68.56% of Lead Cookie's revenue is a direct result of my personal brand.
It comes in two forms:
- Referral partnerships.
- Content marketing.
In this article, I am going to explain my philosophy behind the choice to build my personal brand, and more details on how it drives such large amounts of revenue toward our business.
Your personal brand is the one investment you can't go wrong with
In this article, I am going to share my journey and story with my personal brand. But what I really want to drive home with this article is one simple point:
You can't go wrong investing in your personal brand.
Your personal brand is an asset that you will have for the rest of your life. So even if you don't monetize it today, you may just find that eight or ten years later, it's the largest source of income for your business. 🙂
Your different businesses will come and go. But you will always own your personal brand. So start investing today.
To reinforce the importance of a personal brand even more, I want to share one other concept with you called "Spotlight Marketing".
Dan Andrews, of the TropicalMBA podcast, put out an episode on this once and it has stuck with me ever since.
Basically, the idea is simple.
- Build an audience
- Point that audience to different offers (aka "spotlight" different offers)
This simple concept has stuck with me over the years. And so, as I have built my audience and brand, I have tried out many different offers to my entire readership.
Some of the offers (in chronological order) include:
- Freelance web designer
- Coaching on how to be a freelancer
- An ebook and video course on freelancing
- Marketing consultation for agencies
- Outbound physical packages to generate clients
- Outbound marketing campaigns
- A group course focused on how to run your own outbound campaigns
- Sales and marketing consultation for agencies
- Agency Scout - A failed attempt at a job marketplace for agency owners to refer leads to each other
- Lead Cookie - A done-for-you Linkedin prospecting service
- My failed attempt at Content Allies
- Lead Cookie Content - A service to nurture your Linkedin audience with daily content
The same audience. Twelve different offers over the years.
If I had invested in a blog focused on any single one of these ventures, that audience would have become lost or irrelevant. But by keeping all of this under my personal brand, I have been able to point my audience toward different offers over the years.
The start of my personal brand
On February 26th, 2011, I published my first ever blog post. It was called Six Reasons to Start a Business while you are in school and it's still on this website.
What followed after that was a ton of random, scattered blog posts on a variety of topics. I would publish randomly, and then not publish for years. (If you want a good laugh, just visit this page to see the very first articles I've ever written.)
And the same with my podcast. I started that roughly four years ago and it was called The Creative Freelancer Show. I was caught up in the internet marketing fads and thought I was going to get rich selling ebooks on how to freelance...
Yet, despite all of these missteps and complete failures with my personal brand, I have still been investing in it slowly, year after year. I was horrible at first, but over time I got better and better.
But the key was that I just started.
Trying to monetize my personal brand throughout the years
As I mentioned earlier, my personal brand drives 68.56% of revenue for Lead Cookie.
Did I know that would be the case when I published my first blog in 2011? Of course not; I was too busy smoking the reefer eight years ago to even think about where my life would end up today.
I just started putting stuff out there and investing in my own personal brand. And for years, I didn't even monetize it; I just published, wrote, and shared what I knew.
The first point when I started to actually make some income from it was when I did freelancing. I remember some people liked the self-development style posts I wrote and ended up hiring me as a web designer.
That was step one of monetization.
Eventually, I tried to coach other people on freelancing, which was pretty stupid. I made a bit of money but it was a flop. Then, I tried to sell an ebook. After countless painstaking hours of writing a whole book and creating a video course, I made around $1,200. And then I just gave up on it for a while....
At certain points, I would literally let my personal brand sit for years at a time and not touch it. But that’s the great part about personal brands: you can always invest, and they never go away.
Making real money with my personal brand via consulting
After I woke up and realized all of the "internet marketers" were leading me astray with their bullshit "make money selling ebooks and courses" promise, I figured out how to make real money with my brand.
Consulting & services.
I positioned my brand around what I was really good at, which was making sales for agency-style services. I started teaching what I knew, and then charging people retainer fees for the done-for-you services. If you are struggling to monetize your personal brand, and you are trying to sell ebooks...
Stop that shit. Now.
Instead, focus on providing one-on-one consulting, training, and done-for-you services. You will make money way faster, hone in on your skills, and monetize way quicker. Once I came up with the new offer, it took me less than a year to transition from a web designer to a sales and marketing consultant.
But even today, I still don't make money selling ebooks.
This consulting journey continued for about four years. I learned a lot along the way. I signed clients. And I taught what I learned. At times, I got too busy with consulting and didn't podcast or publish for almost a full year after that.
But the brand was still there.
Growing my network & partnerships with podcasting
The next major evolution of my personal brand was podcasting. And while having the audience for the podcast is nice, the real value comes through the relationships you build.
I've written a whole article on this called “Grow your agency through podcast networking”.
40.22% of Lead Cookie's revenue comes from referral partners. EVERY SINGLE PARTNER was, at one point, a guest on my podcast.
28.34% of Lead Cookie's revenue comes from content. I don't have the exact numbers, but a majority of those leads come from my personal appearances on podcasts, webinars, guest blog posts, and interviews with the partners above.
They invite me to speak in front of their audiences, and as a result, I get to point all of these people to the Lead Cookie offer.
Starting a podcast is one of the best things I've ever done for my personal brand.
- It enables me to build relationships with other influencers.
- It established me as a thought leader.
- I learned a TON from all of the interviews I did.
- And it created a massive network of other influencers who I now collaborate with.
The funny thing is, almost all of the influencers who send leads to Lead Cookie are people I had already interviewed and built relationships with before Lead Cookie ever existed.
Once again, I was just investing in my personal brand, and waiting to find that right offer that I could spotlight to the audience.
Big time monetization of my personal brand: Lead Cookie
After years of building my brand, building relationships, and building an audience, I finally monetized my personal brand when I launched Lead Cookie.
Within 30 days, Lead Cookie had a $12,000 MRR.
That is 100% a result of the fact that I had built a network and audience of people who already looked to me for sales and leadership advice. That first group was all from my existing network and audience.
I already had the audience due to my personal brand building. I just shined the spotlight on a new offer.
It's like having a cheat code for a new business. It's a massive advantage.
If I want to go build a relationship with any influencer, I can reach out and interview them.
If I didn't have a personal brand, I would have nothing to offer that influencer.
What is next for monetization?
At the moment, Lead Cookie is still my primary monetization channel for my personal brand.
However, I am currently in the process of launching an entirely new offer:
Lead Cookie Content - Nurturing your Linkedin audience with daily content.
So, once again, I will point my audience and existing customer base to a new spotlight with this offer.
Also, as Lead Cookie grows, I have more and more people reach out to me about coaching and mentoring. While I am not offering any coaching and mentoring today, it is on my radar. At some point in 2019, I plan on launching some form of a group coaching or mentorship program.
The bottom line
Your personal brand is an asset. It's one you must invest in and build over time. At times, you’ll feel like it’s not doing anything, or a waste of time, or been dormant for so long that it must be useless.
But I promise you, if you stay patient with it and keep at it, you will never regret it.
Start building your personal brand today, and you’ll thank me in five years. ✌