Even if you’re Mark Watney and you’ve been left behind on Mars, chances are you have heard about this little thing called LEMONADE, Beyoncé’s newest visual album/artsy project/possibly-true-but-maybe-not tell-all about her marriage. Why are people so obsessed with her? How can she basically sell out a world tour BEFORE actually releasing a new album? Nothing but excellent personal branding, people. Let’s have a look what can be learned from Queen Bey.
1. BE AUTHENTIC: “I ain’t sorry.”
Knowing who you are, what you stand for and what you want people to associate with you is the first major key to establishing a personal brand. This doesn’t mean that you cannot change, ever (more on that later) – but principles are important. What’s most important to you? How should people feel when they talk to you for the first time, peruse your website or check out your social media profile? This is where you can shine: Focus on what sets you apart from others. Yes, we’re not all beautiful or unique snowflakes, but we’re people with soul and character. We have feelings, thoughts, ideas. Use them to establish who you are. At the same time, as long as you’re not hurting anyone, never apologize for being unequivocally you. It’s the rough edges and flaws that make you who you are, so instead of negating them you should be embracing them. If Beyoncé ain’t sorry, you shouldn’t be either.
2. FIND YOUR NICHE: “They don’t love you like I love you.”
Saying “yes” to everything will bring you endless joy & heaps of money. Correct? No. It will dilute your personal brand, it will bring you further away from what you actually want to focus on and it will definitely not make you happy. Once you start paying attention to successful artists, you realize one thing very quickly: They have found their niche - a specialized but profitable segment of the market they wanted to cater to exclusively. Sometimes, this means actively excluding certain groups – but that’s OK too! Specifying what you do not want to work on and who you do not want to work with can be just as eye-opening and helpful. Beyoncé’s prior albums were strictly R’n’B and pop, made for heavy rotation and all-around flirty, cute & sexy. Her self-titled album in 2013 as well as this year’s Lemonade both come with a parental advisory for explicit content as they explore much darker themes and issues – and Lemonade still made the biggest first-week sales in 2016.
3. KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS: “You can’t recreate her, no.”
Arguably, Beyoncé’s best feature is her voice. It’s powerful, it’s distinctive, it’s versatile – which means that she can try out new things and people will still recognize her songs when they hear them on the radio, Tidal or in a commercial. Similarly, your strengths have to be front and center too. Are you a photographer? Then not only your website’s images, but also your pictures on Instagram and Facebook have to be showcase your portfolio. Are you selling vintage clothes on eBay? Make sure people know why exactly you’re so knowledgeable when it comes to vintage fashion by talking about it on your blog. Here’s a secret: Almost everything you sell, create and market has been done before. The only difference is what you make of it – so make sure you play to your strengths. There are thousands of Virtual Assistants out there, for example – but you’re not just incredibly well-organized, you also know a lot about SEO. That’s what you have to sell, and that’s why people will want to work with you.
4. COLLABORATE: “You and me could move a mountain.”
Even though you might work alone most of the time, the most amazing things happen when you work in team. Just like Bey knows to enlist talented and sought-after artists like Diplo, the Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar for her new tracks, you should not shy away from getting in touch with fellow freelancers and entrepreneurs and suggest a joint project. Whether it’s a webinar, a guest post or a podcast you want to be featured on – just shoot someone you admire a polite & personal email and pitch yourself. Be prepared and describe your idea in a few sentences; make sure you to demonstrate how your collaboration benefits both of you. This way, you will not only be introduced to a new & extended audience, you will also gain more trust by associating yourself with another person in a professional sense.
5. EMBRACE CHANGE: “’Cause I need freedom too.”
The beautiful thing about having basic principles and values is that they enable you to stay authentic even when you’re changing things up. Bey started her solo career as a sweet girl next door, followed by her very public declaration of being a feminist and a sexual being in 2013. This year – to the surprise of a few people – she went even further by addressing her cultural heritage, upbringing and possible marital issues. If you compare “Formation” to “Crazy In Love”, they're definitely completely different – and while some feel this is all a very fabricated and fake evolution, it still is exactly that: Movement. Progress. Development. So trust your gut, don’t be afraid to try out new things and change direction. Just because you quit your job to be a copywriter but now feel much more comfortable as a coach doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You will have to put in the hours to make it work, but the beauty of being a freelancer is precisely the fact that you get to dictate what you want to do.
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