Following current industry trends, conducting research, creating in-depth articles, shooting videos…
Who has time for that?
Luckily, there’s an effective way to benefit from unique content without creating it yourself. Instead, you’ll be using content that has already been created by other people, establishing yourself as an industry leader while helping content creators grow as well.
Once you get into the swing of things, consider outsourcing the step-by-step process below to a virtual assistant/another team member and save some valuable time.
Step 1: Get clear about your brand message, unique selling proposition & goals
Before you start thinking about content strategies, get crystal clear about what your personal brand is, what you’re offering and who your target audience is. It’s worth dedicating some time to this task because the next steps in this process depend on it.
While there are many approaches to personal branding and no one-size-fits-all recipe, it usually comes down to answering the following questions:
- What is your personal brand statement (or your ‘Why’)?
- What service/product offer?
- What is your target audience?
- What is your unique selling/value proposition?
The Shopify blog offers a clear definition of ‘personal branding’:
As an entrepreneur, a creator, a professional (whatever it is you are), your business, your craft, your value (whatever it is you create) is an extension of yourself and a part of your life’s story.
Brand architect and business strategist Steven Picanza provides a free personal branding checklist (opt-in required), designed to help you understand your mission and vision, and ensure your brand is consistent in 4 major areas:
- YOUR BRAND STORY
Your brand story is what separates you from everyone else. Do you know how to share your story effectively?
- YOUR MARK
Brand consistency is key. Does your logo represent you across the web consistently?
- YOUR OFFLINE BRAND
It’s important your core values and offline brand align. Do your core values match up online AND offline?
- YOUR ONLINE BRAND
We can’t stress this enough. Does your online brand have the same look and feel across all major platforms?
Step 2: Find the major industry players
Who are the thought leaders, influencers, major players and high achievers in your space?
If you’re well-versed in your market or niche, chances are you may know some of these people or organizations. For example, in the personal development & leadership space, a few names that come to mind are Tony Robbins, Michael Hyatt, Steve Pavlina, and Brian Tracy, all of whom create content on a regular basis.
Here are a few effective ways to find influencers and leaders in your space:
- Search for hashtags on Twitter Search or Hashtagify.me. Start by entering keywords from your market/niche (no spaces), such as #PersonalDevlopment, #success or #HealthyEating.
On Twitter Search, you’ll be presented with a breakdown of People (Twitter accounts to follow), News (tweets) or Videos to retweet, and more. You can also run an advanced search for more targeted results.
Most people that come up in your search would be experts or influencers in your area. Check out their profile to find their blog, website, YouTube channel, etc. and bookmark it.
Hashtagify will show you a breakdown of your hashtag’s trends and popularity, and some related hashtags. Look for the Top Influencers list – these are people/organizations you’ll want to pay attention to, Google them and check their Twitter profiles.
- Visit BuzzSumo and enter a topic, hashtag, keyword or domain in the search bar. You’ll be presented with a list of the most shared content. This is a great starting point for your content strategy, but you can take it up a notch by searching for Influencers, add them to Twitter Lists or search for their website on Google.
BuzzSumo’s free version offers basic functionality. To take full advantage of this tool, you may want to consider BuzzSumo Pro (free 14-day trial).
- Look for Amazon best-sellers in your niche market. Authors of best-sellers are likely experts as well. Try to Google them and see if they have a website or blog.
- Use blog directories such as Alltop, 9rules and Best of the Web to find leading blogs in your industry. Serious bloggers are at least highly knowledgeable, if not experts in their field, so their content would be a perfect fit for your strategy.
- Use TED.com to search for influencers (or People), TED Talks or blog posts about your market/niche.
- With over 200 million active users and more than 14 million articles pinned every day, Pinterest has become a visual search tool with a plethora of fresh content, most of it blog. If you’re not already a ‘Pinner’, now is the time to join the site, start searching for content and organize it in Boards.
Step 3: Organize your data
By now your mind must be buzzing with names of influencers, blogs you’ve discovered and videos you can’t wait to share with your audience. I’d like to suggest a few ways to organize all the information you’ve gathered. This way, developing a content strategy will be a painless process and you’ll waste no time searching for missing links, Twitter accounts, etc.
Blogs and websites:
Use bookmarks and folders >> Modern browsers like Chrome and Firefox allow you to bookmark multiple tabs at once and organize them in folders. On Chrome/Firefox, right-click on one of the tabs, choose ‘Bookmark all tabs’ and name your folder.
Use an RSS reader >> Although it’s not as popular as it used to be, RSS (Rich Site Summary) is a wonderful way to consume massive amounts of content fast. Most blogs will offer an RSS feed even if they don’t have a link to it. If you’re on Chrome, I recommend Google’s RSS Subscription Extension, which adds a one-click RSS subscription to your toolbar. There are various RSS Readers in the market, my favorite being The Old Reader (starting at $6 per month).
When it comes to visual collections, Pinterest is your best friend. As suggested earlier, start a business account on Pinterest, which will also give you analytics and meaningful insights. If you don’t feel like sharing your activity, you’ll be able to create Secret Boards, allowing you to organize unlimited visuals (or Pins) and videos in one convenient place and easily share them later. Check out Pinterest’s Help Center for more.
Each video site has its own system for content organization. TED allows members to create lists of their favorite videos and keep track of their watch history, YouTube members can create their own playlists, and so on.
Twitter allows you to create private/public lists of people. With this (underrated) feature you can keep tabs with influencers’ latest tweets and engage with them. You can also follow other people’s lists. Consider making your lists public to reinforce your own authority. Check out Twitter’s Help Center for more.
Step 4: Develop a content strategy
There are many ways you can brand yourself using other people’s content and we’ll talk about the most effective ones.
The idea is simple – you’re offering solutions to your target audience by sharing valuable content and resources with them. As a result, you become an expert by association, you drive traffic to many websites, helping them grow, and build meaningful connections and engage with your audience. Sounds like a win-win-win to me!
Once you’ve dipped your toe in the water, create a content calendar and do your best to follow it. Consistency is key here because you need to always be in front of your audience to stay relevant and memorable.
Share content on social media
If you only do one thing, do this:
Find out where your potential customers like to hang out and start sharing useful articles, inspirational quotes, tips, infographics and videos with them. As a rule of thumb, your links need to help your audience, inspire them, pique their curiosity or entertain them.
How often should you post and when? It depends on your network, audience and on your time/money, but here are some suggestions.
I’ve been sharing other people’s content on Twitter for the last 6 months or so, and it’s been working extremely well. Twitter’s users are very positive and easy to connect with.
And no, you don’t need to keep posting around the clock. Use social management tools, such as Buffer, MeetEdgar or HootSuite (my personal favorite) to schedule your posts ahead of time.
If you can afford it, consider hiring a virtual assistant (or VA) for this task.
You know who the experts and influencers in your industry are. Now is the time to approach them and ask them to interview for your podcast, blog or YouTube channel. Interviews are great for creating high-quality, fresh content. They will help you establish your authority as you’ll be perceived as an expert by association.
When asking someone to interview, always be mindful of their time, and try to think of ‘What’s in it for them’, what their benefit is. For example, if an author has published a new book, your interview can give him a PR boost. Likewise, a blogger can benefit from more free traffic by interviewing and so on.
Interviewing can be done via phone, Skype (with or without video), or even via email. There are various Skype recording tools you can use. The next step is to get your interview transcribed, so you can post in on your blog, as part of your email marketing strategy, or as part of a future eBook. Don’t try to do it yourself. Hire a transcriber on Rev or Fiverr instead. Prices are reasonable, and you’ll get a more professional job.
Author Tim Ferriss is an excellent interviewer. He’s interviewed big names like Sir Richard Brunson, Arianna Huffington, and Jimmy Fallon.
Create book & movie reviews
Visit Amazon & The New York Times Best Sellers’ lists, pick a book that your audience may like, read it and then write a review blog on it, or shoot a video review about it. It doesn’t have to be too fancy. Be very personal Just talk about why you liked the book, the message it carries, etc.
Likewise, you can review movies, documentaries, products, etc.
Create expert roundup blog posts (commenting, guest blogging)
There are various content strategies that involve blogging. You can create expert roundup blog posts, where multiple experts contribute and answer a compelling question. Roundup blog posts boost your authority, drive a lot of traffic and much more.
You can also comment on other influencers’ blogs. In addition to driving traffic to your site, blog commenting can brand you and help you establish meaningful connections with other bloggers. Remember to read the article before commenting on it, and write interesting, thoughtful comments (‘Great post’ doesn’t cut it).
Happy personal branding!