Three Key Personal Branding Takeaways From Taylor Swift

I’m not a star-struck groupie, but occasionally someone with celebrity status wows me. At this moment, it’s Taylor Swift.

Not so much because of her music but because of her command of her personal brand.

Swift recently had wiped out all of her social media accounts, leaving fans and the media wondering whether she had been hacked or planning a big announcement. It turns out the social network purge was intentional. It was Swift’s way of not only generating buzz about her new single “Look What You Made Me Do,” but also of announcing her updated personal brand.

Unlike other celebrities who have undergone lofty persona fluctuations (Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears, for example), Swift has made it perfectly clear that SHE is in charge. This change has been no accident. It’s not a manifestation of feeling victimized or misunderstood.


Swift’s new brand image is 100 percent on purpose—and she is masterfully executing it.


Yours and my personal brands may never gain the prominence that Swift’s has, nor will we likely see the need to re-invent ourselves to the degree she has. But we can learn a few things from how she has handled her personal brand.


Three Personal Branding Lessons We Can Learn From Taylor Swift


  • Have a vision and purpose.

Know who you are, how you want others to perceive your personal brand, and why it’s important that you project that image. Swift exudes self-confidence because she knows exactly who she is and what she stands for. That level of self-assurance and intent is especially critical if you decide to make a change to your personal brand. Change for the sake of change will look more like a mid-life crisis than a carefully calculated decision.


  • Don’t dwell on the haters.

As Swift’s song “Shake It Off” goes, “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate…” When you’re a professional whose personal brand is out there on social media and in the business community, you’ll have followers who embrace and support who you are and others who constantly criticize and demean. Focus not on the naysayers whose sole purpose is to drag you down. Instead, put your energy into building relationships and loyalty with the people who appreciate you and your talents.


  • Own it.

Swift hasn’t let the media or the public define her personal brand. She has told us who she is. Your words, your actions, your style, your affiliations…you have the capacity to control all of the components that contribute to your personal brand. Take charge of them, so you can maintain power over your personal brand rather than relinquishing that control to others.


Whether you’re a Taylor Swift fan or one of the haters, there’s no denying her badass mastery of personal branding.


Your turn: What other celebrities and public figures do believe have solid personal branding strategies? What personal branding challenges have  you faced?


4 Sure-Fire Ways To Push Your Social Media Followers Away From Your Brand

Jeff Bullas recently wrote a blog post suggesting twenty things you should share on social media to strengthen the connection between your brand and your Woman with thumbs downaudience.

Without a doubt, that’s info businesses can use to boost their engagement and build a positive social presence.

But don’t forget that just as there’s social media sharing that can benefit your business, there’s sharing that can work against it, too.

One Key Thing All Self-Employed Professionals Need To Remember About Social Media

As solopreneurs and small business owners, our personal social media accounts and our business accounts are entwined and associated with each other in the minds of our clients, vendors, colleagues, employees, and competitors. What we say and share as our personal selves reflects on our businesses.

You’ve probably noticed that some people don’t know where to draw the line. They over share or share things that potentially anger or alienate their followers. They seem clueless, not taking the time to think through the consequences, or they simply don’t care because, after all, they have a right to say whatever they want.

Want to risk turning people away from your business instead of drawing them to it? I’ve listed some ideas about what you can do on social media to accomplish that. These are things that make me cringe as I scan my feeds.

4 Things To Share On Social Media If You Want To Push Away Your Audience

“Woe Is Me”

Constant complainers are downers. We all have bad days, but venting on every little grievance can make you look like a whiner. It gets old. Fast.

Political Soapboxing

We’ll be seeing a good deal more of this soon as the 2016 presidential election approaches. While you don’t need to keep your affiliation a secret, blasting out politically biased posts won’t endear you to your entire audience. According to Gallup’s poll numbers from Feb. 8 to Feb.11, 2015, the split between the percentage of Republicans (43%) and Democrats (44%) in the U.S. (including independents leaning one way or the other) is rather even. So while nearly half of your followers might agree with your views, you can figure the other half don’t. And you’re not likely to change their minds.

Indirect Cowardly Call-Outs

They go something like this: “If you were my friend, you wouldn’t talk behind my back. I won’t name names, but you know who you are.” These often have a “woe is me” tone and seem to exist for the purpose of launching a pity party. If you—and you know who you are—have a problem with someone, go talk with them directly rather than initiate a public shaming.

Griping About Clients And Vendors

While it might feel good to vent, making statements that air issues you have with clients or vendors (even when you don’t single anyone out) can kill your credibility. Late payers, bad communicators, and disorganized project partners happen. Social media isn’t the place to address those things. Existing clients and vendors will wonder if you’re referring to them, and you’ll make prospects think twice about doing business with you.

What you choose to share on social media is your call. But when you’re a solopreneur or small business owner, realize expressing yourself can affect how people think about your business. Before you share on social media sites, and before you react to posts by others, take a second to ask yourself, “What’s my motivation?”


Hey! Are we connected on social media yet? Let’s fix that! Follow me via clicking on the social icons on my site that link to my profiles, and let me know if you’ve got business social media profiles. I’ll be happy to reciprocate! All my best—Dawn


Image courtesy of Ambro at

Want to Make Clients Thirst for Your Services? Think Beer.

Blue Moon has its orange slice.Bottles of beer

Corona has its lime.

While I’m not a big beer drinker, I think both brands give us small biz peeps something worthwhile to think about.

What can we serve on the side to enhance and augment our core services and give our clients an experience they want to order over and over again?

You might say, “But malt beverages are way different than what I provide to my customers.” While that’s probably true, it doesn’t mean you can’t apply the same logic to differentiating your business.

Bottoms up! Brainstorm about what will make your clients say “Cheers!”…

Think about what complementary topics you’re savvy about that you don’t offer as billable service offerings, but for which you could offer some advice or share relevant resources. For example, I bill clients for my work as a freelance content writer, but I often provide clients, prospects, and even other writers with guidance on social media, networking, and online efficiency tools. Those things are my lime wedges and orange slices, and I’m sure that with a little thought, you’ll discover you’ve got your own to serve up in your business.

It’s all about value! What can you add to your offerings to make your brand more appealing? What garnish will help make your brand the one clients thirst for?


Your turn! What ways have you discovered you can provide additional value to your clients?


By Dawn Mentzer (a.k.a. The Insatiable Solopreneur™)


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Think the Little Things Don’t Matter? Think Again!

By Dawn Mentzer


As a solopreneur, your personal brand can make or break you in business. It influences not only how prospects, Your Personal Brandclients and colleague perceive you; it also affects the expectations that others have regarding your work – and your style of communicating. When working to establish your personal brand, you need to be genuine and you need to be consistent. Of course, it typically doesn’t take long for people who are dishonest when building their brands to be discovered as fakers, but if you stray from conducting business (in even the smallest of ways) according to what your personal brand is known for, you risk creating misunderstanding  and unintentional hard feelings.

A Real Life Example
Last week, after several days following my return from vacation, someone whom I’ve been working with on a project emailed me to ask if something might be amiss that would have strained our working relationship. I was stunned! It completely caught me off-guard because I absolutely adore working with this person. She’s responsive, bright, enthusiastic, detailed and extremely personable…I couldn’t imagine what might have led her to believe there was a problem. Realizing that addressing her concerns needed more than just a reply email, I picked up the phone and called her.

Turns out that there was nothing particular in the content of my emails that caused her to think I was upset. However, since arriving home, I unintentionally wasn’t as expressive in my emails. Specifically, I wasn’t using as many exclamation points as I’ve been known to in past communications. I was indeed lighter on my “!”s than usual, but not because I was in any way angry; in the hustle and bustle of catching up after over a week away, I quite simply didn’t take the time or pay attention to that little finishing touch when emailing.

I felt perfectly horrible for the misunderstanding, and she felt silly for misinterpreting my punctuation (or lack of). Thankfully, we both felt comfortable in being honest and open with each other to set the record straight. Otherwise, some non-existent problem might have festered and caused a permanent rift in our collaborations.

The Lesson
If something so seemingly trivial as not using exclamation points in an email can generate a misunderstanding, think about what could happen if you depart to a larger degree from what people expect from you and your brand. The little things really do matter – whether you realize it or not!

Your turn! Have you ever experienced a breakdown in communication or a misunderstanding that you could have avoided by being true to your brand?

Image courtesy of David Castillo /


4 Sure-fire Ways to Boost Your Freelance Business

Starting out as a freelancer is exciting – but it can be scary, too. When you’ve got specific income goals you want – or need – to meet, you’ve got to find ways to effectively get the word out about your services. And you’ve got to prove yourself. The pressure is on!

Fortunately, you have it within your power to give your freelance business the boost it needs to move it onward and upward.

  • Don’t be shy! When you decide to enter into the world of freelancing, you need to come out of your shell. It’s up to YOU to raise awareness of your services to everyone you know and then some. Tell everyone you come in contact with (friends, family, doctors, your kid’s teachers, fellow gym rats, former work colleagues, your pastor, the guy in line behind you at the grocery store, and on and on) what you’re doing and that you’re ready to serve clients. Seriously, prospective clients sometimes come from the most unexpected places. For example, I met three clients through taking Kung Fu classes at a local martial arts studio. You just never know – so view every interaction as a potential opportunity.
  • Beef up your portfolio with pro bono work. If you’re just starting out as a freelancer, volunteering your skills and talent can help you build a repository of real world samples to share. Even as an established freelancer, a portfolio is essential to show prospects what you’re capable of. But as a new solopreneur, it’s even more important because you won’t have a long-standing reputation to back you up. And doing pro bono work can also help you garner testimonials from prominent people within your business community. Just be sure to temper the time you spend on volunteer endeavors – if you over-commit, you’ll find it difficult to focus on growing your business.
  • Link up with LinkedIn.  And for goodness sake, complete your profile! LinkedIn is the most powerful professional social network online. Yes, it takes some upfront time to set it up, but it’s easy, intuitive and FREE. With a profile that’s well-written and full of relevant information about your experience, skills and capabilities, you increase your chances of getting found by prospects looking for a professional in your field in your geographic area. For me, my time on LinkedIn has absolutely paid off. 15% of my clients have come directly through LinkedIn – most of them are local, but they also include a mobile-app development company based in NYC who found me via a search for a freelancing marketing content writer geographically located in the Lancaster, PA area. Yes, LinkedIn can be a freelancer’s best friend.
  • Spend a little – time and money. To make it as a freelancer, you’ve got to invest yourself to the cause. That means spending time on establishing your personal brand. Social media networks give you a phenomenal opportunity to do that. The key to success is to consistently put forth the effort to build a loyal following around your professional persona. And consider putting some cold hard cash toward making yourself known in your local business community. Local chambers of commerce and networking organizations provide all sorts of face-to-face meeting opportunities that – over time – enable you to develop strong professional relationships that lead to new clients. Just remember, what you get out of memberships to these organizations directly reflects what you put into them. Don’t expect to attend just one mixer all year and walk away with a dozen leads. Besides the promise of new business, I love my chamber membership for the opportunity to maintain a personal connection with existing clients and other wonderful people in our local community. Though I’m a huge fan of social media, nothing beats talking up close and personal.

Above all, be diligent in all of your efforts to build your freelance business. There’s no fast track to success. Developing your reputation, assembling a respectable portfolio and making the right connections will take not only time, but also a heck of a lot of energy. Remember to keep your eye on the prize – a career of flexibility, variety and limitless possibilities – and you’ll stay motivated to move forward.

What strategies and tactics have helped you build your freelance business the most? What online and offline networking efforts have delivered results?


What’s Behind Your Brand? Ask Yourself These 6 Key Questions!

One of the most difficult things about starting a business is to gain clarity about the basics behind your brand. It seems Questions Dicelike it should be the easiest thing to do, but it’s where a lot of new solopreneurs (and entrepreneurs in general) struggle. With so many ideas, capabilities, possibilities…how do you narrow down your value proposition to succinctly and clearly develop your brand?

My suggestion: Think like a journalist! Ask yourself the following questions to get to the core of your brand and why people should care about it:

Who? “Who” has several components to consider…

    1. Who are you? Of course, your company name is important, but this question goes beyond that. Who will your clients/customers do business with when they engage with your company. The “who” involves your credentials, level of expertise, reputation, work ethic and personality characteristics. Defining who you are helps set the tone for the type of experience people can expect when they do business with you.
    2. Who are your clients and customers? Hopefully, you’ll have done (or are starting to do) some marketing research to determine your target markets. Who is most likely to want, need AND buy your products and services. As you define your brand, these are the people you’ll want to appeal to and demonstrate your value to.

What? To answer the “what” question, put some thought into…

    1. Defining the products and services that you’ll provide. What exactly are you offering?
    2. What type of business are you? Will you be a top-quality, top-tier provider who will charge a premium, or will you aim to be known as an affordable alternative?

When? This particular question also has multiple meanings…

    1. If you’re just launching your business, when will you start delivering products and services?
    2. Another way to look at “when” is to define the delivery expectations clients should have when they buy from you. What’s your typical working interval? How fast can you provide your services and products to clients after they’ve signed a contract or placed an order?

Where? Another two-fold question…

    1. Where can prospective customers find you to start a dialogue? What’s the address of your brick and mortar location, or do you do business via email, phone or your website instead? Consider all the places (physically and virtually) where a client can reach out and “talk” with you.
    2. Also think about “where” in terms of where geographically you’ll deliver your services and products. Will you serve clients in:
      • your local area only?
      • a specific region?
      • within your state?
      • other states?
      • internationally?

Why? Again, a question with layers…

    1. Why are you in business? Think about what has driven you to be an entrepreneur in your particular field. Why are you passionate about what you do? Given the choice, customers will choose to do business with someone who genuinely cares and is excited about serving them over someone who is only going through the motions.
    2. Why should clients choose your services and products over your competitors? What’s in it for them? Which leads into…

How? How are you different from your competitors? In what ways are you unique? Always think of this from your clients’ perspective! How will they benefit from choosing you over another provider who offers similar services or products?

Using this framework for defining your value proposition is a simple way to gather your thoughts and put all your ideas into a mentally manageable package. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!

Please feel free to share your experience by either commenting on this post, or send me an email directly to!

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