Today I discovered my website traffic has quadrupled since December 2014 — and soared to the top 1.5 million US websites according to Alexa. (The prior rank was in the top 3 million).
The number of leads coming in per day are overwhelming me now — and are from business in the US as well as China, Russia, Israel and France. My Klout rating is now 69 — in the top 1% of all bloggers who write about social media.
How did this happen?
You know the saying: “The shoemaker’s children go barefoot?” I actually started using the Internet marketing techniques I get paid to do for clients to promote my own business.
First — I looked at my competition and analyzed the content marketing and websites of the top 50 Internet consultants listed on the “Forbes 50″ list and tried to figure out what was working and not working for them, then copied it. (More about this in a future blog post.)
1. Redesigned my website with a state of the art mobile-first responsive template.
2. Chose a unique color palette for my personal brand. (Plum/Peach/Black.)
3. Changed my photo to a recent, digital photo with currently stylish clothing (a gray/black dress) and got rid of the old, black and white photo that was obviously taken pre-digital with a film camera.
4. Added client lists and work samples to my website.
5. Rewrote the first page as a “Pain Letter” writing directly to my potential client and stating how I can solve their problem. (No visibility on the Internet.)
6. Added logos of the clients I’ve worked with in the past on the right hand side of the page.
7. Added a “Contact Me” with a form to send an email.
8. Used a scheduling app so clients can schedule a 15 minute trial consultation.
1. Ramped up social media posts to 10-20/day on Twitter by using Buffer to time the posts 24/hrs. day. (It now takes only 1 hr/day to do my own social media.)
2. Got mentioned in a few articles as a social media expert. (Adds credibility.)
3. Started regular posting on Google + – the Google search engine likes Google + and these posts boost your rank
4. Created several new pages in listings and directories that built links back to my website
5. Put my URL on press releases on PR Web. This is huge. It drives tons of traffic back to your page.
6. Rewrote the first page of my website so it is loaded with key words clients are searching for. (Social media and PR consultant in Silicon Valley and San Francisco.)
7. Blogged 1 x/ week
8. Set up content syndication from my blog to Twitter, G+, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
9. Blogged on LinkedIn Pulse — creating more than 2,500 followers for my Pulse blog.
10. Built pages on About.me, Eolio and other sites that point back to my URL.
11. Tweeting about the “trending topics of the day” using #hashtags.
12. Changed my photo to one that looks directly at the reader instead of off to the right.
13. Choose a new color palette for my “personal brand” that no other consultant has. (Deep plum/peach/black.)
Can I do this for your business? Yes. And if I can’t do it for myself, why would you hire me?
I was talking to a client the other day who wanted more visibility. They had a hideously long URL for their company website.
I rolled my eyes. I immediately knew they were doomed to failure unless they changed their name.
I asked: “Is there any way you can find a shorter url?”
My prospective client hemmed and hawed about how attached he was to his ridiculously long company name.
There’s a reason why Google and Yahoo succeeded — and a host of other earlier search engine contenders like NorthernLights and AltaVista bombed.
There’s a reason why YouTube won the video wars and early contenders like, “uh, um, uh, whats their name, I forgot” failed.
Because YouTube is a freakin’ awesome brand. It says what it does. It has attitude. It’s memorable. You can spell it. It rhymes with things. It’s unique. It works in other languages and other cultures.
When I named my business, I spent an entire rainy day on Go Daddy typing things in at random until I found “Visibility Shift.”
Even though it’s not short, it’s memorable, it says exactly what it is.
And it’s relevant to my consulting practice, which is about shifting your visibility to a new level. I was absolutely floored when I discovered such a great website name was even available — and for $7.99.
Here are 10 reasons you want to take time to find a truly memorable stand out URL:
It’s easier to type a short, memorable name – a long or unmemorable or hard to spell url just discourages people
It’s memorable – (One word is best. Two words are ok. Three is just too much. Say it out loud. Can you pronounce it?)
Searchability (SEO) – A name that isn’t unique is going to bring up millions of search results in Google. You want a unique URL so you are the first and only hit in Google, without having to pay $$$$ to Google for adwords.
International localization – remember the web is global and your name has to translate easily into other languages — so it’s better if it’s not a word in any language. Run your name past some friends who speak other languages and some translation software and make sure it doesn’t translate into something embarrassing. (The Chevy Nova flopped in Mexico because “No Va” means “Won’t Run.”) Say it out loud again. Does it sound like something obscene in Chinese?
Put less words on your site, more pictures. Especially remember that the web is international and words need to be translated. So the fewer words, the more universal your message is. Learn from the success of big brands like Apple and Google who take a less is more approach.
It doesn’t have to be a .com — You can be successful with a .us, .tv, etc. For example, Delicio.us. And that’s even shorter.
Groupon is successful in large part because their name rocks. “Group + coupon.” Brilliant. Memorable. Unique. Short. Tells you what it is.
Get your name first before you spend time and money branding it. Changing your name later is very costly and it means you are undoing all the work you did on public relations, marketing and social media outreach. (Did you know that AirBnB was originally called “Airbed and Breakfast”? Seriously! The airbed rental idea flopped so they shortened it.)
VCs look at your brand and name as a big reason to invest. A great logo, web design, business card, brand and name are almost as important as the product or technology behind the brand.
Think about web branding when you name your products — and your kids, too. I’m grateful that my mother, very ahead of her time, gave me a name that is so unique that I go to the top of Google. Check that name out in Facebook, Twitter and Google and make sure it’s available. (The reverse applies if you want to protect your privacy — then John Doe is the way to go.) Consider adding a unique middle name to your name that describes what you do so you stand out. (ie: David “Avocado” Wolfe is a speaker in the health food field.)
This advice applies to any personal or corporate brand — a musician, band, artist, writer, book title or film. Choose your name carefully and snap up the URL as soon as you can, even if you end up sitting on it for years before you get your project started.
For more information about naming, visit Name Wire a blog about naming.
The funny thing about social networking is…we often forget that it’s just a virtual party. It’s not about amassing tons of “fans” so you can have the biggest party — it’s about inviting the right people and serving tasty snacks and drinks.
It’s about playful banter, music and laughter.
You know what happens when you talk sex or politics at a party — dead silence.
A cocktail party is NOT the place to pull out a gigantic billboard and say HEY BUY MY PRODUCT! (Unless you are a paid sponsor with a table or booth.) And imagine if you pulled up your shirt and showed off your appendix scar?
But people do this all the time on Facebook! They forget it’s a party.
A great Fan page is an authentically engaged community where you have a conversation — even better if your tribe cares about what you have to say and shares it with their communities. At a party this is called gossip and word of mouth. On Facebook it’s called sharing and viral marketing.
Remember — a great party is not about QUANTITY it’s about QUALITY. Be selective. Invite the right people. Dress to impress — or stand out in the crowd. Serve good spirits and keep the music upbeat and the conversation as bubbly as champagne.
We are not collecting fans or contacts for Ego — we are collecting real human beings and we should care about them as much as we hope they will care about us.
Think about the real world equivalent of your Fan page. How would you interact in these different real world parties or events?
50 friends or less = backyard barbecue, workshop, a drum circle.
150 friends or less = a tribe, a retreat, a big party, wedding, etc.
1000 friends or more = a conference
2000 friends or more = industry trade show, music festival
10000 fans or more = sporting event or concert
100,000 fans or more = gigantic stadium event
1 million fans or more = broadcast on television
And here’s a great metaphor for Fan pages from #socialmediamixology:
How did this happen? In this post, I dissect and analyze everything I did — there are lessons here for you too, if you are building a Personal Brand, Thought Leadership or platform for your workshops, speaking and books.
Here’s a frank and blunt review of my website, www.VisibilityShift.com, in 2013, and where I can improve it in 2014. Take note of my advice to myself — there are tips for you here too!
By the way, I was sick for almost a month in January-February 2013, and spent that time at home, tediously working on my SEO, updating my blog, and building up my social media. I think this focused time, boring and unpaid, generated huge payoffs for my personal visibility in 2013 — results that paid off in higher profile clients, celebrities, and inquiries from big brands. Remember, there are no rules in social marketing–everything is new and we’re all learning this as we go along.
My 2013 highlights:
New business: In 2013, my website (and social media) brought me so many fantastic new consulting clients “the shoemaker’s children went barefoot” and I barely had time to update my own blog. This is my second year as a blogger, and to watch my site soar to the top 3 million in Alexa in this short time is really quite remarkable considering how little I posted. Much of my traffic came from old posts — which means my writing has “staying power” in the search engines.
More traffic: Even so, traffic increased dramatically and my page rank zoomed up — I’d gather this is by using a syndication service (Networked Blogs) to drive more traffic to my posts, and by promoting and reblogging them on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn — which is where half of my traffic came from. Also by tagging my posts, WordPress automatically syndicated them where they were picked up by other blogs. More about how to “social syndicate” your blog in a future post.
New template: I updated to a fresh new template and designed my own banner, with photos of events I’ve built online communities for (to illustrate that social media is about people — not “content”.)
Better SEO: I also spent two solid days entering my site in directories (like Yahoo, DMOZ, Yellow Pages, CitySearch, etc.) to boost the Search Rank. This also helps business find you.
My Alexa rank increased by 15,966,175%! It is now an impressive 3,230,007 — meaning it is ranked in the top 3 million of all the billions of websites on the planet. This made my site a desirable target for advertisers. Or a potential buyout target for a blog syndicate. (A URL with traffic and page rank is worth money — sometimes thousands of dollars at auction.)
Klout rank increased: My Klout rank soared to a pretty impressive 66 in the competitive Social Media category — this is mainly from using the iPad to post photos of networking events and client events to Instagram, tagging my posts and building a following there. I call this “Digital Red Carpet” service — kind of like being an instant paparazzi. It’s fantastic for building traffic.
Started Visibility Shift Fan Page on Facebook: I also started my own Fan page on Facebook, finally. (Ahem – too busy posting for clients to maintain my own page.) I put a feed from my Fan page into my blog — which brings traffic fro the blog to the Fan page and vice versa. Remember — your fan page and LinkedIn profiles show up first when people Google you.
My URL went out on Press Releases — a lot of them: I do PR for clients, and my URL and the name “Visibility Shift” went out on PR Web press releases. This generated inbound links and more traffic to my own page — and higher page rank. I recommend that you also send an occasional press release on PR Web, even though it costs more than other services, because it is highly keyword optimized and your story shows up in Google and Yahoo news for an entire month. Free press releases can also be very effective. More about how to integrate PR with your social media (Social PR) in future posts.
Press coverage with my name in it: While managing PR for some high profile events (like the Synthesis festival in Chichen Itza, Mexico) I was a spokesperson in quite a few stories and interviewed by German television. This put my own name in stories — driving more credibility and traffic back to my blog.
Made “friends” with influential people: This also gave me a chance to “friend” the celebrities and CEOs I was promoting–after all, I needed to be friends with them in order to “tag” them in posts I made on their behalf. All of this leads to higher Klout and credibility. You can also simply follow famous people and engage with them — you’ll be surprised who follows you back. One retweet from a big name and your traffic will surge.
I followed a very high profile CEO on Twitter at midnight on a Saturday in 2013 — and retweeted his post with a compliment. He immediately responded! We became friends on Facebook. This lead to an immediate job interview with his high profile business. He then invited me to be a VIP guest at his personal party — which was cohosted by Google. This is how you, too, will win friends and influence people with social media in 2014!
My 2014 personal branding strategy:
Advertising – I think it’s time to start generating passive revenue from my page, so I’m planning to get some banners or use AdWords. Why not at least try?
Passive revenue – The best way to do this is an Ebook. Yes, it’s time to write an ebook! The other way to generate revenue is use affiliate programs — such as selling Amazon.com products and books related to your blog topic.
More frequent posting – I’m going to stick to a regular posting schedule. Yes, you should too — even if it’s just a paragraph. Force yourself to post regularly on your blog instead of Facebook. Your posts last seconds on Twitter and merely 45 minutes on Facebook — they live forever on your blog in Google! I vow to blog more, Tweet less in 2014 and make my posts shorter, more frequent and more sharable.
Pithy headlines — The rise of Upworthy and ViralNova taught us that mysterious, evocative headlines are viral and shareable. Quite often people will retweet or share your post without reading it at all — simply because the headline is so engaging. Also, remember to write your headlines for Twitter — add @ and #hashtags and keep them short.
A splash screen with a “call to action” – I’m seeing other consultants “ask” for clients with a pop up screen that offers consulting services for an hourly fee–it’s time for me to do this too and “walk my talk.”
Capture your audience–their email that is: I will add a pop up screen that asks my visitors to give me their email address — or like my Fan page.
Better branding — Gosh, I do this for clients all the time and my own branding sucks. It’s time to brand my own website too and hire a graphic designer to update the banner and customize my template.
New template – I recommend updating to the latest template every year so your look stays current and fresh.
Guest blogging – It’s time to guest blog on Huffington Post, or Social Media Examiner, to bring more credibility to my blog.
Speaking engagements – By ramping up my own image, I got a few offers to speak in 2013, and it’s time to be proactive, pitch myself the way I pitch clients, and speak once a month or more. I’m speaking about “Mindful Marketing” at the Mystic Island Festival, Maui, HI, January 30-February 2, 2014, and I will be part of the Wisdom 2.0 Unconference at Google, February 8, 2014. (These are both clients I have advised on social media, content marketing and PR this year.) I was also offered a speaking engagement and “sponsor status” (link back to their website and logo on marketing materials) at a high profile tech conference as part of the deal I negotiated with them as their social marketing strategist.
Press releases — I always ask my clients to use PR Web or free press release services to drive up their traffic. That’s a good idea for me too. A press release every month will keep you in Google News and Yahoo news adding tons of traffic to your site — sometimes 50,000 visits with one release.
Press coverage – Don’t be shy about talking to the press. I am so busy pitching my clients to the media I forget to pitch myself. It’s time to be a spokesperson about social media and PR issues and get a little limelight shining on myself too.
How about speaking at my local TEDx? Yes, join a TEDx in a small town — this makes it easier to get a speaking engagement and it’s a high profile and prestigious perk to have your TED video in YouTube.
Add logos to my bio – I’ve worked with a lot of big names over the past 30 years — this year I added Google, Twitter, Facebook, Steve Wozniak, Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, Alanis Morissette, Iggy Pop, David Starfire, Daniel Pinchbeck and some other heavy hitters to my client list by promoting conferences and music festivals with these speakers on the bill. It’s time to play that up more and add their names and logos to my bio, some “Rave Reviews” and testimonials and toot my own horn a little louder. These names on your website also drive more traffic to your site in random searches.
Google Hangouts, Conference Calls and Video Seminars – Yes, it’s time to get on camera and create my own webinar. I helped a client promote his webinar this year. My turn.
Newsletter — Again, the shoemaker’s kids are barefoot. Where’s my newsletter and mail list? (Slap slap.) Where’s my “call to action” on my website? And how come I haven’t done a “fan page squeeze” to export the 100,000+ fans I have access to on 20+ fan pages and turn that into an email database?
Add a Blogtalk radio podcast – How about an “Ask Giselle” Q&A show where people call in and ask for advice? I have clients with radio shows that have generated so many followers this year they were offered TV shows. Yes, podcasting builds your platform and following and you can do it with a mic you can buy at Radio Shack that snaps on your smart phone.
Or add a vlog (video blog) or YouTube show – Tape a video with your smartphone and host it on YouTube and post it to your blog. No skills in video? Appear at a conference and speak for free — they usually have professionals taping these conferences. Ask for a copy of the video and repost on your blog, social media and YouTube channel.
It’s time for all of us to make beautiful shoes to wear in 2014! Make yours a pair of Manolo Blahnik stiletttos. Reach for the stars in 2014 — you deserve a visibility shift too.
This year, the WordPress.com “stats helper” even prepared an automatic summary of the year’s posts .
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.
This down time between Christmas and the first week of the New Year is a perfect opportunity to give your personal branding a lift and start the New Year with a fresh image.
Here are eight ways you can use free templates and other inexpensive tools available on the web to give your business or personal brand a lift.
1. Reinvent your name for the new year.
Is your business name unique–or is it lost in the crowd? Consider finding a new name for your business and a unique URL — an identifier that people type into the browser to find your website. Do a little research on Go Daddy or directly from WordPress, and see if your business name (or your personal name, or the name of your book) is available. If your name is generic, hard to remember or hard to spell, change it today before you start…
Search engine marketing is about creating content with specific key words and waiting for it to be found by the exact people seeking it.
You do not knock on doors. You do not act desperate, begging for attention.
You simply be your best possible and most attractive self and calmly put that out into the universe … and wait.
In the “new age” movement, the work of Abraham Hicks and the blockbuster book: “The Secret” talk about this law of attraction in terms of thoughts. “What you feel or think is what you will attract.”
A few weeks ago, I was thinking of the exact client I wanted. This client was at an event I was present at but I missed the chance to introduce myself to them. The next day, they emailed me and sought me out. As Depak Chopra says: “There are no coincidences.” I drew that client to me. They pursued me.
Of course, I did not just “think” of this client — I had already spent my lifetime building the skills and relationships for the job. Months in advance I redesigned my website, my business cards, the description on my Facebook profile, the way I dressed in public, the photos I chose to show on my page. I was ready when they called.
On the Internet, in our marketing, we do not “feel,” we write.
What and who do you want to attract?
Who is your dream customer, your dream client?
You don’t ask for a job. They “get” to hire you … if they’re lucky!
You don’t beg for the customer to buy. They “get” to buy your product if they’re ready for it.
What are they searching for? What is their wildest fantasy? What solves their problems?
What does that person look like? Who are their relationships? Where do they hang out?
Tailor your communication. Be exactly that.
In your face to face communications, in your marketing, your website, your Facebook posts, use the “key words” and phrases, the clothes, the colors, the “search terms” and emotional cues, the graphics, images and colors that attract customers, clients and opportunities to you.
Here are some ridiculous profiles and titles of people who did not make the cut and get to be one of my 2,200 connections on LinkedIn:
Anyone who still hasn’t paid me yet.
Your title and every word in your profile is written in lower case.
Passport photo or driver’s license photo used as your LinkedIn profile photo. (No kidding.)
Scary, mug shot-style LinkedIn photo. (Against a wall, all black and white.)
Anyone not wearing a shirt. One woman PR consultant in my network is wearing a bikini top in her LinkedIn photo Seriously. Bikini top? Unless you’re a character on Baywatch, swimwear is not appropriate for business.
Someone who says she is an “orgasmic liaison”.
No photo. No description of what you do. (Who is this mysterious character with no shared connections? Why are you on LinkedIn? Why do you want to be my connection? How did you find me? Why? I’m scared. Help…)
Someone who calls themselves a “bliss expert.” (Maybe they’re connected to the “orgasmic liaison” but not me.)
Real estate agents. (Unless they are my boyfriend.)
Executive recruiters who are going to pelt me with requests for access to software developers. (Go away.)
Substitute teachers. (I don’t think in a million years a substitute teacher is ever going to hire me.)
A guy in a Scottish tam o’ shanter and ruffled shirt. (On LinkedIn? Are you lost?)
Insurance agents. (Yikes. Go away. I already have insurance.)
Anyone who is a “Career and Life Coach.” Unless you teach football, you’re not a coach around here.
Anyone who is an “Executive Coach.” Unless you coached Bill Gates, you’re not an executive coach in Silicon Valley.
Anyone with both the words “coach” and “cannabis” in their title. (I said “green business.” Not that kind.)
People who sell anything multi-level. Especially water filter distributors. (Oh, that’s impressive.)
Anything pyramid schemey. Especially if it involves something you blend in a smoothie.
Anyone who is a “meditator” in their profile title. (Or was that “Mediator” spelled wrong?)
Your NAME IS IN ALL CAPS you run a “HEALING MASSAGE SERVICE” and you live in another country.
Anyone with a creepy dark photo with a crooked smile.
Men who are not wearing shirts.
Men wearing Hawaiian shirts and a baseball hat that obscures their eyes. (This isn’t a virtual barbecue — it’s a virtual business cocktail party.)
Spells CEOs “ceo’s.” (Yeah, right. I’ll bet you are an “executive coach” too.)
Your LinkedIn photo is kind of dusty and it was taken at Burning Man. (Ok if you are Larry Harvey, a founder of Burning Man.) All others, “delete.”)
People who call themselves a “CEO” but run a home-based MLM business and have nobody reporting to them but their cat.
“Umbrella branding” is a strategy that huge multinational businesses use — it’s the umbrella that covers all of their smaller brands. For example, GE is really a defense contractor when you get down to it, but their brand focuses on light bulbs: “We bring good things to light.” GE’s umbrella branding tags include: “GE: Brilliant Machines,” for their hospital equipment and “GE: Imagination at Work” for industrial equipment.
Or consider Hewlett-Packard, (HP). Did you know HP makes LED light bulbs for cars, components and about 10,000 other products?
I know, because I worked for HP for several years and sat in meetings where we wrestled with this problem. Every one of those 10,000 product managers with a product at HP wants a press release and a press tour for their product, but only a few, select, “front runners” and stars get chosen to represent the overall brand. In other words, the products that are most interesting get the PR. When we think of HP, we usually think of the front runner products like: “Ink Jet Printers.” Or: “Innovation in the historic HP garage.” This was condensed ino one word, the HP brand: “Invent.” This is the HP umbrella brand.
Now if HP and GE can’t afford to be all things to all people in their branding, you, Joe Schumuckatelli from Pocatello, Idaho sure as heck can’t afford multiple brands.
But small businesses and start-ups almost always try to have multiple product lines, spin off new stores, create new catchy taglines for all of their offerings, address multiple markets and even have multiple websites and logos. What a mess.
If you can’t remember all of your brands, products and taglines — do you think the customer can?
In my personal experience, any business brand (or personal brand) trying to be too many things is doomed to failure. I have see this in the high tech industry where start-ups with less than $1 million in funding will attempt to brand multiple products and serve both the B2B market and the consumer right out of the gate–confusing the investors, press and customers alike.
To create a personal umbrella brand, the first step is to ask yourself:
What makes me tick? What is at the core of every major step I’ve ever taken in my life?
It will help to get feedback from friends, clients and family and step outside yourself to ask this question. Tap deeply in to your core life purpose.
When you clarify your life purpose and articulate it in a mission statement, you are on the way to creating a Personal Umbrella Brand that will work for your focus for years to come, even when it changes.
To start creating your Umbrella Brand, answer this question:
“Who is My Dream Client or Perfect Customer – and What Makes Them Excited?”
Case Study: A corporate organizational management consultant who now also does personal organizing and “downsizing” for individuals and small businesses.
Her business mission: “I create organizational strategies from Fortune 500 to the home office.”
Or, in a personal branding mission statement, “I simplify your business. I simplify your life.”
Focus your brand strategy on your website for better SEO:
In your website, build your overall brand that ties it all together as your summary statement, making sure to use key words that people will search for in Google when they want to find you. This “elevator statement” is the most important thing you’ll do so give it time and bounce it off friends and clients. These key words create Search Engine Optimization or “SEO,” so use them often in articles on your website.
Use pull down menus on your website to create sub-categories for specific lines of business.
If your businesses are wildly disparate, you should build a separate brand, website and Fan page community for each business — but trust me, this will seriously tax your time and focus unless you are Richard Branson or Jane Fonda and can afford teams of people to manage all of this for you.
(I got to visit Jane Fonda’s office once many years ago, and asked: “Jane, you’re incredible. You have exercise videos, produce films, run non profit organizations, raise a family — how do you do it all? And she said something so honest I’ll remember it for the rest of my life: “Are you kidding? I’m rich! I can hire people to do all these things for me.”)
So if you have the fame and resources of Jane Fonda, go ahead and build multiple brands. Otherwise, focus your personal brand.
Focus your bio on LinkedIn:
For many of us, especially if we’ve been working for two decades, our LinkedIn profile is all over the map. What do all these jobs add to? What is the ultimate focus that ties all this life experience together into your life purpose? Find the key words that clients or employers are searching for, and build those key words into your personal brand.
If your signature line or title says you have six careers, which one do I hire you for today in 2013? Which one is your primary revenue stream? Nobody is an expert in 6 things. Focus your personal brand.
When I see 5 careers in a LinkedIn profile, email signature line or Twitter bio I think: “She is less than 20% at each of these things.” I want to hire the person who is 100%, don’t you? Focus your personal brand.
I don’t want a floor wax that’s also a dessert topping — I want an eco non toxic wax for hardwood floors.
I don’t want a dentist who is also an auto mechanic — I want a cosmetic dentist with an office within walking distance from my house.
Use a clear mission statement in your signature line, and if you have multiple lines of business, add a separate URL for each one. Build a separate email address for each business–it’s free in Gmail.
Focus your personal pages on Facebook and Pinterest for hobbies that build your personal brand:
Most of us want more meaning in our life, and turning a passion or hobby into a business is everyone’s dream. Before you pour your time into building brands for all of your passions, though, ask yourself:
What is my business — and what are my passions?
Yes, like most people with a life outside of work, I’ve done a lot of things that I’ve been paid to do — this includes being a backup singer on some CDs, art curator, remodeling and flipping houses, stage manager and emcee for the Green Festival, art model, on stage storytelling performer, vegetarian caterer, producing events and yoga conferences, journalist, aromatherapist, writing a book about my “Eat, Pray, Love” journey in the south of France, etc. etc.
I took a stab at starting businesses in all of these areas but generally, I ended up investing more than I earned …therefore they are hobbies. My business is promoting things. I have found a happy medium that feeds my soul by promoting things that are my passions — technology that helps people collaborate, events that teach healthy lifestyles, solar energy and green ideas.
My passions, aka hobbies, however, don’t belong on my LinkedIn profile, my professional website or my email signature line unless I want to look like a flaky new age dilettante.
(Here’s an actual Flaky New Age Dilettante Twitter Profile: “Shamanic journeyer+travel.art.yoga junkie+wellness warrior+DJ+social alchemist. Some say l am an expert in Marketing, & Campaign Management.” Uh, yeah, not for personal branding I hope.)
I do get a lot of clients from the people I met while doing my hobbies, and they feed my soul, so I indulge in my hobbies on my personal Facebook page and Pinterest or by taking on volunteer roles or “pro bono” clients in these niches and highlighting them on LinkedIn in the volunteer section at the end of my profile.
Focus your thought leadership niche:
Examine your market niche and do research on the competition. For example, for one of my clients, a green talk radio host, she has discovered that there are no competitors at all for women representing the ecological and green movement. The door is wide open for her to take a thought leadership position and own that category as an author and media personality and we’re working on that together. For my business, I did a search in Twitter and noticed there are 181,000 social media gurus. But very few focus on the LOHAS, green or sustainable market — that niche is wide open for thought leadership.
Focus your photo and banner.
Choose your best portrait photo and use it consistently everywhere — it’s your brand. Same hairstyle, same eyeglasses, same hat or hair color. Think of celebrities that stand out eternally – Marilin Monroe and her platinum hair, Elvis and his sideburns, John Lennon and his round glasses, Groucho Marx with his big nose, moustache and glasses, Larry King and his suspenders — each has a style so distinctive that they are easily parodied. Find a unique look that defines your personal brand. One easy way to do this is to choose a consistent background for your photos — such as a redwood forest, ocean or city skyline or to wear a consistent color. Hire a designer to create a banner for every social and web page or use a cover maker — and make sure it is one in a million unique. (No cheesy stock photos.)
Focus your regional market.
Even though the Internet is “global,” few businesses really are. If your clients are from a specific geographical region, put that in your mission statement and build listings on Yelp, Yahoo, Google, and other local listing services to ensure you show up in local searches.
It’s easier to be a big fish in a small pond — so consider focusing your brand to a region with the least number of competitors, or even moving to a region you can own and dominate. That region is a keyword that is crucial to your SEO for your website, LinkedIn and your Twitter bio–be specific so customers can find you.
Focus and build thought leadership with content — and real world examples.
Thought leadership is a commitment to leading a category and curating content in that category until you are synonymous with that category. (Tim Ferris owns the “4 Day Work Week.” Don Miguel Ruiz owns “The Four Agreements.” What do you own?) Yes, it’s tedious. Yes, it’s not as much fun as being a dilettante — but it helps you stand out and build authoritiy, page rank and SEO.
Brand focus builds authority and trust
Another client is a river rafting guide and also a massage therapist. I convinced her to drop the massage therapy from her river rafting website and build a new site for that sideline. It’s distracting to think of the relaxation of a massage and the adrenaline rush experience of river rafting under the same brand.
Her new brand tagline is: “Life is a river — dance with it!” This reflects her personal passion in dance, and the fact that every river trip has live or DJ dance music, making them very different than mainstream river rafting trips. Other tag lines that spin off this theme will include: “Life is a river, flow with it!” and “Life is a river, dive in!”) The new card and website emphasize “flow” with curving fonts. There are hundreds of Esctatic Dance events and hundreds of river rafting trips — but she owns “Dance with the River”.
When you focus your brand, you will find that not only will your credibility with clients improve, but your SEO, website traffic, Klout and Peer Index scores will soar because these scores reflect the consistency of posting on a single topic area and building thought leadership in that category.
As your Klout improves, clients and customers will call, and you will be getting inquiries from the news media looking for authorities to quote in their stories, and speaking engagements.
When you focus your brand, you won’t have to search for clients — they’ll finally be able to find you!