When someone asks for an expert in your niche, you want your name to be the one that rolls off their tongue. To become the expert people think of right away, you need know how to create your personal brand—but building a personal brand isn’t something that happens overnight. It can take years to build, and is hard work to maintain.
Growing my own personal brand has allowed me to create an incredible travel blogging business where I work with tourism boards and properties all over the world. In less than two years of having a passport, I’ve traveled to 28 countries.
Below are just a few of the other things I’ve been able to do because of my personal brand:
- I’ve gotten paid to create content on my blog and social media accounts for enormous brands like Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Mattel, and Optimum Nutrition.
- I’ve given speeches at conferences all over the world. I gave the keynote at Clever Talks; previous keynote speakers for that event include Mark Cuban, David Hasselhoff, Jocko Willink, and Robert James O’Neill.
- I attended an Oprah event in Los Angeles and sat next to Tom Shadyac, Odette Annable, and Usher (I was also five seats down from Oprah).
- I’ve had my name published in places like Forbes, Reader’s Digest, USA Today, and Women’s Wear Daily.
- Most exciting for me, I interviewed my childhood crush, Kirk Cameron (a dream come true).
You get the point. Building a personal brand can open doors to incredible opportunities. Thought leaders, entrepreneurs, authors, and influencers can have new adventures every day because of their reputation and following.
Be warned, though: It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Establishing a personal brand can take years and requires constant maintenance.
What’s a Personal Brand?
A personal brand is your image—it’s how the general public sees you. You can use your accomplishments, career, skills, and talents to help craft that image. As others become aware of your story and your expertise, they begin to recognize you as a brand.
Your brand can include your appearance or a unique element of it, like a signature lip color (Taylor Swift and her classic red lips) or outfit (Bill Nye the Science Guy’s bow tie). It can also include stylistic quirks; when author Stephen King signs his name, he always loops the end of the “n” of his first name around the top to cross the “t.” It’s instantly recognizable to fans, and he rarely deviates from that style. Consistency sticks in the memory.
One of the most important, but least tangible parts of personal branding is how you make others feel. You want people to connect to your story and feel as though they know you, but this has less to do with what you say than how you say it. Your charisma builds your good reputation, which is important when someone considers hiring you or inviting you to an event. To affect how others feel, be aware of your body language, make eye contact, ask questions, and listen actively to what others say.
Long after you end a conversation, leave a room, or step off a stage, those you affect will continue to talk about you. That’s your personal brand, working.
Who Needs a Personal Brand?
If you work as a media personality, social media influencer, author, athlete, coach, consultant, or anything else in the public eye, then personal branding is vital to your career. Even if you don’t already have a public profile, it may be in your interest to create one. If you’re starting a new business, for instance, building your brand can help people connect you to your business as you become the face of your new venture.
As you try to gain more brand awareness for your business, other businesses or marketers can search online for your name. What will they find? If your media profile shows expertise, you’re more likely to get invited to attend events or speaking engagements than someone with the same skills and no media profile. Media appearances bring legitimacy and trust, so if you show that you’ve shared your expertise in prominent publications or TV shows, you have an edge over a competitor who doesn’t have those accolades.
With a personal brand, you can switch industries without anyone batting an eye—because you control your own narrative. The influencer who was once a fitness coach may discover a love of travel and decide to blog about that instead of the latest exercise craze.
In fact, that’s exactly what I did—after losing 123 pounds, I started a blog about holistic health and fitness. As my blog gained traction, I started to work with brands. Eventually, I got paid by these brands. Then, people wanted to know how they, too, could make money online. So I went from health and fitness coach to business coach.
After making good money as a business coach, I started to travel more for fun. Eventually, I was writing exclusively about travel on my blog and working with clients all over the world. I was able to make these transitions seamlessly because I, not the network marketing company I used to work with, am always the face of my own brand.
You, too, can have that independence if you follow our step-by-step guide to creating your personal brand.
1. Research Other Personal Brands in Your Industry
When you’re evaluating someone else’s personal brand, you’re first going to pay attention to what attracts you to that person’s content. Notice the mood their content conveys; consider the typography, the colors used, and even their unique way of delivering a message or story. What do they want you to feel?
Chances are that you can think of several people off the top of your head with a very strong personal brand that you like. We’re not saying that you need to copy their brand, images, and messaging, but the stars you admire give you something to shoot for, and it’s important to figure out who you admire the most.
Examples of strong personal brands include:
- Gary Vaynerchuk: Gary Vee is loud and all about hustling your face off. He’s built a media empire so big that his audience looks to him for all things entrepreneurship.
- Beyoncé: Queen Bey broke free from her all-female group Destiny’s Child to become a solo star. She now produces records, acts, and is known for unapologetically being a diva.
- Rachel Pedersen: Pedersen went viral after sharing a photo of her tiny engagement ring on social media and how she eloped just 13 days after meeting her husband. She’s been dubbed the “Queen of Social Media” and is viral on TikTok.
- Tai Lopez: Popular with the bro crowd, Lopez regularly shares videos of fast cars, private jets, and his mansion. People are surprised when he reveals he lived with the Amish for more than two years.
- Keanu Reeves: Known as the “internet’s boyfriend,” he’s Mr. Nice Guy—who also happens to be an actor. Thanks to his success in the movie “Speed,” he’s typecast as an action movie star.
- Bear Grylls: If push comes to shove, he will (and did) drink his own pee and eat fat, juicy grubs from a log to survive. He’s a former Special Air Service serviceman, survival instructor, and honorary lieutenant-colonel who launched a wildly popular survival TV show called “Man vs. Wild.” He’s the Chuck Norris of the United Kingdom.
Each of these people worked out their unique strength and ran with it. They all have 24 hours in a day—just like you do. While we won’t all become the next Beyoncé, brand building is all about leveraging what you have and working on what you don’t.
2. Evaluate Your Own Superpowers
Before you can start promoting yourself, you need to know your own strengths and weaknesses. To do that, you’ll conduct a self-audit.
Write down the following information:
- Certifications: Are you a CPA? Maybe you have a Project Management Certification. Write all of these down.
- Education: You don’t have to have a college education to build a personal brand, but if you have one, it’s worth noting. If you’ve taken online courses to further your personal and professional background, that’s important too.
- Impact: Did you raise $100,000 to put a roof on an orphanage? Maybe you started a ministry for refugees in your area. If you’ve made a difference in your community, write that down.
- Transitions: Did you go through any big transitions that changed the trajectory of your life? Maybe you have a rags-to-riches story or lost your parents at a young age. We all have a story, and you can use yours to create your personal brand.
- Media: Have you ever had your name in print, online, or broadcast media? Even if it isn’t relevant to your current industry, features in any publications are great. Remember that this is a personal brand, not a business brand, so any media is relevant media.
- Opportunities: Is there a skill or certification that other personal brands in your industry have that you don’t? Now is a good time to work on those.
Once you’ve written all of your superpowers down and started to work on your opportunities, you can create a story. The story of your personal brand begins with a personal brand statement.
Create a Personal Brand Statement
“Tell me about yourself.” That request can sometimes send even the most extroverted people into a tailspin. Do you rattle off a few facts, or tell them your life story while panicking? Write a personal brand statement, and you’ll never need to feel that anxiety again. Simply put, it’s a two-sentence CliffsNotes version of what you do and what you’re passionate about.
When creating your personal brand statement, be sure it is:
- Memorable: Don’t let modesty hold you back. You shouldn’t lie or exaggerate, but you also shouldn’t play down your strengths. Your statement should be authentic to who you are and leave your audience intrigued.
- Simple: Big words can make people feel stupid, not impressed. We want people to feel inspired, so stay away from industry jargon or fancy words.
- Short: You’re providing a snippet of who you are and what you’re about, not your entire life story.
Examples of Personal Brand Statements
“I help large families declutter their homes using a method called Swedish Death Cleaning.”
This is an excellent personal brand statement because it tells you what this person does, who they help, and the method by which they do it. It also creates intrigue—what in the world is Swedish Death Cleaning? (It’s a strategy for eliminating excess stuff in your house so that your loved ones don’t have to deal with it after you die.) It leaves room to help continue a conversation about your work because, inevitably, everyone wants to know if what you do is as morbid as it sounds.
Okay, so let’s look at a less shocking example:
“I help high-achieving women attract their future husbands using 1-on-1 coaching and retreats.”
Again, this example is showing who this person helps, what they do to help them, and their method. Now, it’s your turn:
“I help [who you help] [do what] using [your method].”
Use a personal brand statement on your website, on graphics, and on your social media channels. Most social media platforms, like Instagram and Facebook, have designated spots for a personal brand statement (the bio). It’s snippet-sized and easily digestible.
3. Polish Your Brand
Walter Landor said, “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” When you hear the word Disney, you probably think of words like magic, Mickey Mouse, castle, family, and happiness. Disney is a powerful brand that summons the inner child in most of us.
How does one create a personal brand that evokes the emotions we want our audiences to feel? Thankfully, you don’t need a billion-dollar brand. Instead, a lot of branding—both personal and corporate— is made up of consistent visual elements and consistent messaging in every piece of content.
Let’s look at a few examples of personal brands and their messaging:
- Oprah Winfrey: There’s a reason people joke about belonging to the “Church of Oprah,” and it’s because she makes people feel like they can do anything. Her own rags-to-riches story inspires even the most cynical people.
- Elon Musk: Musk is a visionary and risk-taker, much to his stockholder’s chagrin. He thrives on moving the needle forward, even despite personal and technological hiccups. This inspires many of his devotees to be tenacious in their own pursuits.
- Kim Kardashian West: Some might find Kardashian West and her husband, Kanye West, controversial, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who can capitalize on a public relations (PR) nightmare as Kardashian West can—unless maybe you count Kylie Jenner, her younger sister. Both women have built massive business empires around their personal brand.
Make an Inspiration Board
An inspiration board is somewhat similar to a vision board in that both describe an ideal vision of your life. However, an inspiration board is meant to serve as a collection of images, words, and colors to inspire your brand. Sometimes, an inspiration board is called a mood board. Think of it as the first step in the brand design process.
One of the best ways to create an inspiration board is to head to Pinterest and create a brand-new, private board called “Inspiration Board.” In order to create a new board, you’ll first have to find an image you want to save and then select “create board” from the drop-down menu.
Continue to search Pinterest for images, quotes, and colors that inspire your personality and style. You should have at least 15 to 30 images you can draw inspiration from. Don’t worry if these images aren’t completely cohesive yet—you’ll cull these as you create your personal brand style guide.
Create a Personal Brand Style Guide
Now that you’ve got a handful of images to inspire you, narrow the list down to a few colors and images to draw from. You’re going to create a visual summary of your brand’s identity in what’s called a brand style guide. This is a one-page reference sheet containing all of your brand’s visual elements.
Elements to have in your personal brand style guide include:
- Logo and alternate logo: Your logo doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, you can have one created on Fiverr in less than a day.
- Submark: Sometimes, a full logo just doesn’t make any sense on a website or piece of content. A submark is a miniature version of your logo that you can use in places you don’t want a big logo—such as a watermark on an image you make.
- Typography: When you create content, you want to have a consistent set of fonts in your arsenal. The rule of thumb is to pick one font that’s light and one that’s heavy or cursive.
- Style: Choose a few images that give you the feeling you want to convey when someone reads or looks at your content.
4. Book a Professional Photo Shoot
A professional photo shoot can help set you apart from other personal brands. You can search for personal brand photographers in your area or, if you’ve got a bigger budget, travel somewhere else. There are even photographers who will fly somewhere exotic with you to capture the right shot. Keep in mind that these aren’t just headshots—they’re meant to showcase your personality and interests.
If that’s out of your price range, consider doing what’s called time-for-prints (TFP). TFP used to mean that you’d get physical prints in exchange for modeling for a photographer’s portfolio. Now, it means you’ll get digital images to use in exchange for letting the photographer practice. You can contact the photography department of a local college to find up-and-coming photographers who need models of all looks, shapes, and sizes.
If you prefer to work with an experienced photographer, you’re almost always going to need to pay, unless you can provide value to the photographer. For example, if you’re great at videography, offer to create a brand video for the photographer in exchange for a few personal brand photography images. If all else fails, you can always find a friend to take some images of you with a high-quality smartphone.
Choose Your Photo Shoot Outfits Wisely
A big mistake some people make when taking photos is choosing clothing that doesn’t match their brand’s style. When creating your website, you need images that fit well with your brand’s colors. You don’t want to pay for a photo shoot and then not be able to use any images for your site.
5. Be Discoverable Online
You don’t have to master every single social media channel available to you. However, you should have a presence on at least one of the big five channels: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You need to be where your audience is—most are probably scrolling through social media on any given day. You also get to control your narrative by posting your own opinions, wins, and stumbling blocks while interacting with others.
Think of building your social media following as though you’re building a tribe of raving fans. Your inner circle gets to see a side of you that isn’t as structured as seeing you on stage or on TV.
When sharing posts on social media, there are some general guidelines to follow for each platform. LinkedIn tends to be a pretty formal social media platform, so you won’t usually see people posting memes or super-personal stories. You’ll save those for platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Instagram is a very visual platform, so posts are usually very curated and not posted haphazardly. When sharing posts on Pinterest, you’re usually linking to a blog post, article, or website.
How Often You Should Post
One of the most frequently asked questions about social media is how often one should post. The answer? It depends. If you’re posting on Twitter, you can post 15 times per day and no one will bat an eye. Posting more than two or three times a day on a curated platform like Instagram might feel excessive to followers.
How often you post matters less than how consistent you are. If your audience is used to you posting once per day on every platform and then you don’t post for a month, they might unfollow you as soon as you do post again.
To help create consistency in your posting schedule, you can use a scheduler like Hootsuite or Later.com. You can upload all of your images and create captions for each one right inside the scheduling tool for automatic publishing at a designated time.
Create Your Own Website or Blog
One of the best ways to control what someone finds when searching on your name is to create your own website or blog. You can use a free platform such as Medium.com, or you can self-host a blog on WordPress using DreamHost for as little as $2.59 per month. A blog can help showcase your expertise by answering questions people have about your niche.
For example, if your niche is personal finance, you can answer questions such as:
- How do I improve my credit score?
- What’s the best online checking account?
- How can I buy a house with little to nothing down?
- Should I lease or purchase a car?
- What’s the best way to budget?
Your goal is to become the foremost expert in your industry, and you accomplish that by building a strong personal brand and providing a resource to people’s questions. If you dislike writing, you can hire freelancers on Fiverr or Upworkto ghostwrite blog posts for you. You could even start a podcast or YouTube channel that your freelancer can turn into written content.
What to Call Your Site
One of the most debated topics in the online space is what you should have as your website or blog’s URL. I feel that your personal website should have your name in the URL: JohnJacobJingleheimerSchmidt.com. Your name is less likely to change than your niche; I made the mistake of using kathyhaanfitness.com back in the day, and it was a pain to migrate everything to a new URL when I changed the direction of my brand.
At a minimum, no matter what name you go with, your blog or website should include an About Me page and a media page. You’ll speak to who you are and why someone should listen to what you have to say on your About Me page. On your media page, you’ll showcase the media attention you’ve received.
About Me Page
Typically, an About Me page is like a long-form sales page talking about what someone will gain by interacting or working with you. Think of it like your origin story—where did you come from, where are you now, and where are you going? If you’re in a hurry, you can create a short About Me page like the one below.
Anatomy of a Great About Me Page
There are About Me pages that get the job done, and then there are About Me pages that set an example. When someone clicks on your page, the first thing they see should be your face. After all, you’re building a personal brand—no hiding behind logos. The entire image should be above the fold (you should be able to see all of it without needing to scroll).
A navigation menu at the top of the page helps readers learn more about your services. It’s also a great place to put any social media links, provided you have a business page set up for your personal brand.
When you share your CliffsNotes version of your story, don’t be afraid to get vulnerable. You created a story in step four, and this is where you’ll use it. Your story is there to help your audience get to know you as a real person, not a soulless screen robot.
When you’ve shared your story, you then need to connect the dots. Why should readers care about your story? How does it serve them?
Your About Me page should also have a short bio that the media can use, even though you’re also creating a media page. If someone Googles your name, you want them to be able to find the information they’re looking for without working too hard. If you are on podcasts, this short media bio is a great introduction hosts can use before your podcast recording plays. This is why you’ll also include fun facts on your About Me page.
Your media page should include a media bio that gives a brief synopsis of your expertise and story. A media bio differs from a traditional bio in that the latter is more informal, and the media bio is something the press can snag and read on-air or provide in print. If you’ve received any mentions or features in the media, you can use those logos and link to the mentions.
Other popular media page elements include:
- Photos that the press can use without having to reach out to you first
- Topics you can speak or write about
- A way for the press to get in touch with you about opportunities
- Any brand partnerships you’ve had
Clean Up Your Online Presence
What happens on the internet stays on the internet, even if you try to delete it. Take, for example, what happened with Tom Brooks, who was a star on the reality TV show “90 Day Fiance.” He’s been repeatedly called out for posting other people’s luxurious photos and claiming they’re his own. He deleted all of the photos, but not before the internet took screenshots of all of the stolen images.
No matter how small or new your personal brand is, you’d be surprised at how far people will go to dig up dirt. Go through your social media posts one by one and either delete or make private anything unsavory.
Why It’s Important to Google Your Name
Just a few nights ago, I received a Facebook message from the editor of a local newspaper. The editor saw a comment I made on a local news story and then decided to Google me. She found all of my features in big media brands such as Forbes, Thrive Global, and Reader’s Digest. Within days, I was interviewed for an inspiring personal interest story about the work I do.
Imagine attending an event held by Oprah and having several people recognize you. Or giving your business card to someone at a conference and having them Google you when they get home, only to come back the next day gushing about you. Staying on top of your presence in search engines can make all the difference.
You want to show up in search engines so that people get a full picture of who you are as a person and a brand. You may find things when you Google yourself that you aren’t as proud of. If there are things in your past that you’re afraid of people finding out, sometimes it’s best to take control of the situation and tell the story from your perspective. Shining a light on the skeletons in your closet may take a bit of time and effort, but you’ll have the chance to clean up what you don’t want others to see, or at least shape the narrative.
6. Master the Art of Storytelling
Storytelling skills help your personal brand because they humanize you. Have you ever looked at a celebrity you admire and felt that you really knew them, or that maybe they knew you? That sense of intimacy doesn’t happen by accident. Most likely, it was because they (or someone on their marketing team) understood the value of storytelling and how it can make an icon seem more like a person.
You’ll tell stories when posting on social media, speaking to an audience, teaching a lesson to a colleague or employee, and writing for publications—anywhere you have a message to share is where you’ll give a story.
Not all stories are created equal, though: You probably wouldn’t share your story about giving birth to a room full of kindergarteners, but it’s definitely a story you’d share at the next expecting mom’s group. The stories you share need to fit the audience (more on that later).
Remember Details to Your Story
Universality lies in the specific. People will relate more to a unique story than to a general one—so get detailed. Get as deep as you can into what makes your story particular to you. Share the little details to paint a picture. This allows your audience to feel as though they’re living that story with you. Your story will turn out much more engaging. Here’s an example.
A Basic Story
As a kid, I lived in an enormous house on a hill in Portland, Oregon. I had four birds and spent all of my time either reading in my room or on the computer in the basement.
A Detailed Story
From the summer going into the fifth grade until the end of my freshman year of high school, I lived with my mom and stepdad in Portland, Oregon. Before moving there, I heard Portland had volcanoes. My only knowledge of volcanoes came from “The Land Before Time,” so I cried and begged my family not to move there. I thought volcanoes continuously erupted and wreaked havoc on anyone unfortunate enough to live nearby.
Then we moved into a 4,000-square foot Dutch Colonial home right on the side of Mt. Tabor, which is either a dormant or an extinct volcano, depending on who you ask. My parents made me sweep all 32 of the stairs leading from the street to our house several times per week. It was a never-ending chore because we were completely surrounded by trees. Because it was in Portland, the leaves were always wet and hard to get off the stairs. Preteen me hated sweeping these because inevitably, I’d have a run-in or five with spiders.
See how my story got way more interesting by including details? These little details help weave a story and allows your audience to paint a picture in their heads of what you’re describing. Storytelling also helps keep your audience engaged and present in the moment because they can’t wait to hear what happens next.
Weave a Professional Narrative & Brand Story
Your professional narrative is the story of where you came from and where you’re going. It is not your job title, memoir, or resume. Spoken out loud, your professional narrative should take five to seven minutes to say.
Your professional narrative’s purpose is to build a deep connection with your audience in a short time. Once you create your own narrative, it will continue to evolve as you learn and grow your personal brand.
Write down the following elements to your narrative:
- Your voice: Are you an extrovert or an introvert? If you’re sarcastic or funny, don’t be afraid to show your true colors. Your choice of words helps set the stage for the rest of your narrative. “I believe…I’m obsessed with…I hate it when…”
- Who and where: Who are you, where have you been, and where are you going? You’re sharing all the big transitions in your life and big stories. It’s OK to be long-winded—you can cut this down later.
- Common themes: What common threads can you find in your who and where stories? You need to tie this all together.
- Mission objective: Why are you so fired up to do what you do? Write this in less than 20 words. Your “why” should make you cry or swell with pride. It can also be what drives you to be a better person every day.
- Who you serve: This might be different from who you work with now. Who do you want to impact?
Once you’ve put each of these pieces on paper, read the narrative out loud in its entirety. It might help to read it to a trusted friend. The more you practice and revise your personal narrative, the easier it will be to share your story on cue.
When to Use Your Stories
The story you use will depend on the audience you’re speaking to. If you’re speaking to a group of travelers, you can share a crazy travel story. Or, if the audience is full of business owners, you can tell a story about how you got started in your business and the lessons you learned along the way. Refer back to your list of superpowers so that you can choose which ones are appropriate to share in your stories. This will help you if you have a last-minute request to speak on stage, be on a podcast, or appear in any other form of media.
7. Get Media Attention
The very mention of media attention probably has some of you shrieking and shriveling into your corners to hide. This reaction is normal, and happens to even the most seasoned personal brand builders.
In fact, you might relate to TV producer Shonda Rhimes, who consistently turned down media opportunities. She even wrote an entire book on what she did when she was called out for it (“Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person”). If you’re turning down opportunities, I’m calling you out right now so you, too, can have your “Year of Yes.”
Media attention is some of the highest validation you can get for your personal brand. I’m talking about recurring guest spots on TV, a newspaper column, features in huge magazines—it’s all possible. However, you’re not going to immediately get those big opportunities. You’ve got to work your way up to the big leagues.
Should You Pay for Media?
Through getting featured in media, speaking on stages, and being on podcasts, you open yourself up to an entirely new audience. You may eventually run into publications that require you to pay to play—meaning that you can be on their show or speak at their event, but it’ll cost you.
I spent most of my life bootstrapping my business, so I prefer earned media versus paid media. However, if you’ve got the extra cash, it may be worth paying to have a TV segment or a very popular podcast interview, like “Entrepreneur on Fire.” You might even consider paying to co-author a book with a popular author like Jack Canfield.
The Time I Paid to Speak
I did this exactly one time—I spent $347 to teach a workshop at an event in California. The plane ticket alone cost me $1,000, and then the hotel was another $1,000. When I arrived, there were, at most, 30 people there, and most of them were speakers. I told myself, “Never again.” Internally, I was angry. However, I put on a great workshop and acted as though there were 500 people in the room.
Later that year, I ended up making about $25,000 selling coaching packages to women I met at the event. In the end, I made a great profit. You may not always see the same return on investment, though. The reason it worked well for me is that I gave it my all and nurtured the relationships I built at the event.
Help a Reporter Out
One of the best ways to dip your toe in the media water is to sign up for a free account with Help a Reporter Out (HARO). You’ll receive daily emails with opportunities to give your opinion and expertise to reporters and journalists on a variety of topics. There are publications of all different sizes represented on HARO—such as Cosmopolitan, Women’s Wear Daily, BBC, and medium-sized blogs.
Let’s illustrate a real-life scenario of what could happen if you respond to a HARO query:
- I responded to a HARO query looking for inspiring stories for Thrive Global.
- Two days later, I did an hour-long phone interview with a writer from the online publication.
- Six months later, a friend forwarded me the same HARO query, so I followed up. The reporter apologized profusely, saying my response fell through the cracks.
- Three weeks later, an entire article on just my story was featured on Thrive Global and I was deemed a “SHERO” (that’s a female hero).
- I was invited to attend a red carpet gala for the Be.A.Shero Foundation in Las Vegas, where I was interviewed for an episode on the Notoriety Network. Two different news stations also interviewed me on the red carpet
- I was the honoree at this celebrity-attended gala, and a video of my story was played for all the attendees as they announced I was chosen as SHERO of the Year.
- A Marvel and DC comic illustrator turned our photos into a SHERO comic poster that we all signed at MEGACON in Orlando.
All of this happened because I responded to a HARO query. Granted, they’re not all like this, but it’s one of the fastest ways to secure media attention.
However, the bigger platforms don’t typically tell you when they’ve used your quote. Set up a Google alert for your name so you get an email every time your name is mentioned on the web. Google alerts don’t always catch the mention, either, so periodically Googling your name is a must.
Book Speaking Gigs
If you search the internet for the term “call for speakers,” you’ll find speaking opportunities and pitch guidelines for conferences. You can also join a platform like SpeakerHub, which is a place for event hosts to list their conferences and events that need speakers. If you’re an expert in your industry and can demonstrate that experience, you need to be ready to show these hosts why they need to have you speak or teach.
Many events require potential speakers to list previous speaking engagements, and a lot of them ask for speaker reels and one-sheets. A speaker reel is a video montage of your speaking abilities, and a one-sheet is a summary of your speaking topics with a brief bio. You can have each of these created by a freelancer on Fiverr.
Pitch Print & Online Media
Being seen in the media is an excellent way to have social proof that you’re an expert in your field. When you pitch media, you’ll approach it very similarly to pitching a podcast. First, you’ll start with smaller media outlets, such as the local newspaper, radio station, or news network. You’re starting small so that you can have proof of your success when you approach bigger platforms.
There’s a caveat to this: If you’re submitting an article for publication, you don’t necessarily have to have previous media published. Your article just has to be great. If you’re simply pitching the idea of an article without having written it already, a large magazine like National Geographic will want to see previous work before hiring you for an article.
Popular platforms that accept article submissions include:
- Travel + Leisure
- National Geographic
- Country Magazine
- Woman’s Day
Most publishers have submission guidelines readily available online. Guidelines typically include stories that do well on the platform, what doesn’t work well, length requirements, and where to send your submissions.
Publishers typically won’t allow you to talk about yourself and your accomplishments in an article you submit. However, people are inevitably going to Google your name if they see your byline in an article they like. Sometimes, you will be able to pitch editors to write about you specifically. For example, if you have a weight loss transformation story, Women’s Day is a great place to pitch.
Once you’ve been mentioned or featured in media, you can add the media logo to your website. Most publications have a page dedicated to logos and other branded material; otherwise, you can Google it: “[publication name] logo png” works well.
Get Booked on Podcasts
Many of us have dreams of picking up the phone and hearing Jimmy Fallon’s voice on the other end of it, asking for an interview on his show. Chances are, many of us would fail miserably at the interview if we didn’t have experience on live TV.
The reason for this is because most people haven’t polished their message or been interviewed before. If you got booked on the number one podcast in your industry tomorrow, how would you perform? The key is to get prepared.
The Podcast Opportunity Ladder
The best way to get practice for your big performance is to get booked on smaller podcasts. Order podcasts on iTunes based on popularity, and pitch the least popular podcasts first. Note that you can only sort podcasts on a desktop—not your phone.
Once you’ve had a few interviews under your belt, you can move onto more popular podcasts. You continue to work your way up this opportunity ladder so that by the time you get to the top, you’re able to prove to those podcast hosts that you’re a pro at podcast interviews and worthy of being on their show.
Another way to find podcasts that accept guests is to search Google for “podcast guest request” or similar phrases. You may find some email addresses for podcast hosts this way, but mostly you’ll find application forms to fill out. It’s a lot harder for a spam bot to fill out a form than it is to scrape an email address from the web, so most people prefer not to have their email addresses listed on the web.
How to Pitch Podcasts
Podcast hosts get pitched every day by prospective interviewees. This means you’re facing a lot of competition, particularly if a podcast doesn’t typically do interviews on its show. That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t pitch the host—it just means you’ve got to give a really good reason as to why you should be on the show.
Your podcast pitch should include these elements:
- Personalization: Show that you’ve actually listened to the podcast you’re pitching. Use the host’s name in the introduction and include details about a favorite episode. Sometimes the fastest way onto a show is to stroke the host’s ego.
- Brevity: Hosts don’t have time to read long pitches.
- Ideas: Provide five potential topic ideas to the host. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for the host to say yes.
- Short bio: Think of this as your elevator pitch. Include who you are, what you do, and what previous media you’ve acquired.
Some podcast hosts have a form to fill out if you’re interested in being on their show, and others just provide an email address to send your pitch to. When you email a pitch to a podcast host and they want to interview you, you’ll typically receive a link to their calendar to schedule the interview. Usually, the host will then ask for a headshot, a few bullet points about what you’ll talk about, and any links you want to use for the show notes.
Be sure to add the date to your calendar, even though most podcast hosts will send reminder emails. You’ll need to have a great microphone and a quiet place to conduct the interview when the time comes. Do your best not to reschedule your interview, particularly with big podcasts. Podcast hosts are very busy, and may not want to reschedule you for a new slot unless there are extenuating circumstances.
Bottom Line: Personal Brand-building
Building your personal brand will take time, but it won’t be a slog. The path will twist and turn in directions you couldn’t have foreseen. When you start to feel complacent and bored—that’s how you’ll know it’s time to pivot. Relish the details and commit yourself fully to your ultimate goal: the confidence that when you walk into any room, anywhere you go, they’ll already know your name.