In ten years, the Internet will be the mainstream media. The Internet is how we communicate, find information, shop, and learn. It’s easy to believe that we’ve seen it all when it comes to the Internet and social media, but we’re really only at the beginning of understanding the true power of the Internet and how it will continue to impact our lives.
As ambitious, creative, and smart women in 2016, it’s really a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘why’ when it comes to your online presence. There are 7 billion people in the world and at the end 2015, 3.2 billion of them were using the Internet. Building your online presence gives you access to billions of people all over the world.
There isn’t a brand or influential person in the world that doesn’t own and control their online presence. It’s time for you to really consider what your online presence says about you. When anyone from a potential employer, client or customer wants to learn anything about you, chances are they’re heading to Google to find out what your online presence says about you.
What is your “online presence”?
Your online presence is the sum of all the information available about you or your business that can be found by an online search. You don’t have to have a business or be very active online to have an online presence; even someone who only has a LinkedIn or Facebook profile has one. Your online presence has a very broad reach, and when built successfully, it can spread your message, build your business, personal brand, and secure potential employment opportunities.
Building your online presence is not an overnight process.
Building your online presence can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. You have the message, the brand, the business, and experience but now what? You’ve joined the right social media platforms and launched your website with a blog and still you’re not achieving any of your goals. This is a frustration that I know all too well. Trust me, I’ve been there.
Building your online presence is a deliberate, careful, and strategic process.
Today, my online presence includes a business website with a blog, social media platforms, and a YouTube channel, but it didn’t start that way. This has definitely been a journey of many wrong moves and unnecessary worries.
What I didn’t realize is that there would be distinct phases to this, that each phase was necessary to my growth. I took steps in each phase that I didn’t know at the time would lay the foundation.
The Seven Phases of Building Your Online Presence
In the consumption phase, you are just taking in various forms of content. From podcasts to endless articles, the Internet has so much information and entertainment at your disposal. You can easily consume content all day every day while never considering how you can add to it by creating your own.
This is observation phase is important because it teaches you about the power of online content and how many people it can truly reach. This is especially the case when we come across blog posts, and videos with millions of views and shares.
I found that just consuming content taught me what quality content looks like. I also learned about the different types of content forms. In the very beginning, I was obsessed with style and lifestyle bloggers. The girls behind such fabulous outfits fascinated me. I made it a point to study them so I could produce that kind of quality content on my own.
While I have been creating my own content, I have not stopped consuming. The consumption phase never really ends; you just narrow in on what is useful to you and your online presence and what you can pass on.
In this phase: Figure out what type of content you enjoy the most. Do you love written blog posts, video content, graphics, infographics, gifs, etc.? Once you narrow in on the kind of content you enjoy the most, start using Google and YouTube to learn how to produce that type of content.
After consuming tons of content and watching others build an incredible online presence, I wanted to build my own. I decided to start a blog, theglamsavvylife.com, and I also secured the domain for NiaPhillip.com. I’m not using it at the moment because I’m focused on CreativeSmartGirl.com but I understood that in order to control my online presence, I had to at the very least own my name. When it comes to control and your online presence there are 3 things to keep in mind:
Control Your Story
When someone does an online search for you or your business, you want to control of some of the results they may see. Your brand is your story and you don’t want that to be told by anyone but you. Controlling your online presence allows you to control your story.
Control your future
The Internet is the future. There really isn’t a clearer way to put it. It doesn’t matter where you see yourself in the future; you should be learning how to navigate the online space and how you can use it to your advantage. It’s the smart thing to do. Even if you have no intention to use it today, that can all change in 5-10 years.
Control Global Digital Real Estate
Your online space is global real estate. You may not be able to ever open physical space in another country but once your website goes live boom! You’re present all over the world. At this current moment, you can purchase a domain for less than $20 but that can all change very soon. Even if you don’t know how to use it, buy and park it.
Action: Purchase the domain for your full name, even if you have no idea how you will use it in the future. Figure out what story you want to tell online and how you will tell it.
Once I consumed tons of content and began to lay the groundwork to control my online presence, I knew I needed to commit. I made it a point to do the work necessary to build an online presence that delivers the message I wanted to share with the world. This may seem like a small phase but it’s actually a really important one. This is a long and timely process you have to make a conscious decision to do the work.
Building an online presence for your business, your personal brand, or your message is a serious matter that will require a serious commitment. You have to make a decision that this is something you’re going to commit to.
Action: Commit to doing the work necessary to get the job done. Yes, it’s that serious. Get honest with yourself. Schedule time each week to do the work necessary to build your online presence. When you commit to something, it’s about doing it consistently.
With commitment will come a deep level of focus and concentration? The concentration phase is about discipline and learning. You have to concentrate and spend some time learning. Find the people with the online presence you admire and pay close attention to their behaviors. There are 4 things to really focus in on:
Building an online presence will require some serious storytelling. Play close attention to the way your favorite online personalities and brand tell stories. It’s one of the most beautiful and compelling things about the Internet. Most of the viral content you see online is because they make great stories. In everything, you will present online, remember to tell a great story.
Words are powerful and beautiful, but great visuals are an absolute must in the online space. Our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter and most people would rather see it than read it. Videos and infographics are exploding right now and it will only continue to get bigger. This is definitely something I wish I paid closer attention to in the beginning. Don’t focus on just pretty visuals. Back it up with substance but also don’t dismiss the importance of your visual presentation.
I had no idea what writing copy was until last year, but it has definitely propelled my message and my brand forward. Copy is the words used to get someone to take action, even if the action is something as simple as clicking a link. Copy is incredibly important in the online space. Take the time to study how someone can get you to take action online. This is something I wish I took to time to really learn and understand before starting a blog or even launching a website.
Action: Research storytelling, visual presentation, and copy writing. Get a good grasp on what they are on how to use them.
After concentrating and learning for a while, you’ll find yourself experiencing information overload. Don’t fear. The clarification phase will help you make sense of everything and put some structure around all the things that are the key foundations of any online presence. I’ve launched too many projects without clarification on the following 3 things, proving that they needed more work.
You MUST clarify:
What is the one message you want to share with the world? What is your story? This is key to your brand identity. Every great brand has a great story with a memorable message. You need the same to truly flourish online. The Creative Smart Girl message is do the work the build the career, life and style of your dreams. My message is a great compass. When I get distracted or feel overwhelmed, I can always use it as a great reminder of what I’m really trying to do here. Your message will do the same for you.
For a long time, my niche was just style. That was great for a while, but once I started sharing my online experience, my management experience, and my self-development tips, my audience really grew and became a lot more engaged. Your niche is really the industry you have the most experience in. Within that industry, chose topics you can write/talk about for an extended period of time.
Your Target Audience
Who do you believe will benefit most from your content? Trying to reach everyone will complicate and just cause more confusion for you. Instead, focus in on an audience that you can provide the most value to. Try to get as specific as possible. Once you gain some clarity on who your target audience is, you can begin to try to find them and study their behaviors. Getting clear on my target audience has done wonders for me.
Action: Do some research on messaging, niches, and finding your target audience.
To truly have an impact in the online space, creating quality original content is required. Sure, you can put up a website about yourself and your expertise, but to position yourself and really gain some attention, original content is the way to go. I started creating content before really understanding the previous phases, and for a while, my content just wasn’t very good. By really taking myself through these phases, I was able to understand how to create useful content for my target audience within my niche. Can you start creating content right out of the gate? Sure. If you don’t get the response you hoped for, just remember that this will take time. I can’t create quality content without the following three things:
Do the research to find some supporting facts for the major points you make in a blog post. It helps build your credibility and strengthen your content.
Edit. Edit. Edit. I’ve hired a copy editor to help with my errors and clarity. When you’re first starting out, you probably won’t have the bandwidth to hire anyone but call on a good friend to just proofread for you, this will go a long way. Readers are willing to let a few errors slide but too many is a turn-off.
You should have a plan for having visuals that help your content stand out from the very beginning. Your blog cover photos, your social media posts, and infographics should have a consistent look and feel. This will help your audience find you on any platform. Also, as soon as you kind, get some professional pictures of yourself that reflect your message and story.
Action: Create different forms of content from blogging to YouTube videos see which one your audience responds to. Make more of it. Get better at creating it.
The collaboration phase is by far my most favorite phase. Social media provides such a wonderful opportunity for us to connect with the people we admire. Through social media, we can connect and add value to each other’s work. It’s a beautiful thing.
With the #CreativeSmartGirl chat, I find myself in the inbox of some of the people I’ve admired for years, asking them to collaborate. The key thing to keep in mind about collaboration is VALUE. If someone provides something valuable to you, you want to do the same for her. Collaboration is a two-way street.
It took a very long time to work up the nerve to send the e-mails, but in all honesty, I’ve encountered nothing but love and positivity from all the women I’ve collaborated with. It’s been a beautiful experience. In the online space, I can’t think of one thing that’s helped position and build my brand more than collaborations.
Action: Create a wish list of people you’d like to collaborate and brainstorm a few ideas that could be great collaborations with each person.
So, where are you in building your online presence? Building my own online presence was not this neat or organized. Hopefully, this helps you stay the course and get to your goal. It’s not an overnight process but it’s a major key to your future as a creative and smart woman.