Known by Mark W. Schaefer
The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in the Digital Age
Introduction: The Equity of Influence
Chapter 1: Can Anybody Become Known?
Chapter 2: Step One– Your Place
Chapter 3: Finding Your Sustainable Interest
Chapter 4: Step Two – Determining Your Space
Chapter 5: Eight Space Strategies
Chapter 6: Step 3–Finding Your Fuel
Chapter 7: Step 4 – Creating an Actionable Audience
Chapter 8: Taking Your Brand to the Next Level
Chapter 9: Five Inspiring Stories of Known
Chapter 10: Pivots and Grits
Chapter 11: The Care and Nurturing of KNOW
Introduction: The Equity of Influence
After being a successful corporate employee, Mark Schaefer leaves and begins his pursuit as an entrepreneur. He quickly discovers he has to start back at square one and build his brand from scratch all over again. He became unknown. In rebuilding his brand, he learned the digital age had introduced a “new paradigm of power” which he now refers to as the “equity of influence.”
Power and influence were once constrained by job titles, salary, achievements, degrees, and relationships. Studies also have shown height, looks and clothing contribute to the level of personal power you can achieve, but “on the internet – none of this matters. In fact, there’s only one thing that counts today when it comes to the online world, and this is to be known.”
Think about where you want your career to take you. What are your personal goals? What is your next move? There are a significant amount of objectives that can’t be reached without becoming known.
“Being known isn’t the same as being famous. Being known is about having the proper authority, reputation, and audience to realize your potential and achieve your goals.”
This book will give you step-by-step instruction on formulating a plan to make you successful with your efforts and activate your personal brand in the digital age. It will help you find your voice and an audience that matters through continuous learning and development, challenging you to push higher. Now, you need to ask yourself “Why?”
Chapter 1: Can Anybody Become Known?
To understand the importance of the steps and actions you will be called to take in this book, you first need to know why you need to be known. “Before the Internet Age, you had less control of your destiny.” If you take advantage of the opportunities the Digital Age has provided to you, then the power has shifted to you. Everyone has the power to create content and establish influence. We identify with the personality of influencers virtually and become loyal followers. Being known does matter.
You have to step out of your comfort zone if you want to accomplish your own goals instead of working on someone else’s. You are given an opportunity in the Digital Age that you didn’t have access to before. It’s time to step up and take it.
“The key to success isn’t necessarily a passion; it’s finding a sustainable interest.”
A key component of becoming known is creating and publishing content. To create something worth reading, you don’t have to be an expert, but you need to be determined to become one. These people didn't start as experts; they started as amateurs and didn’t quit. It takes work.
The elements Known explores are:
- Find the right place
- Find the right space
- Produce consistent content
- Build a meaningful audience
- Be patient
Be on the lookout for common themes:
- What made them stand out in a crowded niche?
- What was the role of publishing content in their success?
- How did they acquire their audience?
- How long did it take for them to “make it”?
The book dives through stories of people who began from virtually nothing to becoming known. In each case, a common path to success emerges. They used content to have “a powerful digital presence that propelled their dreams.”
Anyone can become known, and everyone has the potential, but not all will succeed. Everyone is different and getting help is ok. People can’t be good at everything, and if there’s a skill you’re lacking, or you find gaps in your ability to be known, then there are resources to help.
Being known isn’t about the number of followers you have, it’s about “gaining acceptance.” To be known, your content must be amplified by the people that follow you.
“To be known is a privilege to be earned. Your brand isn’t exactly about you. It’s about how others experience you.”
Steps to become known that we will walk through:
- Find your place: You must be known for something.
- Find your space: You must occupy a large enough space to make a difference.
- Find your fuel: Content is the fuel for building a personal brand today.
- Creating an actionable audience: Your network is your net worth.
Chapter 2: Step One –Your Place
You need more than passion to get results. “How do you put that passion to work to achieve your goals?” CONSISTENCY. Passion is important, but consistency is what wins. You need to commit and be able to sustain your plan long term.
The two things wrong with just following your passion is:
- It assumes people currently have a passion they can identify and can use to make a career. Most don’t have an idea of what they want to do or they have hobbies that wouldn’t have an audience.
- It assumes job likability and pre-existing passions correlate. “If you study people with meaning and passion in their work, it has little to do with whether the topic of their job matches their pre-existing passions.”
A sustainable interest is a topic you will love for years to come and themes that will help you achieve your long-term goals. There is a difference between a sustainable interest and a passion. Passion can show up. It doesn’t need to be pre-discovered.
Shaefe defines place and space as the “magical intersection that will give you the best shot at being known and successful.”
Place: A sustainable interest and what you want to be known for.
Space: An uncontested or under-occupied niche with enough people to matter
You need to find your own right place and space suited for what you want to accomplish.
“The key to success is being known for something. You need a clear idea of what you want to be known for and to which significant body of people.&rdquo
This will, in turn, help you see how you should present what you do and help you decide where you do it.
Chapter 3: Finding Your Sustainable Interest
Finding your sustainable interest is step one in a four-step process. There are seven exercises to get you started on discovering your own sustainable interest.
- The “Only I…” – Finish the sentence. Think about why you are doing it. What makes you different? Ask people who have worked with you (coworkers, supervisors, or employees) about what you offer. What do people come to you for?
- The 2 by 2 – If you are in a competitive space, create a visual to “detect an opening.” On a simple 2 by 2 chart, determine two important variables in the market you are working with to enable you to plot the competition in the chart. You then can see where the majority of the people in the market are and where there are gaps.
- The Core Values Mash-up – Make a list of your core values and characteristics. Pick ones that stand out to you and think about how you can mix and match them. Combine them to fill a niche. It will allow you to stand out from the crowd.
- Strengths Finder – Take the assessment to reveal your “super powers.” Your responses are compiled into a report titled “What Makes You Stand Out?” which will allow you to see what is unique about you and what you have to offer.
- The Beautiful Questions – Ask yourself key questions to discover what inspires and motivates you.
- What is your tennis ball? Like a dog chases a ball, what do you chase? What gets you going to where you can’t rest until you figure it out?
- What am I doing when I feel most alive?
- What is something you believe that nobody else agrees with?
- What are you willing to try now?
- What’s your sentence? A single sentence that sums you up.
- Visualize Your Future – Imagine you are being interviewed on a podcast. What type of questions are they asking you? What topic are you speaking about? Now, how do you get there?
- The 35 Headlines – Make a list of the first 35 topics you would cover for content. Your responses will deliver a perspective on how sustainable your idea is and help to “refine your interest.”
Your Evolving Place
Don’t let these exercises confine you. You likely will have to change and adapt to truly find your place. You will have to adjust and move. Allow this to be a start, not the end. Becoming known is a multi-year journey and this is just the beginning. It will take some experimenting.
To start the journey to be known, you should have a sustainable interest that
- Aligns with your strengths
- Has a purpose that benefits others
- Is a topic that can help you reach your goals
- Indefinitely interesting to you
Chapter 4: Step two –Determining Your Space
Chapter three gave you ways to discover what you want to be known for. Now it is time to find the right space. You want to be heard, and you can’t be heard if you are one in the masses. There are a few ways to find the right space.
- The First-Mover Advantage: Be the first to establish a foot-hold in a niche.
Otherwise, finding your space will consist of finding the opening/underpopulated areas.
“Failing to find a meaningful, uncontested space is the primary reason people fail in their effort to become known.”
- Is your niche market big enough to matter?
- Is it oversaturated today?
- Are there people who will be attracted to your sustainable interest?
Tip: Google your niche and assess the competition. Does anyone “own” the subject? Any big names in the market? What is the level of interest in the topic?
“Just because you didn’t start creating content at the beginning of the internet doesn’t mean you can’t be a pioneer.”
There are 8 different strategies to find the right space for you in the following chapter.
Chapter 5: Eight Space Strategies
- Develop a unique tone or point of view – “It is possible for you to stand out in a noisy world by having a recognizable and distinctive tone. Finding the ‘right’ voice for your content may not happen at the beginning of your journey or happen all at once. Your tone is forged through practice, feedback, and the occasional thunderbolt of inspiration.” Think about ways to get your personality to stand out.
- Move to a new social platform within your niche – Assess who the prominent leaders are in your field and what platform they use to get their voice heard. Develop an audience in a new space, underpopulated by the competition. Seek the opportunity.
- Dominate a content type – YouTube research shows people doing the “best job building brands on their channel published three different types of content – Hygiene content, Hub content, or Hero content.” Look into how these types of content are being applied to your interest. See what content type would make you fill in a gap and take advantage of it. Pioneer a new type of content for your niche.
- Try a new content form – Too many people are trying to reach an audience the same way. “A lot ends up being more about the quantity than quality.” Generate a new way to earn your audience
- Focus on frequency – Connect with a small, focused audience before growing into producing other outlets of content. Frequency and consistency.
- Find a unique demographic or geographic niche – You don’t have to be the best in the world. Consider what you can be the go-to expert for in your region. “If you can become known on a local level, focus on that point of differentiation.”
- Connect with industry influencers – Find key people to give you the exposure you need. Work along side them to help get you on your feet quickly and build your audience.
- Use curation as a niche – Help your audience cut through the information. With loads of information on the web, content curation provides a space where readers can have access to the information they want and need quickly instead of reading hundreds of different articles. This is a good way to produce content if you lack the time or talent to create original information on your own.
Chapter 6: Step three –Finding Your Fuel
“The content is the fuel that makes all of this happen.”
You become known for creating something. Content is the “rings of the ladder” you need to climb up to get to be the leader. There are a few questions you need to ask yourself to ensure your content is top-notch.
What type of content do you need to become known? You need a certain type of content to get the attention of the audience you are seeking to attract. “To have the opportunity for real authority on the web and vast research, you need a certain type of content that has the depth and breadth to be discoverable.” It could be written, video, audio, or visual content. One of these will provide a way for you to stand out. Understanding Google’s algorithm will allow you to tip factors to get more attention to your content.
- Age and Site Matter: Google looks for consistent quality over time.
- Hyperlinks: When other resources use your content, Google believes your content is quality.
- Dwell Time: Google takes into account how long people are looking at your content.
“Selecting a source of rich content and publishing consistently is something you must do to be known today.”
What kind of content is right for you? There are three to consider:
- Find the open space
- Figure out what you love to do
- Match content and personality type
- Content appealing for introverts: blogging, books, webinars, visuals, presentations and podcasts
- Content appeals for extroverts: Snapchat, live-streaming, solo videos, podcasts and Twitter
“By thinking what you publish and where you publish it, you can create a plan that’s most likely to fit your personality.” There are more that may be a fit for you than the above three, so experiment. See if you discover you love one more than the other and keep your audience in mind.
How do you find the time for this?
- Make time to create
- Add an insight/Link content
- Find a Routine
- Let it sit. Use your time wisely
- Take a break
- Imperfect is perfect – just push the publish button
- Use apps to help you create
- Mix up the media
- Get a little help from your friends
- Learn to say no and guard your time carefully
- Outsource the admin to spend more time on the actual content
- Don’t multitask
- Prepare a content calendar
- Create round-up posts
- Set a deadline
- Don’t overthink
- Tally your time
- Repurpose your content
- Drink a beer– research shows it increases creativity
How do I start? Committing to this can be scary, so first let’s address some fears.
- Lack of Confidence in your Skills: Getting help is ok. In fact, it makes “good business sense” as long as the ideas are yours, you’re accountable for every word, and you never mislead people/ lie about you getting help.
- Fear of Negative Comments: You can’t make everyone happy all the time. Majority of people interacting with your content will be supportive. There’s generally a limited number of people giving negative feedback. People may question or challenge your content, but that’s part of the job. Here are a few tips on how to address negative comment:
- Address that they have a right to their opinion by thanking them
- Show empathy towards them and show that you are human
- Apologize if warranted
- Resolve the issue if there is a misunderstanding
- After that, abandon the issue if things don’t seem to be improving.
- You Don’t Know What to Say: Writer's block? Everyone goes through a time of writer's block. Be open to receiving inspiration. “The way your ideas stay fresh is to view your daily life through the lens of possible content.” Make sure to write them down if you have ideas you can later use.
There are three general rules for creating content:
- Create Your Own Story: To stand out, you need your own narrative. Be original. “Never publish content that has been created by someone else.” Remember, you are creating your personal brand.
- Answering and Insights: Begin with answering a question and end with insights on the topic.
- Follow the RITE Path: Relevant, Interesting, Timely and Entertaining. Using this formula can help you create content that will keep your audience engaged.
Chapter 7: Step 4 – Creating an Actionable Audience
“If content is your fuel, the audience is your fire.”
The final step in the process is creating an audience. Your content is worthless if nobody is reading it. “Find your fans.” To establish a relationship with an audience can take years, which is why consistency is so important. Your content should evolve and your audience will too. You have to “master your craft” before others start to listen.
The formula: “Quality. Consistency. A unique and authentic ‘place.’ Hard work.”
A few myths about being known
- You don’t need a million fans to be successful. It is more important to connect with the right people.
- Audience size doesn’t equal power. “To build an actionable audience, you need to establish a legitimate emotional connection with people over time.”
“The key to assembling an audience that can be activated is to patiently build a meaningful and relevant emotional connection with them.”
How to attract traffic to your content:
- Passive Connection: Through items like social media people come to know you through your content alone
- Active Connection: Through engagements and networks
Four phases of the emotional journey your audience takes:
- Awareness – They know you exist and have seen your content
- Engagement – It goes deeper than just looking at your latest information
- Stable Connection – Number of people who follow or subscribe to your content
- Loyalty – They encourage others to check you out
The Digital Age has provided a multitude of platforms to earn an audience by being yourself- your best self. Getting connected has never been easier. Here are four techniques on getting exposure:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This is useful at ensuring the content you are publishing works well with sites such as Google and the algorithms these sites use to deliver results. Make sure you are knowledgeable about, at least, the basics. The best thing you can do is create helpful, relevant, and timely content.
- Social Media: Create a personal brand. Social media platforms play a large part in getting you known. If people like you on your social media channels, they also will likely like you for your content.
- Advertising and Promotion: There are a few options for paid content promotion
- Paid Social Media
- Sponsored Content
- Native Advertising
- Recommendation Widgets
- Related Bloggers: Make friends! Connecting with people through bloggers is easily worth more than any new traffic or growth you might achieve. Why? Because if you start to highlight other blogs, bloggers might return the favor, which can get your content in front of more people than you could build on your own.
Build an emotional connection to your audience. A handwritten thank you note can make a significant difference. Thanking people who have commented on your content is meaningful. Make the gestures that get people emotionally involved with you.
“Engagement is the glue that connects you to your fans and drives them to that inner circle.”
Here are five tips to increase engagement with your audience:
- End things with a question
- If you want to connect with specific people, go to where they are
- Monitor the activities of specific members of your audience
- Crowd source for answers
- Be authentic and vulnerable
Networking is beginning. Turn your weak relational links into strong ones. Here are a five tips to get your network stronger:
- Make a record of your most active audience
- Make time to get to know your audience one on one
- Interview someone from your audience to gain a perspective
- Start a chain reaction of reciprocity
- Make yourself available
The next key word is influence. Connect with influencers to drive your brand quickly. Being proactive with industry leaders starts you off on the right foot. Find people you should connect with through resources and tools such as BuzzSumo, Followerwonk, or Twellow. Check out industry related conferences and research using hashtags. Then, find ways to connect with them. Befriend them. Help them before you expect any help.
“The value of your content is zero unless somebody views it.”
Look to create an Alpha Audience, an elite circle of people – probably less than 2 percent of your entire social media following – who are responsible for sharing your content the most. Alpha Audience members hold many benefits, including advocacy, sharing, and recommendations.
- Follow your plan
- Keep track of ideas to build your relevant audience
- Take the opportunities to deepen relationships
- Be aware of the importance of an Alpha Audience
Chapter 8: Take Your Brand to the Next Level
“If you want to super-charge your presence, you should consider advanced strategies like writing a book or developing a speaking career.”
Five reasons to write a book:
- High visibility
- Forging expertise
- It will help people find you
- New income source
Five reasons to not write a book:
- Time commitment
- Small return for a significant investment
- It is hard
- May get bad feedback
- Need a sustainable idea able to produce chapters
Other than sales, there are additional ways to create an income off publishing a book. Provide consulting services, speaking, selling related products, creating a mastermind group, and giving client access are all effective in producing needed income from publishing.
How to Write a Book
- You need a main idea. Research, expertise, personal, vision, solution to a problem... whatever it is, you need a prompt and you need to love it.
- Outline it, but be prepared to adapt and evolve your ideas and outlines.
- Begin writing. Block out chunks of time or else it’s going to take double time. Tip: Create a speech that would take 45 minutes to present and that will be about half a book.
- Test your ideas. Write a few blog posts about the subject to ensure this is a topic you can fill and that you love.
- Rewrite and edit. Get a professional to touch it up.
There are many other things to consider when you are in the process of publishing. Look at your option to receive an advance. Pay attention to marketing, editing, design, and the distribution your book is receiving. Self-publishing has benefits that should be considered:
- Higher chance at earning higher revenue
- You have the flexibility to revise your price
- You have ownership
- You have access to as many copies as you want for a small fee
- The time it takes your book to hit the shelves is faster
Become a Public Speaker
“It’s difficult to become a professional paid speaker without a book. It’s hard to promote a book without speaking about it.”
Five reasons to become a speaker:
- You connect with a real live audience
- It makes you explain points more clearly
- Creates awareness and an opportunity to network
- Increases credibility and authenticity
Five reasons to not become a speaker:
- Can be scary
- Includes traveling
- If you get sick easily, it’s hard to maintain a speaker’s lifestyle
- Years of practice
- Have to be entertaining and effective
Steps to creating your first speech:
- Describe the situation for the talk
- Refine the core of the talk
- Structure the talk –“Put together the goal, problem, idea, change, and actions to structure it.”
- Fill in the details
- Add your personal style
- Create visuals
- Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse.
How to start a speaking career:
- Create a professional website
- Think like an entertainer
- Start local
- Establish social proof
- Build momentum to get the audience interested
Chapter 9: Five Inspiring Stories of Known
“I thought it would be helpful to tie things together and see how people have put the ideas of KNOWN into action. The fascinating stars of these stories overcame enormous obstacles to create a meaningful personal presence that helped them to achieve their goals and even change the world.”
Chapter 9 walks through the stories of people who have implied the ideas of KNOWN and are now known. These people didn’t quit on their goal and accomplished their goals.
Chapter 10: Pivots and Grit
What happens if you still can’t see results? Chapter 10 responds to some common questions that readers may have after reading the previous chapters.
“Is this the right time for you to become known?” Time can be your largest obstacle. There are many activities such as friends, family, lifestyle, and others that will take your time, so how much do you have to give to this? Everyone is different, and there is no right answer, but the time demanded in order to “achieve a breakthrough depends on…”
- Your current level of status in your niche
- The time your content takes for you to form
- Your competition
The author suggests spending about three hours a week on the preferred type of content, an hour a week to promotion, and a minimum of one hour of interacting with the audience. Can you put the hours of work into it? It is okay if the answer is no. Your time will come. If you can, overcome the fear that comes along with it.
“How do I overcome the fear of starting?” Just start. Understand what other great leaders have understood. You are starting at zero. You need to be humble. You become successful by reading, researching and imitating the successful qualities of other great leaders. Earn your audience and begin to evolve your topic. It is a process. Start by taking small steps until you can turn back and see all you have accomplished. “The beauty of faking it.”
“When is it time to pivot?” Accept the missteps, but there are four measures to ensure you are working in the right direction.
- Awareness through things like Likes, comments, and results
- Importance of establishing your reputation
- Money is a sign of success
- Take a look at your personal goals
“When it is time to quit?” If after a year you don't see any results, it may be time to change one of the four elements - place, space, consistency, and audience. If it can be changed, adjust and keep going. It could be out of your control though. Here are a few things to determine if its time to quit:
- Look at your measurements. Are positive things still happening?
- Take a break. Inform your audience and get a new sense of energy.
- Talk to others. Gain a perspective on the project.
- Assess your grit. Are you going to endure through hard times?
There are four traits of persistence:
- Love for the work
- Capacity to practice
Chapter 11: The Care and Nurturing of KNOWN
Consistency = the foundation for all your work. “Consistency heals a multitude of faults.” It is about the only thing completely in your control. Be disciplined about being consistent. Frequency is dependent on a variety of factors. There is no exact amount of content you have to produce, but being consistent with publishing your content can make many issues go away. It creates a regular audience and shows your commitment to your work.
“Now it is your turn to become KNOWN.”