Originally published on LinkedIn by Scott E. Pond on February 10, 2015
Creatives! Heed me and answer this question!
Are you INVISIBLE?
What are you doing to get your personal brand out there?
Life is about taking risks. At least, that’s what THEY say (you know, the infamous “they” who are always goading us to do something outside of our comfort zone... or downright stupid... or sometimes, maybe, downright brilliant). THEY say a lot of motivational things lauding the benefits of hard work, taking risk, and focus. And like most overused motivational statements, we can poke them full of holes.
Let's take a look at one of those prime cliché examples:
Nothing Ventured Equals Nothing Gained.
Wow, really?... so if I do nothing, then I gain nothing? Earth shattering. Obvious. And as such, pretty worthless.
Let's break it down a little bit and change it up. For any cause and effect statement to be truly valid, a simple litmus test is to reverse the condition, like this:
Something Ventured Equals Something Gain.
Is this statement actually a obvious truism? No, not really. There are major logic holes here.
In this regard, just because you put yourself out there--just because you actually bust your butt making an effort-- does it mean you will actually achieve your dreams and desires or benefits? Of course not. In fact, given the amount of failed initiatives and businesses every year (heck, every day) the chances of actually making it big seem pretty darn slim.
So let's tweak the statement, expand it, and reword it further to explore the meaning:
If you don’t put yourself out there you most likely will not succeed.
Ok, that's closer to a truism... but not quite. Notice that I said “most likely”.
For some reason (fates, the uneven hand of Dog, injustice, luck, or what have you) there are people who apparently do not have to lift a finger to actually make a name for themselves. It's these outliers who skew the results and make us have to use that pesky "most likely".
[But let’s forget about those outliers. THOSE people were given a lucky golden lottery ticket at birth and their numbers just came up… over and over again. To heck with them; they are just skewing the data. Let's instead concentrate on the rest of us... the Average Folks.]
For us Average Folks, let's flip the statement and replace that "most likely" with a more black and white approach:
You will NOT succeed if you don’t make an effort.
There we go... now THAT is a truism I can sink my teeth into.
It’s a blatant and inconvenient truth that for most of us the potential level of return on investment in a venture is only as good as the amount of blood, sweat, and tears we are willing to invest. It doesn’t matter in most of our cases how talented or diverse we are in our skills (unless we receive that illusive Golden Ticket). What matters is that we bust our butts, put ourselves out there, and continue to do so, day in and day out.
But that statement is focusing on the negative... don't we want to take a more positive approach? Of course we do.
So let's change it, flip it to the positive, and refine it again:
Continuous visible effort gives the best change for success.
Okay, now this is something from which we can get some value.
Success is not measured in a few short strokes of your pencil or a few clicks on the keyboard... success is achievable only by sustained effort and visibility.
THAT’s a key point: Visibility and Effort.
Go ahead and enunciate it with me: Vis-A-Bil-Ity! EFF-Ort!
That's it! You have to get out there--you have to make yourself get noticed--if you ever really want to achieve your dreams. THAT is the core of personal branding. The passive and shy person is unnoticed in the grand scheme of things. Sure, can a laid-back and quiet person be counted on to be reliable and steadfast? Absolutely. Will they be the leaders and innovators? Most likely not. They are likely to remain unnoticed.
They need to work to be noticed.
In other words...
Their EFFORTS must be VISIBLE!
To achieve any level of success, one must consistently be visible to potential fans and clients. One must be more than a one-hit-wonder (or its equivalent).
So how does one gain visibility?
To find and consistently sustain success, fame, and glory, one must continually put him- or herself out there and make a name for themselves.
For those building a brand and business, this visibility will mean the difference between success and failure. Especially in the realm of creatives, the amount of content you put out, the more likely you will be noticed. The more likely you are noticed, the more likely you will be in your fan's, client's, and patron's minds when they are looking for that next diversion to push back the encroaching boredom.
In the end, consistent, periodic, and valuable content is king. Without the constant reminder of you and what you have to offer, the quick-moving social media landscape will sweep up your fan- and client-base and will carry them on to the next one-hit wonder, leaving you with nothing but dust bunnies in their wake.
But how do we do that?
Bottom line? Create as much as you can, and not just your sellable products.
As creatives, we need to create more and give away more. Yes, I said "give away more". People respond to the “free” content, especially if it is interesting and strikes a cord. The free-bees draw them in (like honey, *chuckle*) and they come to want the “real” products as both a way of showing appreciation and because they like the both the free content and your real products.
We need to create BOTH the free-bees and our “real” content on a consistent and reliable schedule to keep them coming back and to keep us relevant in their lives.
But what are these so-called "free-bees"?
The "free-bees" are peripheral things that you give to your fans and clients to keep them coming back while they are waiting for your "products" OR the things that provide you with additional avenues of visibility to pull additional future clients/fans into your area of influence and keep them coming back time and again.
Common "free-bees" are:
- Blog posts: writing about your experiences, opinions, or your passions is a means of building a relationship with your fans and clients. These can be mini-tutorials on how you go about your process, a running series of essays on various aspects of your industry or related industry, or commentary/reviews of topics that are related to you or your fans common interests.
- Social media platforms: Twitter, FaceBook, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, etc., etc., etc. ... the playing field of social media outlets are a varied and fertile ground for building a sustainable audience. Each platform has its own niche usage... exploring how your brand fits in with continuous use of these platforms allow you to build an audience that can discover in turn your products through their interaction with you.
- Podcasts and Vodcasts (Video Podcasts): Similar to blog posts, creating your own podcast or vidcast gives your fans and clients a means of connecting with your, your brand, and your common core interests. Combine this with another social media platform such as YouTube and promote during guestspots and interviews on other platforms and you should start to see an uptick in your audience.
- Promotional/Give Away Items: aside from just time (like the items above), give away items often also require an investment of an actual monetary nature. Creative business cards, bookmarks, postcards, flyers fall into the lower end of the spectrum of give aways, where are tee-shirts, bags, and "free-service" coupons fall into the higher end of the promotion spectrum. In many cases, give aways may not demonstrably increase your client-bases; always ensure you are keeping track of analytics to determine if your promotional efforts give you any additional traction.
There are many many other things you can do to get your image and products out there. The most important thing is to get yourself out there without every output being "buy my stuff/services!"
Keep yourself and your product in their minds, make them feel as though you are part of their entertainment/education/interest pool, and they will come to think of you the next time they need something you just so happen to provide.
What are you doing to provide your potential fans and clients with a reason to come back and visit you again and again?
What are you doing to achieve a sustainable level of output and how has it paid off for you?