Personal Branding Workshop: Learning to Craft Your Brand Beyond Your Blog

Personal Branding Workshop: Learning to Craft Your Brand Beyond Your Blog
Speaker: Emily Ho @authemmie and

Emily hands out worksheets for all participants- Personal Branding Worksheet

My name is Emily Ho, I’m the blogger behind authentically emmie, this is my forth blog incarnation.

Question to the audience: Who has a blog in general?
(Show of hands)

Question to the audience: Who writes on their blog regularly?
Audience response: Define regularly

Question to the audience: Okay show of hands who writes on their blog at least once a month?
(Show of hands)

Question to the audience: Okay how about once a week?
(Show of hands)

I want to talk about beyond personal blogging.
My first blog was right out of undergraduate, that’s me in a Santa Hat. That was not my best website but I wanted people to remember my name and they did. My next blog was just my name with a wedding photo, and now I’m not married anymore ironically. My third blog was SkinnyEmmie but it’s hard to write a blog when people expect you to be losing weight as a certain pace and you aren’t.

But how are people going to keep coming back to you and keep paying your rate. People are like blogging is going away and now it’s all about Instagram

Emily: Does everyone have a worksheet? I want us to get interactive, to get involved, because me speaking up here for an hour is going to get really boring. I’ll probably tell you inappropriate stories about my dog or something else I don’t know.

Thanks, I love you too! Waiting on this coffee to kick in but hard to suck down when you’re sweaty.

Audience Question: This is your brand and your blog; do you keep a separate website for your company?
A: Yes, but 99% of my inquiries for my business come through my personal blog, and so that’s kind of the strength behind your branding. And does my blog tie back to my company yes and does the company tie back to my blog yes but really it’s all you.

Audience Question: Is there similar branding across both?
A: Yes, my company is authentically social and my blog is authentically emmie which is kind of a tongue twister for a lot of people, I just kind of branded as myself. I’m the principle on the blog and it helps that my clients that I go after are fitness and fashion clients and those are the clients that I go after which is why I write about fitness and fashion. So it all ties in together, that’s a conscious decision of trying to pick what you want to do, what you want to be known for and what niches.

I did this presentation a few weeks ago for a group, I’m from Lexington, KY, called The Professional Women’s Forum, it just these ladies who lunch and they have cool sessions every month and talk about whatever. It was a lot of realtors, insurance agents, those sorts of people so this handout may be a little bit broader.

Currently, 92% of children under the age of 2 already have a digital footprint. So you need to own, if you’re behind the curve if you don’t a website, you don’t have your domain secured, an email that’s like you really need to get on it. If you think about every time a child is born they’re name is up on the hospital website that’s the first thing you start and now people are buying domain names for babies as baby gifts. So you have to kind of get on the ball at this point, if children are coming up like this then it’s time for us to make our mark and stage our claim.

Hitting the Elevator
We all know about the elevator pitch, going from the M level to the 18th floor, so I have 32 seconds to tell somebody what I do, can I do it? Sometimes no, depends on how clear I am about what I’m doing at the time.

I’d like you all to turn and talk to the people at your table and try to explain in thirty seconds or less who you are in a nutshell or what you think your brand currently is. If you want to be like hey, I’m Sarah, I’m from California, I have two Westies, like that’s fine. (laughter) You want whatever you say about yourself to be what people parrot back to you right. I want you all to just try, try to tell people who you are or what your brand is about. (group introduce selves)

Thirty seconds is up, whoevers talking stop and go to the next person. (group talking)
Okay let’s wind it down; we’re going to skip over section A for a bit but in section B jot down a few of the key words about what you said about yourself. So whatever you just said about yourself put that in box B.

Question to the audience: Was there anybody here that felt uncomfortable in trying to say something about themselves? It doesn’t come naturally; we’re in a unique environment in being here at the conference, and we’re at some level social being that we’re all here, but I think it’s at some level hard to talk about that.

Of the things that you said how many of you are 100% pleased with the way the things you said came out? How confident are you that whoever was listening and receiving your message understood who you really where?
(hand goes up, group laughing)

What is a Brand?
So there are different reasons why people might want a personal brand. So we’re talking about blogging, some people blog, I know I started blogging because I wanted an outlet to write, I just wanted an online journal, I thought hey if people can read it that’s great if not whatever, but then it became hey something could happen with this let me keep going with this.

So when you’re looking at box A, what are the things a personal brand can do for you?
It can increase work prestige, so even if you’re not a blogger or not a current active blogger, whatever you do in your day to day life, can help elevate you because it helps you to position yourself in a place of prestige and authority.

A new job within the same field, you know networking, if you want to get out in the community and really try to hustle and let people know who you are so that if something happens and you want to go somewhere else they’re like oh yeah you’re the perfect person for that.

A new career or industry, so if you’re trying to pivot. If I was solely a weight loss blogger and I wanted to be a fashion blogger how do I tie the two together? So you can use it as a step place to something else.

Find clients and customers that are of a higher quality, because for example one of my first clients was creating a social media presence for a health insurance company, doing social media for a health insurance company makes me want to claw my eyes out. Now doing social media for a clothing company makes me feel like I’m playing all day, so those are the types of people I want to go after. With a strong personal brand and clarity in your message, those are the sorts of opportunities that work themselves out and you’re secure in turning down the health insurance clients and looking for the people that you really want.

Also, positioning yourself as an expert or authority, if you look at Roni, the organizer of this conference, wrote a book, has 3 blogs, but everybody knows her, they know who she is, she’s got media appearances because of her profile and everything that she’s done out online.

So, there’s different ways beyond a blog to Segway to something else. You have your ads, campaigns, sponsors, conference sponsorships, whatever those are all great but what if you want to write a book or what if you want to start a clothing line, what if you want to open a fitness studio? These are the big picture things that we’re going to try to work through.

So what is a brand? We’re all pretty brand centric here I think, but the last audience I gave this presentation to was not, but you look out there and see all the brands trying to get you to tweet about them, what does Egglands best want you to say? Hopefully they can get that message across because that’s going to be the strength of their brand, and we’re going to parrot it back to our readers.

The things that a person brand is not:
It’s not a logo
It’s not the fancy website
It’s not the big advertising spend and promoting all of your Facebook posts
Having thousands of social media followers

Those are things that all go into platform, so if you think of what are the parts and pieces that go into making up your total audience. So for blogging: how many followers you have on social media networks, how many unique monthly visitors you have on your website. Those things are great but those things themselves are not your brand, the personal brand is the reason why those people come to you and why they’re there.

Beyond the Logo:
So going beyond the logo this is what we want to do, what other people are saying about us. That’s the problem, we think we know who we are and then we try and explain who we are and what we do and it’s like you’re not quite sure the person got the message and then they go out and say I think that person’s a blogger oh I think that person does that but I’m not quite sure. You want them to be clear about your message as well because you can’t spread your brand without other people doing it and helping you with that.

What feelings does your brand elicit? Are you trustworthy? Are you super experienced? Are you licensed? What are the different things that go into actually building a reputation? What is the actual experience people have with you?

Are you known as the motivational speaker? And you’re out there and you’re Tony Robbins, but it’s not that face to face, one on one personal interaction.

Are you someone who doesn’t like speaking, but likes to work with people in small groups, influencing them in a special way?

What is the experience that people have with you and your brand? That’s the part that we’re trying to get at because in the end we can’t control what other people say about us we can only control what we say about us. As we all know there are some not so nice people out there, so we have to be clear in our message about what we say about ourselves. We’re going to try to figure out how to say these things.

If you look at section b, question what do others know you for? Is there anything you have feather in a cap, wait there are people who know me for doing half marathons, there are people who know me for twirling about in pink dresses all day. There are things, anything that you can think of that others know you for, and if you can write that down, it’s going to be a foundation.

If you look at section C at this point, if you had a hard time trying to say what other people know about you, I have a hard time saying that stuff as well, let’s look at the facts. Highlights of your experience: What have you done, what are you certified in, even if it’s just that I’m a damn awesome person. What experience can you use to back up what you end up building as your brand?

And now we get into this stuff talking about personal branding, the humble brag, you know that anyone using humble brag really isn’t being humble and that’s okay. We don’t have to shrink ourselves and minimize our accomplishments, I know that’s something that I do, I don’t like talking about anything that I do because it makes me want to vomit, and I feel like people are like oh she’s being boastful, no you’re just trying to convey what you’ve done and what you want to be known for so hopefully they’ll help spread that. So let’s get over the humble brag thing, we’re going to humble brag for the next thirty minutes.

I don’t know if any of you all have seen this, it’s been all over the internet lately, pretty much my favorite thing ever (shows graphic about purpose). This is more about living your purpose, which is a whole different topic, but when you’re looking at your person brand these are a matrix of components that can help you make up your personal brand, but think about things that you love, that the world needs, that you’re paid for and things that you’re great at. So these four things, try to think of things that fit into any of these four categories and jot them down. Things that you love, these don’t all have to tie together and be one cohesive story, at the end we’ll try to tie them together. I think that these are the things that put together make up a personal brand, and next we’ll do a matrix which is the nitty gritty.

So next we’re going to do, this is not the end all be all of personal branding matrixes but it’s the one I’ve used over the years to help people find their personal branding, it’s the core of the building blocks. Here are our five topics that we need to be super clear about in order to create and communicate a personal brand:

Point A: Your experience: what have you done? It’s a good building block and will help you tie back things that you want to do.

Question to the audience: How many of you all are exactly where you want to be and you don’t want to add or subtract or change anything? And if you are I’ll give you the biggest high five ever and a hug.
Nina answers: Yes, but otherwise would like to make more money on the same thing.
When you get clarity on some of these things and your experience and your desires match up you can get the other three going. I feel like it’s a tornado that gets rolling and picks things up.

Point B: Your desires: What do you want to be known for? This is hard for a lot of people because we don’t know what we want to be known for. So like me I wanted to be known as this weight loss blogger, biggest loser reject who then goes and does it on her own. That changed, you can always pivot, none of this stuff is stuck in stone, what do you think you want to be known for? These don’t have to be small incremental steps; they can be big, giant hairy leaps. Any of these things this is the time to dream big, write those down, and then your desires what do you want to be known for.

Audience Question: Can you explain positioning?
Emily Answer: we haven’t gotten there yet, but yeah, your experience, what you’ve done, what you need to be known for, we need to jump from point a to point b to point c.

Point C: What other people say: currently what do other people say about you and currently what do you say about yourself? What do you want others to say about you? What do you want to say about yourself? You’re going to use your experience and your desires to influence what you put out there, and what other people say.

Point D: How you say it. How you put your position out there. I’m a big fan of the niche, there are a lot of fitness bloggers, and there are so many different niches. There are so many different niches that you can go for that I always try to say if you want to just have one big fitness blog it’s not enough, you can’t create a position around that. In the blogging world you’re a fitness blogger, as a fitness blogger you can be so many other things and create clarity. You break down what you do by coming up with your positioning. It may be age range, you become known as someone who gives great advice for the boomer generation. Or you want to be the face of the millennial healthy food vegan blogger, these are the positioning but also the strengths, this is how you say it. We’re going to take the top three and try to figure out how you say it that’s influenced by where you say it, your niche and the evidence based strengths that you already have, this is when you go back to the beginning of the worksheet and things that you have already done.

Point E: Where you say it: it’s all fine and dandy that you have these things and that you say them but if you don’t say them or you don’t say them to the right people you won’t get new clients or new readers and you won’t sell what you’re trying to sell. Think about where is the audience that you want to reach and how are you going to get the message out. Are you going to do guest blogs, or get on morning shows and do a food segment? As much as we talk about ourselves which is an extremely important part of branding it all comes back to what other people are saying about you.

Referencing back to section C of the worksheet, if we can go through and work through some of these questions it will give us an idea of where we might be headed. I’d encourage you also talk with each other, and if you have questions or if you’re like does this make sense, take some time, this is a big chunk of work and just start writing.
(Groups work though the questions)

I think some of you all are starting from a place of you’re over here and you want to be over here and figuring that out, start by niching it out.

Use the funnel method to narrow down the focus, start at the widest point: I’m a fitness blogger, I’m a body positive fitness blogger, and I’m a fitness blogger who solely focus on self-esteem. Start at the top and work your way down, it’s easier to communicate a very specific message to people who don’t know about blogging. It’s easier to work from a very specific message and grow the message but not to start from this big thing and shrink it down. You can be anything, but you can’t be everything to all people. Again this goes back to your audience, how can they take your message and digest it.

For example, you’re a tofu expert and you send a story to the local news about I have 500 ways to cook it, and my bio is 10 pages long and here’s a link to my website and have me on your website. When they’re this long and you don’t know what to do with it, it’s either mark as unread or delete.

Audience Feedback: I work as a news reporter for radio news, I prefer when I get the story and the stories already there. I don’t have the time to dig and figure out what to do with it. Do the job for me and you’re going to get on the air. I will go back to the same people over and over when I know that they have a reliable filler story and are reachable.

Packaging it up: how do I make into something valuable that I can get out there. Tailor your message, you may have 5 different messages that you send to 5 different people. I have 5 different canned responses in my Gmail; I know that this is going to a magazine person so I want to package it like this. Make sure that your core message is the same but tailor it to your audience. Don’t be afraid to pivot, if you get down one road, like I want to be the anti-biggest loser blogger, but then you want to pivot it doesn’t make your previous experiences or your current platform invalid.

Define your niche
Start broad get narrow
Share your strongest story
Tie in what people say about you
Don’t name drop, but if you’ve made appearances places, if you know certain people and they’ve responded to you in a certain way, test I out, you can build off of that but refine, refine, refine. Test this out on different people and different audiences, who are you sharing this with? And refine for your audience and see how it goes.

Emily: I was hoping that someone could share an example of a brand that they want to share with the group; I know that that’s terrifying.

Group Share example- Nina Reed: of Nina Reed Photography-
So I’m more of a photographer than I am a blogger but I have a very specific market of dancers and athletes as my subjects so I pretty much only photograph people in movement. I’m also a pole dance instructor so I photograph a lot of aerial arts and that type of thing and getting to know them has been great for me because there are a lot of portrait photographers out there and in Colorado I’m the only aerial photographer. I get a lot of art bookings because people know I know what I’m doing and that I have the same rigging and that I know how to capture the movements because I take the same classes myself.

Emily: That’s great, so you have the experience behind you from taking the classes, and the built in network from the people that you take the classes with.

Nina: The more specific I have gotten, the more clients I have gotten. People still ask me will you do our engagement photos or take pictures of our baby, and I tell them no because that’s not what I do and it’s not going to get me the type of clients that I want to get.

Emily: It doesn’t mean that you can’t spread out from that niche, it’s all related and the clients will still come from the same pool of people.

Links and worksheet used by Emily during this presentation available at:

Live Blogged at FitBloggin’ 2015 by Alissa @youngestdizzy