AskPat 270 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 270 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Before we get on to today's question from Bill, I do want to thank today's sponsor, which is Lynda.com. It's Lynda.com. If you don't know what it is, you're crazy, because this is the number one site you can go to, to learn and improve your skills, with over 3,000 different courses on topics like, web development, photography, visual design, a lot of business topics as well as software training for things that you probably use right now that you need to get better at. I use Lynda.com myself to improve on things like Photoshop, and business skills, and even photography skills as well. Now is the time to learn, because Lynda.com's offering a 10-day free trial. All access to all their courses. All you have to do is go to Lynda.com/askpat that's Lynda.com/askpat, and you can start your free 10-day trial today. Check it out.
All right, let's get to today's question from Bill.
Bill: Hi Pat, Bill Kuper here from Digital Farm. My question for you today is, should my online brand be me or my company? I have a company and a brand called Digital Farm. It's actually a registered trademark. It was a digital media service agency from '96 to 2004. We had as many as six employees, and then in 2004, we merged with another company, so Digital Farm was mothballed. Ten years later, after four years with the merging company and another six years with a different startup that I cofounded, I realized that what I loved the most was helping other small business owners with their digital challenges. I wanted to reboot Digital Farm and do my own thing again. I'm back and doing digital media and online marketing, but now it's really just me. I don't want employees. I will, of course, work with contractors and VAs and stuff. Back to the question: when I post on social media, when I write blog posts, and in all of the marketing copy on the Digital Farm site, should I use I, as in an individual consultant, or we, as if from a larger, full-service agency? I definitely have some cachet and reputation with the Digital Farm brand, but is it disingenuous to pretend to be a brand, when it's really just me?
Pat Flynn: Bill, thank you so much for the question today. I really appreciate this question, because it's a very honest question. I think a lot of people struggle with the idea of being a solopreneur, or working on their own, but also considering themselves or their work as a brand. Now, you asked there at the end there, is it disingenuous to be a brand, when it's really just you? I think you're doing yourself a disservice by thinking that way. That if it's just you, you can't be a brand. You can absolutely be a brand if it's just you. I think a lot of times people who are just by themselves have an advantage, which we'll talk about in a second. I just don't want you to think that, just because you are on your own now, that you can't create a brand or provide value. A brand is a company with a mission, with a value that can offer solutions to people's problems, pains, to give solutions and provide for people's wants and needs. You can absolutely do that and, like I was saying earlier, you actually have an advantage sometimes when you are on your own.
What's the advantage? Well the advantage is when you're on your own you can make a true connection because you will, and should be using words like, I, instead of we. When you use the word “I,” people can make a one-to-one connection with you, Bill. I think you should definitely put more view, and your face, and your personality into your brand. When I started out with SmartPassiveIncome.com, it was just me. It was this way for over three years before I hired my first virtual assistant, but I still kept it me. Now, I've been saying a little bit more of … talking about my team lately, but I still know that the brand is mine, and that I'm here to provide value. I just say sometimes that, we, my team, am here to help, because I want people to know that there's also people behind me as well. Like I said, for the first three years, it was just me, and I was able to grow and build a following just perfectly fine, and a great and strong brand out of it. I know that you can too.
It's really funny that you mention this because … I have a quick story to tell. When I was in high school, my buddies and I, we thought we were cool and stuff, we were trying to do the opposite. We were just regular people, but we, for some reason, I think a lot of you can relate to this, but we created business cards for ourself, for just us. I had a Pat Flynn business card. My friend had a Neal business card, and another one of my friends had his own business card. On those business cards, we essentially just put our phone number, and our email address, and I think it was even back when pagers were popular, so we might have had our pager number on there as well, which is weird. Anyway, we also had a lot of our skills on there too, so it was kind of like a mini résumé. It was funny, because a lot of those cards that we actually got professionally printed; I had maybe 50 of them created. This sounds totally stupid now that I think about it, but it was kind of fun, but all of those cards were very professional looking. They had little stamps with little logos that made it look like a professional company that, even though it was just me and my name was on it, I made it seem like it was a company with hundreds of employees, which looking back, was like, wow, this is the wrong way to go, because if I'm branding myself, I want to put myself on my brand and make it look not as professional, or corporate, but make it more me … something that people can connect with and that's more unique, because, Bill, and for everybody out there, the advantage that you have over everybody else in this space is you. That's why this idea of going solo and being a brand is totally cool and not something that you should feel disingenuous about, but feel excited about. The fact is, people connect with other people. Nobody is like you; that is your advantage. The trick really is, Bill, to understand what it is about yourself; what is your unique advantage that you have over everybody else? Find out what that is, if you don't know what that is already, and you might not know what it is upfront; you're going to have to do a little bit of research or soul searching, or even just putting yourself out there and having your audience eventually tell you who you are and what makes you unique. Once you get to that point, and you understand what that advantage is that you have, that's when you can start to go full on with you as a brand, using those things as really the center of what your brand is all about.
Bill, I hope that answers your question and it's really crazy to hear about this journey of yours that you've had with this brand, but I think it's headed in the right direction for what is successful in business today. As you begin to add other team members as well, I would recommend that you be honest with your audience and talk about that and talk about your growth. One company that comes to mind, that does this really well, is Buffer app. You go to BufferApp.com; you know,. all the people who work for that site, Leo and everybody else, is just so transparent and honest, and we know about their company, but we also connect with all of those people as individuals. There's a lot of great companies out there that are just one single person; Virtual Staff Finder makes me think of Chris Ducker, Social Triggers is just Derek Halpern, and so Digital Farm can be Bill, for sure.
Bill, thank you so much for your question. I really appreciate it, and an AskPat t-shirt will be headed your way. An assistant of mine will be in contact with you within a week or two to get your information for that. For those of you listening, if you have a question that you'd like potentially featured here on the show, all you have to do is head on over to AskPat.com. You can ask right there on that page. Thank you again to also Lynda.com for sponsoring today's episode. You can get unlimited access to every course on Lynda.com right now by going to Lynda.com/askpat. You'll get access to view tutorials also on your tablets and iPhone, including your Android devices as well. There are new courses added every week and these courses aren't just like links that YouTube would use, these are high quality in studio. They bring people in studio, they're professionally shot. They also have a lot of supplemental formation and worksheets and certificates for some of the things that you can use and take back to your boss as well to show them that you've been improving. You might get a raise out of it too. That's the first thing that came to mind when I saw this site. Go to Lynda.com/askpat and you can get your 10-day, all-access free trial right now.
Thank you again so much, and as always, I like to end with a quote, and this quote is from Ayn Rand, and she says, “The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity.” Cheers. Take care. Thank you so much for listening to AskPat, and whether you are a new subscriber or somebody been following since day one, please take a second to head on over to iTunes and leave a review. I don't ask all the time, but when I do ask, I do hope that you will, if you are getting value out of this obviously. If you do take a sec, to go to iTunes, look up AskPat, and leave a review. It's just extremely helpful and helps out the show so much. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much. Take care, and I'll see you tomorrow. Cheers.
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