Without a doubt, the biggest number of requests to what you wanted to read next was…
“How do I create a personal brand?”
I used to think personal branding was a fallacy. A misinterpretation of people and their company.
Now, more than ever, I realise that the most powerful move you can make is to become a brand. In ANY area.
Here’s a quick disclaimer:
“I am not saying that I’m a fantastic personal brand. I just treat my outward social appearance as a brand. I convey the message I want to be fed back to me, it may vary in some cases and won’t necessarily provide depth on who I am as a person in real life. If any of this blog post sounds arrogant, it’s because I’m teaching you what’s personally worked for me, to help you and not because I have an inflated view of myself. I practice what I preach and I’m still following my own advice.”
It’s the 3rd of January 2016 as I write this and a lot of you reading are either inspired to chase your goals this year, or need help in figuring out what those goals are going to be.
Hopefully this post will shine a much needed light on that dark, hesitant area of your mind.
Although I’ve worked with some major clients, it was harder to try and brand myself. Naturally, we are our own biggest critics.
I personally set myself rules, guidelines and targets and I’m going to share them with you.
Step #1 – You are more than a man (Or woman)
Julius Caesar used to have a member of his staff follow him around to lightly whisper “You’re just a man” in his ear. It kept him level-headed, humble and honest.
If you want a personal brand, you have to reach outside of this stoic philosophy and embrace the idea that you’re more than a man.
Amplify aspects of your personality to create a character. To many of you I’m Geraint Clarke; magician, cardist, marketer, blogger…but I’m still a ‘nobody’ outside of my chosen niches, or when I’m buying toilet paper in Sainsbury’s.
The first exercise is to find a constant theme of what people think about you as a person. I did this by making a Facebook status and seeing if the responses aligned with who I wanted to be.
Something simple like “This is a VERY serious request and I need your help. If you could describe me in one word, what would it be? Please no joke comments like ‘tw*t’, I’m taking my career more seriously and need help branding.”
My responses were all about charm, mystery, lifestyle, wealth… So I amplified those areas that people believed about me, and created rules based on that. This way, you’re still being authentic as a person, you’re just being an exaggerated version of who people think you are.
The internet is like a first date that repeats every day. You’re only ever showing what you want to show.
“Deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.” – Oscar Wilde
I have that quote tattooed on my arm. It reminds me never to take people at face value. There’s always much more to someones character, and romance is showing the best aspects of that.
Romance is flawless. Love is in despite of flaws.
Try to remember that initially, whilst building an audience, you need to be flawless. This is a romance between you and your potential fans/customers.
Before we do that however, we need to decide who that audience is…
Step #2 Find your passion
What would you do if money was of no consequence?
Who would you hang out with every day if you have the choice?
What makes you happy or content for hours?
Playing music? Magic? Cardistry? Painting? Singing?
I get messages every day from people saying they’d love my job. Answer me this. What is my job? Do you know what I do?
They don’t want my job, they want my success. My tiny slice of industry fame. They want the answers I seem to have, or the freedom.
Find what makes you happy, what you’re passionate about and forget about the path everyone else seems to be taking. Forge your own way.
If your heart’s not in it, and you’re chasing someone else’s dream, you’ll give up more easily.
This guide isn’t for quitters.
Step #3 – Play to your strengths.
If I had £1 or $1 for every time I’d been asked by someone how they can become a creator, or more creative, I’d be a millionaire.
If you’re not creative, that’s okay. It’s way more lucrative to be a world-class performer than a world-class creator. Play to your strengths in ANY area.
I can perform magic, but I’m not that good. I enjoy it, but not unless I control my variables, so I don’t do it. I play to my strengths.
Forget money and fame.
Don’t EVER chase money or fame. Chase your passion. Chase what makes you happy.
Henry Ford once said: “If money is your hope for independence, you’ll never have it. The only true value a man can have, is a wealth of knowledge, ability & experience.”
That is my favourite quote of all time, as it inspired me to learn as much as I can, find my passion and become the best at any job I’ve ever had.
If you don’t have that drive in you. It’ll be harder for you to make this happen. You’ll provide your own excuses or resistance on why it isn’t possible.
I once worked in a call-centre and HATED the job, but the people were amazing, I made some lifelong friends and I did EVERYTHING in my power to make that job more enjoyable. Get pay rises, get great scores, get promoted to 2nd line support – until I was ready to leave.
Life gave me lemons and I sucked on them, then worked really hard so I’d never have to again.
Step #4 Creating a Character / Brand
Okay, so you’ve decided who people think you are, who you’d like to be and what your passion is. Now it’s time to wrap that up neatly into a bow.
“The secret of designing cartoon characters… you make a character that you can tell who it is in silhouette” – Matt Groening
I used to listen to Russell Brand paraphrase that all the time, but it gave me a great idea for personal branding.
What cues, clothes and characteristics can influence your brand?
I have worn the same style of sunglasses without fail, for 3 years. Ray Ban tortoise-shell wayfarers.
I wear scarfs in colder seasons but NEVER tie them up. Mostly dogtooth or tartan patterns.
I use the exact same filter on my instagram posts of 99.9% of my content (unless it’s a black and white image).
I NEVER give opinions socially on anything that isn’t about my brand. eg. Terrorism, politics (Isn’t the same thing? Am I right? Who’s with me… tough crowd), shows I’ve watched, sport etc. I only post things that contribute subtly or obviously to my brand image.
Obviously that’s not everything that I do, but those are some things for you to consider and will hopefully give you some ideas about what your own characteristics could be.
You need to create brand values and stick to them. The truth is, nobody cares about your opinion, unless it aligns with their own.
Which means potentially losing your current audience, and finding a new one.
Your brand values should include tone, colour scheme, promoted emotions, what you want people to understand about you & your brand, and how they can connect with it.
Create a logo, website and business card that captures all of that.
It could be anarchic, grungy, crude and unforgiving.
It could be soft, charming, intelligent and informative.
Your content MUST constantly reflect what message you’re trying to convey, in a style and tone that matches.
Step #5 Your chosen media – increasing your audience
The devil is in the detail. So this is what you need to increase your audience.
Choose a media for your passion and brand. Some people jump on new and emerging platforms to get ahead, where there is less competition. Becoming a vine star or periscope star.
This does work.
However, if you treat yourself as competition, it means you don’t see yourself as a market leader.
Publicly comparing yourself to others is a mistake.
Choose the media that best supports your passion.
- Blogging = site, facebook.
- Vlogging = youtube, snapchat.
- Music = soundcloud.
- Fashion = tumblr.
- Graphic design = pinterest, behance etc.
Obviously you should try and use other social platforms and media to filter into the platform you’re trying to build the most.
I filter my Twitter following into my Instagram following using Crowdfire automatic DM’s. Now my Instagram following has 4x the audience compared to Twitter.
Twitter is still used, it’s just primarily used to support my other social media.
Years ago, I befriended thousands of magicians on Facebook from a fan page of a site that I was about to publish my magic on. I went after the most engaged followers.
Those who were liking, commenting and sharing on that websites social posts.
I got to know them, got to like most of them and then used that audience that I respected to help me promote my new magic downloads. Both became best sellers.
That is not a coincidence.
I’m not saying the tricks weren’t good. They were. I put years of work into each of them. I just cheated the system and had an audience big enough to market those effects for me. On a budget of… NOTHING.
Find a social platform, website, blog or mailing list that has an audience for what you want to share. Look for like-minded people, influencers or popular brands on that platform. Borrow some of their following by collaborating with them, contributing to them, interacting with their fans directly, following their accounts, liking their posts and slowly but surely a small percentage of them will be curious enough in you to take a look.
If you’re producing good content, and you have a good brand image, they’ll stick around and support you too.
Step #6 How to monetise it?
Kevin Kelly says you only need 1,000 true fans to make a living. Go check out his blog post on The Technium. Just google ‘1,000 true fans Kevin Kelly’.
What Kevin is saying is if you have 1,000 true fans, fans that will buy your every book, album, download, pdf, t-shirt etc. Then that’s all you need to do what you love.
It’s not about the size of your audience, it’s about how committed they are. I made enough money from 1 magic download to not have to work for a few months and it was published on a relatively niche platform. Something more popular creators didn’t think was worth their time.
You could do the same, but you need to be aware that it takes time to slowly build your customer base. I’ve been following my passion for almost 10 years this year (which sounds like a convenient number, but I started when I was 16, and I’ll be 26 in just a few months).
The work you put in now will pay off in the long run.
If your passion is writing, take a job as a journalist, contribute to blogs as a guest contributor, slowly gain a following for your work, start your own blog when you have the time. Build an audience from there. Write a book. Now you’ve leapfrogged through the system to realise your dream of becoming an author. Along the way you’ve gained fans and now your book has sold 1,000 copies from Amazon in just 1 day. Success!
If you love to play the piano, take an awful job in retail that finishes at 5pm. Contact 5-star hotels to play piano in the lounge/bar in the evenings 3 nights per week. Hand out business cards to couples potentially looking to get married, to guests who are looking for themselves or their children to learn. Start giving classes from your living room or playing at weddings/parties.
Voilà, now you are self-employed in an area that reflects your passion.
I know it may seem like I’m simplifying the situation, and I am. However when I look back on my career thus far, every move I’ve made has contributed to where I am now. My choice to go into affiliate marketing gave me the knowledge to lecture some of the top brands in the world, which got me noticed by a big magic company, and now I’m doing what I love.
Every move you make can bring you closer to your eventual goal, even if the two seem un-related initially.
So what are you waiting for? You’ve got a Brand to build.