Shameless Self-Marketing

27 March 2009 | 34 Comments

If you follow me online, you’d know that I’ve never been afraid of promoting and building my own personal brand. Considering that I’ve managed to dub myself as first the WordPress Rockstar and now just as Adii Rockstar, I think I’ve been rather successful with this approach.

More recently (as in yesterday) I even hired a photographer to do a photo shoot with me, because I needed some professional and trendy photos of myself to further build this rockstar image online. Photo shoots are generally associated with celebrities (which I’m most definitely not), but who am I then do decide that the world needs to see photos of me!?

So is this all an act of being arrogant and boosting my own ego? Or might there just be some rationale (business) motives behind all of this rockstar awesomeness? Let me explain…

I’m a firm believer in branding, since through proper, strategic branding you can connect with an interested audience more easily (since you appeal to their interests & preferences). Brands are generally more accessible, more interactive and it also allows people to associate with the values of that brand (which results in engagement).

Beyond that, I doubt that the likes of Apple, Nike & every other major worldwide brand will spend millions on advertising and building their brand image, if it did not serve a strategic purpose.

Branding Adii Rockstar

Now you may ask why I spend so much time / energy on creating a brand based on myself, when I already have two other company brands (WooThemes & Radiiate), which I need to invest in to grow them either further (I consider both to be established brands at the moment - especially WooThemes). I consider this to be a fair question, because this basically requires me to split my branding focus between three entities. But here’s why I do it…

  1. The Adii Rockstar brand lives on a different plane to that of WooThemes and Radiiate, which means that even though the brands (and their success) is connected, they’re also totally independent of each other. If one of the brands thus reaches the end of its lifespan, my personal brand will still enable me to move onto other business opportunities. This is obviously an extremely important consideration for me, as I consider myself an entrepreneur before I’d ever be a designer, developer, blogger etc - so I will definitely be involved in other businesses in my career.
  2. Having an alternative brand, means that I get to push personal projects (such as my upcoming book - Rockstar Business), without having to develop an all-new brand identity for that project. Projects like these are obviously very closely connected to my own identity, which means that they wouldn’t really live on beyond my career, but these projects aren’t my core focus (currently that spot is reserved to WooThemes) and they’re always be considered side-projects.

The Shameless (?) Self-Marketing Strategy

I don’t think I’m the kind of person that pushes their personality onto people, but I also don’t believe in shying away from who I am. But you need to see every interaction as an opportunity to engage with another person (or a group of people) and therein lies an opportunity to promote your personal brand.

I’m definitely not suggesting that you should forego real-life (normal) interaction, but if you can be yourself within those interactions (i.e. your agenda shouldn’t be marketing  yourself), I’m sure you can build your brand (if only slightly).

9 Thoughts on building your personal brand

So here’s a few tips / thoughts on how you can go about building your own rockstar brand:

  1. Stay true yourself - always! You were created to be unique and people definitely do not want to follow a robot around. Never compromise on your own personal morals / values / ethics for the sake of business / marketing benefit, as that is short-lived.
  2. Remember that life is not about business, it’s not about a career and it’s definitely not about being financially rich. If this is your agenda, then your personal brand is bound to fail. People do not like arrogant snobs and are instead inspired by everyday stories of how the Average Joe achieved success.
  3. Don’t ignore other people. This becomes increasingly difficult as you grow your own brand and you gather a bigger following, because it obviously becomes impossible to make time for everyone (even if it is just for a 140 character tweet). But you need to seem as accessible to others as possible to create the sense that if someone were to approach you, they would not be shown away.
  4. If you tell people something over and over, they’re bound to believe it. This worked with my whole Rockstar branding excercise, as enough people see me as a rockstar now. Obviously this would not have worked if I didn’t have the success / experience to back it up (so lying doesn’t work), but branding & success goes hand-in-hand anyway.
  5. When others start recommending you, you’re gonna reach tipping point. It’s fun when you’re the only one promoting your brand, but when others start recommending you and saying nice things, they’re influencing their networks as well (thus helping your brand go viral).
  6. Make sure you’re adding value. If you’re branding attempts are more noise than signal, people will probably ignore it. If you can however inspire people through your experiences / ideas / sharing, then they’re likely to subscribe to your way of thinking and ultimately the ideas on your brand.
  7. Keep at it. Building a brand takes a lot of time, energy and most importantly - constant innovation. I’ve probably “reinvented” myself more than once in the past 2 years, but only because I had to tweak what I was doing and how others were seeing perceiving me. Also consider that you definitely do not have a multi-million dollar budget to spend on your own personal branding.
  8. In opportunity you get, humanize your brand. People relate to other people, which means that the same people should relate more to a personal brand compared to a company brand. But then, you need to ensure that you don’t become a brand and that you are still human in the end!
  9. Connect with other rockstars. There’s nothing like meeting new people and tapping into their own genius. Beyond that, it is even better if another rockstar can vouch (recommend) for your brand, as that just adds credibility.

I’d love to your feedback on this, as I’m obviously only seeing this from one perspective (my own). I have to however continue to back myself (based on my past successes in this regard) and that’s why I think I’m a suitable candidate to write an article on this. But that said, I would not have been able to build a personal brand had it not been for every friend & supporter (you) that I’ve met during this journey. So your opinion / vote still counts for a helluva lot…

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34 Responses to “Shameless Self-Marketing”

  1. Very cool stuff - rockon bru !

  2. Magnus says:

    Admit it… you just did the photoshoot because you like to pose in front of a camera :) Movie (rock)star next!

    • Adii Rockstar says:

      Fair enough - I’ve always wanted to be a male model and wouldn’t mind being a hotshot Hollywood groupie actor… Wait… Eek… :)

      On the movie-bit though… Can be change that to TV? Planning on getting myself a nice little HD video camera in the UK next month to do some video blogs. Then I can spam the world wide web with my ugly mug - in video motion! :)

  3. Iaan says:

    I like the idea of the personal brand and think it is entirely overlooked in the traditional business/branding sense, but is essential in business today.

    Having a strong personal brand with a reasonable following and trust associated with it, means you can save time/money/effort when starting to brand new businesses or projects by attaching your personal brand to the new endeavor. Proven by your connection to Radiiate / Woothemes.

    I think however that the personal branding strategy must be long term and treated with much more integrity than any other branding strategy. If a business fails / disappoints the public, the founders can start something new under a new brand. Attaching a brand to your person removes the barrier between you and the public.

    With this in mind, i think the importance of the 9 steps above cannot be overemphasized.

    Great post!

    • Adii Rockstar says:

      I like two things that you mentioned above: trust & integrity.

      People will inherently only follow (and commit) to something / someone that they trust. So the challenge is firstly to establish that trust, but the bigger challenge is to keep that trust and ensure that you never step across the boundaries of that trust relationship.

      And secondly, integrity (in the long term) should never - ever (!!) - be underestimated or comprimised upon! I agree that any personal branding strategy should be focussed on the long term, as that is where the real value is. I also think the long term approach eliminates the possibility of falsely extracting short term value based on nothing more than PR lies.

      Credible reputations take years to build; not weeks or months…

  4. I agree 100%. One of the most important things form me (as I’m also building a personal brand) is the fact that you have to stay true to yourself (1) and to not ignore others (3). A personal brand should reflect your personality and who you are. Apart form running the business (admin etc), one of the most important is to connect and network with others. As we all know, WOM is your best advertising and it will go further than you can reach!

    Thanks Adii, great post!

    • Adii Rockstar says:

      You’ve done incredibly well for yourself ever since we got your website / portfolio / blog online last year; so I can vouch for your success and the subsequent authority of your comment.

      I hope that everyone else has a look at your blog and tracks your progress / success through the archives, because it is a truly inspiring journey! :) Keep up the good work (and thanks for those awesome photos)!

  5. Charl Norman says:

    Dude, love the photo shoot! Now you have proper pics to send to journos… makes total sense.

    Who is the king of self promotion? d:

    • Adii Rockstar says:

      Can I just be the Rockstar of self-promotion? Because you are obviously still king and Mr Mogul Boy himself… I just couldn’t beat that (even if I wanted to)… :)

      And yeah - now I have some nice pics to send to the journalists you hooked me up with. Now more amateur hour when it comes to sending off pics which I had to take myself!

  6. Well It works. I like the Adii brand, maybe even more than the Wootheme brand, because it is more personal, and it communicates with you on twitter :). It also has positive spillover effects on the Woo brand, because the person behind the website now has a face for me and that gives more trust, plus I can read how passionate you are in your work, which made me better realize the quality of WooThemes.

    • Adii Rockstar says:

      Hehe - don’t tell Magnus & Mark that you like Adii Rockstar more than WooThemes… :)

      But I hear you… A personal brand is much more human and thus able to connect with others on a much more personal level. Unfortunately it doesn’t matter how engaging & interactive a company brand is, it can never reach the personal attributes & qualities of a real human.

      I believe that we (Magnus, Mark & myself) are the champions of WooThemes (in terms of promoting it) and by building our own brands, personalities and reputations, we’re also giving WooThemes a human face as you’ve mentioned. I simply find this essential in building a company!

      • Hehe probably if I had found WooThemes through their blogs, it would be the other way around. But ye good work keep it up :).
        Btw did u see my message on twitter? @adii Any indication on when Metamorhpis theme is rlsed? Really want to launch my new blog with it :). Btw I left a comment with some feedback/questions on the woothemes blog an at in more detailed. But Izuddin isn’t the one coding it so i heard, maybe u can link it to the right person? :P

      • Adii Rockstar says:

        There isn’t an ETA on any of our new themes. The next one in line to be released is Bloggingstream and beyond that we haven’t decided yet.

        I’ll also comment on Izuddin’s post.

  7. Rob Schultz says:

    Personal branding is a must if you’re an entrepreneur, and this article wraps up all the reasons and puts a nice little Tiffany blue bow on the packaging. As usual, well done, Adii Rockstar.

    For me, my personal branding has done a lot. In fact, I was recently quite surprised when my online name/brand, Truebluetitan, made it’s way off of the computer and into every day conversation. Now, it’s not uncommon for me to walk around the office and hear people say things like “titan” or “TBT!” as I walk by. If quizzed, I’d bet my paycheck that most would be able to describe what TBT means to me and thus to them.

    @Iaan I found myself nodding visibly as I read your reply. Integrity is the backbone of my personal brand. As a big brother I constantly drill the importance of this into my brother’s head by saying: Everyday, when I wake up I look in the mirror when I am getting ready. If I don’t like the guy looking back at me, then TODAY is the day I make a change.

  8. John says:

    I LOL at how ignorantly up yourself you are! Adii, if I were to tell you that I don’t like your branding, or I don’t like your current theme, how would you react?

    • Adii Rockstar says:

      I LOL at your totally anonymous comment. It’s always funny when people with negative comments tend to go the anonymous route, instead of sticking to their guns and owning up to their opinions.

      That said… I’ll answer your question as I would anyone else’s here on the blog…

      I’m not pretending to be perfect or right all the time. I’ve implemented a branding strategy, which seems to have been rather successful until now. I realize that I simply can’t appeal to everyone through this branding (thats why different people like Nike, Adidas & Reebok) and I’m not overly optimistic of ever reaching that point where I do appeal to everyone.

      But I do believe in not excluding anybody on purpose, which means that anyone who is willing to prive me with constructive criticism in terms of my branding / other activities, will also challenge my views on what I’m doing. And if I’m convinced that the feedback has substance, then I will implement tweaks to my branding.

      Hope that answers your question!?

    • Jared says:

      Last time I checked, Rockstars can do whatever the hell they want.

      But seriously, sounds like someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed or got beaten with the ugly stick. Calm down.

      Adii, I thought the photo shoot looked great. Some of the more artistic photos I’ve seen in awhile. Wish I could get some mug shots like that ^_^

      • Adii Rockstar says:

        Hehe… Those are pretty good for mugshots, right? :) Christine really is an amazing photographer and all the credit needs to go to her for the photos.

        I just stood there and tried not to look like a complete tool…

    • “I don’t like your branding”

      Many people don’t like McDonalds…it goes figure that you will not always like what someone/something does.

      “I don’t like your current theme”

      Some people like looking at a city skyline, whilst others would prefer not seeing anything but a mountain range and a forest.

      I don’t see why you need to try invoke a reaction to be frank.
      Adii does a great job at being informative and producing quality products from what I see and if you don’t like what he offers then there are plenty of other designers out there who offer a different perspective :)

      • Adii Rockstar says:

        Thanks for the support Stuart!

        And I agree with you here… I think it’s a waste of time to make decisions that will make everybody happy, because you will ultimately be dissapointed, as this is very close to being absolutely impossible! I believe in making decisions (personally and in a business sense) that would appeal to most people, as those tend to produce the best results.

  9. John says:

    *whip cracking noise* There’s the reaction I was looking for! Look, it’s a question of value vs. respect. I’m not saying I don’t respect what you’ve done with yourself, I still read your feed after many years, I just love how on Twitter you don’t take criticism too kindly, and how you call yourself a Rockstar. Do you think McJagger called himself a Rockstar?


    • Adii Rockstar says:

      I’d love for you to back up your claim that I don’t take criticism (via Twitter) kindly!?

      And does it matter what Mick Jagger did? How does that affect my branding? The Rockstar branding is defintely supposed to be light-hearted (as that’s the way I am) and I reckon that most people see it in that light.

  10. John says:

    Jared! Fight… Against… Conformity!

    4) If you tell people something over and over, they’re bound to believe it.

  11. Laura Kalbag says:

    I think there’s a fine line and a big difference between arrogance and self-awareness.

    You need to be self-aware to be able to market yourself, and this is what Adii clearly demonstrates in this post. It surely isn’t arrogance, he doesn’t make any false claims and backs up his image with his success.

    I really appreciate this article, Adii. I think that people are often scared to talk about branding themselves, in fear of appearing arrogant, and so you don’t see so much about it online. A person may not like your current theme, but that is personal opinion. The fact that it provoked a reaction shows you must be doing something right in order to engage people and make them read your content! :)

    • Adii Rockstar says:

      I think that people are often scared to talk about branding themselves, in fear of appearing arrogant, and so you don’t see so much about it online.

      I do believe in putting myself out there and along with that, I’ve made many mistakes which were visible in the public eye. Through this journey however, I hope to inspire others, whilst improving and challenging myself on a daily basis.

      I must admit that this approach is nothing new, as Carsonified are the guys (and girls) who implemented this approach first. They’ve been flamed so many times for their transparency, yet they continue to grow and thrive as a company. Being transparent and honest always trumps the alternative…

  12. Nothing wrong with “Shameless Self-Promotion”, especially when you have used your success to selflessly help promote others as well (like myself) on more than one occasion. Rock on brotha…

    • Adii Rockstar says:

      That’s great to hear Jason! :) Plus - your quality work is easy to recommend / promote! Keep it up!

  13. Prashant says:

    The left hand side photo here;
    would look more better on your Twitter profile pic. my 2 cents.

  14. marchand says:

    Excellent write up! Some very good advise.
    (2,139 followers + 1)

  15. Len says:

    Being self-employed for nearly 13 years I understand where you are coming from. In business image is everything. (well maybe not everything but it is very important) Doesn’t make it right or wrong it’s just the way it is.

    You have done a great job with the personal branding thing while carving out a niche for yourself.

  16. I’ve used the same strategy for my Filipino script translation site There wasn’t a “professional” or a “face” in the field so I created one (myself). It was pretty simple because the niche is so small. I’ll be the 1st to admit, that i was uncomfortable with all the self-promotion but you gotta do it. People will trust you based on their perception of you.

  17. Hans says:

    Hey Adii - you said it broo - SHAMELESS SELF MARKETING!

    You have some valid points boet - just don’t go getting too far in front of yourself… humility is as important as integrity

    • Adii Rockstar says:

      Why would you suggest that I’m getting too far ahead of myself?

      I’m a firm believer in humility and even though I know for a fact that some things I do online seems like arrogance, that is also part of the marketing. Arrogance for me however is not the exact opposite of humility; instead humility means being grateful for the blessings one has received and acknowledging that these are not as a result of your own human powers.


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