Are You a Product or a Brand?


There's been a lot written over the years on the ideas of the personal brand. I'm always surprised how many otherwise bright people will go get a Hotmail account when what they need is a professional, personal email address. Part of blogging's appeal to many is the chance to build personal brand. Tom Peters says "To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You."

I was just reading a post by Chris Borgan about making money from podcasts called Your Show Itself is NOT the Money Maker. He says:

The other value comes from the same reason radio stations exist for bands, and that's as promotion of your core product: YOU. If you have a specialized skill, like Heidi Miller as a corporate conversationalist for trade events, or Christopher S. Penn as a leader in financial aid advice, or Becky McCray as an expert on the rural small business, you've got a show that drives home the fact that you're an expert.

This brings people to your door for other opportunities, for consultation, for short term contracted help, and for other opportunities you never knew existed. And here, you're playing on your uniqueness.
From [chrisbrogan.com] » Your Show Itself is NOT the Money Maker
Referenced Wed Feb 21 2007 13:22:03 GMT-0600

This is a distinction that Doc Searls refers to as "making money because of your blog, rather than making money from your blog." I've espoused that idea before as well, but I've been rethinking that lately.

Notice that Peters uses the word "brand" and Brogan uses the word "product." That's a critical distinction in my eyes. The problem with you as a product is that there's only so much of you. Let's say you work 2000 hours a year. You want to make more money. There's just two choices: make more per hour or work more hours. The first is hard and the second is harder.

A better strategy is to use your time to create products besides you that can be sold or otherwise monetized. This leverages your time and your brand. What kind of products? Software, paintings, podcasts, whatever your skill set leads you to.

Obviously, this is harder to do than it is to say. Maybe monetizing your blog or podcast is hard for whatever reason. Maybe you don't want to for other reasons. No matter, you're still building brand. But to make money off that brand, you've got to have a product. If that product is you, then your upside is limited. Find something else if you can.