Are you an accountant, CPA, enrolled agent, or bookkeeper that is looking to develop their personal brand? Back in the day, only major companies and wealthy individuals focused on trying to develop their personal brand. Nowadays, you find your 11 year old building her Instagram profile with over 2,000 followers and 200+ likes on her post about how much she hates school. Profile, branded. As you can tell, the importance of having a personal brand has exploded over the years. Without having a personal brand set up and running, you will be missing out on potential customers who are looking to learn more about what you are about and whether they will connect with your company’s brand. However, trying to sift through the enormous amount of content online on building a personal brand is enough to keep you busy for a solid year. Instead of wasting your time on trying to do the research, I have provided the 7-step beginner’s guide to building and launching your personal brand. Let’s do this. Step 1: Define Your Target Audience This might seem like a simple step, or maybe even a “duh” moment, but the truth is most accounting firm owners skip over defining who their target audience is made of and what this particular target audience actually care about. Here are a few questions to kickstart creating your perfect customer, and ultimately defining who your target audience is: • What does your customer do (profession)? • What is the age range of your customer? • Where does your customer live (country and state)? • How much does your customer make? • What is the biggest problem facing their current professional career? • Why does your product or service matter to your perfect customer? • Which problem does your product/service solve for your customer? • What would make your customer purchase your product/service? By defining your perfect customer, you will have a clear vision into who they are, what they are thinking and how you can craft your marketing message to reach your perfect customer. Step 2: Change How You View Yourself When trying to build a personal brand, you need to be clear as to who you are and who you want to evolve into. This is where your mindset comes into play. Take out a piece of paper, or open up a fresh Word document. Put in the Title, Hi, I’m [INSERT NAME]. Then list out the ideal version of who you are. Ask yourself the following questions: • What is your end game/goal from your profession? • What is your profession/passion? • Who are some mentors/influencers that you want to mimic? • Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years) • What do you want your income to be in 1 year, 5 years and 10 years? • What do you value the most (name 5 values)? Remember, if people don’t laugh at your dreams, then they must be too small to begin with. Start by building your mindset to the person you want to become. You will begin to see the vision of your personal brand take flight. Step 3: Do Your Research Before you build a website, spend money on Facebook ads or try to create an e-book, you need to figure out what your target audience wants. This is called finding the “Product-Market” fit in the startup world. You need to figure out exactly what your target audience is talking about, by putting in the time, energy and effort to do your own research of the market. To start off with, the best place to head to is your Facebook profile page. Dig through your friend’s list to see if any of them fall into your target audience as identified in Step 1. If you stumble across an ideal potential audience, reach out to them for a call. Or set up a meeting to have coffee. The purpose is to pick their brain to try to find out what their biggest problem is, when it comes to that niche focus, and what they are doing currently to solve that problem. After 50+ meetings, your mind will be racing with ideas and similarities within your niche and now you have a solid idea as to where to kickstart building out your personal brand. Step 4: Create A Platform To Launch Your Brand Now that you have an idea of who you are targeting and what that niche actually cares about, it’s time to start building your personal brand. There are plenty of avenues available to us where building a brand can be done over the weekend. The first place I would start is using the free services, like Facebook Page, Medium Page, Tumblr Page or Instagram Account where you can start sharing things that your niche is interested in. Once you have played around with your free platforms, you can move into building your own website. These days, with free platforms and themes on WordPress or Squarespace, you can have a beautifully built website by next week. You just need to put in a few hours a day for the research on how you want your site to look and a few beginner YouTube video on building a website (no coding) through WordPress. You can also start connecting with influencers in your space by liking their pages, direct reach outs and offering to guest post on their blogs as well. This can help widen your reach as they will promote you to their audience, and vice versa. Step 5: Build Your First 1000 True Fans At this point, you have defined your target audience, set up your mindset to believe that you can actually become the person you want your brand to represent, and found a way to touch your target niche through comprehensive research. But....none of this actually can get you eyes on the page or traffic conversions to your site. This is where the concept of building your First 1000 True Fans comes into play. “A creator, such as an artist, musician, craftsperson, designer, or author – in other words, anyone producing – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.” - kk.org Ideally, if you are able to get 1000 true fans, they will purchase anything and everything you will produce. Think about it. If you create a course that you want to sell for $100 online. If you have 1000 true fans that want to purchase anything you put out, you just got yourself a $100,000 business. Step 6: Time To Socialize Social media has been the new hype over the past few years and yet, most small businesses are leaving it off of the table when discussing key marketing strategies for their business. Social media is a way for you to communicate directly to your target audience, authentically. The first step when implementing a social media marketing plan is determining which social media platform will most likely reach your key customers and prospects. This could be 1, 2 or maybe even 3 different platforms, but you need to put in a little bit of research to determine which outlet you should target first. With whatever niche you fall into, do your research to make sure you stay on top of what you think. Step 7: Track Your Results Ultimately, the biggest driver in determining whether personal brand development is working, is the number of meetings you've booked each week and from what sources are these coming from. It is essential to keep track of exactly how much time and dollars you are spending towards your marketing strategy. Then, make the determination on which outlets are working, and which ones need to be updated or scratched out completely. The key to implementing a successful personal brand online, is to ask yourself at the end of the day: How many prospective customers have you met with in the last 7 days and from which outlet did they come from?