After getting laid off from my job, I decided that I wanted to become an influencer. Cliche, I know. But, I was determined. I figured this was my way out, this was my way to success.
Little did I know that this was my way to failure. I failed miserably.
On my way to failure, I made a lot of personal branding mistakes and assumptions.
Here are a few assumptions that led to the demise of my brand:
- Assuming that all I had to do was post cute pictures and be consistent
- Assuming that having a lot of followers would make brands want to work with me
- I thought that the biggest problem I was facing was: that I didn’t take professional pictures (I cringe)
After working in marketing & branding for about 4 years now, I know exactly what went wrong.
Here are the personal branding mistakes I made:
1. Lack of brand purpose
When I started my brand a few years ago, the only thing I wanted was to make money. I had no clarity of what a good brand was and how my brand would be successful. For the first few months, I posted content about myself and what I liked. That was a huge personal branding mistake.
Now that I know better, here are a few things I’d make sure I know before jumping into building a brand;
- Why am I on social media?
- Who do I intend to serve?
- What problems do they have?
- How do I plan to help them go from point A to B?
- What do I want my audience to know me for?
- What do I intend to achieve in the next 3-6months?
Having a brand purpose gives you an aim to move towards. Additionally, it reduces a lot of inconsistencies in your process.
2. Lack of brand consistency
Initially, I would go to Canva and pick a template that was cute and use it as it is. I had no sense of branding AT ALL. I was always changing my colours and my designs were from straight from Canva, just like everybody else’s.
Now that I know a lot about personal branding, here are the questions I could’ve asked myself.
- What do I want my brand to make people feel?
- What colours go with those emotions?
- How do I communicate to reach my target audience effectively? (Brand voice)
- How do I want to be perceived?
3. Caring too much about “How I feel”
When I started my “influencer” journey, the focus was all on me. I never asked, ‘what does the audience want to see from me?’ How does this piece of content help them better their lives?
At the time, it didn’t occur to me that I had to think about an audience. My focus was always on: “this is what I need to do to get these numbers”. That was a huge branding mistake.
With the social media business, it’s so important to be intentional and to use your life experiences to uplift and educate others.
4. DIYing everything in my brand
This is probably one of the worst personal branding mistakes I’ve made.
I thought I knew everything I needed to know about growing an audience. So, I did everything by myself and only consumed youtube videos for shortcuts and hacks.
Now that I have a mentor, I understand that it would have taken me years to grow a brand with that mindset.
Buying a course and investing in tools is tremendously helpful, especially for solopreneurs.
If you’re against buying courses, here is something I want you to know; you cannot pour into others if you never pour into yourself.
Put some investment into your brand before asking others to invest in you.
5. Having an unclear brand strategy
Of course, I didn’t have a brand strategy. I thought social media was easy because everyone is on it.
But, for the kind of goals I wanted and desired to achieve, I needed a strategy.
A brand strategy typically helps you get to your destination faster because it gives you clarity and reduces inefficiencies.
6. I focused on the brand & not the people
This is evident by the number of hours I spent on Canva instead of Instagram engaging with real people.
I wanted beautiful colours, beautiful graphics, etc. And believe it or not, it took months to settle on the type of graphics I wanted.
My focus was on what colours I wanted and not the colours that would make the brand stand out.
Don’t just start. Invest your time in understanding what you’re getting into. And when you start, don’t stop, keep learning. Check your analytics and keep track of what works and what doesn’t.