Connecting with your audience is a crucial part of being influential, and a strong personal brand is one of the best ways to grow a following. A personal brand sets you apart and gives potential new audience members something to identify with and remember. Brands and advertisers also prefer to work with influencers who have a distinct identity, as it’s easier to discern if the influencer aligns with their target audience.
We talked with Linqia influencer Kevin O’Gara, founder of popular home design blog Thou Swell, about how he built and maintains his brand. Here is his advice for constructing a personal brand that attracts new fans and brands:
Pinpoint Your Passion
Your passion – be it for cooking, fashion, or parenting – is the foundation of your brand. O’Gara always had an eye for home decor, but founding his blog ignited a fire for creating his own content to share with other design enthusiasts.
“While I’ve always been interested in home design – from moving my bedroom furniture to drawing floor plans for our furniture when my family moved homes – I really didn’t realize just how interested I was in interiors until I started writing about them on my blog,” says O’Gara. “I had been on Pinterest and Tumblr and found lots of rooms I loved, but when I started curating home tours on Thou Swell, I found just how passionate I was in the impact of home design.”
A central website topic draws other like-minded individuals to your site because they can immediately recognize that your content is relevant to them. Focusing on one or two interests also increases your website’s SEO, – the more times a keyword is relevantly placed in a website’s posts, the higher that site appears in the keyword’s search results.
Make it a Priority
Devote time every week to creating a vibrant brand. O’Gara posts multiple times a week, but he’s also a full time college student.
“I really dedicate most of my free-time to writing new posts, photographing projects, and scheduling social media,” says O’Gara. “It can become a big job, but if you’re passionate about what you’re writing, photographing, and designing, it’s an incredible way to make a name for yourself in the digital realm.”
He admits that “balancing school and [his] blog has been a challenge,” but feels that “it definitely helps that [his] blog has become [his] sole extracurricular.” Brands are built through thoughtfully creating content and editing it to align with your image, so give yourself space to be mindful rather than rushing and posting off-brand content.
Embrace Your Differences
Play up what makes you different. O’Gara has a unique position of being a younger male in a content vertical that is heavily populated by older females, but he never hides this.
“Being both male and a young student makes my lifestyle a bit different from many bloggers in my genre,” says O’Gara. “At the same time, my unique point of view provides an interesting twist to my content, since it’s another part of my blog that sets it apart from the crowd.”
Your particular traits are what makes your voice special, so let your differences be known in your content and brand. It can be tempting to follow trends, but unless they are truly to your tastes, hopping on a bandwagon makes your brand fade into the background rather than stand out.
Find Inspiration in Unconventional Sources
Look for inspiration in unconventional places to keep your content unique, rather than imitative of other influencer work.
“Searching for inspiration beyond Pinterest is key,” says O’Gara. “I love looking at the websites for shelter magazines in Europe and Australia for fresh designs.”
Of course, it’s difficult to be 100% original in every post you make, but using uncommon inspiration sources can make your website a must-read. Posting rare images, articles, and ideas gives your brand subject authority and audiences can visit to see your newest finds and stay in the loop.
While you should centralize your content on your passion, mix things up by posting different facets of your interest area. The variety attracts more followers, as more content types equals a wider appeal.
“One of my secrets is providing a variety of content types, from product curation to home tours, while keeping an underlying aesthetic to tie the posts together,” says O’Gara.
O’Gara doesn’t just share home interiors and products, he also profiles the designers who create them.
“I think it’s important to illustrate the designer or client behind design projects to give a personal background to the interiors,” he says.
Taking on a subject with a new angle is refreshing and eye catching to people. A diversity of content makes your brand stand out against other influencers in your genre while also appealing to a broader audience.
Be Where Your Audience Is
Of course, following your audience back on social media when they follow you is a good idea, but O’Gara’s real advice is bringing your content to your audience.
“Analyze the performance of your social media channels, then schedule posts on channels that get the most attention,” says O’Gara.
Emphasizing some social channels over others is a branding best practice because it gives your audience an expected place, other than your website, to find your content. Whether you’re seen as an Instagram aficionado or Pinterest powerhouse, your audience knows where to get more of your content if you consistently post on your most engaged channel.
A solid personal brand can increase your audience following and sponsorship opportunities with brands and advertisers. If you’re not already using these strategies to develop your brand, now is a great time to start. Connect with major brands by signing up to be a Linqia influencer or share your brand building tips with other influencers on our Facebook and Twitter.
For more on Thou Swell, read his Influencer Spotlight.