How come some course creators have thousands of followers on social media? How did they sell so many courses and how did they become industry influencers? These are regular people just like you. They have similar degrees and walked on similar career paths before selling courses online, just like you. But why are they more successful?
The answer is not a secret success recipe. These course creators are probably not more knowledgeable or charismatic than the rest of the experts in your field. They just knew how to market their online course business by creating and leveraging a personal brand.
With a well-designed personal branding action plan, you can enjoy similar success by standing out from the crowd. Stats show that over 57% of people prefer to buy from brands with strong personalities. Learn what it takes to build one.
What is a personal brand and why do you need one?
Personal branding includes practices that help you establish your image and boost your reputation. A personal brand highlights your value and helps you differentiate yourself from your competitors.
So, what is the point of building a personal brand as a knowledge entrepreneur? Benefits include:
Make your audience see you the way you want them to;
- Highlight your unique personality and qualities;
- Focus on what you offer and your competitors don’t;
- Become easily recognizable and memorable;
- Connect to like-minded professionals who can support you;
- Get closer to your target audience and boost their trust.
The latter is particularly important because people tend to purchase a product or service simply because they associate it with a known figure. A strong personal brand helps you become the go-to person in your domain and attract a wider audience.
A step-by-step approach to building your personal branding action plan
Building a strong personal brand takes time. Getting inspired by the best personal brands out there can help. But you still have a long way ahead until you craft your own brand and benefit from it. To achieve this goal faster, you need to visualize your course of action. Here is a seven-step branding action plan for course creators.
1. Find your USP
A USP (unique selling proposition) defines what makes you stand out from your competitors. As a course creator, your USP could relate to your:
- Unique credentials;
- Out-of-the-box teaching strategy;
- Competitive price point;
- Personalized guidance and support.
Anything that makes your online courses unique can represent your USP, which is a key element of a strong personal brand.
A solid USP must be catchy and memorable. For example, Tiffany & Co, the famous jewelry brand, uses "the right one is worth waiting for." This analogy refers both to love and the exquisite engagement rings people can get at Tiffany & Co.
Another powerful USP comes from the Swedish furniture company IKEA. It says "to create a better everyday life for the many people," describing IKEA’s major benefit — affordability.
PowHer.fit, an online Fitness training community that offers online courses and coaching, uses the tagline “a StrongHer HealthiHer You” to explain how they empower people to achieve their fitness goals.
When writing your USP, avoid generic phrases, such as “the best discounts” or “the most effective learning experience.” Essentially, think of your USP as what makes you … you. Find a way to pack and sell that feature so that learners understand its value.
Moreover, your USP should be embedded in all your content and marketing efforts. Don’t post it on your homepage alone. Use it on your online course landing page, social platforms, blog posts, and even in your online courses.
2. Define your goals and narrow down your area of expertise
An effective personal branding action plan starts with clear goals. Depending on where you are in your career, these could be:
- Gaining more customers;
- Increasing your brand awareness;
- Positioning yourself as an industry leader.
A strong personal brand can help you achieve all these, but you should know from the start what your end purpose is. For instance, if you want to stand out as a leader in your field, your personal band should focus on your expertise and previous achievements. If you want to get more customers, focus on the advantages your courses will bring them.
When defining your personal branding goal, don’t fall into the trap of being too inclusive. No matter how well you know your field, you can’t be an expert in everything. The purpose of building your personal brand is to draw attention to your key differentiators.
People should recognize you as the expert who knows something in-depth, not someone with general knowledge on various topics. Niche courses can generate high revenue. Centering your business and brand strategy on a well-defined niche makes you all the more memorable.
3. Define your audience
Your personal brand should reflect your most valuable skills but also your target learners. With 58% of Gen Z consumers willing to pay more for services that are tailored to their individual personalities, it’s critical to find and stick to a specific audience.
For example, if you teach a foreign language, you would use different approaches with children as opposed to corporate employees. The voice and image you choose as part of your personal branding strategy should resonate with your audience.
How to find your target audience? You don’t need advanced marketing skills for this. Just think about the people that would benefit the most from your knowledge. You can create a learner persona to better understand your ideal client. To do this, simply make a list of this person’s:
- Age and gender;
- Interests and passions;
- Employment status;
- Average income;
- Values and aspirations;
- Social media use.
All these factors define your learner or buyer persona and their needs. Once you know them, you'll find it easier to create a brand that answers those needs.
4. Boost your online visibility
Once you start building your personal branding action plan, you also have to focus on boosting your online visibility. These two strategies are intertwined.
Once you’ve defined your USP, goals, and target audience, it’s time to focus on showing the world your personal brand. There are many ways to do this as an online knowledge entrepreneur, including:
- Social media;
- Blog posts;
- Paid online ads;
First and foremost, it’s essential to emphasize your personal brand in the place where you sell courses, such as a learning platform. This is a great place to start your personal branding journey as a course entrepreneur. On this type of customized portal, you get various in-built marketing features to craft a professional brand and showcase it easily.
Furthermore, consistency is key to building your personal brand. So, make sure you present yourself from the same angle on all channels. Maintain the same voice, image, and values.
5. Choose the right tools
To build a successful personal brand, you need tools that ease your work while creating content. Having a personal website is a great way to promote yourself as a knowledge entrepreneur.
With tools such as a learning platform for entrepreneurs, you have everything in one place — a platform where you can create, advertise, sell courses, and keep in touch with your learners.
A learning platform offers lots of features that streamline content creation, from the theme you choose for your website to the type of courses you create and how you promote them. It allows you to easily:
- Create video, audio, and written content that best suits your audience;
- Keep in touch with your learners through chats and groups;
- Increase your online presence by blogging or using third-party integrations, such as MailChimp, which helps you run email campaigns.
When you build your website, also make sure you write a compelling “About me page. It should showcase your experience, degrees, certifications, publications, and other achievements that define your career.
6. Create and maintain a professional network
You can start by building a strong LinkedIn profile and use it to connect with your former teachers, co-workers, and managers. Then, send invitations to people you would like to be associated with, such as influencers in your field, companies you would like to collaborate with, etc.
Also, use LinkedIn to post updates regularly. Show your network you’re busy and 100% immersed in your activity. The more active you are, the more attention you will draw to your personal brand and your online course business.
Stay connected with your network of professionals and followers as well. You should apply a unified vision and strategy across all your social media platforms. When posting something on LinkedIn or your blog, share it on the rest of your social channels. Thus, you’ll create more spread and have a bigger impact. For example, 54% of Gen Z admit that social platforms influence them more than anything else. Take advantage of this trend to spread your message and boost your brand awareness.
7. Stay true to your personal brand
Your personal brand should be more than a marketing strategy or a reflection of your ideal self. If there is one thing customers generally hate, that is a fake product or a phony professional. Inspiring people online and letting them down offline could be a reason for entrepreneurial failure. This is why it’s important to be consistent and stay true to your personal brand both online and offline.
Imagine a successful yoga teacher who constantly blogs and posts on social media about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, but does the complete opposite in real life. This person’s followers would probably feel cheated. Their mentor is not practicing what they preach, but they earn money thanks to the image they created online.
Not being true to yourself and your customers makes it hard to become and stay successful in the long haul. It would force you to maintain appearances hoping that no one realizes you’re not being authentic.
Successful personal branding doesn’t mean pretending you’re the best, but finding the best in you and focusing on that.
Building a strong brand as an entrepreneur
Building your personal brand means finding your voice and the unique traits that differentiate you from your competitors. A personal branding action plan also helps you sell more online courses as you gain online visibility and a good reputation.
And as an online course entrepreneur, it’s very important to have a learning management system (LMS) that helps you showcase your personal brand. The CYPHER LEARNING platform for Entrepreneurs allows you to create, market, and sell online courses from a single location. It features a customizable visitor portal, online course landing pages, a public blog, and much more, so you can personalize your website and tell a compelling brand story.
Sign up for a 14-day free trial and see for yourself!