The term “personal branding” is most likely to elicit a collective grown from even the most savvy of marketers and leaders at this point. It’s like flossing: we all know we should be doing it, and many of us do, but it’s not exactly something we get excited about.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though.
In this article, I’m going to outline three specific tactics and tools to supercharge your online presence and monetize expertise.
A warning: this is an advanced guide primarily targeted at founders and C Level professionals. If you don’t fit this bill, you may find the below info to be a little less useful.
First, let’s dispel some myths about PR and Personal Branding:
- Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a high-powered PR agent to get going with this kind of thing. In fact, if you engage in these efforts yourself, your spend will go further if you DO then bring on an expert to work with in parallel.
- No background is too niche to be valuable. I’ve seen requests from obscure biopharma to baby care tips, and everything in between.
- This doesn’t have to be expensive in terms of money or time. I’m going to lay out a plan below that you may notice is conspicuously absent any price tags… that’s because there’s no cost associated with these strategies!
I will mention: I would be remiss not to briefly raise how useful a service like Reputation X can be in tandem with these efforts! From wiping the slate clean, to clever high level placements, to tagging in a seasoned team that has your back… I am neither affiliate nor partner to RepX but they’re my first choice for all things reputation management.
So, with that, let’s dive in by starting with my proprietary lifecycle model for success in this space:
Here are the key resources we will be using for this mission:
- HelpAReporterOut.net & HelpaB2BWriter.com (henceforth I’ll be referring to them as “HARO” & “HB2B”, respectively)
- F5Bot.com, Segue.co (Segue has a paid version but isn’t necessary for this stage)
- Volley.app, Gamma.app, Pitch.com (Volley for asynch comms, and Gamma or Pitch for proposals)
— as mentioned, the free plans should more than suffice for each of these, above.
Step 1: Find Opportunities to Give
To keep this simple, services like HARO & HB2B are very easy to use and intuitive. Both are focused on helping writers to find sources for their written works, and while many of these are smaller blogs, it is quite common to see outlets like the Times, WSJ, Forbes, TechCrunch, Inc., and their ilk on both.
Separately, tools like F5Bot and Segue will monitor Reddit and other sites for discussion around topics that you (or perhaps more fittingly - a VA/PA/Intern/direct report) can then engage with. Get seriously specific here, enter long string key phrases that are hyper-specific to your niche, lest you become inundated with spam.
(An example: one time I set an F5Bot to run on Reddit for “scheduling apps” and would get hundreds of emails per day alerting me… not good!)
Tips for Success:
- When signing up for HARO/HB2B, choose your categories carefully! You may be tempted to select all of them, but this WILL result in your inbox being flooded and you WILL find this to be a poor use of your time.
- Be responsive, brief, and polite in replies to writers asking for help.
- Have a short blurb and link about yourself on hand to copy and paste into your replies, but
- — do be smart (read: embrace brevity) when it comes to self-promotion
- Aim for 5-7 HARO/HB2B replies per week, to start. Maybe fewer if your expertise is more niche. This may sound like a lot, but there’s a momentum to this sort of thing and you can scale down with time OR delegate the task to a PA/VA/intern with time.
- Aim for 1-3 conversations from F5 or Segue per week. Admittedly, this is the less potent of the two strategies here; your mileage may vary.
- CRITICAL: Link your personal homepage or - better yet - a profile on a service like Volley (see next step!) or a calendaring system like Cal.com or Calendly (the extra step of setting up Volley is well worth it, however…)
Tips for Certain Failure:
- Being overly self-promotional in your replies
- Being imprecise in your categories/tract phrases
- Failing to set up good sub Dash inboxes in your email, with good filtering rules to match. (By this I mean: you should set up a separate folder in your email for these efforts, and set rules so that any emails coming from any of the three or four domains - again, those being HARO, HB2B, Segue, or F5 - drop into that dedicated email inbox.)
- Failing to maintain consistency in this experiment. “It only works if you work it", as they say.
Step 2: Monetize, Asynchronously
OK! Good news is if you’ve made it this far, you’ve already done the hard work.
By now, you should have some replies rolling in, you should have the beginnings of a “final quote, where, in writers are quoting you, readers are seeing your name, and then a smaller percentage of them are clicking through to learn more about you and become interested in your services
- Setup a Volley account - can be done on web or mobile, and is totally free.
- Setup both a free Talk To Me on Volley link as well as an hourly paid "Consult with Me" on Volley link (inside of the same app)
While I strongly recommend this route, alternatives include Calendly or Cal.com - here’s my profile with Cal as an example, which can be found at cal.com/growth -
Step 3: Look to Future Partnerships
Now we are cooking with fire! Ideally, you have consulting engagements coming through your asynch Volley or calendar pages…
Now, how do we turn these into much bigger opportunities? Here’s my 1-2-3 for that:
- Make a standard template proposal on Gamma.app or Pitch.com for monthly retainer work.
- Have this ready to be customized and sent to any of your Volley or calendar page clients - note: if they’ve been paying an hourly rate for your time and it’s been going well, they are likely to jump on the opportunity to pay a retainer that will result in them saving money month over month.
- Offer special rates for any referrals from your smaller, hourly/Volley customers for bigger opportunities. And don’t hesitate to be selective here, with what kind of work you take on!
While the PR mafia may be banging down my door as we speak, because, well - and I do realize that this sort of phrasing is thrown around a lot - this kind of content is the sort of stuff that “they” truly “don’t want you to know.”