The best ideas in business and art come from ordinary people who put in the work required to discover the greatness inside of them. Personal branding is more important than ever. Discover everything that you need to know about personal branding in this section.
Lately I got a message from someone who read my blog why everyone has a personal brand. She wrote me with the question: can i start business? On the one hand she felt very sure about her strong preferences and own vision, but on the other hand she didn’t quite know if there were others with her in that.There are certain rules when it comes to telling stories, doing marketing or building a business on which depends your success. But what I know for sure, is that there really is place for everyone.
Girls and Corpses, Pigs & Mobile Shitting
I used to work in a global market research company in the media industry. I remember the big post office room where all the magazines came in for the company to process. Not only was the amount of those magazines big, we also got a laugh at the many niche related sorts of magazines available in this world.
If you have a good look around you, you can find magazines on sleeping pigs, energetic horses, sloppy roommates. It’s like such a big and diverse business! Let’s have a look…
International Pig Topics is the leading global technical pig magazine and it is distributed to pig producers around the world.
It focuses on technical aspects of pig production that can impact the profitability of an operation such as breeding, nutrition and disease control.
It’s published 8 times a year, and also offers reviews on the latest research and products.
According to their website, the pig producers around the world are most often based in Europe. Their most interested type of reader: the breeder farmer.
Yes folks… This magazine is about people who deal in mobile shitting equipment. Can it get any crazier?!
The magazine is literally about how you can collect shit in a more efficient way. Industry executives use them to observe business trends and to share ideas.
Okay, this is by far the most creepy one. It’s called: Girls and Corpses. The magazines collects comical news about dead people and scary things alongside beautiful girls. The magazine follows the idea that if you put nice girls next to anything, – even dead bodies – it will sell.
So all in all, those magazines are read by certain people. People from all kinds of industries, with a certain kind of humor, from all around the world, wanting all kind of things and although the quirkiness of it, are not alone in that.
Engagement is King
I sometimes compare a blog or even a business with having a magazine. We tell stories that relate to people, wherever they are in their lives. We bring worlds to life and give people the words they need to feel understanded.
I can not say that the niche of the pigs is the biggest one – the magazine is printed 17,000 times per issue – but it’s big enough to speak to those people and print a valuable product for them.
Selling 5508 of those magazines per issue in Europe, may not sound much. But an overall of 17,000 may be a valuable amount.
But that’s only the size of the group. What’s even more important is engagement.
Engagement is king.
The group of people that this Pig magazine is trying to serve will only continue with buying the issues if they are engaged. They will only continue with buying the magazine if they think that the content answers their real needs as pig producers.
That’s the real art of doing business. How do we tell stories that are engaging for a specific audience and that is big enough to sell your product to?
So can I start business? What I know for sure, is that there really is place for everyone.
Embrace yourself and your odd and quirky preferences and go for it.
If there’s place for a magazine about girls and corpses, I’m sure you will find your niche as well. The sky is the limit.
Share your thoughts down below. Do you also ask yourself that one question: can I start business, and what is your answer to that?
I’ve written more about Personal Branding. Head over to these blogs:
Whether you’re an employee or entrepreneur, cultivating a personal brand has become more important than ever. In this article I want to highlight why there is this importance of personal branding. Stick with me!
Standing out in the blog world
First and foremost, I started with blogging because I felt that I had a lot to say.
Also, the things that I wanted to talk about were a bit different from what I was already reading and watching in the media. I felt there were certain subjects and messages that weren’t sufficiently shared or promoted enough.
Both that and the idea of building an online audience with like-minded people really excited me.
Long after that, I started to think of the blog as a brand. As something that could turn into a source of income, more work that I liked and a great portfolio.
One day I got a message from a reader with her own platform asking me to do an interview series with her.
What she clearly didn’t know by asking that question was that meeting new people, asking them all the questions that would pop into your mind – while getting paid for it, really was a dream come true to me.
I didn’t ask for a specific project, but based on my content she assumed that I would be down to do this lovely project with her.
From that moment on I realized that there actually was a pattern in the topics that I wanted to talk about. And that exactly that style would allow me to do more of the things that I love.
I know I’ve been talking about personal branding untill now in a way that’s more about purpose and passion, than of bitter nessacity. But in today’s world it is a fact that personal branding has gained importance for at least two reasons.
The age of the individual
The first is that social media changed the work force very much. According to a study, recruiters hire via social media and look at people’s social profile to get more information about them. Especially those who are working in the creative industry, where portfolio is crucial in the process of getting more projects.
The reason for that is that employees can have a important role in promoting the organisation they are going to work for. People associate brands with their employees. And the concept of employer branding has been used and teached among many companies.
Look for example at this video of Netflix.
As part of their content marketing strategy, they asked some of their employees what it is like to work at a company like Netflix.
In a series of three videos, they let their employees explain the culture of Netflix.
And they also were very thoughtful about where to place those videos, namely, on their job board.
It’s a very useful initiative if you ask me.
Obviously, those job boards are viewed by people who might be interested in a job at Netflix. Those videos can help the job seeker to get an idea of whether he or she would fit into this Netflix culture.
Something we all look at if we are going to work somewhere, right?
Gigs all over the place
An other reason for why personal branding is valuable nowadays, is that the gig economy is bigger than ever.
The average person switches jobs every 2 to 3 years, and by 2020, freelance and contract workers will make up 43% of the U.S. workforce. Diane Mulcahy, the author of The Gig Economy, says in the Washington Post:
We’re seeing only one trend here, which is that the gig economy is big and getting bigger. Companies will do just about anything to avoid hiring full-time employees. Add to that the fact that there is no job security anymore, and workers are increasingly aware that they need to work differently if they want to create any sort of stability for themselves.”
Although the gig economy is nothing new to the lower parts of society, the spread of gigs into middle class and white-collar jobs and into the business model of highly valued and highly visible tech startups definitely is something new.
It’s an economy of skills and promotes a new way of working. Those who master their craft with skills that cannot be replaced soon by computers are the winners of today.
Therefore, the book adapts to the idea that when the gig economy continues, not only the way we work but also the way we live is going to change.
The Gig Economy offers you practical stuff and possibilities to arc your own journey and create your own path.
I highly recommend the book because it functions as a guide or toolkit to get you through the changing landschape of todays labor market.
As a result, workers need to be able to clearly communicate who they are and what they do to stand out to prospective clients and employers.
William Arruda, author of Ditch, Dare, Do: 3D Personal Branding for Executives, confirms that, “If you want to be successful, you need to think of yourself as a personal brand”. “A personal mission statement is a critical piece of your brand because it helps you stay focused.”
Therefore, taking control over your personal brand and effectively managing your online reputation is important to not loose out on business.
Especially for creative workers. The importance of personal branding is nowhere so visible as in that industry. Namely, 55% of the creative workers is freelancing.
Whether you’re looking for a better job or more sales for your company, the importance of personal branding is bigger than ever.
Like I said earlier, this is due to changes in the labor market. This not only influenced the way we work and the way recruiters hire workers, but also the way we live.
And so building a personal brand out of passion and purpose in todays era comes with more.
A true, meaningful and authentic personal brand may be not only beneficial for yourself, it may also be beneficial voor employers and recruiters as well to attract the right people.
Personal branding can help you build your dream career on the condition that this is done correctly. Whether that’s in business, or as a employee. You just have to start with understanding your worth.
So personal branding doesn’t happen overnight. It’s imperative to be able to communicate your purpose and mission to your audience in a genuine way.
And the truth is: in todays era where social media can give you everything you need to stand out from the crowd, you don’t need to be Oprah or Richard Branson to have a great personal brand.
It’s just a matter of continually crafting and curating your digital presence. The one that is real, honest and transparent and reflects who you are. On the long term, it will differentiate you from others.
I also wrote other blogs about personal branding. Head over to these blogs:
Everyone has a personal brand, whether you want one or not. It is defined by everything you do, from what you wear to how you treat people, from how you compose emails to how you conduct yourself on the phone. Let me explain what I’ve learned along the way about personal branding.
Everyone, including me
Highlighting what’s already inside of you
For quite a while I was associating creating a personal brand with making photos of yourself.
Pretty girls on Instagram who thought about the “image” that they wanted to send.
It never really attracted me to think about one myself – nor did I think I may had one already.
But that was until I discovered what personal branding actually means and that personal branding should be all about having a closer look on the things that you desire, love to do and feel inspired by.
I came to see that building a personal brand is more about highlighting what’s already inside of you, and bring that special thing out to serve yourself and the people around you.
By discovering my own lane, I found a note in what I call my thought book. It’s a little book that I keep with me everywhere I go and it’s something that helps me structuring the thoughts and ideas that I have.
I really enjoy writing in it, but I also refuse to call it a diary because otherwise I feel obliged to write in it every day. And I definitely like to feel free to write whenever I want, and not just for the sake of it.
2 things I learned about myself
The following note that I wrote when I was 16 years old describes best what drives me most:
“The most fascinating thing in the world is why people do what they do. What moves them and how you can help them create a better life.”
It’s an interesting note because it learned me two things about myself.
First of all, what I didn’t know yet while writing that note at that age, was that a lot of the choices that I made in my life from that moment on were all based around that same desire.
From choosing my studies to reading certain books, watching certain films, having certain conversations or picking topics for this blog. All of the things that I did and loved to do were somehow connected.
All of those things were about the same desire to understand people and to come up with ideas to change their lives for the better too. It’s what attracts me in both storytelling and entrepreneurship.
Stick with your gut
The second thing I learned from that note was that the things that had kept me busy me for years were actually small steps towards the development of my personal brand.
I only had to recognize, embrace and live by what was already inside of me.
I came to discover that what was needed for the personal brand to grow, was always there. And that my younger self had already written down the starting point of her own brand…
… but wasn’t aware of it yet.
Everyone, including Oprah
I clearly found my starting point from which everything was able to grow bigger and bigger.
But there are also people who already created one of the strongest, global personal brands, without even being aware of it yet.
Oprah Winfrey may be a great example of that. The realization of being a brand herself came when she once bumped into a woman in a super market. This woman told Winfrey that watching her show had convinced her to stop beating her child.
On the QuickBooks Connect 2015 conference Oprah told the audience that the first time this woman listened to one of Winfrey’s lectures on abuse, her reaction was one of denial.
Although she listened to the show, she didn’t got why Oprah was the one to talk about this subject. She was like, “what did Winfrey actually know about how to discipline children, since she didn’t have kids herself?”
But by the third time the woman listened to Winfrey, she decided to try not to hit her child for a week. Then she tried it for another week. Then she stopped hitting her child for good.
She told Winfrey: “You were consistent.”
Hearing that, the concept of branding clicked for the talk show host. “That to me is the definition of what a brand is,” she said. “That’s when I shifted.”
Consistent with your gut
Both stories are examples of the possibility to grow a personal brand, or already have one, while you don’t want or know it yet.
It’s what Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon has nicely put into words: “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room”.
To understand how it’s possible to have your own brand without even knowing it or wanting it, first look at what makes a personal brand.
Personal brands capture your talents, your values, and the way you serve other people. The brand is not only about you, but it’s about you being in service.
If you want the brand work for you, it’s your job to make clear where you stand and what other people can expect from you.
Therefore, the success of the brand depends largely on how consistent you are in bringing a certain promise to a persons life. Its needed to gain a certain level of trust with the people you’re trying to serve.
But being consistent with whatever it is you’re bringing: whether its joy, expertise or adventure… always goes hand in hand with authenticity as well.
For example, never put me in a reality show, a spell show or never ask me to work for the paparazzi. It’s not by any means in line with who I am as a person and what I would like to bring to the world.
Those things are not things I like, are not something that I stand by or what I would be good in.
And because of that I wouldn’t be able to serve those jobs in a consistent way.
I believe that if you love what you do and do what you can do best, you’re more likely in succeeding.
Finding out how you want to spend your time enables you to make better choices in life and helps you create the life that you want.
It’s not about putting out an unrealistic version of yourself, because that makes the brand inconsistent soon.
But personal branding is about how consistent you are with who you really are, what you want to bring to the world and how you connect your choices in life with what really is inside of you.
Intentions drive action
So you may not know yet what’s inside of you or who you are, but it’s very likely that you are already subconsciously acting consistently with values that you find important.
Your personal values, intentions, desires, or whatever is inside of you, drive your actions in life. They help you decide which path you take. This can happen both conscious and subconsciously.
In my case, I found my drive by checking in with myself. I discovered that my choices in life subconsciously were connected.
Finding that out for myself, allowed me to add a focus to my career. I now knew why blogging felt so good. It just works for me as the perfect outlet to write and talk about the things that I love – which is telling stories and creating ideas to enrich peoples lives so that they can create the life that they want.
I feel like I’ve found my own lane and that helps me to create choices that are better and more conscious.
So that’s why everyone has a personal brand.
I mean, the combination of skills, values, desires and talents that we have influence our actions conscious or subconsciously – and make us all perfectly unique.
For example: treating everyone equally. That value makes you – you, because that’s what we are used to get from you.
Or maybe you’re very passionate about climate change and you’re very skilled in that.
It depends on how you bring your decisions and actions in line with those inner values and intentions consistently.
So because we all have things that makes us special, everyone has the potential to have a personal brand – even when you already are or maybe not yet aware of it.
Those people who let their hearts speak and align their life around what’s important to them in every aspect of their life – start to live their life from the right place.
They are persistent with their talents and values, they know what makes them unique and what they can do best and they are consistent with what they want to tell to the world.
Those people are the ones that are already living and having the brand. They have their own lanes – even when they don’t know it yet.
For many people it can take a while before finding “it”, but we all have things that makes us special.
You only have to recognize it, embrace it and live by it.
I came to conclude that finding what you’re truly passionate about enables you to arc your own path and create the life that you want. To me, blogging not only works for me as a perfect outlet to talk about the things that I love. But it also allows me to add a focus to my career so that I can do more of it too.
I’m thrilled to hear what you already found out about yourself. Let me know in the comment section below!
I’ve written more about Personal Branding.Head over to these blogs:
There has been a well-known saying throughout the history of art: “Every artist paints himself.” This catchphrase demonstrates that self-portraits were a big thing for artists throughout the years. But self-portraits has also been a way to promote the artists’ work and to find new customers for centuries now. This is how self-portraits have worked for those creatives.
An important tool in marketing
When I say Frida Kahlo, people will often say: “the girl with the unibrow”. Or: “the girl who always looked a bit sad”.
When thinking about her art, we immediatly think about her – about her feminism, her unconventionality and her strongness although she was physically very ill.
The self-portraits that Kahlo created communicate a story. A story of outward display and of being legitimate about your own pains and frustrations. It’s a story that people, especially women, can relate to.
And that feeling is important when it comes to selling Kahlo’s art and to gaining some level of fame with it.
That’s because from the Renaissance onwards, most of the customers have been conscious of buying not just the work of art as an object in itself, but also as something of the ‘aura’ of the artist who created it.
Artists have therefore promoted themselves as well as their works, and the self-portrait has been an important tool in this marketing campaign – whether painted for a customer or for display, or printed for mass circulation.
The pervasiveness of Kahlo
Until even today, there is this so-called “Fridamania” going on. The artist’s image has materialized with particular frequency in 2017, in increasingly diverse forms and mediums.
For example, in honor of Kahlo’s 110th birthday there was a Frida lookalike mob organized by the Dallas Museum of Art. On July 6th 2017, they attempted a Guinness World Record for the most-ever Fridas, numbering an estimated 1,100, for which the record is currently pending approval.
But since 2017 there is also a set of Frida emojis that iPhone users can employ as emotional surrogates. Gallerist and graphic designer Sam Cantor owns this project.
Lastly, there also is this new Frida Kahlo Museum near Cancun, an institution that contains no original artworks, but offers a Kahlo “experience,” and is connected to a restaurant where projections of the artist’s face appear on your dinner plate.
The pervasiveness of Frida Kahlo is at least partly due to the selfportraits that she created during her lifetime. She wanted to be seen. And that has done no harm to her legacy at all.
Artists have portrayed themselves as honest craftsmen, as feminists, fighters, inspired geniuses, as sophisticated courtiers, as pillars of society and as heirs to a long tradition.
Almost every self-portrait that I have put down below, is a carefully honed image, intended to appeal to a specific audience.
It is interesting how those self-portraits have been so present in our society ever since. If you think about it, the self-portraits that I have shown you may not be that different from what we nowadays call selfies.
In this book: Seeing ourselves: Women’s self-portraits by Frances Borzello, I came across more information about how artists used self-portraits as a marketing tool to find more customers and sell more of their art.
Whether you need inspiration for your personal business, website or hobby, this post has you covered. I’ll mention three of my personal brand favorites. Stick with me for some personal brand examples!
My first: Oprah Winfrey
We all know Oprah. She’s a talkshow host, a philantrophist and an entrepreneur. She is one of the few that we recognize by only mentioning her first name. She is practically a full-fledged personal brand celebrity at this point, although she always said that she only became aware of her brand because other people started to calling it like that. Head over to this blog: Why everyone has a personal brand, to hear the story of how Oprah didn’t know she had a brand untill someone at a grocery store helped her discover.
What characterizes her work and her personality is that she’s known as an lovely soul (seeker). Her mission is to inspire and to educate people to find and actually live their life’s calling.
What I love about Oprah
Consistent with her intentions
According to Oprah, there is a lot of consistency in her performances. Whether the interviews that she gives, the articles that she writes, or the boarding school for girls in South-Africa… Her vision on life and her ability to emphatically listen to people, is reflected in her work. She’s always reaching out for meaning and purpose and is interested in giving women a life lesson that can change their lives for the better spiritually.
When thinking about Oprah, she really got why she does what she does. And she really does that thing consistently. If you’re interested in what makes a brand successful, head over to my blog: Key ingredients of a successful brand.
Oprah spoke several times about how she manages her brand. She talks about what she calls the art of intention. One of the ways to live a authentic life and to reach your full potential is to bring your life in line with your purpose by mastering the art of intention, she says.
Therefore, she speaks about understanding the intent of her message before each show – a principal that changed the direction of her show and the popularity of it as well.
“I don’t do anything without thinking about what I ultimately want the energy, the motivation I’m putting into it. What is the end result going to be,” she said. “I only do what I intend to do.”
As she proclaimed, this art of intent is what has helped her to create a successful career – and to what Oprah dedicates the success of her 25 year talkshow to.
I think the beautiful thing about this vision that she has, is that you can use it for both your life and your career as well. For me, life is about how you can live it as full as possible from the inside out. If you make intents a priority in your life, thinks start to shift. Both career wise as in your private life. It feels great. Gary Zukav wrote a wonderful book about intents and how you can live your best life, if your interested in reading this book you can go to my bookshelf. Being consistent with your intents can help your personal brand grow and give it two important elements of personal branding: authenticity and consistency.
My second: Paula Begoun
The second of the three personal brand examples is Paula Begoun. Paula Begoun appears as a talk radio host, author and businesswoman because she owns the popular skin-care brand Paula’s Choice. Paula is also the so-called “cosmetics cop”, because she’s known for her view that skin-care and cosmetics should be based on ingredients that have been subjected to peer reviewed research. Her mission is to bring more truth to the cosmetics industry.
What I love about Paula
With every good brand comes a vision. To me, Paula brings that idea to a next level. There are not many brands like hers.
I came across Paula’s Choice a couple a years ago. I was interested in how you can make skin-friendly cosmetics choices. My friend told me to look at this brand because they would give you a great combination: helpful blogs about cosmetics ingredients and useful products that are non-irritating, no animal testing, etcetera. Paula also initiated Beautypedia to rate other brands.
All of her businesses are related to Paula. Which makes her the go-to for skin problems and advise about whatever is happening in the cosmetics industry. That’s what makes her a strong personal brand. People reach out for her advise about what’s true and what not.
What I like about Paula is her courage to come up with an slightly different approach than most of the cosmetics brands. She not only explains what’s in their products, she is also focused on products from other brands to give you the insights that you need know about the truth.
This is why your story is so important. It makes people relate to you and, therefore, like you. It also allows you to explain your “why”—why you do what you do. I think a lot of people can relate to her finding that there are a lot of cosmetics products to buy in this world and the lack of ways to find the truth in order to make a great choice.
Especially her expertise and knowledge are useful for people who are suffering from skin problems. With that she’s able to create a brand that’s challenging the status-quo of the cosmetics-industry. Very inspiring if you ask me.
My third: Seth Godin
According to Forbes, Seth is known for this:
[Godin] is a demigod on the Web, a best-selling author, highly sought-after lecturer, successful entrepreneur, respected pundit and high-profile blogger. He is uniquely respected for his understanding of the Internet.”
What I love about Seth
Putting value first
Seth has written a lot of books. I didn’t all read them, but there was one I can recommend because it gave me some lessons about how you can grow your (personal) brand. It’s called: This is Marketing. One of the things that he makes very clear is that good marketing should be about the love for your customers, then create for them some things that will make them feel understood and valued. Something that answers their real problems or needs. And just in the last place think about how to profit from it. He has written a lot of short blogs on sethgodin.com about how you can build a business in the online world.
I admire him for putting marketing into another perspective for me. It helped me grow my own businesses. What’s even more interesting is – he did not invent any of the modern-day marketing methods that he talks about in his books. In fact, his books are more observations than steps, guides, and to do lists. He simply observes to understand the most common problems that people face, experiments to find out what works and puts it out there for the world to benefit from his insights.
Allright, those were the three personal brand examples that I chose to mention. I’ve chosen to mention them because all of three are great examples of people who found what they’re truly passionate about and then tried to make a difference by opening up businesses to serve that passion.
So if you’re interested in creating that for yourself – these personal brand examples may give you some inspiration to actually do so. By the end of this year I will launch a DIY-kit on how to turn your online presence into a personal brand. Stay tuned if you have interest!
For sure, there is much more I like about those and other brand personas than what I mentioned above. If there’s a personal brand that you think I have to hear from, send me! I’m open to it.