Today, it’s easier than ever for individuals to build and promote the personal brands for free, long before writing and publishing a book.
The Internet offers you numerous free ways to demonstrate your subject area expertise, set yourself apart from your competition, and build your online visibility. There are several ways you can take small steps today that represents investments you can build on later, developing a major competitive advantage relative over your peers.
Start early and start small with small steps you can build on and, later, incorporate into more ambitious online brand-building activities.
A tale of two job candidates
For example, let’s consider two college students entering their senior year; both hope to get a job before graduation. Both have had similar work experiences, share similar interests, grade point averages, and extra-curricular activities. Both are comfortable during interviews. Their only difference is their online visibility; both have similar Facebook pages.
Their primary differences are the links on their Facebook pages:
- Candidate A’s Facebook page contains links to their family and friends, their college, and their hometown.
- Candidate B’s Facebook page is similar, but also contains links to several free websites where potential employers can find proof of the candidate’s interest, knowledge, and understanding of the challenges, issues, and opportunities in the field where they want to locate employment.
Which candidate do you think is most likely to get the job?
Building your personal brand online for free
Here are seven of the ways you can build your online visibility for free, proving your knowledge of your field and linking to your Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter accounts – even if you haven’t yet set up your first website. The following are introduced roughly in order of complexity:
- Creating list of online resources. One of the easiest ways to get started is to compile lists of recommended articles, books, audios, videos, and other online resources at URLi.st. For example, I’m creating constantly growing lists of writing books and online writing resources.
- Sharing comments and opinions about websites. Bounce takes the idea of sharing online resources to the next level, by making it easy for you to take screenshots of web pages, add your comments and annotations, then invite others to contribute their ideas and comments. Here’s an example of Bounce in action.
- Writing and placing articles online. One of the easiest ways to build your online visibility is to write articles for online articles like ezinearticles.com. Not only is this one of the largest article portals, but there are hundreds of articles, blog posts, and article writing tips to help you get started. Ezinearticles.com also provides you with a author profile page with links to all of your articles, plus tools and reports to track the popularity of your articles.
- Creating online press releases. PressExposure.com, started by the same team that created Ezinearticles.com, guides you as your write and place press releases promoting your articles, books, and other brand-building examples of your expertise.
- Sharing ideas and inviting feedback without a blog. Choose Squidoo if you’re looking for a more robust personal branding platform, such as the ability to add multiple visuals and feedback options. Squidoo provides a level playing field that you can build upon as your skills develop.
- Create and share your videos online. You can get started creating your own 5-minute screencasts using Screenr.com’s online video recorder and hosting services described in a recent post. If you have a microphone hooked up to your computer, you’re ready to get started in online video!
- Creating and sharing online mind maps. Mind maps displayed online, like the one at the top of TheBrain.com, permit you to share vast amounts of information in a visual format that allows others to explore your ideas in as much detail as desired. (See what happens when you click on Products or Business Solutions.) Using Webbrains, you can access your mind maps from any online computer at home, at the office, or while traveling. You can also control who has access to your maps; everyone, no one, or just selected co-workers, prospects, or clients.
What do all of the above share in common?
All of the above online personal branding tools can be set-up and maintained for free. Although some of the above offer fee-based advanced capabilities, you don’t have to subscribe or buy anything to continue building your brand.
In most cases, you’re invited to immediately get started on the home pages linked above!
Another characteristic of the above is that the information you choose to share in your initial attempts to build your personal branding is yours to build upon for years to come.
- Your list of recommended books, for example, can form the basis of a website incentive, a newsletter, a section of a book proposal, or an e-book.
- Your articles and Squidoo lenses can be incorporated in e-books or chapters of a published book. You can also reformat your articles and lenses and use them as the foundation for podcasts and videos.
You’re likely to be surprised at how quickly your lists and resources become more valuable. For example, I began compiling my URLI.st’s less than a week ago, and I’ve already been using incorporating them in other projects, details.
Once you get started, new alternatives and options will begin showing up of their own accord!
Getting started building your personal brand
The availability of the multiple free options listed above only requires three things from you:
- Confidence that the information you take for granted is valuable and deserves to be shared with others.
- Commitment to get started, taking small steps that benefit you now, while provide building blocks for later projects.
- Discipline to prioritize and manage your time, so you can develop the habits of on-going personal brand building while taking care of family, health, and business in other areas.
Often, the longest journeys begin with the shortest steps.
The seven free online resources listed above represent just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of others. Share your experiences working with the above, and the results you’ve achieved. In addition, share other favorite free online personal branding tools as well as any ideas or tips for making the most of them. Share your discoveries as comments, below.
Roger C. Parker shares ideas for planning, writing, promoting, & profiting from brand building books in his daily writing tips blog. His latest book is #BOOK TITLE Tweet: 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Compelling Article, Book, & Event Titles.