Dear small business owner, whether you like it or not, you already have a personal brand. Friends, acquaintances, customers, and colleagues have an idea of who you are. That ‘idea’ of you comes from your reputation—the way you look, dress, talk, your skills, the things you do, what you care about— it’s your whole personality. Everything that makes you, YOU, that’s your personal brand. So how can you use it to your advantage when growing your business or side hustle?

As a service-provider solopreneur, so much of your customer base will come from a connection they have with you. Their loyalty will come from the way you make them feel every time they see or hear from you. Keeping your community satisfied is a full-time job, especially when they’re subscribed to your service! So in a world where there are so many qualified providers to choose from, you’ve got to set yourself apart by being sincere and real.

The best way to do that is to work on your personal brand. Be intentional about building an image of yourself that will attract the right kind of customers that will adore you and rave about you to their friends. To do this, you should still be 100% yourself. Don't worry about the competition. Once you’ve defined your brand and niche it’ll become clear that what you have to offer is different than everyone else.

How to build a personal brand for business growth & subscriptions

The first step is to take a good honest look at yourself to understand what’s important to you. People can smell inauthenticity, so you’ve got to build a brand around things you genuinely care about and communicate those in a way that’s natural to you. Here are some important questions to get you started:

What do I care about?

  • Besides your ‘thing’ what else do you care about? Choose a few different topics or themes that are complementary to your service. You’ll want to infuse them into your marketing strategy on social media, newsletters, blog posts, and IRL. For example, a chef can talk about sustainability, a personal trainer can talk about mental health, and a dating coach can talk about female empowerment. What’s going to make you an outlier in your industry? Make it different from the crowd.
  • Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that interests you enough to keep you researching it and engaging with others about it. If you keep pivoting your interests, you’ll confuse and lose customers along the way -- but you also don’t need to be married to ONE topic for the next 30 years. Find a nice balance.

Who is my ideal customer?

  • Defining your target audience and niche will bring you some clarity and help you define your personal brand. Focus on designing sessions and content specifically for children, or runners, or women... You pick! Choose a community you like to spend time with and adapt your personal brand according to their interests and needs.
  • You’ll likely connect with a group of people you really understand. For example, you’ll have an easier time being a relationship coach for women, if you yourself have experienced dating as a woman first-hand. However, this is not always true, and coming from a different place than your target audience can be a way to set you apart too.
  • The most important thing is to feel comfortable around your customers and to share with them the truest version of yourself. When you’re first starting out you might be open to working with everybody and that is perfectly fine. With time you’ll begin to understand what kinds of people you feel the most compatible with and they’ll begin to gravitate towards you too.

How do I communicate with my customers?

  • How you communicate is just as important as what you communicate. Have you ever been in a conversation where you weren’t listening 100% to what was being said yet you felt like you were fully engaged? That’s likely what will happen during your sessions. Humans can’t help it -- we get distracted by small things. It’s up to you what kind of environment and communication you want to use in your community.
  • You might want to bring laughter into class and choose to post memes on your social media. Or you might be a Sargent-like workout instructor that pushes your clients to their limit. While either case might turn off some participants, it’ll definitely keep the right ones around. Find a communication style that feels right for what you’re trying to accomplish with your service.

What’s my ‘look and feel’?

  • Your website and social media have a look and feel. To be honest, you have a look and feel. You and your online presence can be quirky, sexy, sophisticated, calming...the possibilities are endless. The colors, themes, fonts, images, and even what you wear will all tell a story. Make them consistent with your brand.
  • If you need help with your website, social media, personal styling, or anything else, you can always hire an expert to get you started. While this made cost you a few bucks, it’ll set you on the right path. We’ve got a few consultants on Subkit that’ll happily help you out. Another option is to just take note of what other solopreneurs you are inspired by are doing and replicate that in your own way.

Where should you showcase your personal brand?

As mentioned, there are endless parts of your personality and experience that fall under personal branding. But as a service provider solopreneur, there are specific mediums you should focus on to grow your biz or side hustle and highlight the awesome things that make you unique. Here are the ones you should prioritize:

Social Media - Choose the channels you enjoy spending time on and create a social strategy that works for you.

Website - Your website can be a huge source of inspiration, curiosity, and loyalty. Consider writing relevant blog posts, and give people a peek into what to expect from your service.

Emails - Every email you send to a customer should be aligned with your personal brand. Make them feel welcome even if they’re just writing to ask you a simple question. And consider turning your blog posts into a regular newsletter.

Collaborations - Work with other small businesses who resonate with you and will resonate with your audience. Forging partnerships with the wrong people will scare off what you’ve already built with your community. Collabs are a great way to dive deeper into those supplementary interests that aren’t within your area of expertise.

Events - Engage your people in creative ways they’ll enjoy. Besides your subscription service, think of other online or offline events you might want to create to keep your customers excited by your offering. This is a great chance to break away from routine. Throw an 80s dance party yoga class, or a Halloween-themed cooking class, and sign us up!

Press - In the case that local media or relevant bloggers approach you about featuring you in a story, say YES and be clear about your value proposition. Whatever is written about you should be coherent with all you’ve already done to build your personal brand.

Sessions - Add unique rituals to your subscription service that’ll charm your customers and make them stick to you, no matter the competition. You can get really innovative with these. From curated playlists each month, to always closing out a session with an inspiring quote or celebrating each of your community members’ birthdays. These rituals should fit with your overarching personal brand.

At the end of the day, your personal brand should feel like you are just being yourself - out loud.