There's a lot of talk in the discussion groups here at IM faceplate about personal branding. Some people say it's critical to create your own online identity, others claim you'll be more successful as part of a team.
If you listen to the first group, you'll believe that any promotion that doesn't include your name and photo (and preferably an opt-in form for your subscriber list) is a waste of time and money. If your name isn't on it, you're wasting a valuable opportunity to get yourself seen and heard.
The second group will tell you that working alone is a painfully hard and slow process. You'll make more money quicker (and you'll be less likely to give up altogether) by working with a team of people all promoting the same program.
Both arguments have some merit.
The biggest problem people face with online marketing is drop-out rate. People drop out of programs, or stay a member but stop promoting, for various reasons. Maybe they joined too many programs and overstretched themselves, maybe they only joined to look around and then decided it wasn't for them after all, maybe life happened and they just forgot about it. Or perhaps - and this is the biggest reason of all - they didn't make any money.
The team concept goes some way to address this problem. If you join an active team, during or just before a period of heavy growth, you should make some money fairly quickly. But team builds do slow down (even the new kind that require minimum activity levels from all members). The bottom of the downline gets wider and wider, there are more people marketing to less potential customers, and it takes longer for the new members to get their first 3, or 5, or whatever the number is.
I'm not suggesting you'll NEVER get your referrals if you come into a team build "late", just that there comes a point when it might have been quicker to do it on your own.
And here we come back to personal branding.
All that time you've spent promoting the team is worth nothing if the team leader decides enough is enough. It's slowed down too much, new members aren't happy, people have stopped promoting and are leaving in droves. It's time to shut it down. All the people you've referred just disappear.
Working for yourself, getting your name and photo recognised, networking and building relationships might be a slower way to make money, but it's a more sustainable way. When the current wave of "next big things" disappears, the relationships you have built, and the people who have come to know you, will still be there.
Promoting yourself requires a shift in expectations. My grandfather said this to me about starting a business when I was very young:
"In your first year, you'll make a loss. In your second year, you might be lucky and break even. In your third year, if you're REALLY lucky, you might start to make a profit."
Those words have stuck with me, not because turning a profit is such an exact science, but because of the time scales involved. He talked about years. Not days, weeks, or even the months we think it will take to make loads of money, leave our jobs, and live happily ever after. Years.
To be successful in business, you need a lot of things. Commitment, determination, patience, and the respect of your peers. How can you earn people's respect if no-one knows who you are?
Use what you have.
Put your name and your face next to everything you promote, and everything you say. Give people a chance to get to know you. Take the time to connect with other people and build relationships.
Promote yourself, and the rest will naturally follow.
You can read more about personal branding and how to make it work for you on my traffic exchange blog.