To set yourself apart from other online business owners and brands, there are a few steps to tap into your personal story and learn the fundamentals of digital marketing. Read on for 5 ways to build your online presence & market yourself.
1. Tap into your personal story
A personal brand is different than a company brand. This level of marketing requires you to both communicate your value to your audience, while instilling the trust to invest in your product or service.
In Episode 50 with Lissette Calveiro, we talked about how our personal story could (and should) be brought into our personal brand. As women of color, we often struggle in recognizing our value and worth. The first step in developing our personal brand has to be rooted in unraveling this belief. If you are a woman of color and feel like this, know that you are not alone; this is imposter syndrome.
Your brand is tied to your personal story
We must believe that our brand or business is tied to our personal story. And since our story is only ours, there is no way that any two businesses or brands can be identical! We love Episode 88 with Nadia de Ala and Allison Carpio, who talk about how they’ve built confidence in fully owning their personal story in their business. Some methods to tap into your personal story include:
- Creative writing
- Creating vision maps
- Talking to your family and friends
- Tracing links across your experiences
- Observing your routine
- Monitoring your emotions
The key is in practicing whatever makes you feel in touch with yourself. What we are trying to uncover here is your authenticity. A brand cannot be personal if it is not authentic.
2. Identify your expertise
Once you tap into your personal story, you will start to identify what feels most authentic. For anyone creating a personal brand, creating from a place of authenticity will show. Not only will you build a relationship with your audience, but you will also find the creation process a bit easier. Speaking about something you know will be way easier than speaking about something you don’t know about or aren’t even interested in.
Some questions to ask yourself when identifying your expertise include:
- What do you care about and why?
- When do you feel the most confident?
- What feels easy for you to talk about?
- What skill have you spent the last X amount of years refining?
Always hone your skills
Once you feel you’ve identified your area of expertise, you will need to continue staying relevant and up to date on key advancements in your field.
Say your expertise is in blog monetization. What worked for your 2-3 year old blog might not work 2-3 years from today, especially when considering the oversaturation of online content.
For example: Say you’re an expert in blog monetization. A media outlet asks you to be a guest contributor, and you write an article that doesn’t at all include mention of some of the latest, trendiest forms of social media platforms and/or practices for cross-promotion. This is not a good look, because it shows that you are not doing your research to keep your expertise fresh, despite your years of experience.
Free education resources
Depending on your employment circumstances, up-skilling might be funded by your job, or it may be something you need to seek out on your own.
In the case of the latter situation, there are outlets you can turn to that offer skill-learning opportunities. These include:
among many other options out there. These can be useful to build credibility and expertise, or for learning the skills to market your brand once you’ve built authenticity and have identified your expertise.
3. Find your niche
It won’t matter how deep you’ve been able to connect your brand to your story if there is no one to tell it to. This is where your audience niche comes in. Your story won’t connect with everyone in the online world. It is your job to identify who would best connect and why.
For blog writers, download our free guide, How To Choose Your Blog Niche.
Identify your target audience
Returning to the blog monetization expert, you can’t just say your target audience is bloggers. This is too wide. Go deeper → your target audience is a blogger who is a woman. Go deeper → personal finance blogger who is a woman. Deeper → personal finance blogger who is a millennial woman of color.
Just when you think you have identified your target audience, challenge yourself to get more and more specific.
Also do your research! Start following relevant hashtags on Instagram, for example, and get to know the space for this particular hashtag. Try to identify the audience this hashtag draws.
In Episode 99 with Eliza Diop, you will learn that you do NOT have to have everything figured out about your business and brand when launching. Instead, influencers and business owners should pay attention to what their growing audience is demanding of them, either explicitly or inadvertently. Ask yourself:
- What does my audience continually ask me in my DMs?
- What kind of content performs the best?
- What seems to resonate the most?
By listening to your audience, identifying your particular niche will be smoother.
To continue creating your vision of your target audience, consider the following sentence frames:
- My target audience member is ____ years old
- She wants…
- She feels…
- Her day-to-day looks like…
- As a consumer, she is…
- Her social media usage is primarily through…
- She is most concerned about…
The more specific, the better!
4. Engage with your following
Once you have your niche identified and following, you have to engage with them. You’ve done the work of crafting and presenting your personal story and bringing in your target audience into your community. If you don’t engage, any trust you have built will soon be broken!
Try to respond in a timely manner, give personalized comments when the situation calls for it, and continue providing accessible, reliable content to your audience.
More engagement ideas include:
- Commenting on some of the top posts in your niche hashtag
- Going on IG Lives to engage in real-time with your audience and continue keeping your direct presence alive in the brand
- Responding to others’ stories or calls to action (CTAs)
Lissette has even more audience engagement ideas over at her blog.
5. Network with other brands
This last point is perhaps one of the final steps. What better way to grow your audience than by expanding the scope of your network?
When you identify some of your niche hashtags, you should make an effort to communicate to some of the top creators in this space. More than wanting to introduce yourself to their built audience, you should also want to build a community at the creator level.
Building my community within Instagram’s Latina personal finance education niche has been crucial to my brand establishment. Not only do they serve as a sounding board, but we have also been able to collaborate on so many great events, such as our free Side Hustle summit in early spring of 2020.
The more you get your business, brand, and story out there among your online network, the more authentic relationships and networks of support you will have. Making money while being authentic is possible. In other words, income and impact can exist in the same space, including for you.