But like most things, personal branding has down sides, too. And each individual will need to evaluate the pros and cons of personal branding for themselves to determine whether or not building a personal brand is the right thing for their goals and lifestyle.
To help with that evaluation, this blog post discusses the pros and cons of personal branding, including a tip for overcoming each of the challenges posed by the cons.
Personal branding provides real value for professionals at every level. Making people in your respective industry aware of your credibility, making new connections, and improving your skills are all pros that your personal brand building journey can provide.
One of the most powerful pros of building a personal brand is the network growth that comes with it. Whether you are a job seeker, entrepreneur, creator working on your side hustle, or a student there are benefits to having the strong network that personal branding yields.
The larger your audience is, the greater chances you have of meeting new friends, colleagues, business partners, employees, customers, and any other beneficial contact you can think of. The potential upside of being more intentional about building your network is immeasurable, as personal brand growth can open exciting new doors in your career.
One of the career doors discussed above that personal branding opens is exposure to more job opportunities.
A stronger personal brand can lead to more job opportunities in a variety of ways:
On the reputation front, growing a following and establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry will increase the likelihood that you receive inbound opportunities from recruiters and hiring managers. And when you apply for jobs, your personal brand will serve as a recognizable proof point for your credibility in your industry and your relevant capabilities to the job role as your application is reviewed.
One of the beautiful things about personal branding is that it is a self discovery and self development journey. No one is going to build your personal brand for you. Which puts you into a type of “professional survival mode” where you must be reliant on your own skills and capabilities.
Do you want to build an ecommerce side hustle? Great. Then learn how to set up an ecommerce website, start creating products, and figure out what works best to market and advertise them.
Is your personal brand goal to grow a following on LinkedIn in order to become a thought leader in your industry? Then you’re going to need to develop your writing skills and learn the nuances of community engagement and social media growth.
Building a personal brand will challenge you to learn new things, apply your skills in new ways, and provide tangible examples of your skills and expertise that will be assets in your career path.
Regardless of what happens on your career journey, having a strong personal brand to fall back on will ensure you are taking your credibility and professional reputation with you from job to job.
For example, if you happen to lose your job and have a strong personal brand in place, you can leverage it to find new job opportunities as discussed above. This is due to the fact that you’ve built a network of connections and increased the number who recognize your skills and expertise
If you encounter job instability with little to no personal brand reputation, you’ve limited the pool of people who trust you and can vouch for your professional value, as well as limited your potential exposure to recruiters and hiring managers.
Think of your personal brand as an asset that will forever serve as a safety net and foundation to support your career growth. The more you develop it, the more value it will provide in guiding your career path regardless of which jobs you end up landing or losing.
There’s a reason entrepreneurs are some of the people most closely associated with personal branding. That is because having a personal brand is a huge asset for supporting business endeavors and side hustles.
For smaller businesses and side hustles, customers often buy because they are drawn to the business owner's brand, not because of the company’s brand. For example, authors, course creators, and consultants all use their personal brands to increase the credibility of their reputation, and to promote their products and services.
Take a look at YouTube creators, social media influencers, and small business owners promoting products on their social media channels. These are all examples of people cashing in on their personal brands by creating and selling products or services that their audience would find valuable.
The larger your personal brand audience is, the more genuine your network connections are, and the more content you create, the greater likelihood you have of driving interest in your business and its products and services.
Related: How to Monetize Your Personal Brand
Personal brands are an opportunity to explore passions and interests that are not fulfilled during the course of your day job or traditional career path.
The best personal brands are built on people’s hobbies, the things that get them excited, and the causes they care about most. It is also far easier to stay consistent with your personal brand building efforts when you are focusing on something you love doing and talking about.
Your chances for success on this path are also raised because people recognize authenticity, and if you are out in the market creating content and engaging with people about a topic you love, they will take notice and your efforts will resonate.
Whether your personal brand is focused on a hobby, or your current profession that you’re really into, working on your personal brand development represents an opportunity to connect with people who share those interests and to discuss the things you like talking about most.
Related: The Importance of Personal Branding
A rewarding aspect of personal branding is the fact that it offers an avenue for helping others. Personal brand growth typically involves sharing tips, offering thought leadership, and providing mentorship — these are all activities that support the members of your niche community.
Not only will this feel great, but giving away value for free is a powerful marketing strategy that also applies to personal brands. The more value you give away, the more likely it is to be reciprocated at some point through a sale for one of your side hustle products, a job opportunity, or getting help and guidance on a professional challenge of your own down the road.
Put value out into the world with your voice and the content you create, and don’t be surprised when it comes back twofold.
Now that we’ve reviewed the pros of personal branding, it’s time to dig in on the cons. In order to avoid discouraging people who are excited about creating a personal brand while still leading a realistic discussion on the cons of personal branding, we’ve offered a tip for combatting each con that we describe below.
Building a personal brand is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. It requires a significant amount of hard work over the course of a long period of time. It can sometimes be thankless at first, as many of the goals people set out to achieve with their personal brands take months and even years to achieve.
Committing to such a work load and long journey is challenging for busy professionals who already have demanding careers and busy personal lives.
Tip for overcoming this con:
In order to avoid having your personal brand development feel like too much work, or getting burnt out, try committing to mini goals that align to your long term personal brand goals.
This strategy can be a motivator and help you to build an accountability system. Mini goals like setting daily content publishing quotas will add structure to long term goals, and help to maintain motivation and effort over time as you see indications of your efforts having ROI. This also helps you to approach your personal brand with a “slow and steady” strategy vs. overcommitting to creating too much content at first and eventually losing motivation.
As discussed above, building a personal brand takes a significant amount of effort. This includes consistently creating content, responding to comments, and engaging with other people’s posts.
Many of the best examples of personal brands do this across channels, building a presence on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and newsletters. Keeping up this kind of publishing velocity and conveying a consistent tone, look and feel for your brand across channels is a challenge for anyone, especially people who are building their personal brands as a part time creator or to support a side hustle.
Tip for overcoming this con:
It’s a personal branding myth that you need to have a presence on every channel. You may only need one solid channel in reality if that channel is where your audience engages and where your content resonates.
Focus on building a presence on the channel that is the best fit for your target audience, niche, and skill set. Then expand to new channels, and do so only if you feel you are ready to, and can continue to keep up your content creation and engagement velocity on your primary channel.
Business brands are constantly trying to accentuate certain qualities. Some brands are serious, some are humorous, others are inspirational. The same applies to personal brands, as personal brands have different attributes associated with them depending on the individual’s personality, communication style, and goals.
Because personal branding involves accentuating positive qualities and being intentional in the way you communicate, people tend to be hyper aware of how they come across in their personal brands. This can lead to a focus on superficial qualities and make the act of building a personal brand feel fake as you create an overly polished image that doesn’t represent who you really are.
Tip for overcoming this con:
Make your personal brand’s attributes match real attributes that you actually have in your personality and communication style. This will reduce internal conflicts, and make the act of building your personal brand feel natural vs. making the mistake of crafting a personal brand persona that is too far removed from your real personality.
For example, if you have a naturally serious tone and communication style, don’t feel the need to suddenly become a comedian in your personal brand.
Personal branding can create pressure and stress as you see other people building successful personal brands. This is heightened because personal branding is about accentuating positives. For example, on the surface other people’s personal brands might seem effortless and full of positivity, despite hard work and challenges existing behind the scenes.
On platforms like Instagram you might feel pressure to conform to societal standards of beauty, success, and happiness as people selectively put their absolute best foot forward in their content. On platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter you might feel pressure to conform to hustle culture, and to always be “grinding.”
Seeing the success of others might also cause you to grow impatient as you want to experience similar results for yourself.
The culmination of these influences can be stressful and impact your mental health on your personal brand building journey.
Tips for overcoming this con:
It's important to remember that personal branding is about your own self growth and being able to express yourself. While analyzing other people’s personal brands is a great strategy for learning how to approach your own, you also need to be careful to avoid pushing yourself to fit into someone else’s mold.
It is also good to consistently remind yourself that personal branding involves intentionally highlighting positive attributes, and to not get too caught up in admiring someone else’s success. There's a chance they are intentionally sharing positive outcomes and may be choosing to downplay the harsher realities of personal branding, like the hard work and challenges it involves.
Personal branding can make it difficult to separate personal and professional identities. Knowing what content topics and information to share on different platforms is confusing when you are building a personal brand. How much of your personal life should be woven into your content?
For example, if you are building a personal brand following on Twitter focused on the topic of marketing, are you still able to post content discussing your fitness hobby? If you are building a personal brand on Instagram focused on ecommerce, can you still post photos documenting your travels?
On one hand, you don’t want your personal brand to feel like a facade or for it to be separated from who you really are. On the other hand, you’re building an audience around a specific topic, and want to keep people engaged. This presents a dilemma that everyone faces during personal brand development.
Tip for overcoming this con:
Personal branding is the act of intentionally accentuating aspects of your personality and expertise. So it totally makes sense for certain parts of your personality making their way into your personal brand’s content, and for others not to be. Similar to the way in which you likely keep some topics and discussions reserved for coworkers in comparison to close friends and family.
Try Setting clear dividing lines that help you to balance which aspects of your narrative shine through on certain channels. For example, you may decide that your Facebook account is for sharing your personal life with close friends, while your LinkedIn and YouTube accounts are reserved for your personal brand’s primary topics.
We also shared a related suggestion in our blog post on personal branding for introverts involving setting quotas or rules for different forms of content. You could decide that 1 out of every 4 TikTok videos that you publish is focused on your personal life, while 3 out of 4 of your TikTok videos is dedicated to your personal brand.
Personal branding is great because it helps you develop a reputation and become a known figure in your niche. Conversely, this can be a negative thing if you ever want to make a pivot in your career.
For example, if you’ve developed a strong personal brand as a lawyer with an engaged following who turns to you for legal advice, pivoting to a career as an e-commerce entrepreneur may be difficult. That is because significant portions of your personal brand’s audience might not be interested in your new business and content.
Tip for overcoming this con:
While it may be challenging to shift your audience to new topics if your career and personal brand is very niche, it is still possible.
We’ve seen people with prominent personal brands like Gary Vaynerchuk evolve their personal brands over time, adding new audience segments. In his case he started out catering to marketing and business professionals, and has expanded his audience to new segments, like people interested in personal growth, and trading card enthusiasts.
Try diversifying the topics you talk about with your personal brand early on in order to lay groundwork for a brand that accentuates different aspects of your interests, that way should you pivot to one of those interests in the future, it will feel like a natural progression of your personal brand narrative instead a bait and switch for your audience.
One of personal branding’s biggest benefits is gaining exposure for yourself and your work. However, this benefit also presents a con that is directly correlated with it, as this exposure has risks.
Making information about you publicly accessible and drawing attention to it through audience growth can be risky and negative emotionally if you are a private individual. Also, if you are not careful about what information you share online during the course of your personal brand building efforts, you risk exposing yourself to things like cybercrime, identity theft, invasions of privacy, negative feedback, internet trolling, and other foul play.
Tip for overcoming this con:
Be careful about what information you put online on your personal brand profiles and in the content you create (ex. Social media). For example, your address, financial information, and details about your family and personal life are pieces of information you can keep private and never share publicly during your personal brand building efforts.
The pros of personal branding include professional development and network growth that ultimately benefit your career. On the other hand, the cons of personal branding include the amount of work and time personal brand building takes, increased stress and pressure, and potential invasions of privacy.
The disadvantages of personal branding include the time and effort required to establish and maintain a strong personal brand, potential mental health risks such as burnout and time management challenges as you balance your full time job and personal life.
The benefits of personal branding include increased visibility, the opportunity to build and demonstrate your skills, and network growth that can open new doors in your career path.
While a personal brand is an asset that can benefit everyone in some way, whether or not a creating one is worth it will be measured differently for each individual.
For some people a personal brand is an invaluable career asset, whereas the benefits may be more indirect for other individuals whose livelihoods and wellbeing are less reliant on network growth and reputation management.
Personal branding is an endeavor with great benefits that is also not without a degree of risk and potential downsides. We hope our objective conversation on the pros and cons of personal branding helps you to make your own decision as to whether or not investing in a personal brand is the right choice to support your goals and ambitions.
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