The What, Why and How of Personal Branding

The What, Why and How of Personal Branding

Shannon Sorensen Photography Personal Branding Photographer Hartford Connecticut Duxbury Massachusetts Boston NYC

The What, Why and How of Personal Branding To Tell Your Story and Grow Your Business

One of the things I love about being a personal branding photographer is the initial consultation where I learn about your business and the work you do. We go through a bit of a question and answer session and spend time brainstorming how to visually tell your story. This helps me to know how to serve you and create compelling images for your business, but also gives you an opportunity to think deeply about why you choose to do what you do, and how you can best serve your audience. We plan what stories you will share with your audience.

Personal branding always comes back to the WHAT, WHY and HOW.

What specific stories will you share with your audience about you, your business and products or services?

What topics of interest will you focus when posting to give a glimpse into your day to day?

Why did you start your business?

Why do you want your audience to get to know you more closely?

How can you serve your clients and give them an amazing experience?

How can it benefit our lives or the world around us?

I’ll have a free worksheet for you at the end of this post to help you answer these questions.


WHY did you start your business?

Did you want to make some extra money on the side to spend on fun things, pay off debt faster, or save up for a special trip? Maybe the idea of working for a boss has never been appealing. Do you want to work from home to save on the cost of daycare, have a more flexible work schedule, or be able to travel the world and work remotely?

Maybe you see an opportunity to solve a problem in the world with your product or service. There are a million reasons why people start a business, and sometimes those reasons overlap.

Write them all down. Every single one.

I have a lot of whys. When I was still working my full time corporate job and growing my photography business on nights and weekends, it was to be able to someday leave that corporate job, support my family and spend more time with my kids - and I was working towards this goal before I ever got pregnant.

Now, nine years later, I am working from home and spending more time with my family, and my whys have become more specific. I want to finally pay off my student loans and buy a house. I want a new car (yup, minivan dreaming over here). I want to give my kids the opportunities to do activities that interest them as they grow up. I want to go on more date nights and travel. I want to enjoy this one life I get to the fullest and make every moment count.

Did you notice how those things are all about me and my family? Yes, business is self-serving and that’s ok. But it must also serve others, my friend, and my whys now also include…

  1. To educate those who are starting out or feeling stuck, on how to make bold, powerful moves in their businesses in order to grow.

  2. To empower women to embrace their story and infuse it into their business. To share the heart behind the product or service, and form strong connections with their audience.

  3. To build a creative community where small business owners, entrepreneurs and creatives can connect, learn from each other and cheer each other on!

  4. To entertain and make social media more fun and social again! Not every post needs to be a sales pitch (nor should they).

How will you serve others?

How will you use your gifts, skills, tools and platform to serve others? This might blend a bit with your why, and that’s good! They are completely related.

Take your “whys”, and turn them into “hows”.

Here are my four “whys” from above, transformed into “hows”.

  1. By sharing blog posts, social media content, podcasts and videos with business tips and actionable advice, I will educate those who need guidance in starting and growing their business.

  2. By offering personal branding photography, I will serve my clients with visual content they can use confidently on their online spaces to share their story, engage with their audience, and grow their business.

  3. Through a brand new Facebook community, and through comments and interactions on social media, I will help form connections between businesses, brands, and creatives and foster an environment of support and collaboration.

  4. I will share behind the scenes, anecdotes and relatable content that my audience enjoys seeing and reading, with purpose, heart and humor.

15 minute Exercise


Take some time to reflect on your business. Set a timer for 15 minutes (you can do this while you sit and have that first glorious cup of coffee in the morning), pull out your planner or notebook or a blank piece of paper from your printer (I know I’m not the only person who does this), and write down the whats, whys, and hows of your business.

You’ll also jot down what you will share in your personal stories, 4-6 topics that give a deeper glimpse into your day to day and the heart behind the business. For example, mine are coffee, home/New England, family life, the ocean/nature, inspiring quotes and art/creativity.

I have developed a worksheet to help guide you through this exercise and give you space to explore your thoughts and intentions. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t started your business yet or if you’re 10 years in (hi, that’s me!), it is good practice to regularly revisit your branding message and business purpose.

Get your worksheet here.

I hope this exercise helps give you some clarity, or sparks a light in your heart, in order to move forward and grow.

If it helped and you’d like to share a bit of your what, why and how, I want to hear from you! Leave a comment and let me know where you are in your business so I can share more helpful tips and exercises to build and grow your personal brand!

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