Personal Branding and the Struggle to Get People to Care

Whenever I release a piece of content or tell people about a project I’m working on, there’s a nagging voice in my head that asks the question:

Who cares?…

I’m guessing if you’re reading this, you also struggle with the same internal conflict. At first I thought this insecurity was rooted in a fear of rejection, being told my ideas weren’t good enough. However, the more I thought about it, I realized the real reason was something far more insidious: the fear of indifference.

No one likes online haters, but there are worse things

Let’s be real. If you put yourself out there and someone responds negatively, it feels terrible. An acidic cocktail of self-pity, doubt, and anger starts to brew deep down. But in reality, a negative response is not the worst outcome! You are at least getting feedback and learning how to distinguish between critics and trolls. The absolute worst outcome is no response at all, your creativity was not even worth the half second it takes to press the “Like” button. That is the true mental assassin.

This is a struggle I’m beginning to overcome, mostly through trial and error. Here are some things I’m learning in my journey to get people to care.

No one cares until you make them care

People are in a perpetual state of not giving a damn. We all get bombarded with so many advertisements and requests to take action that we just become numb to it all. If you expect to put something out into the world and the world to magically take notice and make you go viral, you are in for a spanking.

Responses happen when you form genuine relationships with people through give and take, push and pull. When you provide value to others and do it in a way that reflects your personality, people take notice. Do it long enough and people will begin to trust you as a thought leader.

“If you expect to put something out into the world and the world to magically take notice and make you go viral, you are in for a spanking.”

Once you have a solid foundation of people who understand who you are and what motivates you, the likelihood of one of your posts or personal projects getting noticed increases dramatically. You will probably also start to notice more people getting in touch with you to work at their company; everyone likes a thought leader…

Consistency is king

If people occasionally came out with content that was interesting or provocative and gained a huge following, everyone would be famous. The hardest part is doing it consistently. When there are so many people fighting for attention on the Internet, the only way to stand out is to be a constant source of original ideas.

But what if I don’t have the time and energy to constantly be interesting?

YUP! For me, motivation to post content comes and goes. But to break through and really be seen as a thought leader, I understand that I just have to suck it up on the off days and do it anyways. No one said it would be easy…

Look at what others are doing

And don’t do that. I’ve fallen into the trap where I look at other peoples’ success and think, “If I just emulate what they’re doing, I will have the same success.” The problem with that is you will automatically start with a voice that isn’t authentic, and others will generally have a strong nose for that. People really respond to content creators who have genuine personalities and aren’t afraid to share it with the world.

Almost every standup comedian bombs several times before they find their unique voice

It’s something I believe comes with practice. I don’t think many people with large personal followings started with strong opinions, just like standup comedians don’t go onstage for the first time and just crush it. The more you put yourself out there, you gain confidence little by little and your audience becomes more like-minded as they come to expect what you’re all about.

That’s not to say you can’t use other people for inspiration. In fact, that’s almost a must. Just as long as you are doing things from a unique perspective that isn’t pandering for the sake of popularity, you should be OK.

I hope these few nuggets are helpful for anyone else trying to improve their presence on the interwebs. As I continue to learn more about building a personal brand, there will likely be a Part II to this post. If you have anything to add from your own experience, I would love to hear about it in the comments!