Updated August 17, 2022
Anyone who didn’t win the billion-dollar Mega Millions jackpot this year needs to read this article.
With the talk about the Great Resignation (or Great Reshuffle), I bet you’ve pondered the future of your money-making work. Even if you’re completely satisfied with your current employment, it’s smart to plan for future promotions and pivots (especially unexpected ones).
And that requires doing something today that should feel very familiar: creating a content marketing strategy.
This time, though, you’ll create it for your personal brand.
Not sure you need to invest the time?
Consider these wise words from a CMWorld Twitter chat a couple of years ago that still ring true today:
“Careers in marketing make personal branding even more important. If you can’t develop your own brand, people might not have the confidence that you can help them develop a company’s/product’s/agency’s brand,” Mike Myers tweeted.
The chat’s guest speaker, Anh Nguyen, agreed: “All the knowledge and experience gained for your personal brand can be scaled for content marketing for a client or an employer.”
The knowledge and experience you gain from marketing your #PersonalBrand can be scaled for employer or client #ContentMarketing, says @AnhTNguyen via @AnnGynn @CMIContent.
What is a personal brand?
Before you can craft your personal content marketing strategy, it’s important to understand what a personal brand is.
“Think of it as your reputation and calling card to the world,” Anh said in the Twitter chat. “Your personal brand helps you connect with prospective employers, clients, customers, collaborators, and so on.”
Gabriela Cardoza explained in the chat that a personal brand helps you:
- Differentiate yourself
- Build thought leadership
- Grow trust and credibility
- Build a network
You have a personal brand already. Every time you engage with people, you create perceptions of who you are in their minds.
When you craft a content marketing strategy for your personal brand, you’ll set yourself on a path toward shaping those perceptions to help you achieve your goals.
Use these seven steps to create a documented content marketing strategy for your own brand.
1. Craft a brand mission statement
All good content marketing strategies start with understanding the mission and goals. Thus, the first step in your personal content marketing strategy is to create a mission statement.
Here’s how Gabriela broke down the components of a personal brand mission statement:
- Who you are
- What you do
- What you stand for
- What your unique value is
I’ll add one more – What do you want to achieve with your brand?
Here’s a personal brand mission statement that might work for a content marketing writer:
I use my creativity and sense of business to help B2B brands engage with their audiences through compelling content. I work to ensure my content is equitable and inclusive. I want to grow my recognition as a go-to resource in the content marketing industry.
TIP: You can’t develop your personal brand without considering your employer’s brand because you’re tied together publicly. Tweak or supplement your personal mission statement accordingly.
2. Write an editorial mission statement
Put together your personal editorial mission statement, which connects to your brand mission.
CMI’s Jodi Harris writes that a great content mission statement details three elements (I’ll go into more depth on each later):
- Core audience – who you aim to help (serve) with your audience
- What you’ll deliver – the kind of information you provide
- Outcome or benefit – the things your audience can do (or will know) because of your content
You don’t need an elaborate statement. Just give a brief overview in a sentence or two.
With your personal brand and editorial mission statements complete, you now have the required footing to develop a content marketing strategy.
3. Detail your brand’s content marketing goals
Your personal content marketing can help you achieve your professional goals (to get a raise, a new job, more clients, etc.), but those aren’t your content marketing goals.
Content marketing involves creating and distributing content to attract and retain your audience and, ultimately, drive profitable action.
Here are some personal content marketing goals to consider:
- Build brand awareness: Get your name out there.
- Earn brand trust: Help people see you as a valuable, reputable resource.
- Deepen brand loyalty: Connect with people on a deeper level (e.g., get them to sign up for your newsletter or share your content).
- Attract strategic partners: Get people to want to help you (e.g., guest blogging and conference speaking).
Once you define your content marketing goals, you can zero in on the right audience.
4. Detail your target audience
You know what you want, but what does your audience want?
First, describe who your audience members are. What industries do they work in? What roles or titles do they have?
Then detail their interests and behaviors. What do they want to know? What are their pain points? Where do they live (online or geographically)?
Let’s say you’re a content marketing specialist for a financial services company. Your goal is to build awareness of your name and skills. Your audience members are managers and directors of content marketing, communications, and marketing in the finance industry. They want to know more about how to get buy-in and budget support from their firm’s leaders. They check LinkedIn every few days but never use Facebook.
5. Identify your content sweet spot
Think of a Venn diagram. In one circle are your content marketing interests. In the other circle are your audience’s interests and needs. Where the two circles overlap is your content sweet spot.
These are the primary topics that your personal content marketing should cover.
You can also determine preferred content formats and distribution vehicles. For example, if your audience prefers podcasts over videos and you’re looking to build a subscriber database, you would want to create a podcast rather than start a YouTube channel. Or, if your audience usually attends an industry conference, you could submit a proposal to speak at the event. If your goal is brand awareness, you could offer guest blogs on sites your audience visits.
6. Build your content calendar
Now that you have identified your topics, formats, and distribution platforms, it’s time to build an editorial calendar. But remember, you’re just one person – and you probably already have a day job. This is not the time to be ambitious.
I recommend creating a minimum viable calendar – the least you know you can create and publish regularly. If that’s just one blog post a month or a quarterly LinkedIn profile review, that’s fine. If you attempt to do too much and fail to hit on every cylinder, you’re more likely to give up entirely. By setting realistic expectations, you’re more likely to keep going.
7. Set measurable goals
Now that you have documented your purpose, audience, content formats, and frequency, you should add numbers and dates to the personal content marketing goals established in Step 3.
For example, if your content marketing goal is to earn brand trust, your metric might be to gain 50 subscribers to your newsletter in the next three months.
It’s important to connect measurable goals to all your tactics – it’s key to understanding how well your content works.
TIP: You might struggle to come up with realistic numeric goals in the beginning. Don’t let that prevent you from setting them. If you find your numbers were unrealistic in your review, change them. That’s one of the perks of developing your brand – no clients or bosses to complain about the shift.
Make yourself accountable
The hardest part of your personal content marketing strategy may be that you’re doing it alone. Without a boss or client expecting your content, it’s easier to push off the work.
Set deadlines for every step in the content production and distribution process. Mark them on your calendar. If you get overloaded and know you won’t meet one, move it out, but don’t remove it from the calendar, or you’ll never get it done.
Want to add one more layer to your accountability? Get an accountability partner. Share your production calendar with that person. Treat this partner as you would a client or boss – let them know when the step is done or tell them about the revised date for completion. (You can do this simply by using the calendar’s notification system.) Even better, become the accountability partner for them too.
Let’s get started. On what date will you complete your personal brand content marketing strategy? Note it in the comments, and I’ll reach out that day to see if you’re done.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute