I have been a yoga teacher, a school teacher, and a wedding photographer. I am currently a personal branding photographer and business mentor — and although these are slightly different hats, hopefully, you can see how well they complement each other!
It took me a while to figure out what my niche is — let alone my brand! Tbh, nailing down my niche and brand was a pretty intimidating process that involved a whole lot of soul searching. But, undoubtedly, it’s been the most valuable thing I have done for my career. It was the actual process of figuring out my brand, and everything that encompasses, which ended up being one of the most important career journeys I have ever taken. It got me asking some really good, honest questions and taking actionable steps to realise the answers.
Now I can say (and show) ‘my niche is personal branding’. But personal branding photography, mentoring, and developing resources is only part of what I do. Helping clients and small businesses connect to their personal brand is an even more significant part of what I do.
This blog is about some of the most important steps I use personally and encourage my clients to take when building their personal brand. Whether you are just starting out on your business adventure, or have been at the game (or multiple games) for a while and your brand needs some fine-tuning, here are four tips to get you going.
1. Get Clear About What You Do
Like really clear.
This is harder than many people imagine because it is more than just your job title or your What, but the Who and the Why as well.
- ‘I am a personal branding photographer and mentor…’ (the WHAT + WHO)
- ‘working with small businesses and freelancers…’ (the otherside of the WHO)
- ‘show up online in non-cheese, non-cringe, non-performative way as the face of their brand.’ (the WHY + WHAT)
This not only tells you What I do but Who for — whilst hinting at the Why behind it. The Why is important as it connects to my core values (more on that next).
It’s also a simple, clear statement… that took a lot of trial and error to get right. A statement that does justice to me, my work, my values, and of course, my clients. A statement that is authentic and unique to me.
If you feel a bit intimidated about answering the question ‘What Do You Do?’, or if you sort of know, or know but don’t really feel like it fully represents your work or brand, then there are a lot of useful questions you can ask yourself. Asking the right questions not only helps you get to the root of what you do but enables you to communicate it creatively, confidently, and authentically.
2. Turn Your Core Values into Business Actions
Core values are the qualities, ideas, and principles you believe in deeply and hold closest to your heart. Core values are vital when it comes to finding personal meaning and envisioning our future self. We can define our core values in terms of ourselves, our relationships and communities, and our work — often they all intersect.
However, sometimes making that jump from knowing the values you hold dearly to putting them into actionable practice, particularly in a business setting, can feel like a challenge. As you figure out each core value, take some time to ask questions about what that looks and feels like.
Core Values Resources
– An article from Psychology Today that explains the fundamentals of core values in a psychological and therapeutic sense.
– This PDF from Carnegie Mellon University offers some good practical exercises on defining and refining your core values, it’s applicable for any area of your life.
– I have mixed feelings about this article from Harvard Business Review about core values in larger corporate settings. However, I do think it offers interesting case studies and insights into why values are essential for businesses.
3. Embrace Your Niche
Embracing your niche is different from defining your niche. Niches can feel limiting, and — particularly if you are in a creative field — pressure to define your niche can also feel like you are boxing yourself in. But you don’t need to sacrifice your eclecticism or broader interests to niche down — in fact, these qualities are an integral part of your personal brand.
However, getting clear on your niche is beneficial not just from a business (and financial) perspective, or even for your clients, but also for your head and heart. There are many ways to honour your creativity and passions, without trying to make them all centre stage of your business. Niching down is a process not necessarily of elimination but getting to the root of what you want to embrace.
4. Be Your Brand Messaging
Brand messaging is your content, web copy, emails, social media posts, aesthetic, photographs… and representative of your product or service. Brand messaging is more than just a good turn of phrase or a great colour scheme, it represents your Who, What, Why, your Core Values, Your Niche AND speaks directly to your client’s needs, dreams, and goals.
This sounds like a lot, but effective and consistent brand messaging, that authentically conveys who you are every time, becomes a lot easier once you have completed the other steps to build your personal brand. In fact, once you really and truly know your personal brand, consistent and authentic brand messaging tends to take care of itself!
So there are four of my top tips for building your personal brand! If you want more insight into these tips (especially some of those questions you need to be asking yourself) or even more steps for defining your personal brand, check out my Foundations of a Personal Brand mini-course.
After drawing on my own and my client’s experiences and journeys, I developed this course to give you a clear framework to build your personal brand by asking the best questions and taking the actions that actually work! It’s designed not to change what your brand is, but help you get to the heart of what your brand is about — and how to communicate that effectively with clients, potential clients, and people more widely.
I honestly believe there is something for everyone in it, whether you are just beginning to think about your personal brand or have a seasoned business and brand under your belt.