Some of us have big dreams when it comes to our lives on wheels. Maybe you are launching a derby business, selling a product, offering a coaching service, trying to land a sponsorship, promoting a website, advocating for a cause, or are just trying to get involved in the industry. Whatever your goal is, developing your personal brand will help you gain the confidence and credibility you need to stand out from the crowd.
1. DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
Who are you? What do you stand for? What qualities do you want to be associated with? It is so important to have answers to these questions and a clear image in your head of what you want to project to the world. If you don’t have a clear vision of who you are, your audience won’t have anything to latch onto and connect with.
Be true to yourself and your abilities. Originality is important, but honesty should never be sacrificed for wow-factor. If you want to be trusted as a brand it is essential to be transparent and authentic, especially on social media. Don’t worry about boxing yourself in, evolution is an important part of personal brands and only adds to your authenticity. Remember you are telling YOUR story, and you are always growing and changing.
2. “I KNOW YOU FROM THE INTERNET”
So you may not be the all-star on top 10 WFTDA/MRDA team, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be visible in the community. A strong presence on social media can help you leave you mark on the derby world and connect you to other like minded people. We are all so plugged-in these days, making connections is easier than ever. However, the social media landscape is vast, it’s understandably easy to get overwhelmed.
I like to think of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube as each being their own little stage. You are not required to appear on them all. Instead of making brief, weak appearances on all of them, pick one or two and really bring the house down, each and every day. Think about what platform is going to best support the content you want to share and where you have the best shot at engaging users. Be consistent with your posting. You want your content to be dynamic enough to keep people interested but consistent enough that it’s easily recognizable as you.
3. POST WITH PURPOSE
Quality content is essential. You want to provide content that has value to your audience and is in line with your personal brand. Every single photo, status, comment you post online is a direct reflection of you and your brand. Learn to curate your content. When posting photos, quality matters. Although it may seem superficial, the right composition, lighting, clarity, and colors can mean the difference between someone scrolling right past and a getting a like or a share. It’s worth it to put the extra effort in to make your content captivating! Remember attitude counts too. Make yourself accessible and approachable, engage with other users, encourage conversation and discussion, and respond quickly to both positive and negative feedback.
Make friends with the photogs! In the derbyverse photographers share their talents and provide us an incredible service, often for little or no monetary compensation. Thank these people, celebrate them, appreciate them, buy them a beer at the afterparty, and for the love of pizza, credit them for their photos! When sharing a photographer’s photos, posting them as a profile pictures, using them on promotional materials, a website, or anything of that nature, it is always best to shoot the photographer a message and ask permission to use their photos. They won’t bite, I promise.
5. BRAND BUDDIES
Building relationships with other strong brands is crucial to increasing your exposure. Keep in mind a ‘brand’ doesn’t necessarily mean a product based company. A brand can be a person, team, venue, local shop, artist, media source (blogs, magazines, podcasts, youtube channels) ext. Choose these brands wisely. You want to be aligning yourself with brands you truly love and believe in, and who share similar values to you. Utilize hashtags, sharing, and reposting, but just remember there is a fine line between fun shout-outs, and spamming. The question I always ask myself before posting is, “Would I be annoyed if this came up in my feed?“.
If another brand is into what your doing, they may share your content. This mutual promotion allows you to reach a wider audience and is great for growing your following. If a brand REALLY loves what you are doing, and if you have a high enough visibility with their target audience, you may eventually be able to score a flow sponsorship. A flow sponsorship usually involves an individual getting sent free merchandise in exchange for representing the sponsor’s brand.
6. BACK IT UP IRL (In Real Life)
This is the most important part. If your real life actions don’t match up to your online portrayal of yourself, people are going see right through you. Go forth and do what you do: attend as many derby events as you possibly can, play the sport, announce, ref, set up a booth, sell you wares, teach a clinic, give a seminar, lead a roundtable, heckle your heart out. Whatever it is you’re passionate about, get out there and do it! Introduce yourself to the people behind your favorite brands and make connections. Be yourself, but be aware that your actions at high visibility events will affect the perception of your personal brand. Most people will probably only interact with you for a small amount of time, so don’t leave them with a negative impression. Simply being polite, approachable, and upbeat can get you really far. Let your passion show!