Why creating a personal brand isn’t cringe and top tips on how to do so

Gem in her wheelchair holding a HUGE bag of Yorkshire Tea

In the current time of creating TikToks, sharing reels and snapping in portrait mode, a lot of people still loudly tut at others who’s ambition is to share their life online. I remember when I first started blogging, the content and images were CRINGE. In fact, I remember this one post that I did which was “what’s in my bag”. The bag was tiny, the images were terrible quality and the only things in it were lip balm and a rain coat ha. But do I regret doing this? Absolutely not. 

With the physical and attitudinal barriers in society, the internet was one powerful tool to get myself out there - and I like many others, used it. I didn’t have to look up step free buildings or how high the tables were. I could just… type. 

I started to update my Twitter/Instagram and LinkedIn on not just disability updates but my day to day life too. I especially would try to write as I talk. This to me meant people could read my updates in my accent which I like to think gave it that personal touch. Some people I meet say “oh wow I feel like I’ve met you already” or “how did that meal go last night?” realising I’d shared about my latest airfying debacle the night before. 

Overtime, my blog and presence online started to grow. People started to ask me to bring my blog to life and come and talk to their organisations, I couldn’t believe it. I’d spent my whole younger life wondering whether I’d ever be able to get a job, and now I’d created a job without even realising it. 

So here’s some honest tips from me if you’re wanting to start your own journey of “being online”

Don’t copy what everyone else is doing 

It’s really easy to scroll and see “successful” people and think right if I do what they’re doing then that should work. But, here’s the thing. People connect with real people. It’s so exhausting trying to be someone you’re not. I’m a huge believer in sharing in the moment. Quick fire of creative energy? Record and post it! Those are the types of content that resonate most with people. 

Quality over quantity

Getting caught up in the numbers is something a lot of creators can do (I’ve been guilty of it myself). Especially if you’re doing campaigns and you’re asked after how it “did” aka performed. But my controversial take is, I’d rather my content impact a small amount of keen followers than get random likes from people who won’t visit my page again. I see the same usernames most days and those are the people that I want to talk to. We end up chatting and I can tell people actually care about my day which seems wild. 

If I grow slowly and naturally that’s great - but going viral for me, isn’t the goal. 

Find your “thing” 

Everyone’s got interests. Something that gives them fire. For a long time I felt really deflated not knowing what mine was. I felt behind in life like I couldn’t keep up with everyone, trying to navigate a world that wasn’t built for me. Then it clicked 5 years later… that’s my thing! Living in a world that isn’t made for me. Life as a wheelchair user, building independence and enjoying the little things. Being buzzin about making a cup of tea or learning how to do something in my own way.

Now I’ve realised that - I know exactly who I am and what my aims are both in person and online. The goal I think, is when your "thing" is mentioned in a room - someone automatically thinks of you. That's when you start to see the shift happening and people noticing what you do.

Work out how to bring that into a business 

When you build your brand, it will become apparent what people come to you for. For me it was becoming obvious that people wanted to know about accessibility and attitudes around disability. Not only that but they wanted me to bring my content to life and share this in the way that I do online. There’s nothing more enjoyable than providing something you know people want. That’s absolutely one of my favourite parts of my job. So, if you’re looking to create a business from your brand - think about the packages you can offer. Is it speaking opportunities? Consulting? Training? Narrow down each one into topics and sections. The more prepared you are - the easier it is to pitch 

Cut out the noise 

This is a slightly controversial one, but there will be many hurdles to cross when you’re building a brand. Some people won’t understand what you do and play it down. They may even question why you would charge for “just a picture” or “a few words” (a whole article). Some people won’t get your sense of humour or why you’re so passionate about what you share. But, keep going because no doubt for every one like that there are so many people enjoying your work both publicly and secretly. 

So there we go, there are just a few things to consider when creating your brand. Remember - it isn’t cringe. It’s a whole job - with many hats to wear. Posting online takes bravery, skill and a lot of confidence. So I hope these tips help - let me know on my socials what else you would add to this list or if you have any questions about building a brand!