How To Use Your Personal Brand To Diversify Your Income

Own your authentic self and make bank while doing it.

Workin' Girl

What do people say about you when they hear your name?

It's the question everyone should know how to answer as they create their own narratives of who they are and who they want to be. For black women, that narrative is even more important as we constantly work at demystifying myths in the workplace and constantly dealing with the pressures of how people perceive us at work and online.

Personal branding helps us navigate how we are perceived at work and online by displaying are authentic selves and controlling our narratives.

For many of us, our personal brands can be the gateway to creating the type of life we want. Personal brands can lead to promotions, new job opportunities, and salary increases if we play our cards right. Here are four women who manage their personal brands and full-time careers. Read how they monetized their personal brands and how they used their personal brand to create opportunities in their full time role.

Cwanza A. Pinckney, M.D.

By day she is the Medical Director, Emergency Physician for CHI St. Luke's Health in Houston, TX.

By night, she is the "The DJ Doctor ™", which she started as a personal lifestyle brand to combine her love for music, medicine, mindset coaching, and being a DJ in a way that was understandable to clients and patients. "Having a personal brand was important to me because I needed to feel that my representation to the world truly embodied my spirit, was authentic, represented all of my gifts, and was aligned with my values and entrepreneurial goals," Cwanza shared.

Three Goals She Had for Her Brand:

"First, I wanted to keep my brand multidimensional so that my gifts could be expressed through many different products and services. I also wanted to make a brand that has room to grow as I develop new products and services." Lastly, she created a brand that "people find engaging and leaves a solid platform for meaningful conversations with consumers."

How She Funnels Her Additional Income:

"My brand includes DJ services, mobile medicine patients, private concierge patients, and coaching for personal development. Each product has its own unique sales funnel tied under my overall brand that has allowed me to earn additional income based on my passions and purpose."

"In one year, I was able to earn an addition six figures based on my passions."

How She's Established Her Brand's Worth:

"As a physician, I was able to leverage my advanced expertise and create a more convenient platform for patient care services. As a DJ DR, I was able to leverage the perception of what a doctor looks like to create interest in my DJ services because you won't find too many DJs who are doctors; clients love and find it fascinating and relatable. The diversity of my lifestyle brand attracts my coaching clients because they are able to find validation in being a multifaceted individual who doesn't have to be stuck in a box and labeled based on one career path."

How She Leveraged Her Personal Brand with Her Employer:

"I re-negotiated my hours to the most profitable shift slot that allows me to be in the hospital only three days per week and have my weekends free. By strategically scheduling my shifts in the Emergency Department, I always know my schedule and can block my schedule so that I can effectively schedule meetings, meet patients, coach clients, and DJ throughout the other four days of the week."

Adriana Crawford

By day, she is a Program Management Specialist for the Federal Government

By night, she manages a relationship and lifestyle blogging site, Adri Speaks and a career coaching and professional consulting firm, Anaford Consulting.

By creating opportunities for herself outside of her full-time job, she's been able to offer her expertise outside of the core of her job function to work on special projects as a direct result, which has led directly to an increase in salary and bonuses.

Her Personal Brands Developed Out of Circumstance:

"One came about as a need, the other, a professional desire. I began blogging as a way to cope with a bad breakup almost 10 years ago. Before I knew about therapy, I blogged about my journey through pain, loss and healing almost as a series of love letters to myself. This began during college while I was also finding my way professionally and trying to discover who I was and what kind of woman I wanted to be."

"I knew that I wanted to help people - Black women specifically."

"At the same time, I'd been working in the nonprofit world developing and managing programs, working as a freelance career coach, and doing a lot of pro bono consulting in the nonprofit and career coaching space without any real strategy. I knew I needed to have a distinct brand that was separate from my career coaching."

How She Established Her Goals:

"First, I wanted to organize my thoughts and professional goals in spaces that were separate from my job. I work in government and I enjoy working for the public, but I have to feed my soul's purpose and I knew working a 9-5 alone would not get me there. Then, I wanted to earn additional income to fund my scholarship for women in college, Adri Speaks 4 Books."

Her Coaching Has Becoming Lucrative:

"Management and career consulting can be a very lucrative field. I've earned additional income by providing resume critiques, career coaching strategies, strategic planning services, business process improvement consulting, and a myriad of other tools and services that help improve the career prospects of my individual clients and organizational health of my corporate clients. I've also earned income by providing life/love coaching services. This service offering will be amplified after I publish my book this year!"

Her Content Establishes Her Brand's Worth:

"Writing for publications with platforms that I love, maintaining a blog that has international reach and readers, and having several professional references and mentors to help guide me has been the key."

"I do this work because I love it, and having the content has been the best way to establish my brands."

Neysa Ellery Taylor

By day, she's the Director of Communications for the Tennessee Department of Correction.

By night, she's an author, blogger and speaker on all things love, relationships and marriage.

Her Personal Brand Gave Her Freedom:

"Freedom is what I gained the minute I understood my personal brand."

"My first goal was to merge my lives. I had a work life and profile, a personal life and profile, and a freelance profile. Storytelling ties them all together. It gave me the freedom to be authentic across all platforms and no longer worry if what I shared on one adversely affected another."

Referrals Keeps Her Money Flowing:

"Once I totally understood my brand as a storyteller, I was able to do freelance scripting for events, communications consulting work for small businesses, and become an author. Branding helps people know who and what they are getting when they reach out to you and when they refer you to another friend or business connection. My previous clients share my work and successes because they know the brand and then turn around and reinforce the brand when they refer me to another person."

Her Personal Brand Helped Her Grow Her Team:

"I work in an industry that historically hasn't been very transparent. As a storyteller, I have to explain to people why the Department of Corrections matters, how the work we do impacts communities, and how the offenders we supervise are entitled to and deserving of second chances. To accomplish that mission, I've had to expand my team and add a graphic designer, a videographer and another Public Information Officer. The team is growing because of my Commissioner's trust in me and the storyteller brand."

Jasmine Sweet

By day, she is the Digital Marketing and Communications Manager at Meharry Medical College

By night, she manages her lifestyle brand at JasmineSweet.com where she shares sweet moments with her audience to inspire and uplift them.

Her Brand Allows Her To Share Her Perspective:

"I went to school for broadcast journalism, and I thought I wanted to be a news reporter, but I always had an interest in so many other industries as well. I wanted to be able to live the things I loved, as well as tell them from my perspective. Whatever I'm experiencing, I'm sharing. To be 28 years old, I've done a lot of living and I'm willing to share the ins and outs of it."

Her Goal Is To Stay Authentic:

"It's cliche, but I simply wanted to be my true and honest self and be accepted for just that. That is still my goal. As a young black woman, I'm facing all kinds of adversity. When I build my brand, I'm thinking about women like me, women who've come before me and those coming up behind me."

"My brand is bigger than me."

Her Large Social Follow Attracted Clients & Partnerships:

"As long as I have the internet, I am making things happen by all means necessary. I don't just manage my 9 to 5 and my brand, I have freelanced for a plethora of small businesses and brands. I also serve as the communications manager to Grammy Award-winning artist, Dom Flemons and worked for international recording artist Valerie June as a social media manager for nearly 10 years. Her songs can be heard on shows like Queen Sugar. As my personal brand continued to grow, I started working with brands last August after I realized it could be an avenue of revenue. I was simply blogging for nearly eight years just to tell my story, and now, I'm working with brands to collaborate on the efforts of sharing a true life experience with a product or service."

Her Brand is a Reflection of Her At All Times:

"That same energy that I give my brand and my blog, I give to all other facets of my job. When you're in tune at work, you can be in tune otherwise. Don't neglect your duties at your 9 to 5. That's like robbing Peter to pay Paul and we all know that doesn't work. Moreover, my brand is a reflection of me at all times. I don't want to compromise either situation. The only conflict that I find between the two sometimes is time. I can't wait for the day that I can give 100% to my blog. I can't wait until the day that I can have a staff and a boardroom full of women just like me whom are working their 9 to 5s to stay alive, but remarkably navigating building their own personal brands."

"Building a personal brand while managing a full-time job is no easy feat, but understanding your purpose makes it all worth the while. It means you are controlling your narrative and creating the life you want to live."

*Featured image via Jasmine Katrina

Originally published May 14, 2018

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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