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9 min read

The Importance of Creating a Powerful Personal Brand And How To Do It

The Importance of Creating a Powerful Personal Brand And How To Do It

Kris HughesKris Hughes is the Founder of Zanate Ventures based in Austin, Texas. He helps ambitious people build powerful personal brands through his 7 Pillars of a Powerful Personal Brand. He also works as a social media ghostwriter and fractional marketer for companies around the world. 



What you'll learn in this episode

  • What ghostwriters and fractional marketers are and how they can benefit solopreneurs
  • The seven pillars of a powerful personal brand
  • How much time a solopreneur should put into a personal brand
  • Resources for developing a personal brand

And so much more!

Resources Mentioned in the Episode

Want to share your experiences and learn from other one-person business? Be sure to join our community! It's free :)

Full Episode Transcript


Kris Hughes (00:00):

If you don't do that tracking, you're never gonna know. I think that's a big step that a lot of people miss. Yeah, you put out great content, you get all this interaction, but you don't know who's who. And there's opportunity left on the table if you're not tracking that activity,

Intro (00:11):

Bigger doesn't always mean better. Welcome to the One-Person business podcast where people who are flying solo in business come for specific tips and advice to find success as a company of one. Here are your hosts, Joe Rando and Carly Ries.

Carly Ries (00:31):

Welcome to the One-Person Business podcast. I'm one of your hosts Carly Ries.

Joe Rando (00:35):

And I'm Joe Rando.

Carly Ries (00:37):

And today we not only have an expert whose clientele has made up of solopreneurs, but he himself is a solopreneur as well. Kris Hughes is the founder of Zanate Ventures based in Austin, Texas. He helps ambitious people build powerful personal brands through his 7 Pillars of Powerful Personal Brand, which we'll get into a bit further in this episode. He also works as a social media ghost writer and fractional marketer for companies around the world. So Kris, welcome to the show.

Kris Hughes (01:03):

Hey, thank you very much Carly. Looking forward to it today.

Carly Ries (01:06):

We are too. Kris, working with you is so appealing because as I mentioned, you are a solopreneur. So can you tell us a bit about what led you to want to start a company of one and a little bit about your journey to get there?

Kris Hughes (01:18):

Absolutely,  actually got a master's degree in sports management and worked in the sports industry for a little bit. Figured out that wasn't gonna be a fit and turned around and leaned back on my writing. I built out some websites, sold those to another network. Worked for them for a couple years. Worked here with a large digital publisher in Austin called Wide Open Media Group, helped them really grow up from the beginning. They were acquired by Publishers Clearinghouse a couple years back. That gave me the opportunity to really think, okay, I don't want to be in the corporate world anymore. I want to double down on myself and bet on myself. Just really took a lot of what I learned in working in that corporate marketing, corporate content strategy world and applied that to building my own brand to the point where I could grab some clients and start to build my business. So really I've been at it actively for about two years. Kind of a strange time to start a business right in the middle of the outset of Covid, but it worked out.

Carly Ries (02:14):

Well, and as I mentioned in your bio, in addition to your coaching services, you're also a social media ghost writer as well as a fractional marketer. So for listeners who are unfamiliar with those terms, can you explain what they are and how they might benefit solopreneurs looking for an outside contractor's help.

Kris Hughes (02:31):

Absolutely. So with the social media ghost writing side, I basically work to either help people develop a presence on LinkedIn in particular, or completely take that over. A couple of my clients I've fully done. They lean on me to go out and engage as them and comment as them in the niches where they want to surface and be seen more often and contribute to those conversations. And also create content as them either three days a week or five days a week. Sometimes it's collaborative or they still want to have a role in their process and we're kind of sharing that responsibility. So that's the social media ghost writing side. Fractional marketing wise, I'm doing projects where I'm pitching in on a fractional basis a few hours a week to help companies in different scenarios. I work with a company that provides link building services for websites. They are actually based in Denver, called Optimist. The project I'm working on is called Juice. I'm the managing editor in that role where I'm working 10 hours a week to assign assignments out to writers, doing some editing, kind of more traditional content stuff that goes back to my corporate life. I'm also working a little bit in the cannabis industry in Europe, helping some companies over there develop social media strategy for a series of expos and events in that industry in Switzerland and France in particular.

Carly Ries (03:53):

Great. I just think both those roles are so beneficial cuz a lot of solopreneurs don't know that they even exist when they first get started. They also don't have time to execute their own marketing efforts. I feel like you're the perfect mix. I personally think people that do any form of ghost writing are unsung heroes in marketing because they can put out an amazing piece of content and never get the credit for it.

Joe Rando (04:16):

Very unsung <laugh>

Carly Ries (04:18):

<laugh>, very unsung. So, yes, well done there.

Kris Hughes (04:21):

<laugh>. I like to say that if I'm doing my job right, no one knows. So that's exactly the irony of the ghost writing

Carly Ries (04:28):

<laugh>. Put your pride aside and just get to work

Kris Hughes (04:31):

<laugh>. Yep.

Carly Ries (04:32):

Well so as a one-person business owner lines may get blurred between your company's brand and your personal brand cuz they're kind of intertwined. So it's super important to give special attention to the latter. Can you dive into what you've identified as the 7 Pillars of a Powerful Personal Brand?

Kris Hughes (04:48):

Absolutely. Over the course of time, I've developed this framework that I use for my coaching clients. I also use it at the outset of working in my ghost writing clients call the 7 Pillars of a Powerful Personal Brand. The first of those is visual identity. Very important that you have the same look and feel across all of your social mediums. When somebody runs across you, they know it's you. There's no doubt about that. It means a fully optimized LinkedIn profile. Maybe a fully optimized Twitter profile, whatever it may be, just so people know it's you and it's you. Competitive analysis is really big. Looking at your competition, especially your three or four closest competitors and figuring out, okay, what do they do that I agree with? What are they doing well? Where are they missing out?


What's a content gap? An opportunity where I have to say something unique that they're not covering that I know is important? A lot of your content can come from that. The next step is looking at persona. I do a client persona and figuring out who I think my ideal client is? Maybe I thought that a couple years ago, Is it still accurate? Has that changed? Do I need to to revisit that? And commenting as content, actively leading comments and good high value on other people's posts is a great way to drive attention to yourself. I think that's really important. All that feeds into content strategy. Once you've done that deep dive analysis and really thought through that stuff, it's much easier to establish a content strategy than it is if you don't. Then the last few pieces that tie it together are intentional relationship building.


What can I do to really build relationships with the people that are locked into my content that I know are with me? How can I take those next steps? And the last but not least and honestly most important in my mind, is marketing funnel. Where is everybody in Mac system? Where are they in terms of their activity and alignment with me? Have they come by and just looked at my posts one time? I've never seen 'em again. They interact with one post and that's the only time I ever saw their name or they interacted with everything that I put out. Those are two very different people and you can be much more aggressive in terms of reaching out and asking for a discovery call or providing some kind of mid-level offer to people that are really locked in with your content.


If you don't do that tracking, you're never gonna know. And I think that's a big step that a lot of people miss. Yeah, you put out great content, you get all this interaction, but you don't know who's who and there's opportunity left on the table if you're not tracking that activity. So I work with all my clients through those to get that foundation laid for ghost writing clients before I ever dig in and do one bit of writing. We do that first and then with my brand strategy clients, we work through that step by step. I give them homework to do so we can get that really strong foundation laid and then relationship continues from there as we work on content together.

Carly Ries (07:39):

All makes sense. So Kris, let me ask you, for a solopreneur that is focusing on all aspects of their business, how much time do you typically recommend that they put towards their personal brand compared to all the other to-dos on their list? Do you have that magic number or does it just kind of depend?

Kris Hughes (07:53):

Yeah, it depends. I think it's about time blocking and making sure that you spend that time on it consistently. I'm a massive believer in time blocking and setting aside the time to focus on that a little bit each day. Obviously the reality of being a solopreneur, as we all know, is you're wearing all the hats. You're a CMO, CTO, CEO, all the things. So finding that time to to do it can be tough, but it's essential because the work that you put in absolutely relates to what you get back out. I think you just have to block in a little bit of time each day to make it a priority and figure out what that means to you.

Carly Ries (08:29):

Absolutely. And for listeners that were interested in that discussion about the Seven Pillars, Kris, you do have a Seven Pillars ebook that we'll link to in our show notes. Do you have any other resources you think would be helpful for a person going it alone, whether it's something that you created or sites, books, podcasts, what have you?

Kris Hughes (08:46):

Yeah, the Solopreneur Money podcast is a big favorite of mine. I'll give a little plug for a client here, but, fantastic podcast on the finances of being a solopreneur. So is a good one to check out. If you really just kind of look around the Solopreneur hashtag on LinkedIn, there's a lot of great content there. There are a lot of people creating good content about this world because it is so unique. I would just recommend that people take a good hard look at LinkedIn and you'll find a lot of good resources there as well. But those are the big ones. For me, I like some of the more traditional resources like Entrepreneur and Inc. and Fast Company and some of those magazines as well to just get a better feel for the overall business landscape and how that ties in. But yeah, those are some of the good resources I recommend.

Carly Ries (09:35):

Well tell your client I will also be reaching out to them to be a guest on this show at some point because that would be a fascinating interview too. Kris, I can't believe we're actually coming to the end of this show, but we want to ask you, as we ask a lot of our experts, what is your favorite quote about success?

Kris Hughes (09:52):

Oh man, that's a great question. I'll go with one that I don't necessarily agree with, if that's okay. The whole idea of "if you do what you love, you'll never work another day in your life", I'd argue against that. Here's my argument and the reason why. I think it's more important that you find something that you like rather than something you love. You hear this notion of "you should always be chasing your passion.". That's problematic because when you are and you're chasing something you're passionate about, your blinders can be on and you don't really recognize that the the market opportunity may not be there or you're kind of banging your head against the wall and you're struggling. So instead find something you like to do and, that you're comfortable doing on a daily basis, but isn't something that you're deeply passionate about. Leave that passion for your personal life. Find something that you like to do and that you want to stick with, but not something that you're gonna get too emotional about. I'm a big believer in living in the middle grounds, not riding too high of highs or too lows of lows because those are both dangerous places to be as a solopreneur.

Speaker 4 (10:57):

That's a really great point because you know, as we talked about in other shows, sometimes your passions and your talents don't intersect and that can be really problematic.

Kris Hughes (11:06):

<laugh> Absolutely. No doubt about that.

Carly Ries (11:09):

Yeah, exactly. Well Kris, this has been so helpful. If people want to learn more about you or about your business, where can they find you online?

Kris Hughes (11:17):

Yeah, I live on LinkedIn, so definitely the best place to find me. Just, You can check out my website, Starting to get more active on TikTok and trying to give away just straight value there as well. My handle, theres Kris the Ghost, so yeah, those are three good places.

Carly Ries (11:37):

Ooh, very fitting handle. I like it. Well listeners, there you have it. That wraps up another episode of the One-Person Business podcast. To listen to more episodes and subscribe, be sure to visit Or you can find us anywhere you listen to your shows. We'll see you next time.


You may be going solo in business, but that doesn't mean you're alone. In fact, millions of people are in your shoes running a one-person business and figuring it out as they go. So why not connect with them and learn from each other's successes and failures. At Lifestarr we're creating a one -person business community where you can go to meet and get advice from other solopreneurs. Be sure to join in on the conversations at