How do I make money as a personal brand or influencer?
This is pretty much the question of the year… and probably the next 5 at least. I meet people frequently that want to be an “influencer.” They usually mean on Youtube, Snapchat and Instagram. When I ask “why?” they tell me because they want to get paid to create.
We all want to get paid for our passions. As I’m a creative, I run into many other creative-types so it makes sense that they want to get paid to create. They want to work with brands, and create amazing native ads on their social-stations—while getting paid well.
This isn’t an easy feat!
This will take time, money, energy and intense will. However, you can position yourself in a way where you’re making money on day one building your brand.
Why Building a Personal Brand is the Key to Your Career Freedom
When you’ve successfully built a recognizable personal brand, simply—you have options. People know who you are, what you do, and why you’re great at it. They come to you with opportunities (to work with you, collaborate with you and more!).
In this scenario, long gone are the days where you had to take ANY work that came through the door. Long gone are the days of sitting behind a desk at a 9-5 wishing you could be paid to create. Long gone are the days where you wished someone just knew who you are and what amazing stuff you can do!
When you have a personal brand (if done well), people will recognize you for having a specific set of desired traits, skills or expertise. You’ll be sought out for that expertise, and paid in exchange. You’ll become the “go-to” name for whatever that expertise is: wine, social media, crafting the best home-brewed lattes, brain hacking, energy reading and more.
Simply, this presents you with perhaps dozens of options to choose from for “work.” When you have options, you consequently have freedom. Okay, so you may be thinking now… “Awesome, I’m sold! But how the hell do I build a personal brand!?”
It’s not the easiest task you could set out to do this year, and over the next decade. However, it is the one that will keep giving back to you and when done successfully will grant you all your desires.
Building a brand takes years. If you start with the right mental mindset, and actions set from the pros, you’ll be on the right track. The thing is too, that you can be making money from day one.
Let me show you first, how to set up your personal brand to attract the right clients to you, and then how to make money with it.
#1 Master What You Offer and Who You Serve
If you know these things without a shadow of a doubt, you are officially ahead. Knowing exactly what you offer, the value in it, how to communicate this value, and who you serve is the difference between success and failure.
This is the very first step. It’s not a shiny website with expensive photography. It’s not having thousands and tens of thousands of social followers (though this could help!). It’s how clear you are with communicating what you have to offer. Now, you can have a gnarly expertise, but talking to people that aren’t in your audience or tribe. That will lead to at least mild disaster.
It’s not just enough to know what you do and how to communicate it. You must also know who needs you! Contemplate where these skill sets and values thrive. Who would love the expertise you have? Most importantly—who needs you, to succeed?
A great way to jump start this is to create a personal branding statement.
Simply put, a personal branding statement is: “I solve ___ for ____ audience. This results in __.”
Answer these questions to start building out your personal brand:
- What do you do?
- Why do you do what you do?
- Who do you do it for?
- Why is it important for ___ audience?
- What results does it create for ___ audience?
Okay, lots of theory and some questions… Let me show you how I’ve positioned myself as an example.
“I create, manage and market personal brands and influencers. Simply, I help showcase their strengths in a way that attracts opportunities and communicates their authentic value. I help influencers and personal brands connect with their audience, attract collaborations, and become visible through social media marketing—so they can leverage their audience and get paid to create.” ~ Emelina Spinelli
In a few sentences, I’ve stated what I do, who I do it for and why it’s important for them. Don’t just stop there! after you’ve built this statement, it’s gotta be super clear on every single platform you can get your hands on.
#2 Create Clear, Consistent Messaging on Your Website
Once you mastered this, you can start making money from day 1. You may not have a huge following, but people will understand your value upfront. When the right people come across your online presence, you’ll get great opportunities and clients because your messaging will resonate with them.
Take the personal branding statement that you created above (hopefully you’re creating it now!) and plaster it all over your online presence. When you have a strong online presence, it will be easy for people to connect with you and understand how you can help them.
First, take a look at your website.
Showcase Your Brand Positioning Front & Center
Make sure that your positioning and value is shown up-front on the first page (your home page). Make sure that immediately upon landing on your home page, that people know what you’re all about, what you offer and how you can help them.
Your website is often your place of first impact (or 2nd if they’ve come from a social media). This is your own personal real estate where you get to show yourself off, and it’s not only acceptable but encouraged.
Show Yourself Off & Your Personality
Part of communicating your value is showing who you are. Your website should have big, beautiful photos of you. Express your personality. Your visitors don’t get to see you in person, so communicate your dynamic personality on your site through your photos and messaging.
Have a Way for Interested Parties to Contact You
Make sure you have some sort of contact page available and clearly labeled on your site. I really like to link the contact or “work-with-me” in the navigation bar. I usually link out to a Typeform.
I use Typeform rather than a normal contact form because it’s more aesthetically pleasing, gives me stats and reports for traffic, and I get to customize my questions to get specific with my potential clients.
Offer a Freebie Giveaway to Collect Emails & Build Your List
This may not solve your immediate need of making money as a personal brand on day one. However, anyone that knows anything about online marketing—knows that there is much to gain for cash, opportunity and influence with an email list.
Have an Introductory Offer to Work with You for Under $100
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people offer big packages and high-priced items that I’m interested in working with. And there have been on more than one occasion where I invested in big-ticket items and I found that they weren’t worth it.
Give your audience an opportunity to test the water with you. This is similar to offering 15 minute or 30 minute free “discovery calls.” I just stopped offering free calls because in 15-30 minutes I end up laying out strategies for people to the point that they don’t really need me past the call. And I get they type of overachievers that take the info from me in 15 minutes and run and execute it.
With that, I no longer offer free calls. The information I offer is valuable, and I would hate to “hold back” just so I can get paid for a larger package later. I decided to start offering 30 minute consulting calls as an intro rate for online marketing consulting and instagram consulting. The point is, to offer a smaller investment to allow someone to test you out. Then if they like what you offer they can book a larger package.
The intro packages allow you to build trust with people in your audience, and pretty much everyone can afford something under $100 without breaking the bank.
#3 Create a Strong Online Presence on Every Platform
Now that your website is covered with the essentials, it’s time to turn our attention to social media.
Update your Social Media Presence to Reflect Your Messaging
This is a pretty easy update. Swap out all your old photos for new pics. Then make sure all your profile bios say relatively the same thing. Find a way to quickly state what you do, and who you do it for in your bios. For example, I just have a quick sentence in my bio where I say “helping entrepreneurs & thought leaders build personal brands and influence”
The link in your bio everywhere should direct to either your personal website and/or a content upgrade or "opt-in" for you to collect email addresses on your site and build your list.
Make sure your posting relevant content daily to your social media platforms. You can use some of these tools to schedule your posts.
#4 Become an Authority Figure or Expert
This one takes time. I’m still working on it too! This can be done in a variety of ways (and deserves its own full article), I’ll cover some below.
Guest Write for Authority Sites
Have you ever seen people that write for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Business Insider or Forbes? Did you immediately assume that they must be epic, awesome people to write for these companies because you have so much respect for these big brands?
Learn the art of pitching your work and writing for top authority sites. Create content that would resonate with their audience, and see if you can get in to these top publications.
These authority sites help position you in the market as an expert (as well as sending loads of free, valuable traffic to your site!). Of course, you’re usually writing for free in exchange.
Create Your Own Authority Blog
Build a website where you’re the authority. You publish information, articles and content frequently in the topics you’re looking to become known for. Publishing regular content is a great way to stake your claim in the market as an expert.
This is no small task. Building authority sites takes years, and some serious dedication. It certainly pays off though!
Go to Events & Meet Key Influencers
You can usually find key influencers at relevant, popular events and conferences. This is the time to take photos. When you can show photos of yourself with key influencers and experts (and many of them!) you associate yourself with these experts. This is a psychology thing—by associate yourself with these top-influencers you’re directly implying that you’re also like them. This is a terrific tactic to build trust, and recognition with your audience.
In fact, it’s the strategy that Lewis Howes, Marie Forleo and John Lee Dumas use. They interview and connect with top influencers and authorities and thereby become associated with them. Ever go to Marie Forleo’s website and see pics of Marie paired with Richard Branson and Oprah? This is one of the many ways that she shows her authority.
Have you seen my wall-of-fame? I’ve met Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuck, Marie Forleo, Dave Asprey, Tim Ferris, Gina DeVee and ShonDuras from Snapchat. Plus Austin wrote a cool story on lessons learned from meeting celebrities.
Get PR Mentions and Features from Big Sites
Another element of credibility is of course being mentioned in big sites. Being featured in Forbes or Entrepreneur does a ton for your personal brand. This is something that probably can’t be planned unless you have someone on the inside track. However, if you place your attention on it, and manifest it into being by obsessing over it, you can probably get some gnarly PR mentions.
When you have a strong online presence, and your messaging is clear as glass—you’ll naturally attract these opportunities. I’ve been contacted by the New York Post for opportunities because my site was clear on what I was offering and they needed an article around it. I was featured in Entrepreneur Magazine Online and Business Insider for being an Instagram consultant.
All these opportunities came in as a result of my personal branding and incredibly strong online presence.
These are the variety of things you can implement to build your personal brand pronto. When you’re extremely clear on what you offer, to whom, and you have an incredible online presence as well as services to offer, you can make money with your personal brand, starting on day one.