I think for many of us, we have a deep inner desire for recognition. For myself and the clients I work with and for many of you who are part of the Side Hustle Club Podcast community, I’ve noticed a common thread between many of us, which is:
1) we care deeply about something. We all have something that matters so much to us, and we want to help people in this particular area. We want to do quality work and help a lot of people in relation to this area that we care so much about.
But also, 2) we want to be recognized. Yes, we want to do good work, but we also simultaneously have a secret inner desire to be recognized for the good work that we do.
Yes, we want to help a lot of people, but we also want to be known as the person who genuinely cares about helping people. Yes, we have an innate work ethic and we are so, so dedicated to what we do, but also, we want to be known as someone who is deeply committed to their craft and someone who works hard towards their vision and dreams.
This episode is dedicated to all of us who have big dreams not only in terms of the income and impact we want to create, but we also have big dreams when it comes to building a body of work, becoming known for our unique thought leadership, and amplifying messages or causes that matter to us.
In this episode, we will first look at what it means to become known for something.
Then, we’ll look at the three mistakes that coaches, content creators, and entrepreneurs make, which end up NOT helping them become known for something. Instead, these mistakes lead these individuals to blend in with everyone else on the Internet and hence limits the impact that they can actually make.
Finally, we’ll discuss some practical tips and insights for you to consider implementing in your own brand and business.
SUPER FUN EPISODE. Let’s get started.
What does it mean to become known for something?
There are so many types of things you can be known for.
Here are some examples from the top of my mind:
There’s definitely more ways to become known for something than the examples I just shared. As you can see, there’s no clear cut definition of what it means to be known for something, and there’s surely no clear cut pathway to becoming known for something. There are many, many ways to make this happen.
But if I had to identify a common denominator between all of the examples we just talked about, it would be that the reason why each of these individuals are known for something, is because:
1. First, they have evidence that they are good at what they do. For some, they may be seen as the best of the best, but for others, that’s not necessarily the case. But still, they are good at their craft and it took years to build up a name and reputation for themselves.
It wasn’t a quick success. There were years of hard work and often failure and really really tough times in order to be good at what they do and also to become known for what they do.
2. Second, in this day and age, if you search any of the above examples online, there is a “body of work” even if it’s not necessarily created by the person themselves.
Whether it’s a YouTube channel that you create or someone else narrating your work or story, or even NBA fans analyzing the performance of their favorite players, it’s now more important than ever before that you have some sort of online presence that really captures the scope of who you are and what you do. Especially because if someone who isn’t familiar with you wants to learn more, they’ll then have the information available to them on the Internet.
The way I interpret this is that in order for each of the examples I mentioned to become known for who they are and what they do, they first had honed in on what they do and have proof of results and the street cred.
Second, they have some sort of body of work in place to document and highlight what they’re doing and how they’re impacting the world.
Because of these two variables, they’re now able to achieve the recognition, make the level of income they may be making, and are ultimately positively impacting the world by doing what they really, really like to do and are proud of.
So how does all of this apply to those of us building our own brands and business on the Internet? Let’s unpack exactly that.
I want to start by using myself as a mini case study to illustrate a few points.
At the moment, I am known for several things.
First, I’m known for my story of quitting law school when I realized that I was chasing prestige and the ego desire of impressing others, and law was not the career where I could do work I was truly proud of or be of service to the world.
I’m similarly known for my story of quitting my PhD a few years later because the pandemic resulted in me being separated from my loved ones for nearly two years, and I realized that at this next season of my life, being with my loved ones mattered more than finishing my PhD, and so I decided to quit.
From these two stories, a nugget that a lot of my audience members also extracted and now associate with my two quitting stories, is courage. I’ve had several audience members say how courageous my story was. So perhaps that’s another thing I’m known for.
Second, another thing I’m known for is that I’m a coach who works with a lot of side hustlers and I specifically focus on teaching the skills of thought leadership and soft launching. On my application forms and sales calls to work with me, many clients have said they want to specifically learn the skill of thought leadership from me. Or they want to learn how to soft launch and sign clients on 0-2 hours a week.
I’m also known for miscellaneous fun things like sharing a lot of cats in my content and marketing, how I was in a long distance relationship for almost 5 years, and using a whole lot of sparkle emojis. But for the purpose of this conversation, let’s focus on the first two examples.
With each of the two examples of what I’m known for, I’ve had to work through my own resistance to sharing about them, embodying them, or even becoming known for them.
First, when it comes to my story, I was really, really worried about what people would think. Will they think I’m a quitter who can’t commit to anything? Will they judge me for not being legit enough since I quit grad school TWICE? Do they think it’s only because of my privilege that I’m making such rash decisions? I had a lot of fear and deeply rooted anxiety about sharing these parts of my story. And you can bet that there were often moments where I wanted to either gloss over my story or water it down. Or polish it up so it sounds rational and super smart of me to quit grad school.
This is the first mistake that a lot of people fall into, which leads them to not become known for anything, including their story.
The first mistake is editing your story, your words, your message, in order to make it more palatable, more polished. More smart sounding.
But what happens is when you edit and polish your story, for example, although your story might read well and sounds crisp, clean and clear, people can’t feel you. It’s just nice sounding. That’s all. It doesn’t impact people deeply. It doesn’t make them think. It doesn’t make anyone pay more attention to who you are and how you can help them.
When you’re editing and polishing out of the fear of being judged, not wanting to ruffle feathers, and people please too, I’d argue that you’ll end up becoming just another coach in a saturated niche. A brand that looks and feels like everyone else. No one sees you as a thought leader and your content doesn’t stop the scroll.
I first had to learn to really be proud of my story, my message, and what I do. Then learn to create safety for me to share what I really am deeply proud of online.
Now, let’s talk about the skills I’m known for, including thought leadership and soft launching.
When I was in the earlier year of my business, I sure as heck was not known for thought leadership or soft launching. Instead, I fell into the loop of looking around at what my colleagues in my niche were doing, how they were selling, and how they were positioning their program. I felt like well if it seems like it’s working for them, I should do the same thing.
So for a while, my content and marketing was very, very generic. It sounded like any other business coaching program sold by someone who jumped into business coaching because they signed a few clients and now they decide to help other people sign clients too.
Looking back, that’s how my content and marketing and overall brand was coming across, in my opinion.
This is the second mistake that stops people from becoming known for something. When we spend so much time looking at what our colleagues are doing and model after them in our content, our marketing, on our websites, that doesn’t communicate to our audience how we are positioned to help them, how confident we are that we can help them, or why they should work with us today.
It doesn’t communicate any of that when we are crafting our every step after what others are doing. Instead, we are just a watered down version of our colleagues. That’s what it communicates to our audience.
The reason I was starting to notice that I was making these two mistakes was during a period of time in my business where I was booking several sales calls, but, what was super interesting was that on these sales calls, the client would all say thanks for the call, it was great, but I actually am meeting with a few more business coaches. I’ll get back to you as soon as I make a decision.
That’s when I realized, “Oh, they were interviewing me. They interviewed me and the other business coaches to see who they end up liking most and who probably had the best value for money program.”
That’s when I realized I wasn’t known for anything. My audience simply didn’t know why they should work with me over other people who are doing very similar things as me.
From then on, I started to make shifts in my content and marketing and overall brand to:
1) differentiate me and my work in a saturated niche
2) Become very well known for my story and the particular skills I teach inside my program and
3) Call in the best fit clients into my program, who then come onto my sales already knowing that I am the coach for them.
And guess what? I no longer get the objection or hesitation of, “Thanks for the call, but I have a few more discovery calls coming up. I’ll let you know! Thanks!”
Now, let’s talk about some practical tips you can apply in your own business and brand, right now. These tips are inspired by a book I recently read. This book, which I DEVOURED, is called Galileo and the Science Deniers by Mario Livio.
In a nutshell, it is a biography of Galileo Galilei (born in 1564) by one of his biggest superfans who also happens to be an astrophysicist (i.e. he understands Galileo’s scientific work deeply) and an excellent writer who is highly compelling with his words (i.e. I personally really loved his writing style/voice).
In the preface of the book, the author shared his thoughts on why the Hubble Space Telescope – which is essentially the “great-great-great-grandson” of Galileo’s telescope – has been described as one of the “most recognizable projects in scientific history”:
The reason why I’m sharing this is because we can actually apply each of these bullet points to you, your business, and your brand, right now.
The key thing to note here is the emphasis on quality, rather than quantity. The Hubble is known for producing SPECTACULAR quality of images, not a spectacular quantity of it.
That said, I believe that quantity and quality both can help you practice and contribute to your body of work and to you becoming known for something.
If you’ve been prioritizing consistency for the past year, for example, and you’ve been very diligent in posting weekly on Instagram, LinkedIn, or whatever your platform of choice is, I want to first reassure you that no efforts or time was ever wasted.
You have been contributing to your body of work and you’ve been practicing various skills consistently. That’s really important and none of that time or effort was wasted, even if you currently don’t yet feel that you have a body of work you’re proud of.
Now, let’s say you’re someone who did focus on your content consistency or quantity, and now you’re questioning the quality of what you’ve been sharing. Generally speaking, there’s a lot of “best practices” or content tips that generally make sense and are helpful. So one practical tip I suggest, and it’s something I’ve done myself, is to create a habit tracker to track how often you practice a particular best practice or tip.
For example, right now, I am actually tracking the following on my Instagram stories:
1) how often I share my story
2) the energy in which I make an offer from
3) how often I share my mission and vision
4) how often I share my unique process and
5) how often I am backing up each abstract concept with either a metaphor or a specific, concrete example to really ground those concepts for the audience.
And notice how I didn’t say that I’m tracking how many times I do Instagram stories or how often I make an invitation to work with me. Instead, I’m actually tracking and paying close attention to HOW I’m doing a particular action item, which is showing up on Instagram stories.
When it comes to building a ‘quality’ body of work to help you become known for something, there is no shortage of best practices for your messaging, content, copywriting, and so on that you can implement and hone.
Although all of them are likely helpful, I would suggest picking just a handful to practice at a given time. This way, you can learn to really milk the benefits of these tips and best practices so you can turn up the overall impact and potency of your content, without necessarily having to turn up the quantity and frequency of how often you post.
When you are known for really good content and are helpful, thought provoking, and super well produced or articulated, people start to pay attention even more to what you have to say next.
The cool thing to pay attention to here is that when you go first, this helps others take the next step too. Because you were willing to share first, this helps others share also. That’s how it works in research also.
We as scientists have to study the work of others before we can formulate our own hypotheses and design an experiment to test the hypothesis. We also rely on other people’s research findings to guide our next steps. Literally. If you read any academic publication, there’s always a literature review section where the scientists have to explain how past research and findings inform their decisions for their own research.
How this applies to your business and brand is to recognize that becoming known for something, doesn’t just mean YOU. As in it’s only YOU that’s getting all the spotlight or YOU are the only person getting recognition or being benefited by your efforts. But instead, it’s to put the focus back onto the purpose behind why you’re even working towards becoming known for something.
Because my guess is that if you’re a listener of this show, then being of service to the world matters just as much as you getting the recognition of the incredible work that you do.
The way this translates into a practical tip is that when you’re building your body of work, remember to consider how to make your content, message, or story more relevant, helpful and accessible to the people you actually want your work to reach and impact.
Similar to the earlier point, there are a lot of content, messaging, copywriting best practices that you could use to make your work more easily digestible for your audience. You can also consider how to visually organize and lay out your information so that it’s physically easy to read. Tips such as bolding certain key words, using bullet points to organize information, or even using emojis to convey emotion visually come into play.
We can also take this step one layer deeper and think about how to repurpose your content onto more platforms so that it’s available to more people.
For example, right now, my two main platforms are Instagram and the podcast. These are the two main platforms where I create fresh new content on a weekly basis. And for the podcast specifically, I make it available in both audio form (which is available on podcast platforms such as iTunes and Spotify) and also in video form (which is available on YouTube).
I repurpose parts of the video podcast so that I now have several shorter video clips that I then post on LinkedIn, TikTok, and Instagram. This means that I use LinkedIn, TikTok, and Instagram to promote and grow my main platform, the podcast (which could be either the audio or video form).
In a nutshell, consider how to make your existing content more accessible by either:
1) making the content easy to consume, digest and process, and
2) making the content available on more platforms through content repurposing.
We’ve all likely heard of the marketing advice to “be polarizing” because if you’re otherwise “being too vanilla”, you aren’t appealing to anyone. You’re essentially invisible because you’re neither attracting or repelling people. That’s the general sentiment of a lot of marketing advice.
For me personally, I don’t necessarily think we have to go out of the way to be “polarizing”. Rather, I’m an advocate of simply being honest and sharing what you genuinely believe in.
Also, expect that no matter what you have to say, there will always be someone who disagrees with your point of view, who judges you for what you say, and so on. Always.
For instance, my story of quitting law school is something that I’ve been asked to speak on and share more about. It’s part of a few things that I’m especially known for. It’s also what my audience and clients respond positively to, and I’ve gotten a lot of positive messages from listeners of the podcast who say how much my story has helped them in some way.
At the same time, I have also seen how my story doesn’t land with some people. About 1.5 years ago, my story was featured on a local newspaper called TODAY Online, and let’s just say that there were definitely some comments in the comment section that were highly critical or judgmental in nature. Tere were also a lot of assumptions made about me and overall, some unkind or hurtful opinions. Despite some of the not so positive responses, my story has still helped a lot of people and it is what I am asked to speak on, literally.
All this to say, while I’m personally not of the opinion of purposely saying polarizing things just for marketing sake, I would encourage us to share something because we really mean it and we’re sharing our own honest truth of it.
Oftentimes, I’ve found that when we’re simply being genuine and sincere in our content, that’s what resonates most with our audience and it’s how we start to become known for these honest and genuine sharings.
When we think about our favorite thought leaders, entrepreneurs, content creators, or anyone who we really respect for the work they do, it’s often abundantly clear that they really care about their craft. They really care about what they do. And they really care about doing the best that they can, in their craft/work.
Oftentimes, people are known for something because you can see how much time, care, and energy they put into what they do.
When we think about someone who honestly doesn’t really care about their work, I’d venture to say that they’re probably not known for that. Or they may have developed the reputation of being someone who doesn’t like what they do.
But I know that for those of us listening to this podcast, we have that inner desire to not only be known for something, but we also want to be known for how much care, time and energy we put into this thing that we’re known for.
Whether it’s the body of work we’ve built so that we become known for our ideas or story, or maybe it’s the years of honing a particular skill so that you’re known for being one of the most skilled persons in your field. Whatever it is, I have a very good feeling that you want to be known for how much genuine and pure dedication you have for your work.
The specific tip I want to offer here is to continuously, every single day, ground back to why you do what you do. I know how easy and natural it is to feel frustrated or discouraged along the way. I get it.
That’s why I now actually schedule time on a weekly basis to reconnect back to why I do what I do. For example, I often draw out mind maps once a week where I would literally just let myself think or dream about my business/work.
These mind maps are really just a brain dump and more often than not, my mind maps look similar to the previous mind maps I’ve drawn. That’s because my goal is simply to ground back to why I do what I do, and mind maps are a tool that lets me do so.
Sometimes I might come up with a new perspective or idea during this mind map process, but usually it’s just me reiterating to myself what I already know and believe in, hence connecting me back to the heart of why I do what I do.
This point ties in nicely with the previous point.
I do believe that the longer you choose to continue doing what you do, the more your impact naturally will compound.
That’s because the more you stay in the game, the more perspective you develop and the more experience you acquire, which then helps you to produce a body of work and/or become even better at your craft.
When you’re becoming more and more skilled at something, such as becoming an even more effective communicator of your ideas or perhaps becoming an even better coach whose clients get incredible transformations, naturally, you’ll become known for that.
All that to say, keep going.
Even if you have really, really helpful ideas or a story that could change someone’s life, if no one knows about it, it won’t be able to help anyone and you won’t become known for that thing.
This is where we need to consider all the tools and networks that are available to us, so we can get our work out there.
Whether it’s sharing your ideas during an in-person conversation, or leveraging the LinkedIn or YouTube algorithm to amplify your work, out into the world, it is our responsibility to lean on what’s available to us so we can really add value to others. And overtime, become known for something.
These are the 6 tips I want to offer as you continue to build your body of work and work towards your goal of becoming known for something.
To quickly summarize them once again:
And, one last thing before we wrap up today’s conversation.
If you are someone who has dreams of not just making a big income and impact in this world, but you also want to be known for your body of work, for your unique thought leadership, and for a message that you care deeply about, this is the type of work we dive deep into inside The Thought Leader Club (TLC).
When you join our program, we’ll first do a deep dive into what YOU really want to become known for, then we’ll creatively and methodically craft out a plan for you to build a body of work that highlights your unique thought leadership. At the same time, you’ll start to see that you’re capturing the attention of your audience because every piece of content you put out will now always tie back to your ever-growing expertise.
Our next cohort of TLC is starting in March 2024. The TLC is THE room to:
Your next step is to book a discovery call with me for us to have a conversation about:
1) What are your dreams in the next 1-3 years
2) The coaching, skills, and actions you need to make these dreams happen, and
3) How coaching together will support and guide you with all the above.
You can schedule a discovery call by first filling out a short application form on the sales page for The Thought Leader Club (www.cheryltheory.com/program). After you submit the form, you’ll get a link to book a discovery call. I’ll see you soon!
Join us in the Thought Leader Club – A 4-month weekly 1:1 and community program
This is THE room to:
✨ Start putting in the reps to create your thought leader career
✨ Build a body of work that lets you become known for your unique thought leadership, your story, and how amazing you are at what you do
✨ And ultimately set yourself up for making your 1-3 year dreams a reality
Get all the details and apply here. We’ll then book a sales call to make sure that the program is the best fit for you and we can onboard you as early as next week.
Our next cohort starts on March 1, 2024, and there are awesome early bird bonuses if you enroll early 🙂
SOUNDS GOOD? AWESOME. LET'S GET TO WORK