Building online courses is a great way of sharing your passion with others, as well as a source of additional income. In fact, more and more people are starting to invest in online education, whether it is for work or personal development.
This is a major departure from the traditional way of doing things: going to school, getting a job, getting training related to the job. It’s easier than ever to take matters into your own hands and learn at your own leisure. It also means that anyone can become “the teacher”, or an instructor, provided that you have the knowledge to do so. It also means that you can turn this into a bona fide career.
So, as with any online endeavor, it helps — nay, it is necessary — to stand out among other people that are also selling their courses online. That is why I present to you: personal branding.
6 Personal branding tips for knowledge entrepreneurs
Personal branding is a way of marketing yourself, and what you know, which is mandatory if you want to be part of this world. Anyone can build a strong personal brand with a little bit of time and dedication — two things that will surely pay off in the long run.
So here is a short guide to kickstart this process if you are unsure of where to begin:
Define your purpose
Finding your ”why” is an often-repeated piece of advice in the business world. That is because it works and it is a simpler way of saying that you should be aware of what drives you to get up in the morning and push through when things get tough. That being said, many people still have trouble with this, mainly because it is hard to put it into words; we are complex beings with many facets, after all.
What you might not realize is that as a knowledge entrepreneur, you already have an advantage since people will tend to relate to you more as an individual than they do with a big brand.
So, to start playing your cards right, you might want to ask easier questions such as:
- What do I like?
- What do I stand for?
- What do I want to achieve with my online course?
- What are my top three goals?
- Why would anyone choose my course and not someone else’s?
In fact, defining your purpose will be the starting point for everything, which brings us to the next part…
Do not get stuck in the details
You might have a clear idea of what to name your online course website and have already bought the domain name. Maybe it’s as simple as using your own name and that is the end of the story. Great! However, some creative entrepreneurs might want to choose a different moniker for their online businesses for different reasons.
For example, some people want to keep their business separate from their day job. That is when the frantic googling and name brainstorming begins. At some point, you feel like you’ve run out of ideas and you’ve even asked your friends’ parents’ neighbors for advice. It might feel as if you will never find the right name!
That is why you need to slow down and take a deep breath. It’s OK to change your mind and switch things up when you find a better idea. In fact, that is why you have the option to re-name it’s your Twitter handle, Facebook page name, or course website URL.
People, just as businesses, are allowed to re-brand anytime they want, and you do not need to get stuck in the naming phase before doing anything for your personal brand. Work in progress, people!
Choose your platform
New beginnings are always exciting. After deciding to finally put your knowledge out there, you need to start spreading the word, right? Well, yes, but you also need to pace yourself. In this day and age, this idea might seem absurd, since it feels like you have to be everywhere in order to be visible online.
But consider this: will you be able to keep up with all of your platforms?
Will you be able to grow your follower base while also creating courses, collaborating with other creators, and also be able to spend some significant amount of time creating content for all the platforms? Chances are, that is not likely!
The secret to success is to persevere with one platform instead of let’s say, having your online courses on many different platforms. So, it is better to choose “your weapon”, meaning a main platform to host your courses, such as an LMS.
Then, figure out what could bring the most value to your personal brand. For example, if your audience is on Instagram, focus on Instagram first. You can start “spreading your wings” and dedicating more time to other platforms later, but for starters, less is actually more.
Consistency is key
Have you ever stumbled upon a blog post that you absolutely love, only to discover that the blog hasn’t been updated in ages? Or maybe you have started a project with so much enthusiasm and then watched it slowly fizzle out? Sometimes when we try to do everything at once without having a plan on how to achieve that it can take a toll on our lives and we end up doing nothing.
The same analogy can be used for online courses: if you want to successfully use your personal brand to sell them, you need to show consistency in what you do online. For example, you might want to use the same username everywhere, whether it is your online course URL, podcast host, Twitter, or Instagram. That makes you (and your courses) easy to find anywhere.
Keeping platforms up to date is another thing that shows consistency and commitment to your brand, whether it is a blog, Instagram feed, or the announcements section of your online course page.
Finally, you should show more consistency in the message you deliver to your audience.
Sharing your message
Think about the entrepreneurs that you personally follow online. What do they do? How do they share their message? What do you personally like about the way that they communicate? Chances are that you will notice that best personal branding examples out there all share a common thing: effective storytelling.
This also takes us back to the first point: defining a purpose. The message that you will share with your audience as an individual needs to be uniquely you — after all, where is the “personal” in personal branding without authenticity?
However, once you discover “your thing” most of what you share should be a reflection of your message. For example, if you bake cakes and want to teach others how to do that, you can share photos of your cakes that are shot from similar angles, use the same photo filter, and have a watermark with your brand name. You can also use a similar voice throughout your social media posts, dress in funny T-shirts in all of your demo videos, or use a similar color palette for images that are related to your online course.
INDIE Whitepaper: How to make your online courses look amazing
Engaging your audience
As a knowledge entrepreneur, you will soon find out that one of the joys of helping others build their skills is in fact interacting with those people. Engagement can be the key to attracting more and more students to your online courses.
However, not everyone knows how to do it right. Some people tend to try to sell as quickly as they meet someone new. This might work in the short term, but definitely not in the long term.
The “secret” is to be relatable, to show that you are someone that people can identify with, not just aspire to be like — maybe it sounds cheesy, but it is true. People that have a strong personal brand are usually as honest as possible about their struggles as well as their achievements. Contrary to popular belief, carefully crafted personas will not last in this day and age.
That being said, you should try to reply to comments as soon as possible, set up Q&As, write a blog post, anything that shows that you are invested in this journey and dedicated to helping people achieve their goals.
Building a personal brand is a great way to attract new learners to your courses — and make them come back again and again when they want to learn something new. This can be achieved by clearly communicating your purpose, being consistent in what you say and do, and spreading your message in order to reach your desired audience. Most of all, the key takeaways of today is that your brand is a work in progress, and you should find small ways to build your brand each day.
Ioana believes that learning doesn’t stop when school stops. When she is not writing about learning and ed tech, she can usually be seen reading a book and drinking lots of coffee.