While we like to stay positive and focus on growth, it is also important to help people understand what NOT to do with their personal brands.
So in this blog post we will do just that by identifying common personal branding mistakes that can prevent people from achieving their personal brand goals. That way, you not only know the positive actions you should take to develop your brand, but you also understand what to look out for and avoid on your personal branding journey.
With that being said, let’s get a little negative!
Personal branding mistakes we’ll teach you to avoid:
A marketing motto we write about frequently that applies to both business brands and personal brands suggests that having one marketing channel where you engage followers and create content regularly is better than spreading your time and resources across several channels where you aren’t as active.
One of the common personal branding mistakes people make when they are first starting out is focusing on too many channels at once. It’s easy to get overly ambitious and to want to have big audiences on every platform.
Instead, picking one channel where your niche target audience is active and focusing on building a following there will get you further faster.
Dulma is an entrepreneur we discuss frequently because of her impressive personal brand growth. She exemplifies the strategy of starting with one channel to fuel growth, as she started by creating content regularly on TikTok. This resulted in a 100K+ follower TikTok audience she was then able to bring with her to additional platforms.
Pick one channel to focus on when you are first starting your personal brand. Grow there, and then expanding your audience on other channels will be easier later.
Personal branding is the act of being intentional and strategic about the way you present yourself in an effort to showcase specific attributes and influence your reputation in the eyes of your network. However, trying to make the attributes associated with your personal brand drastically different from who you really are is a mistake.
In our blog post “What Are Personal Brand Attributes? - Definition, Overview of Key Personal Brand Attributes, and Examples,” we talk about how a person’s brand should be based on the real characteristics of their personality and their natural communication style.
For example, if you don’t enjoy telling jokes and are a more serious person, you don’t suddenly need to become a comedian to have a personal brand. The same goes for someone who has a casual natural communication style—suddenly creating content about serious topics and speaking in a formal tone may be challenging and not feel natural.
In this personal branding myths blog post we discuss how some of the best personal brands break stereotypical molds, like Gary Vaynerchuk delivering professional advice in a raw, unpolished tone and communication style.
Lawyers don’t need to have rigid and dry personal brands, or limit themselves to strictly speaking about legal advice, for example. The same goes for business professionals who could choose to weave their fitness journey and cooking hobbies into their personal brands, and speak in a casual tone if a “strictly business” tone and topic selection doesn’t match who they really are.
Your best bet for staying consistent and enabling people to relate to you is to be yourself, and make your personal brand feel natural.
Inconsistency is among the most common personal branding mistakes. Starting out building your brand when you are excited and have motivation is easy. Consistently posting content every day, researching topics for the following week’s content, responding to DMs and comments from followers — these are the things that make the difference over time, and require discipline.
Inconsistency will impede growth, and leave followers unsure of what to expect from you as you turn up periodically with content and then disappear. Posting inconsistently on channels like LinkedIn, Instagram or TikTok will not only prevent significant follower growth, you may even lose followers that you gain as people initially like your content, and then don’t hear from you for periods of time.
In order to maintain consistency, many personal brand builders set mini goals for themselves that stack up to their long term personal brand goals. For example, if your goal is to grow a following on Twitter that you can monetize with products and services, you could set a mini goal of posting 2 Tweets per day and one Twitter thread per week as quotas to ensure you remain consistent.
Dulma deploys this strategy with “100 day challenges” where she challenges herself to post a piece of content on her primary channel every day for 100 days. This is an example of how you can create processes and mini goals that help you to structure your personal brand growth and ensure consistency.
Other creators commit to publishing weekly newsletters on platforms like Substack, or writing articles weekly on LinkedIn. Whichever channels you choose, you can set mini goals that keep you on track and help you avoid the personal branding mistake of inconsistency.
Set mini goals or content creation quotas to structure your content publishing on your target channel(s).
Bonus tip: use social media automation platforms like HubSpot to schedule social posts ahead of time so you always have a consistent posting schedule
Your profiles on platforms like social media, your newsletter, and personal website are the primary pieces of digital real estate people associate you with. Similar to the way people create an impression of you when they meet you in person, the same things happen with social media profiles.
Say you are creating great content on Twitter and someone discovers one of your Tweets and heads to your profile. Do you want them to find a blank bio and an old group photo for your profile image, or worse yet, no profile image?
The answer should be no, because a well designed and thoroughly completed social media profile gives off the impression that you are a trustworthy and skilled professional who is worth following. Don’t make the personal branding mistake of creating great content and forgetting to invest in filling out your profiles on every channel you are on.
Ensure that any profile you are creating content and building an audience on has every field completed.
Bonus tip: use Canva’s templates and easy to use drag and drop design tools to design unique visuals to go along with your brand, like cover images and custom branded graphics to use in your posts so your feed has a consistent style
One of the reasons personal branding is becoming so popular is because the people who succeed in it make it look so easy and rewarding.
Entrepreneurs who turned their personal brands into a business and quit their 9-5, thought leaders who use their personal brand to land great jobs, and students who leave school with a massive head start on their careers are all examples that make us want similar success. But these individuals will be the first to tell you that their path to a personal brand that yields any kind of ROI was a long and challenging one that required hard work and dedication.
These creators and entrepreneurs certainly prove that building a strong personal brand is possible, but they also serve as proof that it’s highly unlikely without hard work applied over a long period of time.
Don’t make the personal branding mistake of thinking building a brand that delivers results will be easy. Publishing a few Tweets, sending a handful of newsletters, or publishing 3-4 articles are great starts. But you are highly unlikely to see the results you want from such a small sample size of content creation. Committing to investing in your personal brand long term with goals like Dulma’s 100 day content creation challenges are more realistic examples of the amount of work and time it takes to build a following for your personal brand that can yield results like customer acquisition and job opportunities.
Now this is not meant to be discouraging. Quite the opposite, as should look to this advice early on to stay motivated and not get discouraged. For example, you have to be ok with writing Tweets no one responds to or sending newsletters to a handful of subscribers for a while in order to start seeing results in the form of audience growth and brand recognition.
Look at other personal brands and the work it took people to build them so you have a realistic picture of the time investment and discipline building your brand will take. Use that understanding to stay motivated and not get discouraged if you don’t see results right away.
Target audience selection is critical for all brands and businesses, and that includes personal brands. Making the personal branding mistake of not knowing to whom you want to speak will lead to content that doesn’t resonate with anyone, or resonates with the wrong audience.
It will also slow your growth, as not speaking to anyone in particular will negate the network effect of joining conversations with like-minded people and tapping into their networks of people with similar interests and pain points.
This is not to say you can’t have multiple segments of your audience, or speak about multiple topics. However, you should have one primary target audience and niche topic for the best results in terms of audience growth and engagement.
Determine whom you want to speak to before investing heavily in personal brand development, and focus the majority of your efforts on this audience and topic. You can then expand later using your established following and brand reputation.
In this blog post we took a break from highlighting benefits, admirable personal brand examples, and the importance of personal branding to look at the other side of the coin and examine what NOT to do with your personal brand. These common personal branding mistakes can prevent growth and stand as roadblocks to achieving your personal brand goals. Be on the lookout for these mistakes as your personal brand journey unfolds, and keep the tips we offered in mind in order to overcome them.
A guide to hiring strategy for marketing leaders and managers.
The content creation game just changed forever.