Crash-Course: Personal Branding

10446514_10152199417204849_5049922602517051129_nYou’re familiar with Coca-Cola, Starbucks, and Nike—as soon as you hear each name, your mind conjures an image, feeling, taste, or smell. You remember good times with friends, gathering for a barbecue, curled in a warm cafe, or running on the trail. Their advertising campaigns have carefully created associations for you. You watch their advertisements, recognize their logos, and consume their products. They’re unmistakable. If you follow their lead, you can leave a mark just as big.

When you think over each company you may wonder, what does this have to do with me? I’m not in retail for a reason, you think. I’m not in sales either–I’m an artist for Pete’s sake! But don’t write them off so quickly. All artists need to market themselves. If you want to succeed as an individual and a freelancer, you need to create your own personal brand.

That is what this crash course will teach you to do.

Personal Branding Basics

intro coverBranding means combining what you say about yourself with what you do. Doesn’t this sound simple? It’s easy to understand and almost is cliché. The trick is in the planning and the execution. Ask yourself some questions: 1) Who do you want to be known as? 2) What do you want to be known for? 3) What do you NOT want to be known for?  4) What are five words you want people to say when they hear your name? …. Read More



Most branding discussions have two major problems: either they promote a phony persona or they are without substance. Fake or fluff: pick your poison. Jeremiah Gardner wrote about the problem with “branding advice” and how it creates “The Personal Brand Myth“. He explains how many experts recommend you shape your outward appearance for your intended audience, and be your true self somewhere else. But let’s be frank: This thinking is bullshit. …. Read More



Brands want people to find and recognize them. They keep their name consistent so that a simple search will bring them to the top of the list. The same is true for personal brands. Make it simple to find and connect with you. If you’re not consistent in name, design, and content, you’re making it more difficult for others to find you online and be assured they’ve found the right person. So let’s start with the most important part: naming and claiming. …. Read More



Building Your Website

You’ve probably heard that you should create your own site. But you’re busy, and it’s complicated and confusing. Is it really that important? Yes. It really is that important. As complex as it is, having your own site is essential for your brand and your online presence. You can easily find more than these five reasons, but these are the most important arguments for having your own site. …. Read More



We’re going a bit more technical now. Some people and brands will build their entire site from scratch. Either they already have experience programming or they are paying thousands of dollars to have it be completely customized. Right now I’m assuming you don’t have much website building experience or much money, so my descriptions are given with that in mind. There’s plenty of in-depth discussions out there, but for now let’s start at the very beginning.…. Read More


You’ve waited long enough. It’s implementing time.

Remember how last time we discussed hosting, the CMS, and the theme? Now it’s time to get practical. Here’s what I recommend:

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Understanding Social Media

“Quality rises to the top,” they say. “If you’re good, you’ll get noticed,” they reassure you. Your family, friends, and teachers are all well meaning, but quite wrong. If you want an audience, you must intentionally build a broader community that likes your work and wants to see more of it. … Read More



It’s time to make a name for yourself in your story in the big wide world of social media. A huge audience is out there waiting for your stories; your task is to find them. In Part 1, we covered Conversational social media platforms. In Part 2, we’ll explore Top of Mind and Staying Power social media platforms you can use to spread the word about your stories and build a community. … Read More


part-3bHold on to your hats, storytellers. We’re almost through with this little fly-over of social media platforms you can use to get your name out there. In Part 1 and Part 2, we covered platforms that help you join the conversation, remain “top of mind” for your audience and give you some staying power down the road. To wrap things up, lets look at some of the social medium platforms that didn’t make the cut. Many of these are powerful tools in their own way, but aren’t as useful as some of the others for the storytelling community as a whole: … Read More


Find Your Audience – Discover Your Voice

Finding an audience can seem overwhelming. Tons of people are out there, so how can we know who will like our stories? First you’ll want to narrow your focus to find the particular sliver of humanity that is going to be excited to find what you have to offer. Then, once you’ve decided who you want to talk to, we’ll look at how to find them. … Read More


“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.” – Jimmy Stewart

Companies build a customer base, and storytellers build an audience. The relationship that storytellers have with their audience is one of utmost respect and surprising vulnerability. We bare our souls and desperately hope that will impact someone. Similarly, our audience comes to us looking for inspiration, challenge, or entertainment and they give us something precious in return: their time and attention. … Read More

Pablo Picasso. Leonardo Da Vinci. Vincent Van Gogh. Claude Monet. At the very sound of their names, images, colors and styles fly to mind. I always thought these great masters were born with their unique style. However, while walking through an art museum, I was surprised to discover that each of these masters learned first by imitation. The tour guide explained that in art school (or in apprenticeships), these painters first learned to perfectly imitate their predecessors. Only then were they allowed to experiment with new ideas. … Read More


Let’s Do This

It takes time to build a reputation. Don’t wait until you’re ready to sell your finished story before you start branding yourself. You have plenty to offer even if you’re still in the first stages of story-creation. The best way to spread the word about yourself and build good relationships with your audience and other industry workers is to help others. Reach down to help those who know less than you. Reach out to collaborate with your peers. Reach up to get advice and insights from those who have gone before. … Read More