5 Ways to Own Your Personal Brand Online

Own Your Personal BrandThis is a guest contribution by Jacob Curtis, make sure to check his blog at the end of the post. 

Believe it or not, your name is a brand and in today’s world where most first impressions are made online, you better believe that owning your name is more important that it’s ever been.

Let’s face it, if you’re applying for a job, you will be Googled. Your social profiles will be checked, and any compromising photos or negative press found can and will be used against you.

Don’t make it that easy for recruiters to dismiss you, since they’re already looking for any reason to make their stack of resumes any smaller.

Regardless of whether you’re looking for a job or not, reputation management and your personal brand online should be important to you.

You need to stake your claim and start with owning these first:

1. Own your Search Results

What’s the first thing hiring mangers do after your resume has made it past the first round of cuts? They Google your name.

Now, some of you may have been blessed with a unique name, but if you’re like me, Jacob Curtis is pretty common. You can imagine how surprised I was when I checked Jacobcurtis.com only to find a website dedicated to the “cutest baby in the world”born in 1994. This presented a classic case of not securing my name, though this kids parents must have been pretty tech savvy to claim the domain that early.

Owning your search results means creating a strategy to move up the rankings. This can be done in many ways, here’s three to get you started.

  1. Get a website with your name as the domain and use it to showcase your accomplishments
  2. Create a blog that you update frequently and are the author of
  3. Establish yourself on social profiles (see below)

2. Own your Social Profiles

Facebook, Linkedin, Google Plus, Twitter, the list goes on. Owning your social profiles means filling out your bio completely, having a professional profile picture, and most importantly securing any vanity URLS these platforms provide such as Facebook.com/yourname or your Twitter handle.

It’s also a good idea to stay up to date on new platforms being released so you can be one step ahead of your competition in securing your name.

If you’re already established on these channels and have been for some time, go back through to make sure it’s cleaned up. There’s no telling how deep a recruiter will dig to find dirt.

Remember, your name on these social profiles will also rank highly in search engines as most of them have high authority.

3. Own your Face

Yes, I just said that, but I couldn’t be more serious. Aside from your name, your face is your second best feature. I suggest using the same profile picture across all your online profiles as this will help with name-to-face recognition. Also, these images may appear in Google Image search results so keep them as professional as possible.

ProTip: Save the image file on your computer as your name before you upload it to the internet, depending on where its hosted this will provide a small benefit to it’s SEO ranking.

…and please, no logos – you aren’t that recognizable yet.

4. Own your Reputation

Be consistent with how you represent yourself in both online and offline worlds. I don’t care if your Linkedin is nice and polished –you still Tweet like a Pirate, andyour latest update on Facebook says your  “your boss is a jerk”. You need to look at your online presence holistically

Even worse, what if you still use pinkbearxoxo88@email.com as your professional email? Don’t let the small things fall through the cracks.

Besides, these inconsistencies will be found and you will be judged on them.

Also, if your dealing with bad press, deserved or not, there is hope, but it takes work. To bring down the stuff you don’t want you’re going to have to build up the stuff you do want.

This goes back to owning your search and also includes asking for testimonials or providing references of your good work.

5. Own the Conversations About You

Believe it or not, people could be talking about you online right now. Are these conversations good or bad? There’s no way to tell unless you’re listening.

At a very basic level you should at least set up Google Alerts with your name as the keywords. An example of this is Hootsuite, which allows you to monitor mentions of your name on Twitter.

Setting up these types of alerts allow you to intervene in conversations going on about you much faster than if you were to just stumble onto them – allowing you to add your two cents and represent yourself. Obviously, unless you’re a celebrity or are in the lime light you may never receive an alert. However wouldn’t you rather be safe than sorry?

Owning your personal online brand takes time and is not only beneficial for the reasons above, but nothing says “I can manage your brand” to a potential employer better than having your own brand established.

Do you think it’s important to claim your name online now or in the future?

Do you know someone who has been turned down from a job because of their social profiles?

Or do you know someone who’s received a job offer based on his or her online presence?

Do you even believe that recruiters are Googling candidates?

What are some other ways you own your personal brand online?

Jacob Curtis, New Media Manager living in Portland Oregon. Jacob produces weekly social media tutorials , videos, comics, blogs, and much more. Follow Jacob on Twitter or Google Plus.

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  1. Great tips! A few I hadn’t thought of. It really is a good idea to keep on top of these things. I personally do a Google search for anyone I work with before I work with them whether I’m checking out a potential client or a potential new team member. With the way I work I often don’t get to meet people face-to-face and it’s nice to know and see them at least as much as is possible via the internet.

  2. Hello Jacob & Daniel,
    This is a great post you just shared and I agree with every word of it.
    I came across the personal branding concept about 3 years ago and I have put them to use thus far. Your post was a needed reminder for me.
    Thanks for sharing and I hope to visit more often.
    Cheers :-)

    • Hey Segun,

      It’s really great to hear that you enjoyed the post man! Indeed personal branding is an important ingredient to every blog and online business, especially now, in the time of social media.


  3. Barry brought of the consistent photo and a similar situation to my question. I had used my Twitter handle before I dreamed up my on-line persona, they are different. My photo is the same. Should I be thinking of changing my twitter name?
    Thank you . Jacob, for sharing with us today.

  4. Very very useful…….and I am starting right now with my profile photo…make it the same in all profile sites…And my blog-should the About me page be my Homepage,or the blogposts?

    • Hey Frank, I’m happy my article helped inspire you to get started. Keep it up! As far as the about me page. I would have it as it’s own dedicated page and have your home page display recent blog posts (if you’re writing them)

      If you aren’t blogging or producing content on your site, then it would be OK to just have a single static site with information about you.

  5. Hi Daniel,
    The idea of setting up a Google alert for your name is a good one. It’s amazing what people say on the Web so a bit of awareness could save you problems in the long run.

  6. Some excellent tips here!

    Too many people have no idea just how much information is catalogued in the various search engines. It’s amazing. There really is no such thing as privacy anymore.

    That being the case, I wholeheartedly agree that it’s important to work hard at building up and, if necessary, doing damage control of your online brand and image.

    Unfortunately for me, I missed out on just my name for things like Twitter and such because there’s a singer here in Florida that has the exact same name that I do. He also had my straight domain name locked up when I wanted one for my blog. Luckily, it’s since expired and I locked it up and have just forwarded it to my blog URL.

    One place I have been consistent, though, is with my picture. I learned that quite a while back and have implemented it. I think that goes a long way for branding you with people. As they start to notice your more and more around the web, if they see the same picture across platforms, I think they tend to become more familiar with you.

    Thanks for sharing the great tips. I hope both of you have a great week!


    • Barry,

      Now that’s some bad luck you’ve had mate. Good to hear you’ve dealt with the problem.

      As for the picture – absolutely. People definitely remember you that way and they instantly know who you are just by the picture, which is what makes it so important. I have to change mine though. I am not really happy with it.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts man! :)

      • Hi Daniel,

        I think you should change your picture. The shadows and angle make it appear a little homemade – there’s a disconnect between the quality of stuff that you write and the photo.

        Please don’t take this personally, its a feedback. My photo is far from the best – people in glasshouses and all that!


    • Hey Barry,

      I’m happy we both know what it’s like to have our names domains locked up, but I’m happy you swooped yours up when it became available.

      I couldn’t agree more about the profile picture tip, I’ve found it a good way to recognize users across different platforms right off the bat!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Hey Jacob and Daniel.

    Thanks for the post – it’s all good info for individuals. But, I’d be interested to read a post by you guys about the next step. How, once you’ve succeeded in creating a strong personal brand, can you become an ambassador for your product or company. I’m thinking content marketing – making yourself an expert in a particular field, something you Daniel, are perhaps making a living off?

    Keep sharing your secrets!
    And thanks for the great posts,

    • Hey Samse,

      Glad you enjoyed Jacob’s take! As for the next step – I believe you are in the right direction – content marketing is probably the most powerful way out there to spread the word about your services. However that doesn’t mean self-promotion. Not at all. It should be insightful content on relevant topics. Of course a single comment can hardly grasp the topic. I might write an article in the future. :)


      • Thanks Daniel.

        That’s the route I’m heading. By focusing on a specific area you have experience in, I guess you can build content around that, and learn from other experts in that field and build from there.

        I like Jacob’s insight about guest blogging, it’s something I’ve heard from other bloggers as being great way to build your online reputation.

        Thanks again.

    • Greetings Samse,

      Daniels makes some great points that help answer your question. The only thing I would add is to begin networking after your foundation is set.

      By networking I mean pick 3 or 4 role models in your industry (either bloggers, speakers, etc.) Research what they are doing well, comment on their blog articles or reply/share their tweets. You’ll be surprised on how approachable most of them are.

      This guest post for Daniel would not have been possible had I not reached out. I’ve also been a frequent visitor to his site and have engaged with Daniel on Twitter (building rapport) prior to submitting a guest blog.

      Daniel is right however, these comments only scratch the surface.

      • Hi Jacob,

        Thanks for the advice. I like the idea of picking 3 or 4 role models, developing rapport and then expanding the network from there. I guess we’re all in a similar boat, with similar goals – so it makes sense that we help each other.

        Thanks again Jacob!

  8. It is hard to keep up with so many different social media platforms out there. Especially if you have personal and business presences. This article makes a strong case for taking the issue seriously though. Thanks.

  9. Very nice blog post with great tips here. This is something that I had not thought about too much.