcasts: This has taken off more than most people anticipated. If you are starting a new company, I’d recommend you to go podcasting instead of text based blogs.

4. Slideshare presentations: Visually attractive, with high quality images, and tons of data in a simple PowerPoint slide is still drawing a lot of attention.

5. Great images and photos that can be shared on Instagram or Pinterest (even if you are a B2B company).

6. Real time video streaming – Periscope and Meerkat are two platforms you should consider.

7. Blog posts with very little text, but a lot of animated gifs: Thanks to BuzzFeed, these are extremely popular if your target audience is younger workers just joining the workforce.