Content market yourself. Whether you have a business or not, you need to treat yourself as a business. You are a business. At the end of the day no matter what you are doing, no matter what your career path, you are selling yourself. This doesn’t only apply to the salesman or the freelancer, but to all of you. At the very minimum you are always selling yourself, your knowledge, your skills, your personality, etc. to your current or potential employers. But you are also selling yourself to the world.
I’m going to take a bit from the Praxis playbook on this one and say that you should be writing as much as possible—the ideal goal would be to write every day (I’m currently only on my 3rd consecutive day). Whatever your field and whether you think you are a writer or not, the way to get to the next level is to let the world know what you are doing and that you are an expert in what you do. Gone (or quickly going) are the days when career advancement came by putting in your time at a company and jumping through political office hoops to eventually get a promotion. Take it into your own hands. Show the world what you have to offer.
One of the best ways to do this is through content marketing. Put simply, content marketing is the strategy of offering prospective customers or clients (or employers) relevant and valuable information or content relating to your field. The main (apparent) focus is not selling, rather offering helpful content aimed at fulfilling the needs of the prospect and in turn building your company’s or brand’s credibility and becoming the go-to source for information in that particular field.
Content marketing is nothing new and there are ample examples of this technique. Ben Franklin was one of the earliest known successful content marketers. In order to establish credibility as a quality printer and build his printing business he created the wildly successful Poor Richard’s Almanac—a content marketing campaign that became a thriving business in its own right. Other examples would be when a restaurant has a blog that regularly publishes cooking tips or recipes, or when Home Depot offers how-to-guides on how to build different things or how to do different projects around the house. In other words, helping people with everyday things, and building themselves up as an expert in their field as a result.
In a nutshell this is what you should be doing to build your personal brand and to market yourself (again props to Praxis and Derek Magill). Don’t write “I can do this and this and I’m really awesome at this.” Show people. If you’re an engineer then let the world know what you are doing. Write about what problems you are solving for your company or product and how you are solving them. If you’re a salesman then write about your technique or how you finally turned that really tough lead into a client. Then when people have similar problems they will look to you and your content to help them solve it. You’ll slowly establish yourself as an expert and people will bring business to you.
By becoming an expert and building your personal brand you gain more independence and become less dependent on your employer. It’s not hard to become an expert. It takes just that little bit more that most people don’t give—those few blog articles and those few questions answered in online forums go a long way. And once you establish yourself as an expert in your field your brand becomes your own and something in its own right that is not reliant on the company you work for. You are your own business. Further your own knowledge of your field, let people know you’re an expert, build your brand. Market yourself.