Wondering whether to develop a personal brand alongside your agency brand? Curious how a personal brand can open new opportunities? 

In this article, you’ll discover how one agency owner incorporated a strong personal brand and grew their marketing agency.

The Influencer Advantage: How Agency Owners Can Boost Revenue With Personal Branding by Social Media Examiner
This article was co-created by Goldie Chan, Brooke Sellas, and Lisa D. Jenkins. For more about Goldie, scroll to Other Notes From This Episode at the end of this article.

Leveraging Personal Branding to Grow Your Marketing Agency 

Goldie Chan didn’t set out to become an influencer. With over a decade of marketing experience at major brands under her belt, she had turned her sights to the next challenge: leading marketing for a top consumer brand. 

But after amassing a large LinkedIn following from her marketing videos, brands came calling with offers Goldie never expected. She soon launched her own social media strategy agency, Warm Robots, while continuing to grow her personal brand.

Goldie’s journey from LinkedIn star to award-winning agency owner illustrates how today’s marketing leaders can leverage personal branding strategy to amplify their business. For agency owners and solopreneurs alike, an influencer side business can attract new clients, make industry connections, diversify offerings, and boost revenue.

Goldie shares valuable insights into cultivating a personal brand, overcoming common obstacles, and monetizing her influence. 

Turning a Side Project Into a Personal Brand 

Long before her videos went viral, Goldie focused solely on climbing the corporate ladder. After over 10 years doing branding and marketing for big brands, Goldie felt she had capped out. The obvious next move was leading an in-house marketing team.

But in 2017, Goldie began posting short marketing advice videos on LinkedIn, more as a passion project than a career move. To her surprise, the videos blew up. As her following multiplied, brands started reaching out for speaking engagements and high-level, one-off consulting projects.

Sensing an opportunity, Goldie founded Warm Robots as a way to formalize her personal brand and services. The branding and marketing agency allowed her to bring on contractors to help with the increasing client demand.

Meanwhile, Goldie began documenting her agency travels while continuing to publish LinkedIn videos. Her followers loved the behind-the-scenes look at running Warm Robots while getting Goldie’s marketing tips. This meta approach provided value to her target audience and cemented her personal brand in the industry.

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Over time, Goldie’s videos earned her a dedicated community eager to learn from her marketing acumen. When brands like Adobe came calling, her influencer status gave them confidence she could create compelling content and reach executive-level professionals.

By 2018, Goldie had juggled dual revenue streams: her agency services and influencer sponsorships. Though managing a growing business and content creation was chaotic, the reach helped attract business-to-business clients aligned with her mission.

The Power of Specificity: Defining a Strong Personal Brand

What does a strong personal brand entail? For Goldie, a personal brand goes beyond an online presence and social media profiles. Zeroing in on a tightly defined niche is the key to developing an audience.

You don’t have a personal brand if your target audience doesn’t know who you are (recognize your name and expertise). For example, by establishing herself as an approachable expert on B2B marketing, Goldie attracted partners relevant to her field—she defined an area of expertise. 

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While we all have diverse skills and passions, a well-crafted personal brand should communicate clear, memorable expertise. Maintaining focus allows you to market yourself effectively and makes it easier for ideal customers and partners to pinpoint—and relate to—your offering. 

Think about how you want to come across to your target audience. Goldie recommends agency owners identify three key traits to describe their personal brand identity. 

Pick a hard skill, a soft skill, and one other attribute that defines your brand and targets your specific roles. For example, you might be an expert in customer care. You describe yourself as warm and friendly (soft skill) and specialize in the digital customer experience (hard skill). 

Goldie explains that brands seek influencers who are already creating content aligned with their products or services. For agency owners hoping to land lucrative partnerships, building an online presence around your niche is essential. Not only does this provide proof-of-concept, but it also gives potential sponsors plenty of ideas on incorporating you into their campaigns.

Additionally, Goldie says having a LinkedIn profile and actively posting makes your personal branding more tangible. Your profile should highlight your expertise and past work.

Attracting the Right Partnerships Through Your Personal Brand

Adobe contacted Goldie immediately after seeing her LinkedIn videos focused on marketing and branding for a C-suite audience. They wanted to work with her as an influencer to create content for their B2B Experience Cloud products. 

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Goldie was among the first ambassadors working on their B2B and consumer sides. Adobe brought her to one of their big conferences, Adobe Summit, to help cover the event and explain the new technology to her audience.

The key is creating content that attracts the brands you want to partner with. If you make videos relevant to a specific industry or niche, it’s easier for those companies to find and hire you.

For example, if you want to work with hair product brands, you should be making hair product content. If you want to work with B2B clients, you should be making B2B content. 

“Most people, just like when you’re thinking about your personal brand, are too tired to make a leap of logic. So if you can make that leap of logic for them, if you can say, okay, I’m actually really great at digesting B2B subjects and making them easier to understand, then people will literally hire you for that,” Goldie says. 

Mastering Dual Revenue Streams

After Goldie structured her agency services and influencer sponsorships into two distinct revenue streams, finding a balance between the two posed an ongoing challenge. She initially admits to questioning offers, wondering if influencer marketing diminished her strategic consulting expertise.

However, Goldie set guidelines to evaluate opportunities to benefit Warm Robots. First, any brand partnerships must align with—not contradict–her agency’s verticals and offerings. This ensures consistency across her personal and corporate brands.

Next, Goldie negotiates rates based on an engagement’s reach toward her target clients. She flexes on price if a sponsorship helps her connect with more B2B leads. She also considers how much time away from Warm Robots is required when doing influencer work for potential sponsorship and how that affects her pricing. 

“What are basic rates that would justify you being pulled away from running your business?” Goldie says.

To avoid legal issues, Goldie tracks all influencer deliverables and milestones in an editorial calendar. This organization allows her to meet all contractual obligations related to content creation.

 In this digital age, a visible, elevated social media presence and partnerships with respected brands signal credibility.

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Having an agency website and social media channels is important as an agency owner. However, actively posting content and partnering with brands your target audience sees as reputable can provide a significant boost. 

Whether it’s serving as a brand ambassador, appearing on their podcast, etc.—associations with brands that resonate with your audience help attract clients. The key is ensuring the brands you work with appeal to who you want to reach. Aligning with companies that elevate your status in the eyes of your ideal customers goes a long way.

But be sure to use common sense. If a potential partnership goes against or could damage your agency, don’t do it, Goldie says. 

Monetization Tips 

To scale both revenue streams, Goldie emphasizes monetization tracking. 

Tracking your sales funnel and brand partnerships is crucial. Asana, Trello boards, and Excel sheets have helped her to organize different stages—dream brands she’d love to work with someday, brands she’s had a call or two with, current partners even if they don’t have active campaigns now, and brands with deliverables actively due.

Having this visibility helps her prioritize outreach and manage multiple relationships. She sees where things stand, sees what follow-up needs to be done, and keeps contacts organized. Even just a list of target brands you eventually want partnerships with focuses your efforts. Regular check-ins with each group keep Goldie at the top of their mind as she nurtures relationships at all funnel stages.

Funnel tracking also shows conversion rates, so you can see how many initial calls convert to proposals, deals closed, etc. This helps optimize partnership development so you can replicate what works. 

Managing Criticism and Brand Identity 

A visible personal brand inevitably invites criticism. As an easily identifiable Asian woman putting herself directly in the public eye, Goldie has dealt with her fair share of racist and sexist attacks. 

Early on, hateful comments and trolling deeply impacted Goldie. As an innately sensitive person, repeated attacks on her gender, appearance, voice, and abilities took a toll.

Over time, though, she adopted coping strategies. Even though people personally directed comments toward Goldie, the comments weren’t about her. “If you are an influencer, they are seeing you as an object as opposed to a person,” Goldie says. 

Realizing most critiques said more about the commenters than herself allowed Goldie to dissociate without internalizing feedback. She also focused on positives, like clients won through personal branding work. 

Remaining Authentic 

Maintaining brand integrity poses another challenge. Influencer marketing rests on the premise that audiences trust recommendations from people they relate to. Yet Goldie acknowledges not every online persona paints an accurate picture. 

Some influencers portray a carefully curated version of themselves for business reasons or due to legitimate privacy concerns. Others, unfortunately, misrepresent their expertise and character.

However, being inauthentic disappoints audience expectations and can damage business relationships.

While Goldie believes strongly in leading with integrity, she understands why influencers feel pressure to edit their narratives. Her advice? Remain professional in all brand partnerships, even when the camera stops recording. You also don’t need to share everything on social media platforms. It’s helpful to keep some things to yourself. 

Agency owners can balance contractual obligations with authenticity by consistently delivering quality work and avoiding diva behavior.

The Way Forward: Doubling Down on Human Connection 

What trends does Goldie foresee for personal branding efforts? She hopes creators retain the human element rather than delegating tasks entirely to AI. Goldie points out that automated tools like content generators sacrifice nuance—and risk saturating social media with mediocre, formulaic posts.

“What I’m always hopeful for is that people always keep the humanity in their personal brand. That’s why it’s called a personal brand. That’s why it’s not called a corporate brand,” Goldie says. 

She suggests agency owners utilize AI judiciously to enhance efficiency where helpful. However, the final output should always pass through human filters first. As AI generates more content and the average consumer loses trust in influencer integrity, Goldie believes personal brands staying genuine offer value.

Think of content creation as bread making, Goldie says. You can have machine-made bread that is entirely uniform—every loaf is identical. It’s efficient but lacks character. Or you can have bread made by hand in small bakeries. This bread has slight imperfections, but the human touch makes it more special. The extra care often makes it taste better, too. And handmade artisanal bread commands higher prices because people appreciate the craft. The uneven texture and charm add value.

It’s similar to content. You can churn out lots of formulaic, machine-made posts to maximize efficiency. Or you can put more creativity, care, and personal flair into each piece. The human touch allows you to connect better and stand out. And your audience will notice and respond to that extra value you provide, just like with the bread. You can charge more for quality over quantity.

Compelling personal brand content benefits from an individual perspective because it allows authenticity and a distinctive voice. Technology can assist with scale, but it takes emotional intelligence and creativity to connect with customers truly.

By spotlighting their talents transparently and consistently, personal brands can stand out amid commoditized competition. The agency owners who earn business through relationships and nuanced communication will own the future. Is your brand ready?

Brooke B. Sellas is host of the Marketing Agency Show, a Social Media Examiner production. She is founder and CEO of B Squared Media, an agency that helps people connect, converse, and convert on social media. Her book is called Conversations That Connect. Find her on X/Twitter and LinkedIn.

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