I saw on the news that 6.6 MILLION people have applied for unemployment amid the coronavirus pandemic. This makes my heart hurt.
Aside from social distancing, I wanted to help any way I knew how. So I’ve put together eight essential personal branding moves you should make right now to ready yourself in this unstable job market.
Whether you are still gainfully employed or if you’ve recently been let go, these steps are some of the best things you can do to position yourself for whatever lies ahead.
Personal Branding Moves to Make Right Now
Here are some things you can do right now to help yourself during this time of uncertainty.
1. Update your résumé.
It’s always wise to have your latest and greatest résumé ready to go. Update it with your most recent experience and accomplishments. If you can, include figures and data to illustrate the value you’ve added in all of your roles.
Rather than relying on a plain Word document, consider the gorgeous resume templates you can find on Canva (and they are FREE!). The small design details will make you more memorable (remember Elle Woods and her pink resume?!) Here are a few of Canva’s templates.
2. Organize your portfolio.
I know there are a ton of amazing projects you’ve worked on in your career. Now is your time to compile them all! This way, when you’re in front of a potential employer, you can show vs. tell.
Think about systems you’ve built, posts that you’ve written, videos you’ve edited, photos you’ve taken, or collateral you’ve designed. If the evidence of your work is less tangible (maybe you are a make-up artist or personal trainer) collect testimonials, personal recommendations, or photos to illustrate what you can do.
3. Register a domain.
Social media is great, but if you really want to own your brand, you need to own your domain! This typically costs less than $20 takes just a few minutes.Visit a domain registrar like GoDaddy and search yourname.com. If you have a common name and it’s unavailable, try a domain address that is relevant to your industry. For instance, if you are a realtor, you can secure yournamerealty.com. Or choose a different extension over .com, such as .me.
4. Rewrite your professional bio.
When was the last time you fine-tuned your LinkedIn profile or the bios you have on various social media sites? Your bio is your first chance to make an impression and compel audiences to work with or contact you. It’s also your opportunity to communicate who you are, what you do, and frankly, why you are awesome.
Don’t squander this by writing a canned, boring bio. Let your personality shine, and don’t be afraid to toot your own horn.
5. Take new headshots.
Can you think of a better quarantine activity? You can take decent pictures for your professional profiles right on your phone. Dress yourself up and do a mini photoshoot around your house or in your backyard. Quick tip: you can even use a shower curtain as a backdrop!
If your images need a little extra TLC, you can edit them in a free app like Snapseed. Adjust the brightness, contrast, and color balance until you have the perfect photo.
6. Build a personal website.
Ah yes… all the other tips were leading up to this! Your personal website is your own personal hub online. It’s where you can house your resume, portfolio, and contact information all in one place.
The good news is, you don’t need to know how to code to make a stunning website. You can use a website builder like Wix or Squarespace, which offer dozens of personal branding templates that anyone can easily edit.
If you want to connect your website to your custom domain, there is a small fee but it is well worth it! Otherwise, you can create a free site using Wix or Squarespace’s branded URLs.
7. Design your logo.
Just like building a website, this is another step that may sound intimidating if you have no design experience, but it’s 2020 — there are resources for EVERYTHING!
But first, I want to redefine how you envision a logo. It doesn’t have to be anything flashy! A logo can simply be your name in a consistent font and color(s) of your choice! If you’d like, add a symbol and you are good to go.
Again, Canva has your back! They have dozens, or possibly hundreds, of pre-designed logos that you can customize and make your own. Here are a few samples:
8. Start blogging.
Okay, I know this sounds like another big undertaking, but blogging is when you truly take your career development into your own hands. An 8.5″x11″ PDF resume is not enough to show the world your capabilities. A blog will demonstrate your perspectives, expertise, and skills on a larger scale vs. withholding it within the walls of your current job.
With every blog post, you have the potential to unlock opportunities. If you prefer, you can also make videos or start a podcast. The point is, don’t hide your knowledge.
Most Wix or Squarespace templates have a blogging functionality built right into the platform — score!
If you’ve never blogged before, it’s okay. Your writing does not have to be perfect. Just start.
Finding Your Niche
You may be telling yourself that there are already a ton of bloggers in your field, so what’s the point? This is when I always quote one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert:
It may have been done before, but it hasn’t been done by YOU. ~Elizabeth Gilbert
The biggest thing to remember when building your personal brand is to make it PERSONAL. Don’t fall into the cookie-cutter influencer world. Embrace your personality quirks and share your true colors. Your unique experiences and perspective is what will make you stand out.
If you need help defining your brand’s niche and where to go from here, download my free niche finder workbook. It’s packed with eight exercises to help you hone in on your biggest differentiators and where you should focus your blog.
Keep Your Head Up
I know times are tough right now, but the best thing you can do is invest in yourself through personal branding. I hope you’ll find the courage to share more of what you know with the world. Your future is bright.
While the coronavirus outbreak has forced us to put our gym memberships on hold, people are transforming their living rooms into gyms. It’s one of the few ways we can get a sweat session in while social distancing.
But I can’t help but chuckle over the fact that seemingly overnight, at-home fitness is back. There is such high demand that dumbbells and other equipment is sold out everywhere.
There have been many at-home fitness trends that have come and go, but the best part about these fads were the commercials.
From the cheesy infomercials, to the flamboyant Spandex leotards, at-home fitness advertisements were unforgettable.
While we’re all cooped up at home, here are some of the fitness trends you probably wish you invested in right about now:
Total Gym (2003)
Considering that Chuck Norris backed the Total Gym, I’m surprised there wasn’t one in every home. When Chuck Norris tells you to buy something, you do it. And supermodel Christie Brinkley is just as influential.
I remember watching this infomercial late at night when there was nothing else on TV — before we had the luxury to choose a different show to watch on Netflix or Hulu.
Thigh Master (1991)
I’m pretty sure every woman from the ’70s to the ’90s wanted to look like Suzanne Somers. And with her Thigh Master, you could at least have gams like hers!
Shake Weight (2009)
The Shake Weight was pretty much the laughing stock of at-home fitness products. Their original 2009 infomercial went viral and amassed over 4 million views. An MSNBC commented saying it was “slightly pornographic.”
Sex sells? In 2010, the Shake Weight generated over $40 million in sales.
Gazelle Glider (2001)
If you thought the Shake Weight commercial was uncomfortable, here’s a clip to remind you just how handsy Tony Little was when demonstrating the Gazelle Glider.
He’s still actively promoting this product and has kept his signature ponytail.
Darrin’s Dance Grooves (2001)
Many families in the 90’s may not have had room in their homes for a Total Gym or Gazelle, but every household definitely had a VCR! That was the only piece of equipment you needed to watch Darrin’s Dance Grooves.
Darrin Henson was the choreographer behind some of our favorite Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and Britney Spears music videos. He won an MTV VMA in 2000 for his Bye Bye Bye choreography, which he teaches on Darrin’s Dance Grooves. Learning a dance was a fun way to born some calories way before TikTok made it cool.
Fun fact: Sportscaster Erin Andrews is featured in the infomercial before she was famous at the 44 second mark.
All I remember about the Bowflex commercials was just how absolutely ripped everybody was. I think the results they showed were too good to be true.
I watched this commercial thinking two things:
That actually looks fun!
If I use this, will I get abs like Britney Spears?
Tae Bo (1998)
Billy Blanks made you feel like you could do anything! Here’s a preview of one of his workouts — I’m sweating just looking at it.
When you hear the name Jessica Simpson, many people think of her ditzy moments on the MTV reality show, Newlyweds.
But if you ask me, who cares if it was chicken or fish?
Jessica Simpson is not the dumb blonde that society paints her to be. Her true fans know that she is an incredibly talented singer, business mogul, and now author, who has been through hell and back.
On a recent international flight to Argentina, I decided to purchase her memoir, Open Book, on Audible. Admittedly, I thought it would be something to turn on while I tried to doze off during my red eye.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 22: Jessica Simpson poses with her book during Create & Cultivate Los Angeles at Rolling Greens Los Angeles on February 22, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
Boy, was I wrong. Jessica’s story demanded my attention while everyone around me was in a deep sleep. My respect and admiration for her grew as she narrated every word.
Jessica Simpson: Living Her Truth
When publishers approached Jessica Simpson about a book deal, they wanted her to write self-help on how to achieve the perfect life. I can understand why — this woman has it all.
She’s beautiful, talented, and successful. Her fashion line, the Jessica Simpson collection, is a billion dollar brand. She lives in a sprawling 11,000 square foot mansion outside Los Angeles with her hunky husband, former NFL star, Eric Johnson, and their three beautiful children.
Who wouldn’t want her glamorous life?
But Jessica declined to write a book on these terms. Despite what her image or the media may suggest, she knew her life was far from perfect. She instead chose to write a memoir, which bravely details some of her most personal struggles.
We all know Jessica went through a very public divorce from her ex-husband Nick Lachey, back in 2006. But a failed marriage just scratches the surface on the challenges Jessica has overcome.
As I listened to Jessica read her story to me, I could hear the intense emotion in her voice as she described her experiences with loss, sexual abuse, alcoholism, public scrutiny, body image issues, infertility and so much more.
Since its release, Open Book has already been named a New York Times #1 bestseller.
How Jessica Simpson Represents Authenticity
I gained more than I thought I would when reading Open Book. Jessica transparently shares powerful messages of hope, empowerment, and resilience that I will keep with me. But beyond the lessons from her personal stories, I also learned from her process and approach to writing a book in the first place.
I dug a little deeper and found an interesting intersection. We can apply lessons from Open Book to life in general, but also to our online presence.
In the marketing and social media field, we always hear the term “authenticity.” This speaks to presenting your true self with your audience, rather than portraying a facade.
Jessica Simpson exemplifies authenticity. Like the title, “Open Book,” suggests, she lets herself be vulnerable in her memoir. She bravely puts everything out there, with no topic too personal or humiliating to address.
Whether you simply want to improve your mental health or find the courage to share more of who you are online, there are many takeaways inspired by Jessica Simpson and Open Book:
Keep a journal.
When Jessica was fifteen, her cousin Sarah died tragically in a car accident. To cope with the pain, she started journaling, and has kept up with the habit ever since. Her journal has not only provided mental clarity through life’s obstacles, but serves as a creative outlet. From new music, to the chapters in her memoir, it’s safe to say that Jessica’s ideas begin in her journal.
Start journaling for yourself and you’ll be surprised how often inspiration strikes.
Don’t try to be perfect.
In the world of Photoshop, filters, and lavish lifestyle content on Instagram, it seems like everyone is living their best life without any bumps in the road. This just isn’t the case, not even for Jessica Simpson.
Sharing your true self — the good, the bad, and the ugly — will undoubtedly build a bond with your audience. They’ll see you as someone who is just like them.
Create content fearlessly.
With a net worth of $200 million, Jessica Simpson could live happily ever after without publishing a memoir. She could’ve kept her life lessons and emotions private, but she instead chose to put them out there into the world for other people to hear.
You never know who will resonate with your story. Resist hesitation, overcome imposter syndrome, and just hit post. Someone will read your content and thank you.
Mute the critics.
I can’t imagine having my every move published in the tabloids like Jessica has, or being constantly followed by paparazzi. Even the everyday moments of her marriage were filmed for reality television. Every choice she made, outfit she wore, or song she sang, was met with criticism and harsh opinions from around the world.
But Jessica did not let her critics define her. Despite being labeled as a dumb blonde pop star, Jessica pressed onward and has built a billion dollar fashion empire that is still growing. And now, she gets to add “best-selling author” to her list of career milestones.
It’s easy to let naysayers fill our heads with paralyzing self-doubt. Instead, use their comments or your own fear as motivation to keep building.
Turn setbacks into comebacks.
With all that was going on in her life, Jessica took a hiatus from the spotlight for a few years. Hey, everyone needs a break! But she didn’t retire from music altogether. Despite public breakups, fertility issues, addiction struggles, and other hardships, Jessica bounced back and is thriving in her both her career and family life.
Rather than letting challenges hold you back, learn from them use those lessons as fuel to pursue whatever goals are on your heart.
Channel your emotions to make art.
Like Jessica, you can pour your emotions into your craft. For her it was songwriting, but for you, this may apply to your passion for blogging, photography, cooking, crafting, or even make-up. Not to mention, going all-in on a creative endeavor that you love will help you find peace, master new skills, and build a community.
Open Book will Open Your Mind
It may not always seem this way from the outside looking in, but many times, some of the world’s biggest stars are just like us. None of us are perfect, and we all have our own battles to fight. Even multi-millionaire, Jessica Simpson.
Social media tends to be a highlight reel, and if we let it, a place for toxic comparsion. But when you open your heart and share your true stories and experiences with others, the real magic happens. You will connect with your friends and followers on a deeper level, and create lasting relationships that can help you get through anything.
I hope Jessica Simpson, her book, and this post inspires you to throw caution to the wind and feel empowered to share your true self. With every photo you post, blog entry you write, or video you publish, never be afraid to show the world who you really are.
Ryan Reynolds is certainly a successful fixture in popular culture. You may love him for his movies, his looks, or his charm, but I love him for something more: his creative genius.
In February 2018, Ryan (yes, I’ve decided to affectionately call him by just his first name) acquired a stake in the liquor brand, Aviation American Gin. Alongside a small but mighty marketing team, he has helped take the company to new heights with some of the most clever advertising and social media campaigns we’ve seen in a long time.
On the latest episode of the Making the Brand podcast, I had the pleasure of chatting with Adrian Molina, the senior brand manager behind Aviation Gin, and social media expert and professor, Dr. Karen Freberg.
It turns out that other companies should be taking notes on what Aviation Gin is doing. So pour yourself a negroni (Ryan’s favorite drink!) and listen in to hear the method to their madness.
This was probably one of the BEST podcast interviews I've ever been a part of!
So many great conversations all about social, @AviationGin , and teaching!
Let’s go back to one of my favorite eras: the late ’90s.
Imagine you’re surfing Internet Explorer on your dial-up connection, minding your own business as you research fansites, games, and chatrooms. Life is good.
Then suddenly, you’re assaulted by a flurry of pop-up ads coming from every corner of your screen, flashing sales and discounts for who-knows-what in your face.
You quickly try to click the X, but the stupid ad thinks it’s funny and moves across the screen as you hover.
I’m glad those days are over, but I’m afraid history is starting to repeat itself.
In the age of social media, many brands still have trouble adapting to the type of content their audiences expect and actually want.
With traditional media, like brochures, radio spots, billboards, or commercials, brands had one shot to get their message across. Their time, space, and budget was limited, so their marketing was straightforward and promotional. Its only goal was to make sure your audience knew about your company, products, and services.
This is pretty much the complete opposite of how social media works. We’ve said it time and time again — social media is not the place to plaster your digital fliers. It’s a place to be social.
Remember, social media started as a place for people to connect with friends and family. If you want your audience to add your brand to their feeds and social circles, you have to fit in and be a brand worth following. You won’t accomplish this if all of your content is promotional.
Instead, your audience seeks a brand personality that is entertaining, helpful, and relatable.
Popular Culture = Trending Topics
So if brands shouldn’t constantly talk about themselves, what else is there to say?
That’s where pop culture and trending topics come in.
If something is trending, that means people are talking about it. We’re tagging our friends, retweeting to our followers, or contributing original content of our own.
Well, as a brand, you want to pull up a chair at the proverbial dinner party. You need to be where the people are.
Thanks to social media, brands can join the conversation and share points-of-view on trending topics surrounding things like:
Viral trends, challenges, and memes
Again, all of the above are topics that brands probably wouldn’t waste time discussing on traditional media. But since social media is an ongoing conversation in real-time, it creates countless engagement opportunities.
6 Reasons to Use Pop Culture in Your Social Media Strategy
I don’t advise brands to brush up on popular culture or trending topics just because it’s fun to chime in with a cheeky meme, remark about celebrity news, or contribute to a viral dance challenge. I do it because this approach is one of your strongest marketing strategies.
Here are the benefits of incorporating popular culture into your social media content:
1. It humanizes your brand. You don’t want your audience to see you as a rigid company up in their corporate ivory towers counting stacks of cash. You want to demonstrate that you have a personality and multiple dimensions.
Here’s a tweet from lululemon that lets their audience know that despite being an activewear company, they too, enjoy a lazy day.
2. You’ll build relationships. You know that feeling when you find out you have something in common with someone and you immediately hit it off? Brands and their potential customers can recreate this spark. Demonstrate a shared interest in what your audience loves, and they’ll feel more connected to the brand.
Popular grocery store chain, Publix, makes it clear just how much they love pets, too. How can you not bond with this brand over these adorable photos on #LoveYourPetDay?
3. It challenges you to know your audience better. Choosing trending topics to contribute to requires you to understand your customers beyond demographics. You need to know their lifestyle, including the TV shows they watch, the movies they like, or the places they frequent.
Here’s a tweet from Tarte Cosmetics, which comments on two shows that are popular among their target audience. Notice that the post has nothing to do with their makeup products.
4. Your content is more likely to gain traffic. The goal is to quickly capitalize on a trend as its gaining traction online. You want to post while the topic is still relevant in order to pique interest at the right time. Author and viral marketing expert, Jonah Berger, says what is top-of-mind is tip-of-tongue.
There’s no better time for the TODAY show to share this article Jennifer Aniston’s cleaner margarita recipe than on #NationalMargaritaDay.
6. It fills your content calendar. Add some variety to your content calendar by including pop culture moments. It’s not uncommon to see brands tweeting during the Super Bowl, award shows, or even amidst historic milestones. Who could forget this viral tweet from MoonPie during the 2017 solar eclipse?
There’s a lot of potential for brands in pop culture! If you want to take part in pop culture trends on social media, it’s imperative that you and your teams are constantly monitoring conversation. You don’t want to miss your big moment! Invest in social listening tools and be mindful of what is in the news. This approach will bring you closer to your audience than any heavy promotional strategy.