Growth June 11, 2020

Personal Branding for Indie Projects

John Saddington @8bit

One of the things that I recommend to everyone who's building a new project, regardless of size (and shape and color!) is to consider the power and importance of your own, personal brand.

What I mean by this is that, especially in the beginning, your startup is best reflected and represented by you, the founder and creator! This means that your project will "draft" on your personal brand (i.e. your own personal network) for a while until the project, itself, gains enough steam on its own.

The most obvious example of this is when you see a new project Twitter account, for instance, have < 10 followers but the founder's personal Twitter account has thousands! This is how most projects start, by the way!

With all that being said, if the money is available, I counsel spending a little bit of time curating your network and landing pages (and/or creating new ones) that can help give your new project a bit more "lift" and "surface area" upon which new visitors and new community members can learn about you and your project.

For instance, I own a few proper name URLs like http://johnsaddington.com that redirect to my personal blog that is 100% managed by me. This means that I get to control the messaging as well as the positioning of my new project!

The next step is actually filling up that personal branding page with content! One idea is to use Indie Hackers as a blog which is simple, fast, and free! You could even redirect a URL to go directly to your personal profile or project page!

For instance, I use http://yensquad.com as a short (and memorable!) URL that goes directly to my product page on IH:

Personal branding, especially in the beginning, is essentially the same thing as beginning to seed and establish the foundation for the project's brand, short and long-term.

Eventually, bifurcating the two may make more sense as the project's followership and brand takes off. But, until then, don't dilute your time trying to manage too many social channels or communication tools — keep things simple as you walk through the product-market fit process!

  1. 2

    I've always thought that having your personal domain is important. What can be challenging, like in my case, is when you have a "weird" name. That can be a tricky. I mean if you're coming from non-english speaking country, and have some funny name or even "special characters", then that could be an obstacle. Saddington is Saddington. Reminds me of a Paddington. So, if you being SAD while trying to setup a PADDING in your css, then you get a Saddington. Raljic, on the other hand is probably harder. You can't co-relate it to anything, since you've heard it for the first time, and probably can't pronounce it. And if you can, you are not really sure if you did it correctly. You get my point.

    So, for a long time I run a blog on brunoraljic.com, but it's probably hard to remember it, so recently I've switched it to be something more memorable. Luckily, I still have an international first name, so I've replaced the last name part only. Still want to make it personalised brand. So I've bought a new domain brunosays.com which is just a redirect ATM, but will transfer it fully in the next period.

    1. 1

      i really like what you've done! makes total sense. brilliant.

  2. 2

    makes sense but I thought you didn't like the term "personal brand"! (based on what you told me on twitter before)

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      i don't. but, it's what people understand and it's language that people grok.

      i'm willing to use this language in an effort to connect to other folks! :)

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        This comment was deleted 5 days ago.

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          it's mostly because it can mean a lot of things these days... and i'm not sure there was a time when folks didn't have a personal brand... we just started calling it that.

          whatever it is... it's usable!

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            Exactly! I hate the overuse of the phrase too...

            Personal branding isn't something new, it's just marketing spin on the word "reputation" and everyone just naturally has a reputation that surrounds them.

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              CREAM.

              i mean, BREAM.

  3. 2

    Great insights and tips, John!

    And as you mentioned:

    don't dilute your time trying to manage too many social channels or communication tools

    It's always best to focus your efforts on one or maximum two channels because you need time and dedication to build your presence in them and engage with the users.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. 3

      it really is true. be amazing at just a few things... not mediocre at a lot!