I just had dinner with my good friend Theresa who works at one of the Big Four Accounting Firms. She doesn’t love her job, but she doesn’t absolutely hate it either because it pays the rent. Times are tough, and her firm is going to have a massive layoff next week, and she might be walking the plank.
“I’m so scared because I don’t know what to do if I get laid off. How will I find another job?” she opens up to me.
“There’s something positive in everything Theresa. Maybe this is an opportunity for you to pursue something that you absolutely love to do. What would that be?” I ask her.
“Well, I worked in a PR internship while I was an undergrad and absolutely loved helping our clients interact with their customers and get their name out there. But, I’m an accountant now, I feel it’s too late to go into PR.”
It’s never too late to chase your dreams, aspirations, and to do what you love. And most importantly, it’s never too late to start building your personal brand.
Sure, my friend is currently branded as an accountant. She’s been working at a Big Four Accounting Firm for one year, but that doesn’t mean she can’t mix it up and start branding herself as a public relations expert.
Build your brand in an industry
Here is the advice I gave to Theresa so that she can build her personal brand in an industry that is currently NOT her full-time career:
1. Fully understand what it is that you love to do
Understand that this is going to take a lot of work. If you want to build your brand outside of your current career, you’re going to have to work harder than you’ve ever worked before. So before you embark on your new personal branding journey, you need to know for sure what you love to do.
It’s a tough question: “What do I love to do?” Not many people can give an honest answer. In order to find out what I love to do, I asked myself this simple question:
“When I die, how do I want to be remembered?”
It’s a little extrememe, but it really put things in perspective because no one wants to feel unfullfilled on their death bed. Think about how you want to be remembered, and you’ll figure out what you’re supposed to do in life.
2. Research the industry and figure out who the current experts are
Before you jump in and start building your personal brand, take the time to find out who the current experts are. Figure out why people read their content and what makes them an “expert”. Analyze their writing styles and figure out how you can be different and carve your own niche. Preliminary research is just as important as good writing because if you position yourself well from the very beginning, then you’ll never have wasted time due to having to change directions.
Focus on demographics that these “experts” are ignoring and figure out how you can capture this demographic with your writing.
3. It’s time to start your blog
There are over 100 million blogs out there in the world! Every 90 seconds, there are 100 more blogs created! How can you compete in such a saturated market?
To be perfectly honest, the market is not saturated. Yea, there are over 100 million blogs, but only a small percentage really focusing on building a personal brand. All the rest are personal diary blogs are company blogs. Second, few people actually take the time to write quality content and to go above and beyond for their readership.
Let me give you a awesome example:
My good friend Adam Baker recently started Man vs Debt, a blog about personal finance. The personal finance blogging world is HUGE because there are so many people writing about it, and it is extremely difficult to stand out against the big players in this space. But you know what, Adam has only been writing for a couple of month, and he already has over 400 subscribers on his blog and has already hit the front page of Digg!
How was he able to do it? He cares, he listens, he writes quality content, and he reaches out to people in his community to build relationships with them.
Theresa is scared of trying and failing. She feels that creating her personal brand in PR will be too difficult for her, and she doesn’t want to put in the time and effort and only to watch herself fail.
But she’s wrong. When you put your heart and soul into doing something you love, you can never fail. You see, success isn’t measured by the amount of money you make, it’s measured by the quality of life that you live. If Theresa builds her brand and is able to reach 7 people in the very beginning, then she should feel proud that 7 people actually care about her writing and what she has to say.
It’s never too late. Don’t let fear hold you back. You can do it and the time to start is now.
Jun is the Founder and CMO of Viralogy, the platform that ranks all of the best blogs. His personal blog, How to Succeed as a Young Entrepreneur, gives a real, unfiltered view of the Startup Life so that current and aspiring entrepreneurs can learn from his successes and mistakes.