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Build Your Brand

The underlying advice contained in Dorie Clark’s “Entrepreneurial You” is that most entrepreneurs in the coaching, consulting, speaking field fail to diversify themselves. Diversification can enable you to earn more and mitigate risk. Too many entrepreneurs focus on earning revenue from one or two activities, such as consulting and coaching. To stop being held a slave to the clock, trading hours for dollars you need to develop multiple streams of income. In her prologue to the book Dorie states that her business model has seven distinct streams. Before you tune out at the thought of developing seven, yes seven, income streams, keep in mind that it has taken Dori over ten years to get to this stage. As she describes in her book “The Long View” it takes time to achieve great things. Not all potential income streams will be appropriate for you, select the ones that match your business goals. Your objective, and its mine since reading Dori’s book, should be to be earning money while you sleep.  And although I will focus on the solopreneur, much of the information shared in these episodes is applicable for the intrapreneur working within corporations with all the advantages that access to funds and talent that brings. Nor do you need to quit your job to follow Dori’s advice, a side gig can bring in useful additional income. Over the next few posts, you can learn how to build your portfolio career.

Step one – Become a trusted source

Dori’s opening advice on how to become a trusted source is similar to Sahil Lavinga’s concept of starting your business by focusing on your community, which I covered in episode 38 of this season. Dori’s suggests you do not hold anything back, share everything you know with your readers. Do not make them pay for the final piece to the jigsaw puzzle. Salespeople who over promise may be able to achieve a sale or two by offering to sell their secret techniques for a price. But this will soon alienate customers and is no way to develop a sustainable business. It’s sometime since I read “Book Yourself Solid”  by Michael Port but I do recall one piece of advice he gave which was along the lines of “Give, give until you think you have given too much and then give some more” I hope you can begin to see a pattern here. Building your reputation as someone who willing to share, to support, to nurture your potential customers before charging them anything, builds a solid base for their future business.

Create Valuable Online Content. Demonstrate your expertise by writing articles for sites that people already trust. That was the approach that Dori took. She started blogging about marketing and branding for the “Huffington Post” and “The Harvard Business Review” Writing for such august journals provided Dorie with a level of legitimacy. Now keep in mind that Dorie had been a journalist, so she likely had better than average writing skills.  If this approach appeals you, start honing your writing skills by submitting articles to your local paper, contacting bloggers in your market space suggesting you write a guest blog.

Write a book. This can be a major brand enhancer, especially if you can get published by a traditional publishing house. But self-publishing has lost its stigma, if you are willing to put effort into publicizing your book you can quickly rise up the rankings on Amazon. An e-book can be created from material you are already sharing online for free. People will pay to have free content aggregated into an easily readable form. If you enjoy writing this a satisfying way of building credibility.

Develop Social Proof. This is similar to posting valuable content online, it is about gaining credibility by being associated with an already recognized expert in your field, but this time achieved by networking. The principle of give before you ask. applies to developing your network. Dorie’s book contains an example of Derek Halpern who reached out to successful bloggers, who focused on the audience he was targeting, to offer advice on how they could increase their conversion rate of visitors to subscribers. He recorded his advice on a video, If his advice worked, he asked them to post the video on their site. By providing free advice Derek got chance to get his message out to the bloggers’ large audience.

Maintain a connection with your audience. Building you contacts via social media is risky.  A tweak of an algorithm or AI deciding your site is not appropriate for the platform can disrupt your carefully curated presence on Facebook. Twitter, Instagram etc. Dorie advises, as Sahil Lavinga does in his book the Minimalist Entrepreneur, that you develop your e-mail list. When busy, folks may not look at social media for a while, but they will continue to review their e-mails.  Dori provides similar advice as Sahil, do not spam your email subscribers and do not add anyone to your e-mail list who has not specifically request to connect. Not only is this bad form, you could be violating anti-spam laws. The key takeaway I get from both Dori and Sahil, is email is not dead, it is still an excellent medium for connecting, and it is a channel that you, and only you control.

Build your email list: Develop a lead magnet that promises. and delivers, something that is useful to your chosen target audience. To increase the chances that folks find your valuable offer, post a link to it every chance you get. If you write a blog, add a link within the blog. Consider writing for Medium describing your content and how it might help fellow entrepreneurs. If you post a video on YouTube include a link, as YouTubers say, “in the comments below.” People understand the deal, they are buying your content with their e-mail address, and they know they will get some follow up emails from you. But a too aggressive approach can destroy all the goodwill created by your excellent content. I talked about my poor experiences with over aggressive follow up e-mails in last week’s show. Later in his book, Dori talks about affiliate marketing and even with her cautious approach to this subject she has received complaints about the sales hype delivered by some affiliates. Often when I unsubscribe from an email list that is bombarding me with thinly disguised sales pitches I find that they include, in the list of reasons why I am unsubscribing. The option: “I received more emails than I was expecting” Even they know it’s a problem, but they still keep doing it. It’s funny they do not include the option “I was not getting enough emails” I am sure you can do better.

If you want to learn more about Dorie Clark’s ideas please consider purchasing her book on Amazon using my affiliate link below. It will not cost you anything and will provide me with a small commission to help keep this blog going. Thanks

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