You invest a lot of time crafting and executing content marketing strategies in your paying gig. But when it comes to marketing yourself, what kind of investment are you making?
Are you like the barefooted shoemaker’s kid – knowing but not following your industry’s best practices to achieve personal professional success?
Now is the perfect time to change that. Whether you’re looking for a promotion or new job, or you want to pivot your role or industry, create a content marketing strategy to support your personal brand in 2021.
“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. Show them you have got what it takes,” Mike Myers said in a recent CMI Twitter chat on the topic.
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.”
What is a personal brand?
Before getting into how to 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. It’s a requirement in our socially connected world,” Anh said. “Regardless of industry or role, 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
Frankly, you already have a personal brand. From the moment you engage with people, they form perceptions that create your brand. But if you craft a personal content marketing strategy for your brand, you’ll set yourself on a better path to achieving your goals.
Here’s how to take the seven steps to create your personal content marketing strategy.
1. Craft a brand mission statement
All good content marketing strategies start with understanding what the organization is about and what it wants to achieve. Thus, the first step in your personal content marketing strategy is to create a personal brand mission statement.
“The mission statement aims to create an emotional connection with your audience. It describes the brand’s purpose and why it exists,” writes Social Sprout’s Sarah Aboulhosn.
While Sarah was writing about an organization, the same applies to individuals. 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 generally 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: If you work for an organization, you can’t develop your personal brand without considering your employer’s brand because you’re tied together publicly. Tweak or supplement your personal brand 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 is about 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., signing up for your newsletter, sharing your content). Attract strategic partners: Get people to want to help you (and them) (e.g., guest blogging and conference speaking).
Once you define your personal 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?
Then detail their interests and behaviors. What do they want to know about? What are their pain points? Where do they live (online and/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 personal 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.
This also is a good time to 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 your topics, formats, and distribution platforms identified, 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 personal content marketing goal is to earn brand trust, your metric could be gaining 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 is working. One caveat: It can be hard to know what realistic numeric goals to set in the beginning. That shouldn’t prevent you from picking them. If you find in your next review that your numbers were unrealistic, 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.
That’s why you should set deadlines for every step in the content production and distribution process. Mark them on your calendar, and if you get overloaded and don’t expect to meet one, move it back on the calendar (never 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. Treat this partner as you would a client or boss – let them know when the step is done or tell them the new date for completion. (You could 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 it’s done.
You can enhance your personal content marketing strategy as you expand your knowledge and skills. You can do that by enrolling in Content Marketing University.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute