In a world filled with Kickstarter’s, start-ups, and various other “self-made” mediums – it can be difficult to find your way ahead of the pack. We live in a generation of entrepreneurs. Thanks to the internet, the world is experiencing a myriad of thriving independents, who’ve discovered a way to make a living, solely off of their ingenuity and hard work.

We jealously applaud their achievement, while we wonder “how they made it”. In this list, I’ll provide you with some of the key things that those successful people knew and applied to their strategy – that led them to success. With these tools, you will be able to grow your brand and be on that path as well.

1. Utilize Free Resources

One of the more obvious things that you should be privy to, is the mass amount of free resources out there. These resources can help you to establish your brand on several platforms. No matter what your service, skill, product, etc. is – your first and foremost concern should be to translate that into these mediums. These include (but are not limited to) – blog sites, podcasting sites, Youtube, and of course any of the social media sites, (but we’ll get to that later) .

All of these are generally free – unless you opt for advanced memberships. By taking advantage of multiple platforms, you expand your message to a broader audience who may not have been reachable otherwise. When you translate your message to these free resources you not only expand your potential clientele but infinitely grow your opportunities to prove to the consumer why your (insert business here) should be experienced.

An added bonus to this is that the more landscape you cover, the more legitimate your business appears. It should go without saying that this method drastically improves your chances of success by expanding your virtual visibility. Did I mention that it’s free?

2. Take Advantage of Trending

Some would call it being a culture vulture, however, those in tune with their inner entrepreneur, understand it simply as masterful marketing. Now, by no means am I saying that you should lie to, or mislead your potential consumer, (click-baiting is a sure way to a speedy demise), but you should make every reasonable attempt to fit what you’re selling into what’s selling, (via Search Engine Optimization, tagging, etc.).

For example, if you’re a podcaster whose topics specifically cover finance or business, you should be researching things and events that can potentially (if loosely) coincide with those mediums; ergo: new technology, blockbuster movies, popular investments, etc. Your primary focus should be in making a viable and meaningful connection.

By learning to fit your skill into popular trends you will not only increase your audience but will be able to provide deeper insight beneath what is commonly known, (or at the very least provide a supplement to it). Though not everyone will be interested in your take – you will attract and keep those who are. This will build a following and sure-fire followers, who will read, discuss, and (most importantly) share your view on the topic at hand.

This tactic works across the board -whether you: cook, clean, entertain, inform, etc. Though not everything will be relevant – your job is to keep an eye out for what can be. Just remember to keep it honest and not to pander. It’s up to you to provide a level of integrity to your brand. Be willing to do the work, or don’t do it at all.

3. Sell Yourself (Social Media)

We live in the age of transparency, very dissimilar to the “cloak and dagger” generation that preceded us. Though secrecy was the creed of the past – with the advent of technology – we now live in a world where this only leads to distrust and eventual loss of interest. Don’t let this discourage you because chances are, you’ve already transcended this social phenomenon.

Social media is undeniably one of, (if not) the most imperative asset that we all have. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. If you don’t know what any of these are, I suggest you stop reading now and go on a Google binge. These outlets not only provide a direct link to your potential consumer but also provides a way for them to get to you. It is because of this that it is important to sell yourself.

If you’re funny – be funny. If you’re direct – be direct. If you’re a tomato – be a tomato. The point here is, to not to put on a facade. Remember, we live in the age of transparency, because of this the consumer can smell a fraud a mile away. So be yourself. Not everyone will like you, but those who do will be infinitely grateful and much more likely to return to and recommend whatever it is that you are providing them. Being you is free, and the only truly infinite resource at your disposal. Take advantage of it.

4. Consistency

Bearing the previous in mind, it is also important to be consistent. If you make a promise – keep it. If you offer something – deliver on it. Never attempt to give more of yourself than you actually can. Many people enjoy taking on the challenge of pushing themselves beyond their known limits. Though this trait is admirable in many fields, selling your brand is not one of them.

Keep the old saying in mind: “It takes years to build a reputation, and only seconds to destroy it”.

The consumer is fickle. This isn’t to say that mistakes don’t happen. However, you should be adept at limiting them, or avoiding them all together. This isn’t necessarily a “fair’ standard, but with the mass amount of competition out there, it’s the only way the consumer knows how to separate the worthwhile, from the worthless. Set a standard, stay there, or raise it. Any other direction will be detrimental to the growth of your brand.

5. Quality over Quantity

Despite everything I’ve just said, one of the more somber rules to keep in mind is to never stretch yourself beyond what you can do. If you can’t handle a blog and a podcast, just do one or the other. If having an Instagram and a Twitter is too intimidating, again, pick one. The problem that many businesses (especially self-starters) have is their need to over commit. Though this will expand your exposure, once the quality of your service begins to wane, this will only hurt your brand.

Know your limits, and expand accordingly. If you feel you’ve hit your productive limit – stop there. It is at this point that you should seriously consider either monetizing to afford hired help or seeking out volunteers to assist you, so that you can transition forward smoothly. Remember, quality over quantity. It’s always better to have a pound of gold than hundred pounds of dirt.

Conclusion

With strategy, patience, a little bit of luck, and a lot of hard work any of us can grow our brand to its’ peak potential and watch it flourish. All that’s truly required of us, is the commitment to make it happen and see it through. In this business chisel beats hammer. Give it time, give it care, give it love – in return it will provide you with a level of satisfaction solely reserved for the ones who’ve earned it. See you in the winner’s circle.

Featured photo credit: duco_events via flickr.com

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