The ultimate guide to building a personal brand online in 2024

14 min read
Khalida Kamaludin

Have you ever thought that you can create a personal brand for yourself?

Here’s some food for thought. Do you feel more connected to McDonald’s or Kim Kardashian? Coca-Cola or Christiano Ronaldo? I’m willing to bet you connect more with individual ‘people’ than ‘businesses’.

And that’s not surprising – people are more relatable than brands. We can see their flaws, we know their backstory, and we can appreciate their progress.

​​Nowadays, building a personal brand online is vital for anyone who wants to become more successful at what they do. In fact, according to Forbes, personal branding has become the new resume. In a nutshell, it gives you the realistic opportunity to network with the right crowd, land that dream job, grow an influential business - or all-of-the-above!

As Gary Vaynerchuk, serial entrepreneur and 5X New York Times bestselling author puts it:

“It’s important to build a personal brand because it’s the only thing you’re going to have. Your reputation online, and in the new business world is pretty much the game, so you’ve got to be a good person. You can’t hide anything, and more importantly, you’ve got to be out there at some level.”

So how do you build a personal brand online? It’s not as difficult as you might think. You don’t have to be the best at something to build a personal brand. In fact, you don’t even need to have pretty pictures or fancy words (unless that IS your brand). People just need to know, like and trust you. That’s the secret.

In this guide, I’m going to go over five key steps that will help you get started and stand out from the crowd.

What is a personal brand?

A personal brand is more than just a logo or tagline - it's the complete package of what you offer, including your skills, experience, values and personality. It's the collection of thoughts, feelings, and preconceptions that people have about you. According to Jeff Bezos, it's what people say about you when you're not in the room.

Whether you like it or not, you have a personal brand.

People will talk about you, and what they say will shape how others see you. This is important because it affects everything from the job opportunities you get to the relationships you form.

Of course, you can't control everything that people say about you. But the good news is: you can influence how you want people to see you.

Building a personal brand is not about bragging or self-promotion. It’s about controlling the narrative, making sure that the world knows who you are and what you stand for. It’s about expanding your sphere of influence and using it to achieve your goals, whether it's selling a product or service, landing a job, or even raising awareness for a cause.

The power of personal branding

It's easy to look at someone like Gary Vaynerchuk and think “well, it's easy for him to build a personal brand. After all, he's got the money and resources that most of us don't have.”

(Source: TikTok @khairulaming)

Khairul Aming (pictured above) is a perfect example of someone who has been able to build a successful personal brand without any of the advantages that Gary had.

From the age of 25, Khairul decided to try his hand at selling sambal sauce in Malaysia. He failed miserably, along with his other ventures - healthy meals, shirts and resume templates.

But everything changed when Khairul decided to start making cooking videos that featured his face. His simple cooking videos soon caught the attention of many Malaysians, who appreciated his authenticity, down-to-earth style and sense of humour.

And this paid off in the end. As days went by, he gained more and more followers across his social media networks. Now he has over 3.5 million followers on his Instagram, 2.1 million on TikTok and 1.3 million on Twitter.

By using his personal brand as leverage, he has resurrected his sambal business and skyrocketed his sales. He now sells a staggering 25,000 bottles of sambal a week!

The next time you think that you can't build a successful personal brand because you don't have the same advantages as someone like Gary Vaynerchuk, think again. It can be done - as Khairul Aming has proven.

Related: Four effective ways to get more customers

5 key steps to building your personal brand

Excited to get started but not sure how to do so? Follow these five steps to start building your personal brand and become a thought leader in your space.

  1. Define your strengths & interests
  2. Define your audience
  3. Build your online presence
  4. Create valuable SEO-optimised content
  5. Budget for advertising

1. Define your strengths & interests

One of the first steps in building your personal brand is to take a good, hard look at yourself and pinpoint what you like and what you’re good at.

It's important to be honest with yourself if you want your brand to be successful. Think about all of those things that make up who you are as a person - what makes you unique?

Start by asking questions like:

  • Are you an expert in your field?
  • Can you provide something that others want?
  • Do you give valuable feedback?
  • Do people seek your advice? If so, on what topics?
  • What type of impact do you want to leave?

Take some time to think about what you do best. Then, use that information to start crafting your personal brand. The more specific you are about your strengths, the easier it will be for people to see how you can help them.

For example, if you’re a personal trainer, you could concentrate on helping women build strength post-partum. Or maybe your focus is creating personalized programs for triathletes.

If you’re unsure, ask your friends and family for their opinions. The people closest to you can know you better than you know yourself.

Once you've identified your strengths, you can begin to build your brand around them. Note that while identifying yourself early on is crucial, building your own personal brand is progressive and iterative. As your brand grows, you might pivot along the way - all part of the process!

2. Define your audience

To define your target audience, ask yourself: who can I help the most?

You can't be all things to all people. Trying to sell steak to a vegan is never going to work, no matter how good the product.

The same is true with personal branding. If you’re branding yourself as a childcare expert, your audience is less likely to be teenagers.

Trying to reach everyone will actually end up costing you in the long run. By defining your target audience from the get-go, you can focus on attracting the right people and opportunities.

Here are five questions that will help you define your target audience:

  1. Who identifies with you? Start with those who interact with you the most. Observe who follows, shares and comments on your Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube. If they interact with you, they’re probably your target.
  2. What are their desires, frustrations and concerns? Here’s where research comes in. Monitor the places online where your target audience is hanging out: Reddit, Quora, Facebook groups. Don’t just assume they want what you have to offer - find out their specific desires, frustrations and concerns.
  3. What do they want to avoid? Sometimes it’s much easier to focus on what NOT to do. By figuring what your audience is trying to to avoid, you can actively craft your communications around them. If your target audience hate getting spam emails, focus on providing valuable content rather than bombarding them with aimless ‘filler’ messages.
  4. What ‘language’ do they speak in? Consider where your audience gets their news and information. Are they active on social media? Do they prefer traditional news sources like television or newspapers? Identifying the channels they rely on the most allows you to communicate in a way they’re familiar with.
  5. What value do you give? Think about what you have to offer, and how that will help them answer their desires, frustrations or concerns. You also want to think about how you can be better than your competitors, whether that’s by being more responsive to your target audience or by giving them more value than they were expecting.

3. Build your online presence

With 2.14 billion digital shoppers in the world, you want to be visible where the money is: online.

Here are three things you can do that will build your online presence and give you credibility, at minimal cost:

1. Establish your presence on social media

We’ve all done this before: meet someone new, then immediately search for them on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.

More than half of the world’s population use social media (4.48 billion, to be exact). The average user accesses 6.6 social media platforms on a monthly basis.

Building a social media presence is a necessity for reaching your target audience. While you probably already use social media, are you using it to personally brand yourself?

Find out which platforms your target audience is active on. Create content that they find helpful (I’ll explain this in detail below). Interact, ask questions, reply to comments and allow your audience to get as much out of your expertise as they can.

It’s also important to not get disheartened if you aren’t receiving the likes, shares and follows you expected. Building a strong personal brand is more than just vanity metrics. You want to build a community that truly appreciates the value you give, and that takes time.

The goal with social media is to get people to know, like and trust you. And the best way to do that is to be consistent.

2. Build a professional website

Besides social media, your website is the first place people will go to know more about what you have to offer.

If you’re asking yourself: do I need a personal website if I have social media? The answer is yes.

Your website is where you can steer the message that you put out about yourself. If you don't have one, you're really missing out on a valuable opportunity to control your online image.

A professional website shows that you mean business, that you’re serious about what you do and that you’re invested in providing value to your audience. It’s also a great place to proudly showcase your work and portfolio.

Building a website adds to your personal brand

Think of your website as your virtual home - it should be tidy, presentable, and easy to navigate.

If you don’t have a website, it’s pretty easy to build one yourself. After choosing a domain name and web hosting plan, search from a library of templates that lets you DIY your website with drag and drop functionality.

Editor’s note: GoDaddy’s tiered web hosting options lets you choose a plan that fits your needs and personal brand, whether you’re a one-man show or a thriving e-commerce business needing more processing power and storage from your hosting.

3. Build an email list

    If you don’t have an email list, you're missing out on a huge opportunity.

    Not only is email one of the most efficient ways to reach your target audience, but it's also an incredibly effective way to build relationships with customers and prospects.

    Here are a few tips for growing that coveted customer database:

    • Make it easy for visitors to sign up. Include an obvious sign-up form on your website and make sure it's mobile-friendly.
    • Offer something valuable in exchange for emails. This could be a discount, an exclusive content offer, or access to a VIP group.
    • Use pop-ups and exit-intent forms. These forms can be highly effective in capturing emails from visitors who are about to leave your site.
    • Promote your sign-up form across all channels. In addition to placing it on your website, promote it on social media, in your email signature, and through other digital marketing channels including ads.

    If you haven’t already, consider getting a professional email address. Using a free email will ultimately end up costing your business more than you realise. For example, with GoDaddy’s professional email plans, you get 24/7 support, world-class data security and spam filtering - things you won’t be getting with a free email. Plus, when was the last time you trusted a brand with a email address, anyway?

    4. Create valuable SEO-optimised content

      The beauty about modern content marketing is that it’s often free. Now, brands no longer have to invest in expensive TV commercials and billboards (even if many still do).

      The playing field is levelled, and small businesses have plenty of opportunity to shine. You can create as much content as you want, and you should. You can educate and entertain your audience daily, and nurture them into becoming customers in the long-run.

      The key is to keep on adding value to their lives.

      If you can do that, they’ll keep coming back for more. Over time, they will think of you as a trusted source of information and maybe even start to see you as a friend. That's the power of personal branding.

      Follow these 5 things to create a valuable content strategy your audience will love:

      • Pinpoint your audience’s desires and frustrations. What topics are they interested in? What keywords do they use often? Address their needs and wants directly, and they’ll feel like you just get them.
      • Make it easy to read. You may be an expert in your field, but remember that your audience usually isn’t. Use tools like the Hemingway App to keep your language simple, straightforward and jargon-free. People are also more likely to engage in an article or social media post with images or videos so keep that in mind.
      • Make it easy to find. Use related hashtags on your social media posts. Employ SEO practices to get your content on the first page of Google. Tip: use free keyword seach tools like Ubersuggest to make every content SEO-optimised.
      • Quality AND quantity. While you should never sacrifice quality for the sake of numbers, the truth is that more practice leads to better content. The more you post, the greater the quality of your work. More content = more value = more conversions.
      • Include a call-to-action. Whether it’s to leave a comment, subscribe to a newsletter or share a post, tell your audience exactly what you want them to do after.

      5. Set aside budget for advertising

      A personal brand is only as good as its reach. And what's the best way to ensure your content is seen by your target audience? You guessed it: Ad spending.

      While brands no longer have to spend money to get attention (see: social media), the truth is that they still should. It’s a faster solution to increase your visibility and build personal brand awareness.

      I’m not talking about spending millions of dollars. A small ad budget can get you far and quickly build your online personal branding.

      With ads, you become impossible to ignore. You get to make use of ad retargeting and follow your audience EVERYWHERE.

      There are a few options to consider, but here are two good ones to start with:

      1. Google AdWords. The go-to for search advertising. It works on a pay-per-click basis: you only pay when someone clicks on your ads.
      2. Paid ads on social media. Go directly to where your audience is hanging out the most - Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn. Powerful yet affordable way to reach more people than a TV ad.

      Be strategic with your spending and make sure you're targeting the right audience. With a little bit of effort, you can easily build a strong online presence without breaking the bank.

      Ready, set, build a personal brand!

      You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to build a personal brand. What you need is to be authentic, sincere and helpful to your audience. Follow these five steps to start becoming your very own Kim K:

      1. Define your strengths & interests
      2. Define your audience
      3. Build your online presence
      4. Create valuable SEO-optimised content
      5. Budget for advertising

      Can’t wait to get started? Grab a domain name for your new website today from the experts at GoDaddy, and start building your own personal brand!

      This post was originally published on Oct. 21, 2021, and was updated on Mar. 13, 2024.

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