Today, I'm stopping to do the one thing we all fail to do: pat myself on the back and toot my own damn horn!
Today marks exactly three years to the day that I walked off my job as a TV anchor to become a full-time blogger and entrepreneur.
It's even taken me that long to be able to clearly define what it is that I do, because for the longest time, I struggled with this whole entrepreneurship thing. To be honest, I hated being called a blogger until this year, when everything seemed legit and it all sunk in. It wasn't until this year that the work I'd been pumping in all this time finally transformed my freelance "gigs" into the badass brand I knew it could be.
Year three for me is all about reflection and realization.
I've come to the realization that my brand is valuable. I've built something that I'm proud of and can show off to anyone who asks. I've built something that is authentically me and highly respected.
My brand has gotten the attention of so many people at home and around the world, that now, I want to help you build your brand by sharing some of the things that worked for me as I pieced together my own.
5 Steps to Building Your Own Badass Brand
1. Define it
This was one of the hardest things for me to do, but I had to do it rather quickly.
Defining what your brand looks like, sounds like, feels like, and how it comes across to others is crucial and critical in the early days. This sets the tone and creates the basis from which everything else emerges. What is it that you'll be doing, who is your audience, what does your brand voice sound like? Figuring out (and sticking to) these things is important to finding the roadmap to brand building. It helps to build trust, credibility, and authority.
2. Pick, choose, and refuse
Everything and everyone will not be for you! I repeat: EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE WILL NOT BE FOR YOU!
I had to literally sift through the gigs, invitations, events, and even people I involved myself with. If it didn't look like, walk like, talk like the brand I was building, it had to go! TO THE LEFT, TO THE LEFT! In building my brand, I learned real quickly that everything I did either helped or hindered it. I learned the hard way that there was no separating me from my brand, there were no off days, no personal days, and that I was my brand 24/7, so everything I did was reflective of that. Ever wondered why you don't see Beyonce at certain events, or see Aunty Oprah in selfies with any and everybody? They're super aware of their brands and know what works and what doesn't work for it.
3. Build your tribe
What's Beyonce without the Beehive? What's Rihanna without her Navy? What's your brand without your tribe?
It isn't a coincidence that many celebrities have christened their fans with a pet name that endears them closer to the star; Lady Gaga with her Monsters, Toni Braxton and her Tigers. What these singers did is that they were successful in building their tribes, not just amassing fans. A fan or follower knows you, sees your work, and might engage. A member of your tribe shares common goals, interests, a bond, and helps develop a community. They are engaged, loyal, interactive, and invested. They trust you and you influence them. Find out who your tribe is and consistently speak to them through your work.
4. Now maintain your tribe
Once you've identified your tribe, it could be a tricky thing keeping them entertained and involved. This is where your tribe becomes your family!
Engaging with members of your tribe is super important as it further tightens an already strong bond. Answering questions, replying to comments, liking, leaving a kind word or "yaaaasss girl" on their posts as well, avoids the relationship from becoming one-sided. As tribe leader, you have to show interest in your tribe as well; show that you support their work and follow their moves. Your tribe members want to feel special, they want to know they matter, and not feel like a regular schmegular fan, because they're not.
5. Keep it real
This, perhaps, is my favorite step! Throughout this journey I've taken, I'm super proud that everything I did remained true to who I am, and what I stand for.
Everyone who knows me, knows that aint a damn thing changed! Being authentically you is the only way to be successful at anything, and since a personal brand is solely based on who you are, there's no way to ace it if you're being someone else. Keep your accent, don't change your tone of voice, dress how you always dressed, DON'T SWITCH ON YOUR FRIENDS, remember your family, seek out work you want to do, don't try to be someone else, remain consistent, share the good times, teach lessons about the bad times, share the struggles and triumphs, tests and testimonies…and don't lie to yourself.
If something isn't your cup of tea, don't drink it because the "successful" person did. If a gig aint for you, don't sign up because, "Well, she did it!" People aren't stupid and they can see right through a fraud! Be authentically you and keep it all the way real!
I can't believe I'm in year three already! Un-frickin-believable! I plan to make my brand bigger, better, and more valuable in the days and years to come…Oh and eat some cake to celebrate!
How far along are you in building your brand? What are you doing well at; what struggles are you having? Let's chat in the comments!
*Originally published on Ianthia Smith