Struggling with your personal brand ? this is why.


When I do personal coaching, I often get the question — How do your build your personal brand? For many people today, it’s essential. It’s how you get work done in the online world.

I’m seeing a pattern. People struggle with the trade-off between building a personal brand and doing real work. You know — work that makes money. It’s hard to do both. But you have to do both.

Here’s why.

Brand versus work balance

I had a wonderful chat with a talented woman who told me she wants to become “the Mark Schefer of Latin America.”

I wish she had a loftier goal … but let’s go with it.

What does this goal mean? I’m a person who is known in my field. I don’t have to advertise, I don’t have to sell. I have not filled out an RFQ since 2012.

The more people know me, trust me and like me, the more they will hire me. The more they hire me, the more money I can charge. So for the sake of this case study, let’s define “being the next Mark Schaefer” as being a person who is known and trusted in their field, at a growing rate.

How do you do it? It’s not easy, but the path is clear. I outline this in my book KNOWN: The handbook for building and unleashing your personal brand in the digital age.

The process starts with being clear about what you want to be known for (harder than it sounds) and then consistently creating meaningful content to fuel your brand over time. There are a few other steps, but that’s how it begins.

To this end, my Lain American friend has been working long hours. She’s blogging, podcasting, streaming, speaking, and writing books.

On top of this, she is also trying to handle six demanding clients.

And run a marketing conference.

And be a mom.

The client work in particular is killing her right now. She needs to bring in money, so she is thinking about ending her content production and ending the brand-building. By the way, she has 5,000 subscribers to her blog. A very good start!

What’s the answer? How do you balance these demands?

Your personal brand and prioritization

First, I need to emphasize that a choice to work hard on a personal brand is not necessarily the right first for everybody. I’m not one of those people telling you that you HAVE to do this. If the time in your life isn’t right, you are still a worthy person.

But if the time in your life IS right, here’s why you have to persist.

Let’s say my friend is charging her six customers $100 per hour for her work, and she is clearing $100,000 per year.

If she was well-known in her industry — maybe even beloved and respected in her industry — she could charge much more. Perhaps $200/hour. That means she could make the same amount of money for half the amount of work.

Hmmmm. That is one attractive idea!

She would also have to spend much less time selling herself because if she is well-known, customers will naturally seek the best. That’s more free time right there. She could also sell more books, speak at more conferences, and have more choice in general over a competitor who is not as well-known.

The same works for me. Seth Godin would have a higher hourly rate than me, can charge more for a speech than me, and can sell more books than me for one reason. Why? He’s more well-known than me!

So we can see a correlation between how well you are known and your economic success.

If you have a business, especially if it involves personal services like consulting, real estate, or wealth management, there is no real decision between either working or building a personal brand. You probably have to do both if you want to progress.

The imperative of consistency

If you’ve followed me for even a short period of time, you probably know how much I preach about the importance of consistency. If you’re building an audience for you brand, you can’t keep stopping and starting. You want to become a habit.

This is the number one problem I see in building your personal brand — people get busy with work and they let the content drop. The momentum of your brand takes a dive. It’s almost impossible to pick up where you left off. Maybe you stop for a year or more.

Consistency is more important than genius.

You have to keep chugging week after week, connecting and engaging with your audience.

A practical solution

Let’s get very practical here because I am a very practical fellow.

My friend can’t walk away from her customers or her son. What should she do? How can she find the time to build her brand?

First, I asked her to consider raising her prices. If she is so crazy-busy, it shows she is in high demand. And if she is in high demand, it’s probably time to raise prices. Even if one customer balks and leaves, she could make more money with one less customer and higher prices and also have more time to build her brand.

Second, she is creating far too many types of content. It’s impossible to be great in five places. And, you have to be great. It’s probable you can be great in one place, like her blog, and cut out the time she is spending trying to be everywhere, all the time.

This is counter to the advice from folks like Gary Vee who tell you to be every place. Unless you are some one like Gary Vee with a 12-person camera crew following you around, listen to me instead. If you have limited resources, be great in one place. Only after you master that over time should you think about diversifying.

I blogged for five years before I started The Marketing Companion Podcast, for example.

There’s no shortcut

You have to put in the consistent work. Success normally does not happen quickly.

In this blog post I disclose the rate of subscriber growth I’ve had. Slow and steady, year by year. I think “number of subscribers” is probably a good proxy for “how well you are known.” If people are opting into your content, they will eventually be buying more stuff from you. And that takes time.

But it’s worth it. At some point in your personal branding journey, you’re not just making money, you’re having impact. Think about that. You are making a change in the world!

This is what keeps me going. I know I am having a positive impact on the world.

In summary …

  • Your personal brand is inexorably linked to economic success and impact in many fields.
  • There is no shortcut. Consistent effort is the key. You have to put in the work, maybe for years.
  • You can’t keep stopping and starting.
  • Placing priority on building a personal brand takes time, but it actually frees up time in the long-run if you can sell less and charge more.

Make sense?

Seeking to build and grow your brand using the force of consumer insight, strategic foresight, creative disruption and technology prowess? Talk to us at +971 50 6254340 or mail: or visit

About Author

Mark Schaefer

Mark W. Schaefer is the Executive Director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions and author of five marketing books including The Content Code.

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