Why I Focus on Content, Not Personal Branding


Tag Cloud for My BlogI wanted to jump into the conversation about personal branding that we’ve been having over the past week or so. I really don’t spend much, if any, time worrying about my personal brand, but when I look at my presence online, I seem to have a fairly strong presence. Despite having a common name, people can easily find me on the major search engines. I didn’t put any work into personal branding to make this happen. Instead, I focused on something more important: content.

I write quite a bit of content across multiple web sites. On my blog, the content shifts based on my interests and has morphed from open source topics to online communities and social web topics over the past few years. On Twitter, I have a mix of personal and professional content. I have a passion for learning new things and sharing the interesting bits with other people, which naturally tends to result in content that people want to read.

When I start working with a new client, I point them to my blog where they can learn about my consulting practice, read my bio, and read some of my content. I share as much as I can on my blog. I have how-to videos for Yahoo Pipes, detailed approaches to online community building and community management, tips for how companies can use Facebook and Twitter, and more. If someone wants to hire me to put together a strategic plan for a new online community, they can learn more about my approaches to online community building through my content on the topic. By reading my blog posts, they can usually get a pretty good feel for whether I would be a good fit for a particular project.

Before you spend too much time worrying about personal branding, spend some time thinking about content. Without a solid base of content, your personal branding efforts might be less successful than you hoped.

How much effort do put into content vs. personal branding?



“Before you spend too much time worrying about personal branding, spend some time thinking about content” – of course it goes beyond personal branding as well. The worry about SEO, design, social media, the whole lot. I say, if you are going to spend an extra ten minutes, rather spend it improving your content than any of the rest.

Everything else is a support system for your content – doing all the rest without the content is simply an empty promise.

Heather Floyd - Web Developer

I agree with you about the importance of providing useful, interesting,content.

I tell my clients that getting more of “yourself” out there online is going to do more for your business than any sort of fancy logo and flash graphics.

Especially for those of us who are smaller-scale service providers, this is a great strategy. People prefer to do business with those they KNOW, and you can get to know someone from the information they put out online.

Besides, in general folks are less concerned with “brand” – they have problems and are looking for solutions. If you write about those solutions, they are likely to come across that information and realize that you have the particular expertise they are looking for.


I fully agree that first should come the content and then the reputation comes. You can be everywhere and do not say anything interesting, it is not gonna help. CONTENT is nbr 1 in social media. People need to create good content to then be better referenced, to have other spread the message to make it efficient. If you are in different place and create great content and especially valuable content in these place then you will get a reputation and you can think about personal branding. In the internet you do not brand yourself only with personal URLs but with what you do on the internet and how valuable you are to the community.

Dawn Foster

Brian, It’s always harder when you have really diverse interests, but it still gives people a better perspective on who you are, so keep at it!

Jordan, I’m happy that I could provide some encouragement. We all need an extra nudge from time to time.

Bob Nielsen

Dawn is absolutely right.

Content matters much more than branding or marketing.

That’s why our website gets more hits than any other State Senator in New York.

Brian H.

I really don’t spend much time on personal branding, but like you, I want more quality content. It’s a struggle at times because my blog is a hodgepodge of politics, gadgets, stocks, etc.

Great post.


If there is any issue in these threads, it may be related to different definitions of what a “Brand” is….

If you view a “Brand” as reputation, breadth of presence, awareness, image, corporate identity, logos, etc. you may try to produce results in one of those areas. It is very grounded to aim to expand your breadth of presence… say, on Google. Etc. And there is work that can be done to produce results in these areas.

However a true brand, is, I propose, the “Promise” you make to customers to produce satisfaction. That “Promise” becomes more valuable when you can produce satisfaction better than your peer group. You may be a writer… that turns our copy faster than your peer group… etc.

Brand, I say, is first and foremost the promise you make to you customers. Brand value is a measure of your identity related to that promise, the accuracy of message, prominence, availability, preference, etc.

Therefore, if you are considering the value of your brand – I recommend start with the promise you make.


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