How to Build a Million Dollar Business From Your Personal Brand

dec revenue

One of the main ways I drive revenue to my businesses is through my personal brand. People are learning about my companies through me.

It’s been so effective that I’m able to generate at least 7 figures in income within 12 months of starting a new business… all through my personal brand.

Just look at the screenshot above: it’s the monthly income I generated in December from a marketing business that is less than 4 months old.

Download this bite sized cheat sheet to learn how to build a million dollar business from your personal brand.

So, how did I do it? And, more importantly, how can you replicate the process?

The power of personal branding

The cool part about Google is that it provides a lot of tools to businesses. And many of these tools are free.

One of them is Google Trends. It shows how many people are searching for a brand and how popular the brand is in comparison to others.

brands

The image above shows the popularity of three brands: Crazy Egg, KISSmetrics, and Neil Patel. The Crazy Egg brand is represented by the yellow line, KISSmetrics by the red, and Neil Patel by the blue.

As you can see, my personal brand is almost as popular as both of my companies. And if my companies are able to generate millions of dollars using their own brands, why can’t my personal brand help if it’s almost as popular?

Now that you know how to measure your personal and corporate brand’s popularity, let’s get into how to build a strong personal brand.

How you can build a strong personal brand

Before I go into how you can build a strong personal brand, let me first tell you that it is hard and time-consuming. You can’t expect wonders if you aren’t willing to put in the effort.

Plus, you can’t expect results right away. It will take 6 months to a year of hard work to start seeing results.

But don’t worry, you will see results each and every month. And although you are putting in a lot of time, you’ll see an increase in revenue at the same time, which I will cover in the next section.

When you are starting off, I recommend you use the 5 tactics below:

  1. Guest-posting – there are a lot of popular blogs on the web. From Forbes, to Entrepreneur, to Inc Magazine… the possibilities are endless. You should be posting on all of these blogs on a monthly basis. If you want to guest-post, all you have to do is follow the steps in this blog post and this one.
  2. Participate on the social web – just pick 2 or 3 social sites to participate on. Search for people within your industry, and follow them or add them as friends. Once you do this, make sure you participate by answering questions and posting tips. For example, you can do a tip of the week on Facebook and Twitter. It will help brand you as an expert and generate a following, assuming your tips are good.
  3. Blog – guest blogging isn’t enough. You need to set up your own blog. There is no excuse as you can do this on WordPress for free. All you have to do is blog once a week on topics related to your industry. For example, I blog on marketing because I want to brand myself as a marketer and my companies sell products to marketers. Follow my guide to blogging to get started and this guide to build up your audience.
  4. Help people – one of the simplest ways to build a positive brand is to help people. When people email you a question, answer it. And when someone stops you at a conference, do whatever you can to help that person. Putting others before yourself will help you build a positive brand.
  5. Speak at conferences – I don’t care if you have stage fright or you suck at speaking. You have to start somewhere. When I first started speaking at events, I was terrible, but it has helped me build a positive brand. Plus, speaking on stage helps position you as an expert. This old post I wrote should help you get your first speaking spot.

To show you that these 5 strategies work, I’ll give you examples of how I’ve used each of them to earn more income.

  1. Guest-posting – I’m getting paid $20,000 in the month of February to speak at a conference to 500 marketers because they liked my guest posts on Forbes. The beautiful part about the deal is that the organizers are also promoting Crazy Egg to each attendee, which should help drive new customers to my business. And it’s not just me. Leo Widrich from Buffer drives over 100 signups a day from guest posts. Every time he writes a guest post, and he has written a few hundred, he links to Buffer.
  2. Social media – can you guess how many visitors my social media accounts drive to my businesses? Maybe you think it’s 1,000, 5,000, or 10,000 a month? For December, my accounts drove 12,494 visitors and 62 signups. Total revenue from that traffic was $30,395.
  3. Blogging – I’ve been blogging for over 10 years. My first blog was a top 100 blog according to Technorati, and Quick Sprout generates over 500,000 monthly visitors… on a bad month. From paid speaking engagements to more signups to my businesses, the blog generates at least $500,000 a year in direct revenue. Indirectly, it generates more, but some of the transactions are hard to track.
  4. Helping people – once I helped a gentleman at a conference for free. No one else was willing to help him because he had body odor and spoke broken English. Later during the event, he was telling everyone about me. A company called Poker Strategy listened to him and hired my consulting company for $1,200,000. I wasn’t expecting anything from helping the gentlemen out… I just felt no one should pay to go to an event and get no help.
  5. Speaking at conferences – one of the best events I spoke at was an event in San Diego called Traffic and Conversion Summit. I spoke about marketing to over 3,000 attendees and mentioned my company a few times during my presentation. I didn’t do a hard sell, but my mentions generated over 118 signups. Out of those signups, two were large corporations that spent $50,000 and $125,000 a year. That’s not too bad for a 45-minute speech.

Now that you know the value of personal branding, let’s go over how you can use it to drive revenue.

How to drive revenue from your personal brand

Once you have an audience, generating revenue isn’t very difficult. You don’t have to do any hard selling. As people get to know you, they will naturally want to know what your business does.

For example, Air Canada reads Quick Sprout, and they signed up to KISSmetrics because they learned about my company from this blog.

I didn’t do a hard sell. Instead, they felt that if the content I produced was high in quality, then my company must be great too.

Don’t push your business hard. Mentioning it every once in a while or doing a soft sell is fine. For example, you could mention the company you work for when you speak, link to your company in your guest posting bio, or link to your own site from your blog… all of these things will help drive more revenue.

Being too aggressive will cause you to lose the trust of your audience, which can hurt your personal brand. So, try to avoid it at all costs. Sure, you won’t make as much in the short run, but it will pay off in the long run.

Just look at Quick Sprout… I only link to my companies within my sidebar bio. And every once in a while, I link to my businesses through my blog posts. Yet, I can generate at least $500,000 in income for my businesses from the blog.

Conclusion

Personal branding is a powerful tool. And as I mentioned earlier this week, it’s going to be a huge trend in 2015.

If you are strapped for time and you can’t do all of the things above, start off by helping others. My co-founder Hiten Shah has built a great name for himself in San Francisco, all because he has helped other entrepreneurs without asking for anything in return. This has led him to gain shares in companies like WordPress because he has built a strong personal brand through his generosity.

So, how else can you leverage your personal brand?

P.S. If you want to grow your business through personal branding go here.

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Comments

  1. Wow. It’s very interesting. Now i working for my brand.

  2. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for writing and letting us know more about personal branding and it’s advantages.

    By the way, I like how you make us understand all the things in less words. Keep it up Neil. Waiting to hear more from you.
    P.S : ignore typos, I am on phone and out of station :p

    Thank you

  3. Thanks Neil, you are a great teacher. Personal branding may be one of trends to look for in 2015.

  4. That is for sure personal brand works!

    Like you did.

    Hope it will be continue in 2015 on wards

    But, Neil still guest blogging working?

  5. 2015 will be the year I look to build my name in the marketing industry 🙂

    I’m starting by doing a talk at my old university on the subject.

    Unfortunately someone has already taken the URL for my name!!

  6. Love this article Neil! Especially as I’m a blogger Virgin … about to post my first tonight @cara_leach ECK!!!!

    • All the best Cara. Hoping to start mine soon. Just been suffering from the procrastination syndrome.

    • Cara/Bandela,

      I’ll suggest your first post is not so much about you, but about why you started the blog and what it would do for your readers. Then ask your first few readers to tell you what they’re struggling with at the moment that they may want you to help with. That way, you have an idea of your next few posts. And definitely will get them to come back to your blog

    • Hey Bandela, Congratulations on just starting- that is always the hardest part! I just started my blog a couple of weeks ago and it is intimidating. I wrote 3-5 articles the first week because I felt it looked so bare. Now that it’s up I am already getting some traffic, but still haven’t gotten my first comment. Gonna keep at it.

  7. Neil, I’ve noticed that you’re becoming much more forthright with your revenues and revenue-generation experiments over the last few blog posts.

    You’ve always been open about things, but you’re now taking things a 100% open.

    Can’t say I don’t love it!

    Looking forward to more ‘opening the kimono’ moments 🙂

  8. This was incredibly useful thanks for this.

  9. Fantastic post Neil, goodness, the numbers you mention are mind boggling, a fraction of what you make would be hugely successful in my eyes, haha! As usual, great info, thanks again.

  10. Awesome stuff again Neil. Thanks for sharing! Look out for my brand in development! Cheers!

  11. Great one, Neil. I love reading your blog posts as they cause someone to do an introspection and they quite inspirational. Your advices are genuine, practical and out of this world!

    Waiting for the next ones….so keep them coming!

  12. Neil, didn’t know personal branding was this important. I had never paid attention to it. But reading this post has made me realize that you are a face for your company and that is what people look at. Great share! Thanks 🙂

  13. Hey Neil,

    Thanks again for the great information, and for all your help. My business is under a year old and I haven’t met with one client based on my companies name or it’s brand. It’s always been “this is the guy I was telling you about”. I will work very hard this year on my brand… lol

    Thanks Again,

  14. Wonderful blog post Neil. But now days, Guest blogging is not as much as powerful like the previous year.

    • Pooja, I would disagree. I would say when you do it right — it’s just as powerful.

      • Guest blogging isn’t as useful as it once was from an SEO perspective, but from a marketing perspective it’s still a powerful tool. The key is focusing less on page views and more on conversions.

        If you were running a store, would you rather have 1,000 customers stop by to browse without buying anything, or have two walk in who both buy something? That’s the subtle — yet crucially important — shift we’re seeing in the guest-blogging paradigm.

  15. Hey Neil,
    Totally agree with you 🙂 Very useful post for me.Waiting for the next ones

  16. Thank You Neil Patel for this Informative Article 🙂

  17. My type of article!

    Loved it just like your other article about clothing.

  18. I have to say, you have helped me by replying back to my emails for free. Not only did you help by answering my questions, you responded back immediately. I look forward to working with one of your partner companies. Thanks Neil!

  19. Hi Neil,

    Good post, Self branding will be the ultimate way of great living in near future. Because if you will do conventional things, you will get conventional results. Big numbers will come after hardships.

  20. Hi Neil,

    Awesome blog as always. Would you suggest also brandig yourself on Facebook, like turning your personal Facebook page into maybe a public figure?

  21. Neil,

    Thanks a lot for your input. As a business owner with some high profile businesses i am learning the value of how my brand as the founder can help immensely. Thanks again. See you soon.

    Vinnie

  22. Wonderful article, you just have to set yourself up as an expert in your niche. I was encouraged to do this years ago by an accounting friend of mine, he said go and give as many talks as possible, for free if necessary; all the hard work will prove beneficial (wish I had listened, 2015 will be different). Please keep these ideas coming…

  23. Hi Neil,

    I must say that it has never passed a day of reading your blog post that has no impiact to enhencement of my marketing skills.

    I have been implementing what i learn in my ecommerce business and see desired result.

    Thank you.

    Emanuel.

  24. “I just felt no one should pay to go to an event and get no help.”

    That’s a philosophy to pay forward. Thank you.

  25. Hey Neil,

    This article taught me the perfect use of personal branding. I am very much impressed by your point on social media.

    Having a clean image on social media drives job offers. Posting tips regularly is a good idea to let the employers know about our services and behaviour. This strategy could ultimately drive a good revenue.

    Thanks Neil for this detailed article on personal branding. I loved it !

  26. subashchandraa :

    I like your personal replies to most of the comments you value others time and response no matter how trivial they are. Thanks.

  27. Thanks very much for the post Neil. You post are always helpful and its all practical. I am still trying to figure out how to better market my blog.

  28. Good post Neil…I got to know about you in T & C conference in San Diego last year January, you walk your talk man.

    Hope to hear you speak again this Feb.

  29. One of the best blog posts I’ve read this year :p

    As someone who’s trying his best to build a million-dollar brand, these tips are just awesome!

    Thanks Neil!

  30. Hi Neil,

    This is really awesome Neil. Thanks much !!

    Regards,
    Ashutosh

  31. In your last post, you said no to guest post in 2015. But, here your first option is guest post. Could you elaborate me a little about this strategy change?

  32. Your blog is always awesome. Actually, you live what you say, and that is amazing!

    At the Growth Hacking Conference you were answering a lot of questions after your end of the conference show down and you were genuinely happy to help people out, which is not something you see a lot.

    Guess that’s why you’re kind of a big deal!

  33. Great article! I am looking forward to increase my personal branding using ur guide.

  34. Really nice article Neil, and perfect timing for me too since I’ve been evaluating what has worked for me and what hasn’t.

    One thing I’ve slacked on a lot in the past couple years is my personal brand. Your name holds weight and I’ve lost sight of that for a while.

    This post is a nice reminder, so thank you.

  35. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for this very informative article. Personal branding is a great way to build a good relation to people. Most of us can mirror ourselves from one person instead of one company.

    Once people knew or hear the person’s thoughts and opinions to certain things. They will have a personal connection and that builds the person’s trust to either buy or sign up for his/her website.

    Cheers,
    Anthony

  36. Thanks Neil.It’s always a delight to read your posts.

    Regards,

    John Ukonu.

  37. Neil, an 80/20 question…

    If you were to do an 80/20 on the ways to build and leverage a personal brand for someone starting out, what do you think that 20% would be?

    I’m not trying to look at this in a lazy way, but in a way of how can I start out with a low budget and little time to dedicate and make the most impact?

    Blogging seems clouded unless you’re amazing, like you do here at QuickSprout. And amazing work takes time, so maybe another task would be better for someone with limited time, money, and energy? (As well as little social capital to leverage early on.)

    Thanks!

  38. Neil, nice post. I love the lifestyle marketing blog and this one as well.

    Question, how many speaking engagements did you have to do for FREE before you started charging for money?

  39. Thanks Neil, I was always wondering if I should brand myself along with branding my company. Your tips are very helpful and made the decision easier for me. Thanks again 🙂

  40. Neil, I really dont understand why my comments keep getting deleted. It’s so frustrating.

  41. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, it will be very helpful.

  42. Another great post Neil! I always look forward to reading what you have to say. You have such clarity and insight. Keep up the excellent work! Kudos Neil!

  43. Hi Neil, Thanks for this great post. I just started my new blog and really hope to build a strong personal brand. It’s just that I’m still not so sure how to go about it since I don’t have a separate business like you. I’m more of a wordpress freelancer… Any advice for me?

    Thanks once again for this great post… and for the numbers.. there are really HUGE? lol. 🙂

  44. hello neil how are you,
    i just have a question about guest blogging for private brand, can you tell me how we can find the big brand for guest post so that we get good exposes.
    Thank You

  45. Dear sir, thanks for ur nice co-opration,

  46. I must say that it has never passed a day of reading your blog post that has no impiact to enhencement of my marketing skills.

    I have been implementing what i learn in my ecommerce business and see desired result.

    Thank you.

  47. All the best Cara. Hoping to start mine soon. Just been suffering from the procrastination syndrome.

  48. Gorgeous! Thank you for sharing this!

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