Building Your Personal Brand & Audience Online (Ani Alexander Interview)

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Teach Online TV interview with podcast host & best-selling author Ani Alexander on how to build a strong personal brand and build your audience online.

To learn more about Ani visit: anialexander.com

Building Your Personal Brand & Audience Online @Ani_LifeProb #teachonline Click To Tweet

FULL TRANSCRIPT

[Tyler] Hey this is Tyler Basu and welcome to Teach Online TV.

I am here today with a very special guest.

Her name is Ani Alexander.

She is a brand architect.

A best-selling author of multiple books.

A coach and a podcast host—fellow podcast host.

It’s always nice to chat with other podcast hosts.

And we brought her on to discuss personal branding today.

How you can position yourself online in a way that it attracts who you want to attract.

Your ideal customers, clients, students for your online course.

Ways you can build your audience.

All kinds of exciting stuff related to personal branding.

So Ani, thank you so much.

It is a pleasure to be speaking with you today.

[Ani] Thanks a lot for having me.

I’m glad to be over.

[Tyler] Now I know I’ve touched on what you’re doing a little bit.

But can you just tell us really quickly how you got into this?

Into this world with what you’re doing– with writing books, with having a podcast to being a coach.

How did all that happened?

[Ani] Well, it wasn’t planned for sure.

So it happened relatively accidentally.

It all started from the point when I was so sick from my corporate work that I quit without having any plan in place.

So I didn’t have this safety cushion.

I didn’t know what I was going to do.

All I knew was I didn’t want to go back to work anymore.

So I just signed the resignation letter.

Came back home and decided that I’m going to take just few months off to sort everything out.

To regain the balance and figure out what I want to do from now on.

And that’s when sort of life kicked in.

And I rematched online one of my very lost—long time lost friend from high school and we had been disconnected for 18years.

So she told me her life story which was like, I don’t know.

I mean, if I had to come up with a fiction book, I wouldn’t be able to come up with such unbelievable stuff.

And it was like a ready story.

So I told her that it’s something that needs to be written.

And she was like, I’m nothing about a writer.

I’m giving my story to you.

Do whatever you want.

So it sort of you know, I had time, I wasn’t working yet.

So I ended up writing my very first novel.

I always wrote but I never wrote anything longer than 5 pages long.

So I was all into poems and short stories and essays.

I was a blogger at that point.

I had self-development blogs so.

You know.

I had some experience with writing but they never really took anything serious like a novel project.

And then I realized that I had not think about what to do next?

Like okay, you have written these things, what do you do with it?

And self-publishing is non-existent in Armenia.

No one is actually doing it.

And I was living in Armenia back then.

So I had to figure out what to do and I had to figure out all this publishing stuff.

Which was, I figured it out by doing all the classic mistakes everyone else is doing.

And then figuring out many things that don’t work.

Finally finding out what works.

And then I realized, like there’s so many writers like me who don’t know this stuff but you know, who don’t really have too much money to invest in these expensive courses and go-to events and such.

So I was like, why don’t I make one-stop place where I show everything that I learned up to now?

And I knew blogging was not so effective anymore and there was this thing like a podcasting.

I had no clue what it was and how to do it.

But eventually I figured it out.

I ended up being the very first podcaster in my country.

The only one, actually.

[Tyler] Very cool.

[Ani] So I ended up with Write 2B Read with sort of you know, had a very good start.

I was lucky enough to interview big names.

I had over 114 interviews already.

And what is the most important thing is that I have over 30 people who wrote me that they actually self-published their books thanks to the podcast purely.

[Tyler] Oh, wow.

[Ani]  So that is how I got into all this online stuff.

[Tyler] Yea.

[Ani] And it so exciting that you stick to it.

Now I have broadened a little bit the limits.

So I’m not working with writers only.

I’m working with anyone who wants to grow their audiences

and to become established well-known brand which may be just not writers only but also speakers,

coaches, anyone like content creators who are individuals but who really need get noticed and be visible online.

[Tyler] Yea, and that’s one of the reasons why we were having you here  on the show because as you know, Thinkifics’ audience and our customers are online course creators.

So they’re not necessarily authors per se but they’re content creators.

As you said, you used that term.

They have an area of expertise and creating a course is their way for them to share it.

Now you got started with writing books and I’m sure you went into the same challenge where once you have a book written, doesn’t mean anybody knows about it.

Like people still need to be able to find you online.

Trust you before they decide to buy from you.

And it’s the same with courses right.

[Ani] Yea absolutely.

[Tyler] so there’s this overlap for sure.

[Ani] Yea.

Yea, that’s true.

These days, it’s very important how known you are so you know, you may know loads of things.

You may know more than other people do.

But if you are not known then it’s going to be very challenging.

[Tyler] Yea. That’s a good point.

Now, one of the things that you refer to yourself is as a brand architect.

So what does that mean?

What does a brand architect do?

Well actually when I was trying to sort of come up with an interesting term to describe what I’m doing—what I’m helping with.

I was debating between brand story teller and brand architect.

So I ended up with architect because I think there’s more to it than just telling a story.

It also has the design element.

It also has the consistency of the message.

It has this pure principle of why you are actually doing what you do and how do you want to position it.

And how do—

Which parts of your story do you want to emphasize on?

So it’s like, you know.

Just like an architect.

You’re just making the plan– drawing this plan first and then start building on top of it one step a time.

[Tyler] So it’s very intentional.

It’s very strategic.

You’re designing the way you want to be positioned, I suppose.

[Ani] Yes.

[Tyler] Why is personal branding so important?

Like what impact–

Choose an example.

What impact has creating a personal brand yourself had on your business and on your life would you say?

[Ani] Well, in my case, it was very interesting because I actually—

When I launched my podcast, that’s when I actually started intentionally building a brand around me.

And I was starting from scratch.

Because although I’ve been a fiction writer and I have self-published books, but I was entering a completely different audience of writers.

[Tyler] Right.

[Ani] The readers of my books because I was writing female fiction.

So for me, I actually ended up buying the domain name.

I ended up sort of started using my name which is not even my real name because my real name is very hard to pronounce, to spell and to remember.

So I searched a few now.

Very often I’m telling this.

It’s not like  I’m ashamed of my roots of my name.

But it’s just making much easier for people because I couldn’t really imagine if someone was telling about anything that I’ve created.

How they were going to tell each other like, have you read the book of Ani Chibukhchyan.

Or you know, have you heard the podcast?

It was going to be really, really challenging.

So I was actually building it from scratch.

So many people actually still don’t know that it’s not even my real name but it’s my brand’s name actually.

The name that I’m using usually everywhere online.

And I think what’s important was, when you are building this thing.

When you start being more visible.

And when you are consistent about what you are doing in terms of the quality of your content, in terms of the message, in terms of the style of your writing style or conversational style—everything together.

People already sort of have this image of what you are about.

So when they hear your name, they have the perception of who you are working with?

What you are about.

What are your values?

What are you like?

So it’s much easier.

You don’t have to explain every time.

Who you are and what you’re doing and what everything is.

Because at some point, you end up by having your name and people already knowing approximately what to expect from you.

And if you make this—

If you are able to make this differentiating point of how different you are from others, that is when you become much stronger.

Because then you know you can’t even be duplicated which is a really good thing.

[Tyler] Yea. That’s definitely a good point.

And you know everyone is unique already.

It’s just about figuring out a way that you can share your uniqueness.

Authentically, of course.

But communicate who you are, what you stand for, what your values are, who you can help, who you want to serve—all those things.

Now, I want to talk about some of the things that people can do to build a personal brand online.

And I say online because, if somebody has an online course, there’s a good chance their students could be from anywhere in the world, right?

So they may never actually meet their customers in person.

They may never meet these students.

So those students are going to be finding that person online and deciding whether or not they trust them enough to take their course based on what they see on the internet.

Or based on any communication they have over the internet.

So let’s keep it focused to things that we can do on the internet.

What are some of those building blocks that go on to building a personal brand?

I mean, should we have our own website?

Should we have social media?

Should we be doing content?

I know I just threw a lot of things at you, but let’s go one step at a time.

What are the first things that somebody could do?

[Ani] The fundamental thing—

The very first stage where I say everywhere.

No matter you’re going to be an author or you’re going to create a course or whatever you’re going to do especially online.

The very first thing is to be very clear and honest to yourself about why are you doing it and who are you doing it for.

So you know, because that is what will actually be guiding you to make decisions when you are thinking about these building blocks of your brand.

It all comes in straight from your main purpose of doing this and who you want to reach.

[Tyler] Okay.

[Ani] And basically, those are the two things that you—

And when I say you have to be honest to yourself is because maybe your answers are not very attractive or exciting or not like a standard answers everyone is usually giving.

Maybe by being honest to yourself, you may say, I need a brand and I need an authority because I want to make money.

This is my why.

I mean it’s not a very sexy why but if you’re really clear and honest about that by yourself, then you will make the right decisions to sort of to go that route.

Some others may say, okay money is like if it comes, it’s a big bonus but this is a really very special message for me and for my life.

It’s very important.

I want specifically help this kind—this group of people because of different things.

Then the positioning and your message might be a little bit different.

So the first—

The very first thing is to be clear with yourself why you want to do it and what exactly do you want to do.

And once you are clear with that, then you have to come up with your values

Which are the fundamental values for your brand and for yourself as a person that are going to stay constant and are not going to be flexible and are not going to change.

Because that will also help you in the further.

When you start becoming known.

When for example let’s say you’re a podcaster.

You’re a known podcaster.

You become—

You get pitched by guests who want to be interviewed.

You get different topics that you can drift to. etc

If you have your values and you know which stays constant,

it will be easy for you to filter out what you can do and what is a bit of stretch and you don’t really want to go that route because it’s not in line with  who you are, what your brand is about and how you want to be viewed.

So that is like the main thing is the fundamental.

The base on which you will have to build because when this is formal, this is stable, and this is something you will—yourself are comfortable with.

It will help you with the building blocks later on.

Whenever all these components that you said, the website, the social media etc.

Whatever you will be building on top, it will help you make decisions about those which are piling up on top.

[Tyler] Yea, know.

That makes sense.

So that clarity in those values is like the foundation then.

[Ani] Yea, and they have to be in line with you and your personality.

Because you have to be comfortable.

You can’t really play a role of different person because it’s going to be really, really tiring.

[Tyler] Yea. That makes sense.

Don’t take a look at somebody else and say I want to be just like them.

Figure out who you want to be.

[Ani] Yea, you can’t be the second whatever because there’s only one.

And the second versions are always sort of a little bit worse.

So you better create your first version.

[Tyler] Exactly. And the good news is there’s only one of you, right?

[Ani] Absolutely.

[Tyler] There’s no other copy of us in the world.

So if we do stay true to ourselves, automatically we are unique and we are different from what else is out there.

So when somebody has that foundation, they have those values, they have that clarity

Now, they want to start—

They want to be more visible online—more discoverable by the people that they want to serve.

Why don’t we start with their website.

At the bare minimum, what are some of the things that they should have on their website so that if their target audience or that person they want to help comes to their site,

they think, ‘oh this is the person I’m looking for.’

This person can help me with this specific topic or this specific are.

[Ani] Okay.

So basically you mentioned something like when your target audience comes to your website.

You have to be very clear to your target audience as well.

So like I don’t know if you’ve done it when you were launching your podcast.

But I have this exercise about the listener avatar.

[Tyler] Yes.

[Ani] where I could imagine who’s going to listen to me.

And the more detailed and more specific you are, the bigger are the chances that you will be creating content that is very relevant to that person.

That will resonate with him and that will connect with him.

So it will be easier for you to understand what kind of content you are going to create.

So the better you know your audience, the better you will know what are they pain points, what are their expectations, what are they looking for?

So you have to make sure that that is included in your website.

But the main thing is when someone else come, even if it’s not your main audience,

when you have a website which is very clear about—

That is very consistent in terms of topics.

So one, when he looks at your blog or website—the content.

They immediately know what it is about.

Like they can detect whether it’s a self-development blog or you’re about fitness.

Like whatever you are.

If you should be so consistent and specific–

Maybe not very niche but you have to keep in the same areas so people know.

Let’s say, I’m not really about fitness, if I land on a page of a fitness coach, I immediately see that this is something not for me.

Or just the opposite.

If I’m all about that.

And I come up to that point to the website.

I immediately see that it’s very interesting and I should dig deeper and have a look more and spend more time on the website.

So basically you have to make sure that the topics are in line.

And all about whatever you are about.

You have to make sure that it’s very easy for people to understand who you are.

So like a section somewhere with maybe–

These days, I guess videos work best like the short video introducing yourself.

Or about a section where they can see—

Let’s say many people in the beginning– it’s hard but later on when you compile this portfolio, if you have given out interviews, if you have written guest post.

Whatever it is.

If it’s all featured in one place, it’s much easier for people to understand more about you and what’s happening.

And also consistency in terms of the writing style.

In terms of the branding.

The colors.

Everything should be in line with that because later on, you will be using that same branding elements in the social media as well.

So you want this as a situation of people to understand when they visit your website in the very beginning and then they see something that is immediately branded in the same way.

Like a quote– picture quote or whatever it is with your logo on it.

Whatever it is, they immediately make sure that oh I’ve seen it somewhere and they detect what it is for.

So consistency is very important in terms of topics and in terms of branding.

Because that is what create—

When people see it over and over again it becomes—

They remember it and it’s easier to understand what it is all about.

[Tyler] Okay, yea.

Yea, no, great tips.

So it sounds like for somebody’s website to have that information about them.

So maybe like a bio or a video.

But also content.

I mean I know that you’re a content creator, as a writer and also a podcast host.

So those are two forms of content that you’ve put out a lot of.

And an important point that you brought up was that do not create content about everything.

It should be quite obvious what topics you’re covering or what areas of expertise you have so that—

People might come to your site and not be interested in those things and that’s okay because they’re probably not kind of people you’re trying to attract anyway.

But if you’re trying to cover everything, you’d be trying to attract everyone—

And does that work so well?

What are your thoughts on that?

[Ani] Well,I mean, I have the same debate and the same problem in the very beginning.

Because the things that I was doing were not really—were almost impossible to put under one umbrella.

So I was a fiction author.

I was a podcaster.

I was helping people with self-publishing and book marketing and things like that.

So the podcast had the same topic as what I helped people with so it was in line at that point.

But my fiction writing wouldn’t fit anywhere in that place.

So in the beginning I was thinking that I would have a website where it would have the main blogs of things that I’m doing and people just choose where to go.

And then I realized that it’s still can be done but it’s a bit challenging because usually–

I’m a big advocate of content marketing and of creating consistently regularly good quality content around something.

So if I had to keep my fiction writing.

And if I had to keep the other part together.

It meant that I have to work double and have to create both of the things.

So both work.

[Tyler] Right.

[Ani] For some who are super prolific.

Maybe that’s the road to go.

But it’s so much easier to start with one and then maybe go to something else and or to start a very niche and go a little bit wider in terms of audience.

[Tyler] Yea.

[Ani] But starting altogether is a bit challenging because it will confuse the main focus message.

So for people, it will be confusing.

They won’t understand what you’re about.

And it will be very difficult once you’re in a position where over and over again you have to explain people who meet you what you are doing because they are not clear.

It’s sort of you know–

It makes your work harder because you will have to do the same thing over and over again.

So I would advise starting it with one relatively narrow and then only.

Once you’re already known, you may talk about other things you are interested also because people started becoming interested in you.

So then you can cover some things.

You can make like let’s say a podcast episode where you talk about that something that happened to you which is linked to your main message.

So you can do this mash up of different experiences so people will know you a little bit better.

[Tyler] Right.

[Ani] You will open up a little bit.

You can do that type of things but in the very beginning when people are not yet very close to you.

You don’t really have the relationship yet.

You know, they would most probably come to you because they have a problem or they want to learn something.

[Tyler] Okay so in the beginning, it’s good to be the very, very specific with what you focus on.

What you want to become known for.

And then as you build your audience, if you want to add to that brand.

You can add to it later.

You’ve already got the audience at that point.

But when you’re just trying to build your audience, don’t try to become known for too many things.

Just try to keep it focused.

I do want to talk about content marketing a bit as well.

And I think you’re now part of Thinkific’s Facebook group.

So you’ll start to see a lot of the questions that we get from course creators but quite often we see people say, I’ve created my course, how do I promote it now?

And usually we say, you should get some content online.

Get some free content that people can consume.

And then after they consume your free content, you can tell them about your course.

So that could be blogging.

It could be doing a YouTube channel.

It could be starting a podcast.

I mean as you know, there are lots of ways to get content out there.

So if somebody is just getting started with content.

What advice can you give them?

How do they pick what kind of content to create?

Do you have any suggestions?

[Ani] Well there is no right or wrong answer to this.

[Tyler] Okay.

[Ani] But I would suggest is pick the content that suits best your personality and you will enjoy producing.

So let’s say, I love talking so podcasting it’s like a natural channel for me because I enjoy doing it anyway.

Maybe I’m a little bit better in that than some other people.

But—

And I’ve been very uncomfortable with videos until just recently.

So videos wasn’t something I ever considered in the beginning, at least.

There are many people who love videos and that’s great because the thing is if you are someone who is comfortable with videos,

the video content is the only one which can be repurposed with anything—to anything else.

So let’s say, I mean, you can go wider and faster that way.

So let’s say for example, live streaming is really huge right now.

So you just make sure that you are as already researched– kind of you know, you are in line with your message, with your content topics, with your audience.

Once you know that, you can come up with let’s say 10 topics to talk on live stream for 10-15minutes which is not too long, right?

You can go on Facebook live or Periscope or wherever you are present that.

Or wherever you want to start and do your live stream.

So what you can do from that one piece of live stream.

You can actually extract the audio and it becomes a podcast.

What you do after that, you can transcribe it.

Add in a little bit, it becomes a blog post.

So basically what you are doing, you are covering all your potential audiences everywhere.

[Tyler] Yea.

[Ani] Regardless how they consume the content.

So you’re creating just one content but then it goes to everyone.

You put that lives stream video on YouTube.

So then you cover the people who are watching videos.

So you covered audio, you covered the video, you covered people who read blogs.

Later on, what you’re doing is let’s say in your live stream you have 5 points or 5 tips, right?

So you can create an infographics with those 5 tips to share on social media.

Then there’s another tip.

Then you can take every point and create a quotable image branded quote and use it for Pinterest and Instagram and everything else.

And you know, so the possibilities are endless.

If you are good with videos, video is the only thing—

Since it’s on the top, it can be converted to anything else.

[Tyler] Okay.

[Ani] The same is with podcast, you can do more or less the same thing but then you are missing the video part so—

But if you are–

What I mean is, you should do something you are comfortable with and what you enjoy.

By no means ever rush to form of content that everyone is saying it’s hot just because it’s hot.

Because like let’s say videos especially live stream, if you’re not good at it, it’s challenging.

It’s going to show.

And you’re not going to enjoy the process.

You’re going to be tense.

You’re going to hate the process.

You’re going to watch the watch and waiting until the time passes.

You know.

It’s live stream so it can’t be edited so you’re pretty vulnerable like that.

Just choose what is yours and then you can repurpose it accordingly based on what you’ve chosen.

[Tyler] Okay. Great advice.

So we can repurpose content especially videos.

Sounds like of all the types of content, if you start with video that gives you the most number of options for repurposing it.

For publishing that same message into other forms and sharing it to other platforms.

Now we’ve kind of touched on this a little bit.

Social media.

Because you mentioned some of the platforms that we can be on like Facebook live, Instagram, Pinterest or whatever.

There’s a lot of social media platforms out there.

So what do you think’s the best way to pick a couple to focus on versus trying to be on all of them all at once?

That might be a little bit overwhelming.

[Ani] Okay.

No, being on all of them by no means that’s – that makes sense.

[Tyler] Yea.

[Ani] You shouldn’t be on all of them especially if you’re just starting.

To get traction, you have to pick just 2 or 3 and make sure that you raise there before adding up stuff.

For me, like my criteria is the following.

I have two sort of decisions making things.

First of all, we already talk about deciding your audience—your target audience.

So you should be where your audience is.

So let’s say if my audience is over 35 for example, I see no sense in going to Snapchat for example.

Because they are not there.

I mean most probably Facebook is more appropriate place to be and to start with if that is my audience.

If they are just the opposite, the demographics where the snap—where the people are on Snapchat, then probably I would have to master Snapchat.

So that is one thing because if you want to gain your audience and gain visibility of your brand in your audiences eyes, they have to see it.

So you have to choose and goo where they are.

And the second thing is you have to go somewhere where you are comfortable with the environment and the style of the communication.

Because each platform has its own style and its own way.

For example, twitter.

If I prefer longer—long from of content.

Most probably Twitter is not the most convenient platform for me.

So those are little things.

You take into account your audience and you take into account yourself.

And what kind of contents so–

It depends what kind of content you prefer to create as well.

Because as we spoke, if you are about videos, definitely you have this choice of YouTube, for example.

But if you are just audio then iTunes and some audio-based sort of groups and places should be the ones you should consider.

So your audience and yourself, those are 2 criteria you consider.

[Tyler] Okay.

Okay. Great tips.

I’m thinking of a –

I met a professional speaker one time and he says, ‘I hate Twitter because I cannot say anything in 140 characters.’

They always wanted to use more than that.

So that was kind of funny.

But yea, that’s a good point.

So pick the platforms where your audience are and the ones with that you are comfortable with and then make sense for you or try to find that that inner section or the synergy about those 2 points ,I guess.

So Ani, you’ve been sharing a lot of great advice and I really appreciate it.

And I want to respect your time but if we could maybe wrap up with on last question.

Are there any last words of advice, tips or big mistakes to avoid, maybe when it comes to building a personal brand on the internet?

[Ani] Well, I am—

I’m a big advocate of relationships.

So no matter what you do, whether you are creating a content, whether you are engaging in social media, you are creating relationship with you audience.

Those are not enough.

Whether you’re checking your stats off your podcast listeners or off your website visits.

Those are not just numbers.

Those are breathing, living human beings.

There are people behind the numbers.

So you shouldn’t really care about the likes and the followers.

What you should care about is the engagement rate and how much of those followers are actually resonating to what you’re producing.

How much they are sharing.

How much they are commenting.

[Tyler] Yea.

[Ani] How much they are providing feedback and getting in touch with you.

So you always have to take into account that you are creating relationship and hopefully a long term relationship with your audience.

When that part works, everything else follows.

So that’s the most important thing.

Don’t follow the numbers, follow the quality of the relationship.

[Tyler] Great advice.

Great advice. Thank you for sharing that.

Well Ani thank you so much for taking the time to share a bit of your journey with us and your expertise on personal branding.

Now, if any of our audience wants to get in touch with you, we will link to your website below the video which is AniAlexander.com

Is that the best place that people can find you?

Or how should we direct them to you?

[Ani] That place actually has a social media channels there where I’m present on usually.

[Tyler] Okay.

[Ani] So yea, I guess so.

Ani Alexander is the name I’m using for all my social media channels as well.

So yea.

[Tyler] Okay. Perfect.

Well Ani, thank you so much and we’ll talk to you again soon.

[Ani] Thank you. Thanks for having me over.

I hope it was useful.

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