Personal Branding, Podcast

The 2 Biggest (Unforgivable!) Personal Branding Mistakes

My dad always taught me that the best way to learn was to start with what not to do. Which is exactly why we’re digging into the 2 biggest personal branding mistakes you could make and why you need to avoid them at all costs.

You maaay be surprised about what they are (in some ways they might seem counterintuitive) but I’m telling you right now that if you can avoid them and make the right adjustments, you and your personal brand will be off and running!

No spoilers, though. You’ll need to listen to the episode for the full scoop and stay right to the end for the solution to these sticky problems. Enjoy!

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The 2 biggest personal branding mistake


You’re listening to episode three, the two biggest mistakes you can make with your personal brand. Since it’s just as important to know what not to do as it is to know what to do, I really wanted to dive into some terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mistakes that I see a lot of people making with their personal brands and one of which that I may have made myself at some stage, but don’t worry, I’ll also tell you how to fix it. So make sure you stay right to the end. Welcome to the personal branding project. I’m your host Kat Elizabeth and an actor and personal branding coach who is obsessed with helping creative entrepreneurs like you, build personal brands that change your life for good, from attracting bigger opportunities, more joy and freedom in your life, and the ability to get paid to do the things that you love most.

Each week. I’m bringing you inspiration, practical advice, and the occasional dose of tough love so you can stop dreaming and start doing what it takes to make those dreams a reality. So I’m betting that once you saw the title of this episode, you started taking some guesses at what those unforgivable mistakes might be. Bad lighting in your photos, using Comic Sans anywhere, not having a website, not using Instagram. Nope. I mean, I’m not saying I actually condone those things, but the things that we’re going to talk about today go a lot deeper than that, we’re not talking surface level. We’re talking really core level problems and I hope you’re ready for it because sometimes this can be a little bit of a tough pill to swallow, but I’ve already had to do it myself. So if I can handle the truth, so can you.

So the first biggest mistake that anyone can make about their personal brand is making it all about you. I know, “what? It’s a personal brand!” Like isn’t it supposed to be all about you? Well, here’s the deal. The most influential, inspirational, successful people that have amazing personal brands, they know it’s not all about them, it’s about their audience. So it doesn’t matter whether their job is to entertain, educate, inspire, or something else. Every single thing that they do. Well at least I’m going to say most of the things that they do, ’cause we all make mistakes, stems from a place of wanting to provide value to their people. So I wanted to just give you a couple of really like high level celebrity examples. Beyonce, she knows that we want to see a good show and she knows that we also love seeing behind the scenes.

You know, maybe some days she doesn’t feel like doing the show that she promised us she feels like doing something else. Like just like not dancing, sitting down, maybe singing covers of the Bee Gees. I don’t know. But she knows that we showed up and we wanted to see Beyonce. So that’s what she’s going to give us. And you know, on social media she shows us the parts of her life that we really want to see because we just love that kind of stuff. And it’s the same thing with Gary Vaynerchuk or Gary Vee – he knows that we want to learn how to do what he did, not just to watch him brag about his success, which is why even though through all of his content, and there’s a lot of it he’s showing us, you know, he is kind of showing off examples of his success, but he’s also telling us how he got there and that is because he’s putting us first.

If it was all about him, he’d just be like, look at me. I’m so rich. I’m so awesome. And he’s like, cool, want to be like me, do this, this, this, this and this. And I mean, let’s look at Ellen as in from the Ellen show, Ellen Degeneres, she knows that we love being entertained and inspired. So she creates a show that makes us feel good, that is generous with things like giveaways. And she really makes her guests look good as well. By putting them in the spotlight, even though the show is called Ellen, you’ll notice it’s like very little of the show is actually about her because she knows what we want and what we love and she makes sure she puts on a show that ticks all of those boxes. So I just wanted to give you a couple of examples of things that I see people doing that give me a clue that they’re only thinking about themselves.

So number one is that all of their posts and content are selling or promoting something. Now you need to keep in mind that like our relationship with our audience is like a piggy bank and every time we promote something we ask them to do something. We’re actually making a withdrawal. Okay, we’re taking away from the relationship in some way, like it costs. So the key is to keep the piggy bank full, which means when you cannot just be sharing about your promotions in the ways that you want people to spend money with you. Another example is that they create a steady stream of content. And expect or even ask for engagement with everything that they do, but they never actually engage or connect with other people’s content. They just sit there and expect that it’s all about them. Like you know, they’re the sun and we’re all the planets going around them.

And you know, you cannot expect people to keep doing something for you if you don’t do it in return. Next, they only post the highlights reel, which makes them feel good about themselves. But actually, you know, makes us often feel a little bit crappy about ourselves because being like, Oh, they make it look so easy. And then not sharing the truth about how they got to where they are. And look, this may not apply for every single personal brand, but I would say that it applies to the majority, is that we’re interested in you because of your story. We don’t just want to see the perfect end result. We want to know how you got there. We want to know you’re human and that you can relate to us. So by just sharing all the good stuff, it’s a very selfish act because we don’t learn from your good stuff, you know, we don’t feel better about ourselves from the good stuff as much as we might sometimes, you know, celebrate along with you we need to see the highlights and the lowlights and next up is they only post when they actually have something important happening.

So one example is you disappear for months on end and then suddenly you’ve got a launch and boom, suddenly like slamming everyone with content and then you disappear again. Like that is, that’s not good. You should still be offering value even when you have nothing to sell because that is when the real relationships get built and you know, it’s the same. I see this for, you know, things like actors — you only post when you’ve got a great audition or if you’re on set. But tell me what happens between those days. Because I know as an actor, look, I might not be as successful as a lot of actors out there, but I know that the days on set and the days of auditions, they make up a very small percentage of my total time. So what the hell do you do with your life when you’re not on set?

We want to know, believe it or not. Just because you’re an actor doesn’t mean that you’re only interesting when you’re acting. You’re interesting because you’re a human being. So is this making sense? Like I mean I could actually go on, um, there’s more examples, but I feel like hopefully you get the idea now because I want to move on to mistake number two, which is going to sound weird because it’s actually almost the complete opposite. So mistake number two is making your personal brand all about your audience. Now this is something that I’ve personally struggled with in the past as a, as a people pleaser and recovering perfectionist. I want people to like me. But what can happen in that process is that we start to lose ourselves. All we can think about is what our audience actually wants and likes and how we could maybe change ourselves or manipulate our story to get people to like us more.

So in the past for example, I would only try and create the kinds of content that I thought my audience wanted. Like it didn’t come from a place of like, Oh, I feel like I really need to share this. It’s almost like it became formulaic. So I was like, okay, well they like that person’s content on this topic and you know, this is the thing that people are searching for. So I’m just going to create stuff around that. And I never shared from my heart, I never shared the thing that I think people actually needed to learn from me. And so just some real life examples that I see, you know, especially with social media and whatnot, is that I see so many people posting these perfect stock images. They’re using those, you know, Mad-libs style templates where you you buy all the prompts and you just fill in the blanks so that you can create a social media posts.

Same with, I mean — and I’ve done this too where I’ve done the same with email templates and we’re just trying create this perfect thing based on what someone else has said is perfect. And then we go and get the photos done and we wear clothes that we wouldn’t normally wear and we get a makeup artist to do our makeup all glamorous like even though that’s probably not what you look like day to day. The list goes on. Like there are so many things that we do to try and be the person that we think other people want us to be. But the fact is like when you stumble across these people, and this was me at some stage and you look through all of their content, you see these perfectly posed photos, the beautiful stock images of the, you know the desk with everything laid out perfectly.

And you’ve read these social posts that are lacking soul because there’s no actual sign of the personality of the person who wrote it ’cause they, I mean they didn’t really write it. You know what happens when you stumble across those people? Nothing. You feel nothing. It’s not that you’re repelled by them. That’s not what I’m saying, but it’s that you actually feel no connection to them because you don’t know who they really are. And so all those that you know, the keys to how I was saying about how a personal brand can eliminate the competition because you are so unique and people are so drawn to you specifically. Well you can’t achieve that if all you’re relying on are templates and stock images to create the perfect looking brand. I think it comes down to the fact that we are really scared of sharing our true selves.

You know, it is a scary vulnerable thing, but when you decide that you want to be a content creator, an entrepreneur, a side hustler, an artist, whatever it is, you are making a commitment that you know your name and your face are going to be your brand. So unfortunately, we have to go to this scary place if we want to achieve our goals. And so by giving in to the fear and just going, okay, I’m just going to play it safe. You become a cardboard cutout and people just like you just disappear into the crowd. You just another actor, you just another business owner, just another coach. You know, you have so little impact on the world because you just, you don’t have an opinion. You know you’re not unique. Even though I know that you’re unique, you know that you’re unique. But because you’re not allowing us to see any of that in the fear that we’re going to judge you for being a bit different.

Well then you’re just stopping anyone from judging you because no one even knows who you are. So I want you to see it like this. If you can show up imperfectly real, have your own opinions, do things that make you stand out, you’re going to achieve two things. And this is where it gets cool. So first of all, the people who don’t get you, you know, who aren’t feeling it, who are like, “eh, yeah, dunno”, they’re actually going to know that really quickly and they’re going to go away. So like where we normally think, Oh, but if they don’t like us, they’re going to tell us about it and they’re gonna judge us and they’re going to troll us and make me feel like crap. No, no, no. Like they’re just going to go, “Oh, that’s not my person”.

And they’re going to leave you alone. And that’s a really good thing because it’s like getting rid of the tyre kickers. You don’t want a whole bunch of people following you who don’t understand. You don’t resonate with what you’re saying and don’t engage, you know, it’s useless. They’re dead weight. So then the second thing that happens is that the people who do get, you are going to be able to identify that straightaway. So they’re going to resonate with your message, your values, your imagery, everything. And they’ll become super fans so much more quickly because you show them your true self. So basically it’s a win win. We get rid of the people that we don’t want and we attract the people that we do want. But I know I promised you some actual answers, some fixes for these mistakes. Cause all I’ve told you so far is what not to do.

So let’s talk about what the sweet spot actually looks like. You need to know who you are. I mean it’s really simple. You need to know what you represent and you need to be able to communicate that. So just like I was talking about in the last episode, you need the clarity and the confidence and the communication so that your words, your images, your colors, your content, everything can be shared with your audience. Okay? And that starts from within — knowing what you represent and what you’re trying to achieve and how you communicate. What needs to happen then is that like, so you know yourself, you know what you represent, you know who you’re trying to help. And then the sweet spot happens when you approach everything that you do with a spirit of generosity. So you think, what does my audience need from me today?

And that does not mean sharing the perfect photo of you looking incredible in, you know, Fiji or sharing like this collection of really clever quotes that you’ve been putting together that just look amazing that were professionally designed by your designer or from some gorgeous Creative Market template. I do love their templates by the way. I’m not knocking them, but I’m just saying we need more than templates to be real. But what I want you to do is think about how you can share something with them that’s going to make their day, their week, their life a little bit better. So it’s not about manipulating what you’re doing and who you’re showing up as to impress them. It’s just trying to offer them something of value that you have. And sometimes that might be just encouraging them saying, I hope you have a great day, or Hey girl, you look amazing.

Or it might be teaching them something. It may be sharing part of your story that they can learn from, but it’s them and how you’re helping them. But it’s coming from the place of who you really are. I really hope that makes sense. So if you can stay true to yourself, your values, your mission, and create from a spirit of service, that is where you’ll build a personal brand that eventually changes everyone’s lives, changes your life and your audience’s life. Now there is obviously so much more to building a brand and then just this sweet spot that we talked about today. You know, we’re going to continue on what this really looks like, but I do hope that now you can start thinking about how you’ve been showing up and going, hold on. Am I showing up as me? Have I been making changes to what I would normally say, how I’d normally dress the photos I’d share because I’m worried it’s not the thing that my audience wants?

Keep in mind that if you don’t share the right version of you, then you’re going to be attracting the wrong audience anyway. Like you may not have found your people yet. So you just need to stick true. Like stay in that place of, I hate this word now because it’s so overused, but “authenticity” and know that the more you do that and the longer you stick with it, the more you’re going to be like this lighthouse that attracts all of the people that really need you. Whatever it is you’re offering. And obviously in upcoming episodes we can get into some of the nitty gritty of how you can do that. Even better for them, how you can reach those people in bigger ways, how you can structure your content. This stuff, there’s just so much, there’s so much I want to do, but for now, just make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss out on any of those episodes.

And I would love it if you could. Well, I mean, *if* you loved the episode, if you learned something, if it got the juices flowing, I would love it if you could leave a review wherever it is that you’re listening to this episode and take a screenshot and share your biggest takeaway, or, you know, teach some other people about what you learned today and tag me at, @iamkatlizabeth so I can reshare it as well. So get sharing and I can’t wait to chat to you in the next episode. Thank you so much for listening.


Kat is a copywriter, brand & messaging strategist personal branding coach and the founder of The Personal Branding Project whose mission is to help you go from best-kept secret to in-demand brand.


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