Transitioning from a traditional business to a personal brand: what you need to know
Transitioning from traditional, service-based business to a personal brand can seem super-scary.
Often, we’re afraid to get out from behind our logos and let our audience get to know the real us.
When you have a personal brand, you can build trust, charge more for your services and become an authority in your industry.
In this episode, we look at how you can transition into a personal brand and what how your website should reflect this.
In this episode, we’ll cover…
- Why someone would want to transition into a personal brand
- What are the risks in becoming a personal brand
- How someone can transition into a personal brand effectively
- How someone should change their business name/domain name
Time Stamps: In a rush? Get to the section you need to below!
3.40 – Why would someone want to be a personal brand?
5.05 – Neil Patel: I wish I never built a personal brand – what’s our take on this?
6.16 – What are the risks involved in transitioning into a personal brand?
6.45 – Changing the name of your business without warning your clients
8.20 – How cutting your services entirely might cause issues
12.10 – Issues with changing your niche
12.45 – Difficulties selling your personal brand
15.00 – How might someone transition into a personal brand?
16.23 – Try to avoid changing your niche
17.30 – How would someone change their name domain name?
19.12 – Putting your face on the website
22.10 – Having a personality
Useful Resources and Links
What To Do Next
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Episode Transcript Below
Lyndsay: Welcome to episode seven of the Make Your Mark Online Podcast. In today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about how to transition your business into a personal brand and why you might want to do this. Before we get into the show, we wanted you to know we are running a free online workshop all about SEO for personal brands. Truth be told, the stuff we’re going to be talking about in the workshop will be valuable to most businesses. This is taking place on the 6th of September 8 P.M. or 3 P.M. EST, and it’s going to be really good, isn’t it, Martin?
Martin: Yeah. It’s going to be absolutely awesome. You’re not going to want to miss it, but it is kind of worth pointing that we’re in 2018, so it is this year. If you’re watching in sort of two years time-
Lyndsay: Oh yeah. Good point.
Martin: … you probably missed it. Put your diary away, but yeah, we’re really excited about it. It’s one of the most common topics that we get asked about SEO and we wanted to make sure that this was our first proper webinar.
Lyndsay: Yeah, definitely. We’ve sort of joined a few free webinars, haven’t we, Martin?
Martin: Yeah, in the past.
Lyndsay: Over the past five years. We have noticed sometimes it can be sort of 45 minutes of sales pitch and then five minutes of actual actionable tips. This is something on this webinar we really wanted to avoid. We really want to give you guys real actionable tips that you can takeaway and you use in your business straight away. We’re going to be giving you a workbook about a week before the webinar goes live, so you can actually work through that on the actual webinar itself. It will be really actionable, really juicy for you.
Martin: Yeah, definitely. We don’t actually have anything to sell you right now anyway, so that’s why it’s just going to be content-driven. I mean obviously you already know about the membership and we’ve got a wait list for that, but other than that, we don’t have anything to pitch here. That’s why we’re focusing the majority of this time just giving you valuable tips.
Lyndsay: Exactly. Exactly. You do actually have to register for the webinar because there are limited spaces available. If you just head to jammydigital.com/webinar, add your name and email on the page, and we’ll send you your unique link to join the webinar. That’s all you need to do. Head over there now if you can and let’s get on with the show. Before I begin the actual show, Martin, we both had really bad colds this week. I was kind of hoping that for this podcast I would have like sexy Phoebe Buffay voice.
Martin: I think you do definitely. I could just imagine you singing Smelly Cat.
Lyndsay: This is Martin sweet talking. No.
Martin: Hopefully our listeners have actually seen Friends before. Otherwise, that’s not really going to make sense.
Lyndsay: They’re going to be so confused right now.
Lyndsay: I sound a bit more like a squeaky frog I think.
Martin: You’ve given me a cold, which is just glorious.
Lyndsay: I like to share. Today we’re going to be talking about transitioning from a service-based business to more of a personal brand. That’s right, isn’t it?
Martin: Yeah. This is a common concern that quite a few of our clients have had in the past. It’s the idea of transitioning from a traditional type business, maybe a freelancer or a service-based business where you’ve really kind of had your logo stand in front of your face really, and actually moving more into a personal brand can be a bit concerning. You’re not sure if you’re going to lose clients. You’re not sure if they’re going to sort of like the switch. All these kind of things go through our heads and that’s kind of why we wanted to do this episode. We wanted to kind of go through these and see if there’s any actual validation there if you need to worry at all.
Lyndsay: I mean why would someone even bother doing this? It seems like a lot of work just to transition. What are the actual benefits of it?
Martin: Well, I think it’s kind of the benefit of a personal brand really, which is very, very powerful. I mean you want to stand out. There’s so many businesses out there who hide behind a logo. It’s a lot more easier if you stand out if you are a person. Few businesses are just too scared to sort of get out and say, “We are the expert and we’re prepared to stand in front of you and show you our face and be more of a personal brand.”
Lyndsay: It makes you more memorable, doesn’t it?
Martin: You see, we’re built to connect with people. It’s what we do. We see faces all the time. Being on a personal brand website, it allows you to connect with that person more and feel like you … You have a little bit more rapport with a person if you can actually see what they look like. It’s amazing, especially when we get phone calls all the time and they say, “Hi. Can I speak to Martin? Can I speak to Lyndsay,” and having that face on your website is extremely powerful.
Lyndsay: Yup, definitely.
Martin: Maybe you want to offer coaching and consulting, maybe you want to speak on stage, all these different types of scenarios, that’s how a personal brand can help really. You can charge higher fees because people want to deal with you as the expert. I don’t think anybody would argue that being a personal brand isn’t more beneficial to your business. It just is. We’ve seen it time and time again. I know we read an article this week about Neil Patel who sort of brought up the question really about … Yeah.
Lyndsay: That was a really interesting one actually because he said that he sort of regretted building a personal brand. I think that was more and we’ll come onto this later sort of risk involved with building personal brand is that it’s attached to you and your name. There can be sort of disadvantages to that, but we’ll come to that a little bit later. For anyone who is listening, perhaps go and check that article out because yeah, I mean we talk about the advantages of a personal brand, but we also want to talk about the disadvantages of it as well.
Lyndsay: It’s not just clear cut that it’s the most amazing thing ever, but we’ve certainly seen I think from our clients that the benefits do outweigh the disadvantages.
Martin: Oh yeah, definitely. Personally, from my perspective, I suppose that kind of article was maybe a little bit click bait. Maybe he doesn’t actually believe it, but he has an opinion about the pros and cons to it essentially. That’s more of what the article is. Without the article, we wouldn’t even be discussing it. Without him being a personal brand, we wouldn’t be discussing it.
Lyndsay: Yeah, definitely. Okay. Since we’ve talked about the risks, what are the risks involved with sort of building a personal brand?
Martin: Okay. I don’t actually think there are a lot of risks involved with becoming more of a personal brand because you’ve already got the business behind you. You’ve already got a steady stream of customers hopefully and becoming more of a personal brand can only benefit you. However, there are a few technical reasons that you might want to be careful. For instance, if you change the name of your business completely without warning your clients, maybe you go from webdesignservices.com to martinhuntbach.com and you don’t tell your clients that that’s happening, then it might actually cause a little bit of a disconnect.
Martin: I’m not saying there would be a problem, but if you don’t tell people and somebody googles the name of your business and it’s not there anymore, then that’s a problem, but it’s not from a customer sort of mindset perspective. They’re not going to be that bothered, but not telling them might sort of … Warning signs might flash really.
Lyndsay: Okay. That’s quite interesting. Yeah. I think obviously it’s best to sort of tell your clients in advance if you are changing the name of your business. If they’re used to dealing with you everyday, then they’re not going to be bothered so much that you’ve changed your name to you because they know it’s you anyway. Yeah, I think that most clients …
Martin: Just about informing them. Just about being upfront about it really.
Lyndsay: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, definitely.
Martin: The same goes for your domain name. If you do change that domain name, from a technical standpoint, people are not going to be able to find you online as easily. That’s why it’s important that if you change your name, you change your business and things like that, you really do want to be careful about how you go about it. It comes down to planning. It comes down to communication. Like I said, most people don’t mind if you are becoming more of an expert and you’re putting your face on your website and you’re offering different types of services. They just care if you don’t tell them because it just wouldn’t make sense to somebody.
Martin: Well, cutting your services entirely might cause problems. If you’ve got clients paying you for a certain service each month and you want to keep them happy, just by swapping your services entirely from one day to the next, it might concern a few people if they’re continuing to pay you. Well, it’s like, “Are they still offering this service anymore?” That’s why we kind of suggest that people drip feed new services in potentially.
Lyndsay: Yeah, definitely. We find this a lot with people who want to sort of transition from a done for you into a more of a coaching role, a consorting role, more speaking, more that kind of business. They do need to change their services slightly. I mean even from a business point of view, you can’t just switch completely from one to the next because you’ve got to kind of slowly build one and then sort of face the other one out. You kind of got to think about it that way anyway, haven’t you?
Martin: Yeah. I mean we got a little bit of experience in this. Although we are personal brands, we very much stand behind Jammy Digital as the agency, but we actually did this with a service that we have and had and still have clients paying us for SEO, but we stopped selling SEO. That’s another thing that you need to be aware of. If you stop services entirely, then you may have to have some quite difficult conversations with some clients. Maybe you’re taking them clients off your retainer, maybe you stopped dealing with that service entirely, or maybe you are stopping to advertise that service, but you’re still keeping your existing clients on.
Martin: At any given stage, as long as you speak to your clients about it, you’ll probably be okay.
Lyndsay: Yeah, definitely. We actually wrote a blog post, didn’t we, actually saying why we stopped selling SEO. I actually at the time thought, “No one’s really going to be bothered,” but people actually did read it and take the time with some wine. I think that’s quite a good way of dealing with it. If you’re really open and upfront about why you’re perhaps transitioning or changing your services, if you’re open and upfront about it and say why, then people are a lot more understanding, aren’t they? They actually find it quite interesting. I was really surprised at how many people actually read that blog post and commented or got in touch with us.
Martin: That’s the thing. If you do it secretive, then that’s the problem.
Lyndsay: Yeah, definitely.
Martin: If you are quite like smoke and mirrors about it, then that’s when people will be like-
Lyndsay: Hiding like a ninja.
Martin: …”Don’t you offer SEO? I can’t see on your website at all now.” Yeah, it can be a bit concerning, but again it all comes back to communication. It’s more of a business decision that you have to make if you are cutting services because you’re talking about money, you’re talking about income, you’re talking about all of the extra stuff that comes with it. Be careful of that without the communication.
Lyndsay: As well, you need to make sure that you still tell people that that was a service that you did because it actually works in your favor. If you’re say going from a done for you service into consulting, you need to tell people that you’ve had 10-15 years experience of actually doing this for companies, of actually making a change in their business, and actually have a proven track record of actually doing the thing that you say you can advice people about. It’s a know about thing that you’re saying that you transition from this into this. Don’t hide it.
Lyndsay: Actually be proud of it and say that’s what you’ve done before. This is what you do now, but you’ve got this experience under your belt.
Martin: Too many people start businesses. Everybody’s a coach these days. I mean it’s nice to actually know that somebody out has done it there like Lyndsay said-
Lyndsay: Yeah, exactly.
Martin: … because so few people have and just say that they’re an expert, and everybody’s a social media expert these days. It’s a real positive.
Lyndsay: Yeah, definitely. Sometimes it’s nice to know that that person has got 10 years of actually doing it for businesses and it’s really worked for them. Okay. Is there any other things, any other risks that might be involved with this?
Martin: I think kind of leading on from that one really is if you change your niche entirely, rather than just chopping services off and swapping them about, if you change your niche entirely when you become a personal brand, then you’re essentially starting from scratch again. You need to know that. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing occasionally. If that’s the avenue you want to take, then go for it, but just be aware. If you’re dealing with solicitors one day and then you decide to deal with estate agents, then you’ve got to start from square one really. Building up that audience again is going to be vital.
Lyndsay: Yeah, definitely. I think the one sort of final thing really is kind of what Neil Patel touched upon in his article was that he found it more difficult I think to sell his personal brand. I think if you’re building businesses just to sell them, then maybe a personal brand isn’t the right direction. Most clients that we speak to are more passionate about the big … They really want to kind of have it forever type thing. They don’t envisage sort of selling them.
Lyndsay: That’s not to sell that they won’t do at some point, but I suppose if you’re building businesses up just to kind of sell them on, then maybe a personal brand sort of business isn’t right for you, although it kind of does work for helping to build a business up. It’s kind of like that catch 22 really. You’re sort of stuck with it. As you said, it is harder to sell because if I’m selling lyndsaycambridge.com, no one else can take that on really but me.
Martin: No, because no one spells Lyndsay the way that you do.
Lyndsay: No one spells Lyndsay the way that I do, so it’ll be impossible for starters.
Martin: My name would be impossible.
Lyndsay: No one would know that, Martin.
Martin: I can’t even spell it.
Lyndsay: No. Neither could I.
Martin: It’s basically the reason you didn’t take my name when we got married.
Lyndsay: Exactly. I don’t know how to spell that.
Martin: Nope. Not worth it.
Lyndsay: Exactly. Yeah, that’s a major sort of downside to it. However, one of the plus sides to having your name attached to your business is that that follows you wherever you go. If you want to set up a new business, all the contacts that you’ve made, everything that you build up through your content marketing through your name, everything attached to that actually follows you. If you want to set up something new, then that audience knows who you are. They know of your reputation. They know how good you are, and they’re going to follow you wherever you go. That’s a great thing.
Martin: Yeah, it definitely is. It’s true. I mean people search for people on the internet these days, don’t they? I mean what happens when somebody googles your name? It’s nice to know that there are lots of different things that have happened in the past. Maybe you’ve had guest posts here, here and everywhere and you’ve appeared on podcasts and you spoke on stage. Nobody googles the name of your business unless it’s really, really memorable. I think it’s important, that personal brand. We’re not really debating whether or not you should move into a personal brand. We’re just kind of going through the concerns really.
Lyndsay: Yeah, definitely.
Martin: I think we definitely covered a few of those concerns if our listeners have them.
Lyndsay: Definitely. Okay. Say if someone is quite committed then to transitioning into a personal brand, how might they do this quite well? How might they do this effectively?
Martin: I think once you’ve listened to what we’ve just been talking about, hopefully a few of the concerns have sort of gone really because you shouldn’t really be that concerned. You have free reins really to do what you want to with your website. We do have kind of a set strokes really on what you could do. One of them is try introducing the services bit by bit. We spoke about this a little bit. We’ve actually done this recently with our website. We’re just offering the membership coming up soon. We’ve not got rid of any services and we don’t intend to, but we have moved our website around a little bit to make room for it.
Martin: If you are wanting to change direction and become more of a personal brand, maybe offer coaching, speaking, things like that, just add the new pages to your website. Introduce them gradually, rather than to just get rid of everything and swap it all out. That might scare your visitors. Introduce services bit by bit. That’s one of the tips that we have.
Lyndsay: Okay. That’s a really good point. What else can you do then to transition effectively into a personal brand?
Martin: Well, most people don’t change their niche when the transition into a personal brand. If you are offering marketing services for solicitors and now you’ll be marketing advice to solicitors, then use the same language. If you have a big bold statement that says what you do, then tweak things rather than start from scratch again. Just be careful. That’s all. That’s all I would say. Just use your website as what it would be if you were to speak to that person on the phone.
Martin: “Hi, Mr. Customer. Up until now we’ve been offering services to help you with so on,” whatever it might be, “And now we are also offering advice and coaching. I just wanted to make you aware we are having a change around with our website.” If you are that concerned, then have that conversation with somebody, but use your website to do the talking as well. I’m not saying you have to justify that you are offering coaching, but if you have those clients who are paying you a certain amount a month, they are the bread and butter of your business, then feel free to have a conversation with them and use the same sort of language that you would on the phone call on your website as well.
Lyndsay: Okay. That make sense. I actually have a question for you, Martin.
Lyndsay: What would you do about a domain name? Say if someone had, like you said, like webdesignservices.com, that’s an awful name-
Martin: Yeah, it is.
Lyndsay: … or speakingcoach.com or whatever, would you advise that they change their domain name? Is the risks of doing that … How would they go about doing that?
Martin: That is one of the things that pops up, whether or not you keep your business name and you just become more of a personal brand, or whether or not you set up a brand new website all together. If you do change the business name and you change the domain name, make sure you speak to your web designer or your SEO company and make sure that they’re aware of it, so that if somebody does type in your business service website, it redirects to your personal brand type website.
Lyndsay: Because you don’t want to lose any traffic, do you?
Martin: Exactly. That’s really important. You can set up redirects and make sure that when somebody types into Google or finds that on search results, they’ll automatically get redirected to the website that you want.
Lyndsay: That’s good because I think a lot of people are really scared to think of using that traffic. Yeah, I think that’s really good advice. They make sure they have someone there to help them with that transition.
Martin: Yeah, exactly. There’s probably too much on that topic to cover in this episode, but it is important that you don’t just set up from scratch again and don’t tell anybody. Really we’re talking about sort of transitioning your current website into a personal brand, but you can change your domain name whenever you like. You just have to make sure that you tell Google Webmaster Tools or Search Console and you actually set it up on your website. Like I said, there’s a lot to it, but it’s important that if you do, you are redirecting people.
Lyndsay: Okay. Good point. Okay. Is there anything else that we need to do perhaps with our websites to make that transition a little bit more clear?
Martin: If you are becoming more of a personal brand, then that means you’re going to have to show images of yourself on your website. Up until now you might not have done that or you might just have a meet the team page. Part of becoming a personal brand is people knowing what the hell you look like. Show your face. You’re going to have to make sure that you are owning that on your website.
Lyndsay: Okay. It’s interesting actually that you said the meet the team page because I think a lot of people really struggle with, “It’s my personal brand, but I actually have a team of people behind me.” Maybe they use a team of freelancers. Maybe they have staff. How does that play into it because they’re not just one person? How does that work?
Martin: Well, like I said, people connect to people. This is why it’s important to show images of yourself, but it doesn’t mean you can’t show your team as well. Maybe you show a couple of images of yourself on the homepage, but one of the images might be you with your team. You have to understand that people, they want to know that there are people behind a business because it’s more trustworthy and they can connect to it. We know that. You’re the captain of the ship and people don’t mind if you have a crew behind you as long as you are the expert and you are the leader as well. You can be a personal brand, but also have lots of people in the team. Look at people like Richard Branson for instance.
Lyndsay: Well, yeah. That’s a really good point actually because I think that a lot of people when transitioning to personal brand, they do worry that they’re going to lose that credibility, particularly if they work with sort of larger companies or really corporate companies. They think, “Are they going to think that I’m just like a freelancer? Are they going to think I’m too small?” That’s a really good point, sort of you’re the captain of the ship type thing. If you try and get that across, then that should put people’s mind at ease.
Martin: It all comes back to communication. I mean if you have those clients, those five or six clients, that your business can’t live without, then have a chat with them. You can even make a positive out of it because there is a positive and say, “By the way, we’re also offering coaching services as well. If you are wanting anything from us, generally people hire us on an hourly basis or a monthly retainer basis. I do a bit of speaking on stage. The website’s getting a bit of a makeover, so I’d love to know what you think.”
Lyndsay: Yeah, definitely.
Martin: Just by saying that, having that conversation, people don’t care. They don’t because they want to work with you because you are the expert.
Lyndsay: I think that’s a really good point. When people do work with large sort of corporate businesses, they kind of make them into something that they’re not because you still have to deal with whoever you’re dealing with within that business. They’re still working with a person and they still know that they deal with you day in, day out. There shouldn’t be really anything to worry about.
Martin: Yeah, but the great thing about a personal brand and making sure that you are the personality that is leading that ship, you get to have a real personality as well. Your clients know you quite well and they get to know your little personality quirks. It’s okay for that to come across. Occasionally what we think is if we don’t have a personal brand business and we have a traditional business with a logo and we might even write about ourselves in third person, which is never a good idea.
Lyndsay: No, don’t do that.
Martin: But when you actually step out and people actually know that you are the person who is behind the business, people connect with you more anyway, but you get to be yourself more. You get to have certain content your website that you might not have done before. You’re able to connect with people. It just all comes back to when you have a personal brand and it’s done effectively. You do generally have a better sort of connection with your website visitor.
Lyndsay: Yeah, definitely. We find that personal brands find sort of their website much easier, especially writing content because then they kind of write it … They write it in first person, but they kind of can put that personality into it, which is a lot harder to do when you’re kind of a business brand rather than a personal brand. I think that’s a really good point actually that you can actually start to have a real personality actually within your business and people start to get to know you and who you are. That’s a really good point.
Martin: Definitely. It’s really important as well and we always talk about the C word, we always talk about content.
Lyndsay: I didn’t you were going to say that.
Martin: Sometimes I like to surprise you. We have content on our websites that can do a lot of the talking for us. That’s why we created our SEO blog post, which was why we stopped selling SEO services. We’ll continue to do that for any transition that we make in our website. You show your blog posts and you show a podcast episodes, if we decided to stop doing this podcast for instance, which we’re definitely not doing because we love it, but if we did, we’d probably have an episode where we said why we’re stopping the podcast and what we’re doing instead, but we’d always use the content to communicate what it is that we’re doing.
Martin: The last thing you want to do is just do it and hope that people don’t notice because people will and they just won’t tell you about it. They might just start visiting your website or they might just hire somebody else for instance. All about being open and honest.
Lyndsay: Yeah, definitely. Most people are so understanding, aren’t they?
Martin: Mm-hmm (affirmative). They really are.
Lyndsay: They get why you’ve made certain decisions. They just get totally behind you. I think it actually further builds trust, doesn’t it, rather than stops any trusts.
Martin: Yeah. Because you are a personal brand, this is a really nice side effect that we found when we’ve been offering coaching and consulting and things, is that your existing clients will see you in a new light. They’ll see you in this kind of, “Oh, they’re in demand. They’re exclusive.” It has a real positive impact on how your current customers view you, as well as the new customers as well. That’s the power of having a personal brand is that exclusivity. It’s that okay, they know what they’re talking about and I’m prepared to pay for it.
Lyndsay: Yup, definitely. That’s a really nice point to end on, and I think we’ve really highlighted the sort of benefits of a personal brand. If you are thinking of transitioning, don’t be scared about it. If you do need help, just come and join us in our Facebook group if you need advice on that. I’ll pop the link to that in our show notes as well so you’ll be able to join us. Ask us some questions about it because I think a lot of people find it really scary, don’t they?
Lyndsay: We’ve only have seen sort of clients get a real benefit out of it. Not just clients actually. Just people that we’ve talked to in general have told us that they’ve seen real benefits from doing it. Hopefully you’ll have a really good transition into a personal brand. That was episode seven. I hope you found it useful. Just before you go, don’t forget to register for our SEO webinar, which takes place on the 6th of September. Like I said, spaces are limited. If you don’t turn up early, you might not get a space. Make sure you turn up nice and early with your workbook and pen at the ready.
Lyndsay: Just go to jammydigital.com/webinar. We’ll see you next time on the Make Your Mark Online Podcast.