An Interview With Myself About How To Build A Brand Online In 2020

If you're wondering how to build a brand online in 2020, these tips will help you be more successful
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If you’re wondering how to build a brand online in the year 2020, you’re definitely not alone. Everywhere you look, people seem to be producing more and more content across an abundance of platforms, hoping to engage with an audience and get the attention of brands who will pay them for doing so — because a 9-to-5 job is so boring these days, right?

You’ve got the usual suspects like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but people are getting smarter with how they use LinkedIn, YouTube and even Reddit, creating engaging content to build a community. After all, that’s what it’s about, right? Community.

We’re all our own brand, and we all have a voice, but why are some businesses more successful online than others? Why are some people profiting for being nothing more than themselves? Those are questions I’ve asked myself for the past year, ever since I first launched Shut Up & Hustle — and it’s starting to become clearer as I continue to navigate this journey.

As somebody who has worked at some of the highest level and most recognizable brands in the world, I’ve been fortunate enough to be behind the curtain. I’ve had access to extremely smart people, while also having the best resources in order to build a brand online, scale and, most importantly, make money. But since I’ve been doing it on my own with Shut Up & Hustle, starting a business online has taken much longer than I had anticipated, as launching from scratch has been a major challenge. So I’ve decided to search for some of the reasons why, interviewing myself below to help you better understand how to build a brand online in the year 2020.

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Why Did You Launch Shut Up & Hustle?

Before just diving into how to build a brand online, I figured it’d be best to answer the most simple question: Why did I even want to? Personally, it was all about purpose, as I’ve wanted to help people have a platform to share their experiences for others to follow, while encouraging them to keep fighting for success.

Believe it or not, we’re all on the same team, as it’s in our nature to root for people. It’s why so many people are willing to help if you just ask. It’s why we’re able to bounce back from adversity. It’s that support and community that I wanted to capture with Shut Up & Hustle.

So Why The Hell Has It Taken So Long To Build The Brand Online Then?

I know, it’s frustrating AF seeing website traffic taper off each month — especially when there’s momentum following a great month — but, right now, that’s all part of the plan. Remember, you need to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run. At the moment, Shut Up & Hustle is working on becoming a lifestyle and media brand, not just a website, meaning the product is more than just a bunch of eyeballs to a web destination. This means defining roles as this thing grows.

Here’s the honest truth: I don’t give a damn about website traffic at the moment, as I’ve always treated it as a byproduct to the other things the brand is planning on doing. If producing written content for the website isn’t sustainable — which, at the moment, it isn’t — then it’s taking one step forward and then two steps back as traffic fluctuates. I don’t want short-term wins, I want long-term ones, and, in the year 2020, the last thing anyone else needs is another .com with a bunch of information to digest.

OK, Smart Guy, What Are You Focusing On For Shut Up & Hustle To Differentiate Itself?

Diversification. Relationships. Community. Authenticity.

Contrary to popular belief, those aren’t just buzz words I found online, but my real life strategy on how to build a brand online. It’s about identifying multiple distribution channels for content, developing the right strategy and then being smart while executing it. Simple enough, right? Well… not so fast.

I’ve created enough content in my life to know that, in essence, if you throw enough shit to the wall, eventually some of it sticks. However, it’s about finding the people who share the same belief as you that will make it most successful. Sure, not everything’s going to hit, but you’re giving yourself a better chance at succeeding by aligning with a community of advocates who support your mission.

For that reason, I’m developing podcasts — so if anyone’s interested and has ideas, hit me up. I’m working on original video series’. I’m finding authentic stories that tells the real bullshit about hustling to reach a goal. I’m working on aligning with a network of people who have a community with shared values that I have for my brand.

Then How’s The Best Way To Build That Audience?

I’m in the business of storytelling, meaning Shut Up & Hustle needs to be a trusted source when it comes to creating content that people give a damn about. It’s the athlete who didn’t give up after being cut from his high school team. It’s the James Beard Award winning chef who turned a hobby into a profession. It’s about the entrepreneur who failed 1,000 times before having just one person give him or her a chance. No fluff. No bullshit. Just raw, interesting, engaging stories.

Is There A Mantra You Live By For Shut Up & Hustle’s Content?

Engage. Inform. Entertain. Inspire. If you have all four of these elements in a piece of content, I find it will perform well. That means the story hits a nerve, encourages reactions and opens debate.

In Your Opinion, What Are The 5 Best Ways To Build A Brand Online In 2020?

As I mentioned before, it’s about being authentic. The rest will take care of itself

  • Find Your Voice. We’ve all got a story, so how do you want to present yours?
  • Don’t Overthink It. Do you love talking, or prefer to listen? If it’s the former, you might want to start a YouTube channel. If it’s the latter, go ahead and give that podcast a try.
  • Test, Test, Test. Utilize your resources. You might not have a ton of money to blow on promoting things (and that’s OK), but you do have social media platforms that are free to develop a community.
  • Define Your Audience. Not everyone’s going to like you, we all know that, so don’t hold yourself up by trying to please everybody. If you’re most passionate about drumming and love to entertain, go ahead and start a YouTube channel that teaches viewers how to play and target them.
  • Then Engage With That Audience. Be consistent with your content, because, once you start getting followers, they’re expecting new shit from you. It goes back to my point earlier about Shut Up & Hustle not currently focused on only written web traffic, because, say readership grew to tens of thousands each month, if that type of production tapers off, the audience will as well.

How Can You Get Your Community To Go To Work For You?

That’s the ultimate goal for any brand, isn’t it? While no company will ever be self-sustaining, it helps when its community goes to work by sharing quality content to keep the conversation going. It’s why quality over quantity is how I’m approaching Shut Up & Hustle, making sure we nail down the topic we think are most important for our audience in order to keep them engaged.

It’s why we’re focusing on diversifying content across multiple channels, which, hopefully, will give us a better opportunity to cast a wider net and engage with more people.

What’s The Best Lesson You’ve Learned So Far In The First Year With Shut Up & Hustle?

Patience. I honestly fucking hate that I just wrote that, but it’s true. Want to know the ugly truth about how to build a business online? It takes time… lots of it. And if you’re one of those people who don’t have the discipline to persevere and push through all the “no’s” you hear, you won’t be successful.

I’ve been tested a ton in this past year. I’ve been told “no” more than I’ve been told “yes”. I’ve had to swallow my pride a ton of time. Yes, it’s frustrating. No, I wouldn’t change a damn thing about any of it.

OK, So How Do You Actually Make Money From Your Online Brand?

Build something people can trust.

There’s a reason why you see people like life coaches charge thousands of dollars for a two-hour seminar — and it’s because they’re offering something people believe will work for themselves. It’s telling that authentic story that leads to revenue as your brand continues to grow.

Remember the example above about turning your passion for drumming into a YouTube channel that teaches people how to play? While the content itself needs to be consistent to maintain an audience, it also needs to be helpful, proving to them that you know what the hell you’re talking about. Why do you think piano teachers exist? Because they know how to play more than just chopsticks.

If you’re wondering how to build a brand online in 2020, these are just some helpful tips I’ve learned from my own experiences. Feel free to collaborate on Shut Up & Hustle’s LinkedIn page to get more inspiring and educational content.


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One thought

  1. That was a really good read. As someone who is trying to launch a freelance content writing career after an 8-year gap in the midst of a pandemic, this just what I needed to read today. Thank you.

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