Personal Branding Challenges: Tips for Overcoming the Most Common Personal Branding Challenges

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We talk a lot at Brand Credential about the positive aspects of personal branding. We discuss personal branding’s benefits and importance, and explain how people ranging from entrepreneurs to lawyers and students can build successful personal brands.

However, the idea that personal branding is all glamor and success is a myth. Not everyone succeeds at personal branding. It’s challenging, there are plenty of common mistakes that people make, and no matter which way you go about it, it involves hard work and dedication.

With that in mind, we are taking a break in this blog post from focusing on the positive side of personal branding. But this is not to discourage. Rather, in this blog we are going to identify common personal branding challenges and offer tips for overcoming them. That way you know you are not alone when your personal branding journey hits some speed bumps.  

Let’s take a look at the challenges you may run into on your personal branding journey.

Personal branding challenges covered in this blog post:

  • Not Knowing How to Start Building Your Personal Brand
  • Struggling to Pick Your Niche
  • Being Afraid, or Feeling Imposter Syndrome 
  • Staying Consistent and Motivated
  • Choosing Your Personal Brand Channels

Not Knowing How to Start Building Your Personal Brand

Where do you start building your personal brand? Do you start creating content? Should you start creating products and business plans? What about your target audience?

These are questions everyone asks in the beginning of building their personal brand. The good news is there is no wrong answer, and what helps people get started will be unique for each individual. 

That’s great, but it also doesn’t offer much guidance in terms of what to ACTUALLY do to start building a brand. To help with that, here are some actionable steps to help you get started and surpass this common challenge:

  • Choose a target audience and niche - this is a great place to start because it unlocks lots of other information like what content you should make, and what channels you should use ex. YouTube vs. Facebook
  • Just start creating content—this is a common saying among creators, as the process of creating content of different types and discussing different topics will lead you to realizing what you like to talk about, what resonates with people, and to whom you enjoy talking to. A bonus benefit of this strategy is you will immediately start building an audience. 
  • Set personal brand goals — these will inform all of the down steam decisions about your personal brand, like whether or not you want to monetize it, or which marketing channels will help you best accomplish your goals
  • Think about the personal brand attributes you’d like to be associated with. Also known as “brand words,” these are the words that describe how you want you personal brand channels and content to feel. Kelly Fiance does a great explanation of these in this TikTok video. Check out this blog post for more information about personal brand attributes: Personal Brand Attributes Examples - Different Types of Personal Brand Attributes Explained

Tip for overcoming this personal branding challenge: 

Whether you get out there and start creating content and build your strategy along the way, or you prefer to make strategic decisions first, like identifying your niche and setting goals, you should start creating as soon as you can. That will get the ball rolling on your personal brand growth, and you will figure the rest out along the way.

Related: Personal Branding Action Plan - Checklist + Complete Guide for Starting Your Personal Brand

Struggling to Choose Your Niche

If you decided picking a niche was the first step you wanted to take on your personal branding journey, or you have been creating for a while and still haven’t found it yet, you’ve come across another common personal branding challenge. 

Finding a niche topic and corresponding target audience is something every prominent personal brand establishes at some point. Your target audience is the group of people who enjoy your niche topic just as much as you do, and they feel the pain points you talk about. Consistently talking about the same topic will help you build an audience of followers interested in that topic that will grow and compound as your network expands, and it will establish you as an authority.

However, finding the ideal niche target audience and topic can be a challenge, and you might not know where to start, or what you want to talk about first. 

In order to prevent that from stalling your progress: 

  • Think about the things you are good at and enjoy talking about. Experiment by creating different content about different topics to see what you enjoy discussing
  • Then identify an audience who will enjoy content about your main topic and focus on creating value for them
  • Once you’ve built a reputation in your niche, you can expand to other topics and scale your personal brand audience to a wider range of people.

Examples of prominent creators who found their niche:

In order to discover that first topic, many creators suggest creating content about whatever feels natural and to see what sticks. The idea is to “create your niche” by getting out there, creating content, and discovering what works along the way. This building in public philosophy is not only widely used, it is also something people admire as it takes guts and hard work.

Tip for overcoming this personal branding challenge: 

Select a topic that will be the primary topic you write and create content about to share online in order to grow your personal brand following. This should be a topic area that resonates with a specific group of people — that is your personal brand’s target audience. Be sure to start out with one specific topic and build a following and reputation for that topic before expanding more broadly. 

Related: Personal Brand Framework: 5 Steps to Defining Your Personal Brand [plus a free template]

Being Afraid, or Feeling Imposter Syndrome 

Personal branding is, well, personal. And that’s the scary part. Because you aren’t out in the market promoting a product or service—you’re promoting yourself. And that can be a scary thought. 

Putting yourself out there, trying something new and uncomfortable, seeing how great other people’s personal brands seem, and subjecting yourself to potential public scrutiny are all examples of fears that hold people back from growing their personal brands, or starting it in the first place.

In order to overcome these challenges, try these techniques:

  • Start with sharing written content and graphics to ease into personal branding. These content formats are not only easier to create (writing a Tweet for example), but they are also less intimidating in the eyes of many people than recording videos or starting a podcast, for example.
  • Connect with other professionals who are early on in their personal branding journey. This can not only be helpful strategically as you can learn from each other, but it can also be motivating. If they can do it, why can’t you?
  • Set super small and attainable goals. For example, setting a goal to gain 10,000 followers on LinkedIn likely feels like standing at the foot of a mountain when you are just starting out. But posting your first ever LinkedIn post? Now that is attainable. Start small and get over your fears of starting out. Then you can grow from there
  • Just get started and post your first content — this sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. Once you start creating content, connecting with people, and seeing your efforts have even just a little bit of an impact, you will be motivated to keep going and wading further into the previously-terrifying personal branding waters

Tip for overcoming this personal branding challenge: 

Find ways to start creating content and networking that feel the least intimidating, and let that give you the momentum and confidence to expand your efforts from there.

Related: Personal Branding Tips for Introverts

Staying Consistent and Motivated

Consistency is one of the biggest keys to personal brand success, and most creators and professionals with prominent personal brands stress this point in their content. That is because consistency is one of the primary personal branding challenges that people face when they first decide to build a personal brand. 

When you are excited, feeling motivated, and first kicking off your personal branding journey the first few days, weeks, and even months might be easy. But plenty of people fizzle out too early, as that timeline is too small to start seeing significant ROI, and that can be discouraging and lead to people getting into a funk in their content creation and community building.

You have to remember that you are not alone in experiencing that challenge, and even the top content creators and professionals faced early challenges in building their personal brands.

  • Gary Vaynerchuk tells the story of how no one watches his YouTube videos for years before his personal brand took off
  • Dulma challenges herself to post consistently with “100 day challenges” that scaled her following to 100K+ on TikTok in one year
  • Niharikaa Kaur Sodhi wrote hundreds of articles on platforms like LinkedIn and Medium before she built her prominent personal branding 
Dulma’s “100 day challenges” are an example of how mini goal setting can be an invaluable personal branding strategy for maintaining accountability and consistency.

In order to avoid falling victim to inconsistency, committing to mini goals that align to your long term personal brand goals can be a motivator and accountability system. The creators mentioned above committed to mini goals like daily content publishing quotas that helped them to add structure to their mission and to not get discouraged by how long it takes to see results.

Tip for overcoming this personal branding challenge: 

Set mini goals that align to your long term personal brand goals. These will give you tangible short term wins, a way to measure progress, and an accountability system on your longer term personal brand journey.

Related: Tools for Personal Branding: Best Marketing Tools to Add to Your Personal Branding Toolkit

Deciding Which Marketing Channels to Build Your Personal Brand On

  • “Should I be creating content on TikTok?” 
  • “What about Twitter?” 
  • “Maybe I need to start a newsletter…”

—we’ve all had these thoughts when it comes to personal branding. There are so many great marketing channels these days, and it seems like people are building strong personal brands on all of them. At maturity this is the case, as people with prominent personal brands like Gary Vaynechuk use a variety of channels for building their brands. 

Why Choose One Channel

Prominent content creator Dulma advises her followers to start with one channel, do well there, and then expand later.

However, the better strategy when you’re first starting out is to pick one channel, build a strong following there, and then scale to additional channels later. But how do you choose just one, and identify the best place to start investing in building an audience for your personal brand?

How to Choose One Channel

Two of the most critical factors in choosing a personal brand channel are whether or not your target audience uses the channel frequently, and whether or not the content creation options match your content creation skills. 

For example, if your target audience is business professionals and you are a good writer, then LinkedIn or Twitter would be great choices, as business professionals are on those channels in large numbers, and written posts are a predominant content format. For another example, if you like video content creation and your target audience uses TikTok, that would be a great place to invest in building an audience first.

Tip for overcoming this personal branding challenge: 

Pick a channel that your target audience uses frequently, and that plays to your strengths as a content creator.

Related: 7 Personal Branding Tips to Help Grow Your Audience and Influence

Final Thoughts 

There’s no doubt that personal branding is challenging, otherwise everyone would have a prominent personal brand that drives value. However, these challenges can be overcome, and we hope our discussion, tips and examples in this blog post help you navigate common personal branding challenges.

Bonus Personal Branding Tips and Insights

About the author

Hi, I'm Justin and I write Brand Credential.

I started Brand Credential as a resource to help share expertise from my 10-year brand building journey.

I currently serve as the VP of Marketing for a tech company where I oversee all go-to-market functions. Throughout my career I've helped companies scale revenue to millions of dollars, helped executives build personal brands, and created hundreds of pieces of content since starting to write online in 2012. Thank you for reading and feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

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