The Key To Building A Personal Brand On Social Media In 2024

by Denise Renee  - February 11, 2024

Starting or continuing to build your personal brand in 2024 can be a confusing endeavor.

From conflicting advice to not being clear on what a brand is in the first place… it can all be too much! It’s certainly enough to have anyone’s head spinning.

You may have heard that creating a personal brand is the key to success in your career, in building your side hustle, in launching a new start up, or in order to take your existing business to the next level. Believe the hype because it is true.

But so many of us give up before we even attempt to start because of the most powerful brands that affect our day-to-day lives. It’s easy to think that building a brand is only for the behemoth companies with endless budgets and coveted household name recognition such as Coca-Cola, Apple, and Nike. 

It’s hard to think that “lil ‘ole me” can and should be a brand because we simply don’t have the resources or reach like those legacy brands do.

Starting a personal or business brand from scratch is daunting. I should know: I’m currently in the third iteration of my brand. I decided to launch #WritingWithDeniseRenee with brand new social media accounts in September of 2023; I knew I’d be in for an uphill battle. 

But I’m prepared because I’ve done this before. I may have failed in the past to accomplish my personal goals but I gained valuable knowledge in the process that informs my actions today.

My goal in this article is to help break down what feels impossible in terms of brand building into do-able action items you can follow. Better still, I’m going to share where I’m putting my focus as I am in the foundation-laying stages of building my brand in 2024 and beyond.

But first, let’s start of with (1) understanding what a brand is, (2) how building an audience is connected to growing your brand and why it’s important, and we’ll finish with (3) my past epic failures and the lessons I’ve learned from them which taught me what to prioritize in my brand building efforts today.

WHAT IS A BRAND? 

Put simply, a brand is what others think and feel about you (your personal reputation) or your company. It doesn’t matter if you are a personal brand or a business brand. It doesn’t matter what type of services or products you provide. It doesn’t matter how big or small you are. When people say your personal or business name, how do they feel? What thoughts come flooding through their minds?

My hope is that when people think about me personally or hear “Writing With Denise Renee” as a brand, words such as “helpful,” “teacher,” “thoughtful,” “knowledgeable,” “through,” “educated,” “down-to-earth,” “relatable,” “vulnerable,” “authentic,” and the like are top of mind.

In truth, a brand lives in the mind of the general public. It’s really not a tangible thing. You and I as individuals or as company founders can only influence what others think about how we do what we do to a certain extent.

So how do you and I create or influence this intangible thing? What matters most? Is it our fonts, colors, and logo? Is it our website? Is it our social media presence? Is it being attentive to quality control and providing excellent customer service?

All of those things and more certainly has an impact on the perception of our brand. But where should we start the building or rebuilding process?

For me, branding starts with knowing who I am (as the brand or company founder), what I have to offer (my ideas, products and/or services), and communicating the value I give others by creating content that connects with a targeted group of people. 

Content is an integral part of how you influence what others think of your brand. Creating content is the kernel from which your personal brand will sprout. 

The purpose of creating the content is so that I can build a tribe of targeted people who know, like, and trust me. I then convert that “know, like, and trust” into currency when they buy from me and/or refer me to their circle of influence. 

People are drawn to me because of my content and how helpful it is to them. Those who like what they experience continue to come back for more form a community.

If you are an individual working a 9-to-5, a professional offering a service, or a company still in the start up phase and you haven’t begun marketing products or services yet, that is OK. You can still begin to build your brand and your audience by creating content that communicates the value you offer to a targeted group of people interested in sticking around for that value you deliver.

That targeted group of people that sticks around to form a community is your audience. Essentially, a brand will bloom as the audience does. 

In my opinion, the most important aspect of our brands that we need to focus on in 2024 is increasing and engaging our audience. An audience is critical to unlocking the potential power of your brand. Without an audience, you only have a nice idea. You don’t have a brand and you certainly don’t have a business (a.k.a. revenue).

WHY IS BUILDING AN AUDIENCE THE KEY TO GROWING A PERSONAL BRAND?

If you are currently working in a corporate job, and you’re looking to raise your visibility for better job prospects, you should be building your personal brand. 

If you’re planning to transition into launching an online side hustle, or a coaching/consulting business, then creating, growing, and nurturing your audience should be your number one priority, especially if you have yet to fully develop your products or services.

If you plan on launching courses, starting a group mastermind, selling physical or digital products online or in person, your step one is to build your audience. 

I can’t say it enough. The key to developing your personal or business brand is to focus on building your audience. You must first grow your audience deeply (as in be as connected to them and keep them as engaged as possible). Then you must grow your audience widely: increase your numbers.

Why? Because you could have the best product, service, course or whatever you have to sell in the world, but if you don’t have an engaged audience of people to promote it to, it will be hard for you to make sales consistently. Without consistent sales, you don’t have a business. You will be scrambling to fund the business’ growth needs alongside your personal living expenses.

Trust me, I know from experience!

I don’t regret much in my life because even when I failed, I learned. However, I’ll say this; if I could go back to May 15, 2017 and talk to myself before I made the call to my boss giving her my two week notice, I would have given myself a good talking to.  That conversation might have gone down something like this…

THE CONVERSATION I WISH I HAD WITH MYSELF 7 YEARS AGO

EXT: Inside an office. 2017 Denise Renee is about to pick up the phone to have a meeting with her boss, giving her 2 week notice.

2024 Me

Gurl, put that phone down! You betta not quit this job just yet!

2017 Me (whining)

But whyyyyyyie???? This place is so toxic for me! I can’t be here any more! I’ve been getting clients here and there… I’m quite sure I can get more and survive!

2024 Me (scoffs and places hands on hips)

Chile! You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into! I’ve seen your future and while you clearly make it through, you are about to make things unnecessarily difficult for yourself!

2017 Me 

What do you mean? (She hangs up the phone.)

2024 Me

I know you feel like everything you do here is wrong or like you’re a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. No matter how good of a job you do, you’re too “Black” for the white folks who run this place and you’re too “white” for the Black folks. 

But I promise you… there is a place where you are exactly who you need to be and people love you just as you are. They become your long-time clients and you develop great relationships. There’s just one caveat.

2017 Me (leans in)

What is it?

2024 Me

This fantastic place? It’s not really a physical place. It’s actually a group of people you’ll need to cultivate, also known as your audience. You first have to build it for yourself and it’s going to take time but it will be worth it in the end.

So if you want to leave this job, that’s cool, but you should focus on getting another one first. You’ll need to pay your bills for a little while until your audience grows to a critical mass. If you quit now without another job lined up, you’re going to wind up doing something that solves your immediate cash flow needs but takes a serious toll on your body, mind, and spirit.

But I promise you… if you start building your brand now and stay consistent, you’ll have an amazing business within a few short years and you’ll be able to permanently walk away from corporate jobs, if that’s what you ultimately want to do.  

But if you go through with this phone call right now with your non-plan having self, you’re about to make growing your business very difficult for yourself. And in seven years, you’ll wind up coming to this conclusion of building an audience first anyway. 

You’ll eventually go back to working a 9-5 making less than you are now, just so that you can start again and do it right. So just do what I tell you: hang up the phone now. You’ll make it easier for yourself in the long run!

2017 Me (sarcastically)

Uh, looka here, Ghost of Christmas Future! Is there a Ghost of a Future Alternate Universe that can verify that if I take your advice, all that good stuff will happen to me?

2024 Me (matching her sarcasm)

Uh, no! It doesn’t work that way!

2017 Me (looks 2024 Me up and down)

Well, you seem to have turned out fine. I guess I’m going to have to take my chances. I’m making this call! (She grabs the phone and dials.)

2024 Me 

Wow! So you choose violence, huh? Well, at least I know that you’ll learn valuable lessons along the way and you’ll eventually wisen up! (Disappears into a puff.)

HOW I STRUGGLED BECAUSE I DID NOT FOCUS ON BUILDING MY AUDIENCE  

Had I not been so blinded by my emotional state (or if I didn’t have this “know-it-all” steel rod in my back since birth), I would have considered my job exit strategy from a more rational state of mind. 

But in mid-2017, still fresh from a divorce, I was desperate to prove that I could find my own lane and thrive in it. 

I erroneously believed that my job was taking up too much time and felt I would do better when I could focus 100% of my time on growing my business. What I didn’t realize was although my job had a lot of downsides, I didn’t see or value the upsides. 

Upside: I wasn’t worried about my day-to-day living expenses. 

Upside: I was able to use money I earned from my job to host my websites, pay for virtual assistants, pay for graphic designers, pay for ads, and pay for other tools that helped me automate my marketing and leverage the time I was clocked into my job.  

Upside: having a job gave me a regular schedule which coincided with most of the people I wanted to reach. I was able to attend various events, grow my network, and was often invited to speak at business events. I also invested a lot of time into hosting my own events which also helped me grow my network, which gave me my first clients. 

Hand in hand with my lack of appreciation for my employment status, I had also bought into the BS online rhetoric at the time that I wasn’t a “real” entrepreneur because I was still working a job and hadn’t sacrificed anything to go “all in” on my dream.

So I ignored wisdom, made the leap into freelancing and dove headfirst into client acquisition activities. I instantly discovered there wasn’t a pool full of prospective buyers to swim in. Even worse, the few clients I did have when I had quit my job decided to quit me too. Talk about bad timing. With my last paycheck in the bank set to run out in two weeks and no other source of money, I panicked.

By God’s grace, I managed to survive proverbially banging my head on the bottom of an empty pool. I scrambled my way out to go looking for a source of water (consistent cash flow to keep a roof over my and my son’s heads, food we liked in our bellies, and my car securely parked in my reserved spot.) The solution? Uber and Lyft to the rescue… and my first post-job client.

Once I got the freedom I sought, it took me a little while to realize all the privileges I had lost.  I now had to think about things that I didn’t realize I needed to think about. I also lost the ability to have a “normal” schedule. 

During those optimal times when I used to give workshops, presentations and go networking, I was now in hustle mode around the clock for clients and for my day-to-day needs. Worst of all, because I was now living from gig-to-gig, it was extremely difficult for me to invest in growing my brand the way I used to be able to.

The better decision was for me to prioritize securing another job and simultaneously start building content online and growing an audience. Had I done that, I would have created a more stable foundation for me to make different decisions about how I wanted to be involved with corporate America. 

THE SECRET INGREDIENT MARKETING AND BRANDING GURUS DON’T TELL YOU

Had I been consistently focused on growing my audience over the last 7 years, it would have provided a steadily increasing stream of prospects for my writing and editing services. Having an existing audience would have been the perfect launching pad for the workshops, group programs and courses I’ve developed over the years. 

Instead, I quickly tired of being in feast or famine mode when it came to landing and keeping individual clients on monthly retainers. I was easily discouraged when I only sold a few seats in my workshops, online courses and digital products I offered over the years, never experiencing the multiple thousand dollar sales all the online guru’s promised me. I thought I was failing miserably.

Those seeming failures caused me to take extended hiatuses from creating content, being on social media, and from building my brand. But all that did was make a bad situation worse by halting whatever momentum I was building. Losing momentum and halting your consistency is the fastest way to kill your audience and brand growth. 

But don’t cry for me… eventually I learned! I’m no longer swayed by excellent copywriters and marketers promising that if I buy this course for 6 payments of $497 a month, I too can join the ranks of successful online entrepreneurs who launch to the tune of multiple five and six-figure days. 

After buying more than my share of courses with the belief that “this is THE THING I’ve been missing to FINALLY grow my business,” I discovered a secret. The secret “They” don’t tell you is that in addition to what they’re selling you, you ALSO need to have first cultivated an audience who can be your initial buyers. 

In fact, you could often do without their course UNTIL you’ve gotten the hang of growing your audience. Then you can add on the various tactics and systems the gurus are teaching to make your operation more profitable and more efficient. 

It was a secret I knew well. It was hidden in plain sight from my years of working on other people’s brands, but I was too emotionally invested in my own business to see or remember it.

The reason I didn’t have clients beating down my door the moment I launched my freelance services full time is because I didn’t have an audience to announce them to or keep reminding on a regular basis.

The missing ingredient to a successful business launch is having your own audience first to announce it to. 

The way to crush an online course launch is to have your own audience to announce it to.

The secret to having a successful Day One in your Etsy shop, or to your drop-ship merch tray on YouTube or to your painstakingly built shopify store is having your own audience to promote all these things to first! 

Guess what it takes to have  a whole bunch of people come out to the grand opening of your brick and mortar location… and keep them talking about you, referring you, and coming back every day your doors are open?

You guessed it… having your own audience!

HOW 7 YEARS OF FAILURE IS HELPING ME GROW MY BRAND TODAY

As I shared earlier, I just recently relaunched my brand in September 2023 with a whole new website and new social media channels. I will be in the foundation stages building from scratch for a while, but I have the right mindset now so that I won’t be easily blown off track. 

During my multiple breaks from social media, I had lots of time to ponder my missteps and what I could have done differently. While it would be nice to go back in time and do things over, the best way I can esure these last seven years were not a waste is to apply the lessons I’ve learned moving forward. That’s why my #1 focus in 2024 is growing my audience.

If you already have an existing business and you are already offering products and services, focusing now on growing an audience is important for you too. Life is “life-ing” these days and brands of all sizes are pivoting to ensure they are still relevant to their customers. Everyone is trying to become more sticky to ensure profits survive this round of economic and political instability. Building your audience now can be the game changer in terms of creating a consistent flow of future inquiries for your products or services.

I’m not only focused on growing the number of people I’m reaching, I’m also concerned about going deep. Is my current audience engaged with me? Are they commenting on my posts? Do they open and reply to my emails? The value of my audience increases exponentially with their engagement. 

Having an engaged audience will give me the insights I need to determine the next moves I  should make. The same is true for you. Your audience can help you discover and tap into your unique differentiator, helping you effortlessly pivot into what’s next. 

4 MANDATORY PRINCIPLES OF GROWING AN AUDIENCE IN 2024

So it’s time to roll up our sleeves and dig into the nitty gritty of how to grow an audience in 2024. This is what I’ve been learning on an intimate level these last 7 years. 

At the top of this article I said that creating content is the kernel from which your personal brand will sprout. Your brand will bloom as your audience does. 

In order to grow your audience, you must be intentional about the content you create. It should be designed to be attractive to the ones who are most interested in you and the niche you service. Those who keep coming back for your content are the heartbeat of your audience.

As they come, you must be prepared to handle them properly so that you are not merely gaining social media followers of your content, but you are cultivating a community of future buyers of your products and services and future referral partners who will recommend you to everyone they know. 

Your audience is the foundation of your business so treat it with care. To do so, you’ll want to follow these 4 principles of growing an audience as I am.

Principle 1 – Directly connect with your audience. 

Never let a social media platform stand between you and your followers. If you can’t instantly send an email or text message to your followers, you don’t own your audience; that company who owns that platform owns the audience. I make sure that in most of my content, whether long form video or short, I give people an opportunity to get on my email list. 

Principle 2 – Don’t Try To short change the brand and audience building process. 

Building anything worthwhile takes time. There’s no legitimate way to shortcut the audience building process. You can, of course, occasionally accelerate the process by leveraging other people’s audiences. But don’t do anything such as buy followers. Personally, I’m willing to let the process take the time it’s going to take. I’m no longer stressed about trying to ‘blow up” overnight.

Principle 3 – Be authentic with your audience. 

Always be open and honest with your audience. Bring your audience along with you on your journey. Never pretend to be something or someone you are not. I used to try to hide the fact that I was working jobs or side hustles alongside growing my business. I used to use “we” on my website to imply I had a team. While I did occasionally hire freelance help, they certainly weren’t my full-time employees. I stopped the pretenses because I realized that those who want to work with an individual or a small firm make that choice because they want to. Those who prefer to work with a larger company will do so and I’ll never be an option for them. And I’m ok with that. I’m meant to help who I’m meant to help.

Principle 4 – Listen to your audience. 

Don’t feel that because you are the “expert,” or that you know everything. Your audience has incredible insights to reveal to you but you must resist the urge to discard their input. I always ask for comments and feedback in my content and in my emails. It’s how I know if I’m on the right track or way off base. My audience’s feedback will also help me determine what products and services I should offer next.

Be sure to watch the video because I share much more information and examples inside it than what the above summary provides. 

BRAND AND AUDIENCE BUILDING RESOURCES

While I have been in the digital marketing game for 15 years helping other brands and companies of all sizes, I am by all means not the only voice in the space. I am always reading books and watching YouTube videos from reputable sources so that I’m constantly refreshing my knowledge about marketing, branding and, (specifically) audience building.  

So here are a few of my favorite voices and resources I think are worth your time to dig into. Their content supplements my personal story and the principles I’ve shared with you above. If you have some other resources I should include on this list, leave me a comment below. 

I want to give a bit of an introduction to the first link and the rest will speak for themselves. At the time of me writing this in early February 2024, there has been a lot of talk from Black celebrities about pay and treatment disparities in Hollywood, how Black stories are not being prioritized (because there’s been a rash cancellation of Black shows) and how much mistreatment goes on behind the scenes, even amongst Black elites. 

As a consumer of media and a student of it, I’ve wondered to myself, “Why don’t all the black directors, producers, actors and writers get together and create their own distribution network and share the profits? They have the eyeballs of the people… people will support them if they ask.”

My thought is that it is so much easier to create an audience and ask them for support today than it was at the top of the 21st century… and it was certainly possible then. But between 2007 and 2009, social media platforms changed the game by becoming virtual water coolers that large segments of the world gather at. It’s increased the potential of reaching new people instantly. 

Just as I was putting the finishing touches on this article, I came across a video from Roland Martin asking the same question… and giving examples of recently formed Black media platforms. I thought his perspective is spot on and thought it was worth including on this list of branding and audience building resources. 

I share examples from the media because we are familiar with a lot of these celebrities and the content they are a part of creating. Creating your personal or business brand with your content is like creating your own little media hub. My encouragement is that as you watch/listen to this video, substitute Hollywood movies and TV shows for your business and think about how powerful having your own audience is.

Roland Martin – Roland’s MASTERCLASS On Hollywood’s Cancellation Of Black Shows & Issa Rae Eyeing Inde Move

https://youtu.be/iIpwPa8OD4s

Dan Koe – How To Build An Audience With Zero Followers

https://youtu.be/iD1jJMz9zOs

Gary Vee – The No 1 Reason People Don’t Grow On Social Media

https://youtu.be/o6fcNQELY_w

Omar El-Takori How To Build A Brand Not Just a Business

https://youtu.be/YjWOxhMD9Ho

Troyia Monay – How to Build a Brand on Social Media in 2024

https://youtu.be/BYi20lfeQQY

Carlos Deloye Harris Jr – How I Became A Successful Content Creator | 2024 Social Media Hacks

https://youtu.be/ZuGHiwTyihk

Troyia Monay – Rebrand Yourself & Stand Out On Social Media in 2024

https://youtu.be/ilA_5S6ycWM

Jesica Stanberry – Personal Branding For the Multi-Passionate Creator

https://youtu.be/qiHgFRIsJJE

Dan Koe – The One person Business Model (How to Productize Yourself Full Guide)

https://youtu.be/SUzKZfyaAK8

High Season Co. – The Best Way To Grow Your Email List With Instagram

https://youtu.be/y7sKASvSTu4

Get personal stories, business growth hacks, and resources for your book writing and content creation journey delivered to your inbox weekly from 

Denise Renee

2024 Gen X Job Hunting and Resume Writing Tips
How I Turned My Pain Into Power

Denise Renee

If it has to do with words plus marketing or branding, Denise Renee probably has experience writing it! Dive deeper into her story from the "About" page. Explore how she can assist you with your book, content, career or personal branding project from the "Home" page.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
>