Businesses need to advertise their company, services, products, and good work. Marketing is not something that is fun, or something that is done just for the sake of it. There is a reason, after all, that the biggest and most notorious brands of today work to actively market their products every day and in multiple different places.
You need to stay relevant, you need to maintain a good reputation, and you need an active audience in order to get the largest benefits for your business. The same principles apply to those interested in building up their professional brand.
Building a professional brand online can open more doors, and it can also make it possible to monetize your efforts and bring in additional revenue streams. There are so many different possibilities when you have people who see you, like what you do, and want you to succeed.
Why Do You Need a Professional Brand?
If you want to work anywhere in the public eye, or in a sector where having an audience of your own will elevate your career, then you should look into having a professional brand. Even if your brand doesn’t require you to be a celebrity, having a good following and a robust content marketing strategy can help advertise your services to new clients.
If you work in content creation, then having a professional brand online is a great way to move forward with your career. You can have an audience that actively increases your readership. This increased readership may make it easier and more likely for your work to be published professionally. Similarly, you can also use that audience to monetize your own content whenever you decide to self-publish.
Having a professional brand online even helps outside of the content industries like marketing or journalism. You could be a plumber or builder, for example, and use social media and a website to showcase your portfolio and high quality of work.
The goal is to make it easy for potential clients and employers to see the amazing work that you do. If you can also monetize your efforts online, you have an additional revenue stream.
What are the Benefits of Having a Professional Brand?
There are many benefits to having a professional brand online:
- Increases your readership and platform.
- Makes you the stand-out job applicant in the job market.
- Makes it easier to take your work freelance or to start your own business.
- Increase your revenue streams and monetize your blog.
- Use your audience to open doors previously barred to you.
- Work with other brands and get paid for sponsored posts.
The benefits will differ, of course, depending on your niche. For example, if you are a sports journalist, having a large following and winning online presence means having a dedicated readership. You can get more stories bought by major publications, can sell stories directly, and will be more likely to secure interviews with managers and players alike simply because your audience makes you someone worth talking to.
However, as a sports journalist, you would also need to be careful about the sponsored posts you do, or else it will risk your integrity. If you work with a brand outside of your niche, you can likely manage it. For example, if you partnered with a tech company that creates Bluetooth keyboards and you make a sponsored post with them about how you work on the go, this does not interfere with your journalistic integrity. However, if you were to partner with a particular sports brand or team, this shows a clear conflict of interest.
You will need to work with the rules and regulations, and expectations. Done right, you can have an online audience that benefits all aspects of your career and increases your income significantly.
How to Build a Professional Brand Online in 10 Steps
Building a professional brand online takes time, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results. Instead, tweak your strategy and try to find a new approach. Building up an audience for your professional personal brand is just like marketing a new business. The only difference is that you won’t be entirely reliant on your online presence to make you money. Instead, it will be more of a side hustle that offers big benefits down the line.
To win, however, you need to start first. To get started, you will want to follow these 10 steps.
1. Define Your Niche
Defining your niche is one of the most important steps, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. The best place to start, for example, is with you. If you want to be a sports journalist but have only just started with your Sports Journalism degree online, then use that unique viewpoint to start building an audience. Not only will you be able to get more out of your degree, but you can also kickstart your career.
A sports journalism degree allows you to clearly communicate and talk about the many nuances and issues within sports today, including concepts like sports, race/ethnicity, gender, and the role the journalist plays in this landscape. You will learn the best journalistic practices, be able to develop future business models for sports media, produce podcasts, digital interviews, and more.
Use what you learn and adapt everything to find your voice amongst it all. Use that degree as the framework to find your identity as a sports journalist, and don’t hesitate to start building a professional brand from day one. It is a unique niche and a great opportunity to learn and try new things on the go.
Finding your niche and starting your journey today is important for everyone. You may have already finished with your education, or you may have never gone on to higher education at all. Regardless of your situation, you need to find what about your situation makes you unique, and then use that to build an audience so that you can stand out professionally both with your niche and with your engaged following.
2. Create a Website
Having a niche is step one. Next, you will want to make a website. While you can get away with having a free website when you are just starting out, and especially if you are a student, it is far from ideal. There are many budget-friendly options that allow you to host your website professionally so that you have your own unique domain name and, ideally, a beautiful and functional website. Play around and take your time learning simple website design and management, and immediately you will have new skills to add to your repertoire.
You should have a great home page, an excellent about page that mentions what you do and your name several times, as well as a contact page, publications/services/product page, and of course, a blog. This blog is the content you will use to market your website and bring people directly to you.
3. Create Social Media Accounts
Social media is the heart of digital marketing today, especially if you want to build up your reputation and following as opposed to selling products or services. Being active on social media can really make you stand out from the competition and can make it easy for big businesses and startups alike to find you and get in touch for a collaboration or to even hire you.
To succeed on social media, you will need to up your content creation game. Choose one to three different platforms to focus on; otherwise, you will spread yourself too thin. Create individual content and marketing strategies for each platform you use, and use analytics to adjust your efforts and finally work towards growing your platform.
Just like designing a website will give you web design and management skills, creating content for your social platforms and marketing them gives you very marketable and very important skills that you can use in your career.
4. Create Content
The content you create will depend entirely on who your audience is. While it may seem like you absolutely must follow the trends in order to get the engagement, that engagement will mean nothing if your audience (the people who will hire you, buy from you, or share you) are not interested.
Identify who your audience is, see if there are competitors or other content creators who are successfully engaging with them online, and then use those ideas to kickstart your own. Create content in batches to avoid burning yourself out, and then reflect and use data analytics to see what content strategy worked for you.
5. Devise a Marketing Strategy
You will need to have a comprehensive marketing strategy in place to really grow your account. Part of this will be traditional digital marketing. Other parts will be content marketing, but don’t just think inside the box. Collaborate with others, try new things, go with the fold, go against the fold. You need to try one strategy and then try another. What worked before might not work again.
It means you need to always be thinking on your feet, but this type of marketing method can help further your own professional goals in a variety of industries.
6. Get Published
Getting your work out there professionally is an excellent way to increase your reputation beyond just a high follower count. If you sell products or services, you might be the one having articles written about you. If you are the one writing content, then aim to get your work published professionally, even if it isn’t your ultimate goal.
Getting your work published or otherwise acknowledged by high-quality stores, publications, and other big businesses is a great way to increase your SE ranking and your social reputation both online and offline.
Collaborate with others. You can work with another journalist, for example, to create an in-depth piece that offers a unique viewpoint. Similarly, you can even offer coaching services or work in a mentorship capacity. Offering your expertise and working with your peers is an excellent way to network, grow your audience, and improve your professional reputation overall.
Having a thriving digital presence will make doors open, but those doors don’t necessarily mean an increase in income. You deserve to earn money for the effort and time you put into growing your social media and digital presence. Content creation is a full-time job for many, and you are trying to do it as a side hustle to advertise your professional work, publication, or skills.
Consider how you can monetize, especially in passive ways. A journalist can have a Patreon and give subscribers early access to their content or premium access to members-only content. You can also have merchandise, create a digital workshop that people can pay to have access to, or can work on having a book published.
Focus on the revenue streams that allow you to earn money without much extra effort once you finish creating it. If you can continue to earn money on something you made once, you can enjoy a passive income that will continue to reward you for your efforts.
Every step, every idea, and every strategy needs to be analyzed. Use Google Analytics, use the built-in analytical tools on your social media profiles, and even get in touch with the brands you partner with to get the analytics from them for your content. All of this can help you understand what worked, what didn’t, and what needs to be fixed.
10. Tweak and Improve
Use what you learn from those analytics to tweak and improve. A great way to figure out what actually works is to use A/B testing. What this means is you use two strategies at once equally to see which one gains more traction. The one that gets a higher turnout and higher levels of engagement is the strategy you should use next. Overall you will need to continually adjust your strategy for everything so that you can stay relevant and really launch your career to new heights.