Personal Branding While Working a 9-to-5: Your Cheat Sheet

The one-stop guide to digital brand building like a pro while working full-time.

Personal Branding While Working a 9-to-5: Your Cheat Sheet
Image from the author’s Instagram.

The one-stop guide to digital brand building like a pro while working full-time.

Every internet user in 2023 knows the value of building a personal brand.

From courses to webinars, hours of paid and free content are available on the web for brand building.

To my credit, I jumped on this ship early. I started writing on Quora in 2014 and ended up with the Top Writer badge twice — in 2016 and 2018.

While I worked a 9–5 job, I was writing online on the side. I expanded my social circles and started brand-building on LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Today, I owe my full-time writing career to personal branding.

I keep receiving several requests and comments from people interested in my journey. My transition from a 9–5 routine to full-time writing makes most of them say, “You’re so lucky.”

Here, I beg to differ. Luck is but an algorithm you can rig to work your way towards success. You need to figure out the right strategies and put in the work. The results will take care of themselves.

In my case, years of personal branding assisted with my decision to become a full-time writer with a successful writing business. If you also want to build a digital brand while working a 9–5 job, here’s a cheat sheet to succeed.

1. Play to your strengths

There’s no end to the chase for perfection.

You can’t be the best person to exist for any job on the planet. You can only put in your best efforts.

Keep the imposter syndrome aside, and repeat: you don’t have to be the best writer to be a successful one. Same for any of your goals. Your success depends on the value you bring to the table.

Don’t wait to be the best before you share your insights with the world.

When starting your content creation journey, pick your unfair advantages and create a content plan around them.

Let’s consider a few examples:

  • Say you’re a software developer. You make a stable living in this profession. Simultaneously, you can teach budding developers the craft of the trade as a side gig. Either through a YouTube channel or by creating a power-packed course, you can thrive on your existing experience to build multiple income streams.
  • Maybe you’re a beginner in any field with impeccable speaking skills, but you can be great with videos. Start documenting your learning process online through long-form videos or shorts.
  • If you clearly understand any useful concept, make easy tutorials on the subjects.

These small initiatives don’t demand perfection but an urge to get started.

List all your interests and talents to create a unique niche for yourself. That niche would be a splitting image of your authentic personality.

You can merge two diverse themes and use your expertise as an unfair advantage. An excellent example of this is Bailey Sarian’s YouTube content. She discusses history and true crime while doing her make-up. Now that’s some way of crafting a unique niche — and it works for her 7 million+ subscribers!

Screenshot by the author from Bailey Sarian’s YouTube channel.

2. Be strict with yourself

Note: This is the most underrated/unaddressed tip ever.

Self-discipline doesn’t come easy. In a side hustle, you don’t have a boss to keep tabs on you. This is why it’s easier to slack off and be lenient with yourself.

“Oh, I’ll do this tomorrow.”

“Not in the mood tonight. I’ll wake up early to finish this.”

These empty promises to yourself don’t work. When you operate without a plan and deadlines, you waste hours without getting anything done.

To take full control of your side hustle, you need to impose deadlines.

Create an overview of the whole day. Build a routine, and dedicate a time slot for content creation.

Since I was creating blogs on Medium with a full-time job, I dedicated 2 solid hours every night to writing.

You should also include content creation in your daily calendar. Fix a time for publishing online content, be it 9 AM or 8 PM, according to your audience’s preference.

3. Go easy on yourself

I bet you scrolled back to check the previous pointer again.

Yes, it might sound like I’m contradicting myself, but hear me out.

Your 9–5 job is your safety net. What if the content creation plan doesn’t work? What if your brand takes longer to gain a following than you estimated?

You have to hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.

Go easy on yourself with the expectations. Don’t put monetary pressure on your creativity to pay your bills.

Start slow, build with patience, and create a wealth of content. This will add value to your readers’ lives, and they’ll take you to the top. The money will eventually start coming in.

Till that time, be consistent, but don’t beat yourself up for not making big bucks instantly.

4. Ideate every day

Why, you ask? To train your idea muscle.

Wait, have you never heard of the idea muscle? James Altucher presented this brilliant analogy where he encouraged everyone to exercise their idea muscle daily to keep it strong and healthy.

According to him, we should write down 10 ideas every day. These can be very random ideas, but you have to exercise your brain to generate creative ideas daily.

For every aspiring and budding content creator, these ideas can be around content. You can ideate about the kind of content you want to create, set goals for followers and subscribers, or lay down plans to build multiple income streams.

No matter what the situation is, write down 10 ideas. If you aren’t in a suitable environment, pull out your phone and type them on Notes.

According to James Altucher, keep training this muscle to make it stronger, i.e., generate better ideas.

I relied on this method to build my own writing routine, and it really works. Now it’s time for you to try it out.

A page from my “Idea Journal” — the super habit that has transformed my career.

5. Don’t forget to have fun

This one’s an extension to point 3. Instead of feeling pressured to make money instantly, remember why you started online content creation.

I had a diary with the first page dedicated to my reason behind personal branding. Whenever I felt lost or demotivated, I read the note and bounced back to my keyboard.

Do you want to know what it said? It was one sentence, three words, actually:

“To have fun!”

I had dedicated my personal branding journey to having fun. I wasn’t expecting the mammoth success I got, but I was prepared to give my best to it and enjoy the process. This should be your reason, too.

Personal branding isn’t a make-or-break deal of your life. Have fun with it and grow at your own pace.

Set for this journey to enjoy every moment, treasure the lessons from failures, and celebrate all tiny victories.

Your personal branding will be effective as long as you treat yourself as a brand.

You’re your most valuable asset. Take good care, and don’t pressurize yourself unnecessarily. Things will fall into place.

A quick roundup

I once read this in Forbes magazine: 

“What if you could give yourself a raise in your spare time?”

It was years ago, but this line stayed with me. What if? Many successful side hustlers inspired me to begin my journey, and I hope to do the same for you.

If you’re a beginner looking to create a personal brand on the internet in 2023, remember these tips:

  1. Play to your strengths and define your unique niche.
  2. Be your own strict manager to always deliver on time without slacking off.
  3. Don’t beat yourself up for not making quick money. Trust the process.
  4. Churn out ideas every day, so you always have something to approve and something to reject.
  5. Enjoy the process without getting overworked.

When you’re finally generating enough money from your side hustle, don’t forget to give yourself a raise. You’d have earned it.

Love writing but don’t know where to start? Join my FREE 5-day course. It’ll teach you the successful writer’s framework that took me 5 years to master.

More on succeeding with your side hustle here — 

The 4-Step Process to Starting a Content Business Alongside Your Day Job
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These Noob Mistakes Could Be Killing Your Career as a Creator
Avoid them to get a headstart in the content creation biz.
Skills I’d Spend The Most Time Learning If I Had To Start As A Writer From Scratch
Must-have skills to get your writing business up and running, 10x faster than others.