The very act of teaching online automatically places you firmly behind the scenes.
Your students will probably never meet you.
You may rarely (if ever) see your colleagues or line managers.
There’s precious little natural opportunity for the daily recognition you get in traditional teaching.
This creates a situation where zero visibility is normal.
So you can either accept the status quo, and keep on living the invisible life.
Or you can take steps to make sure people can see you – and the wonderful work that you do.
Now, increasing your visibility doesn’t involve standing on a street corner wearing a sandwich board.
And you won’t need to buy advertizing on the side of your local bus.
What you will need to do is embrace some basic marketing principles, and apply them to your career.
And the first step in going from go from being invisible to memorable is to start thinking of yourself as a brand.
Stay with me here.
Branding yourself simply involves getting crystal clear on what you bring to the table – and then letting people know about it. It’s just a more self-aware, strategic way of going about your business.
How Are YOU Different?
As a group, online teachers tend to share some pretty impressive skills.
Many of us are:
- Subject experts
- Technology wizards
- Expert communicators
- Natural problem solvers, and
- Skilled time managers.
And pretty often, we’re all of these things at once.
Not a bad place to start from, is it?
But which one of those skills do you really own?
Which aspect of online teaching are you truly superb at?
What’s the one part of your job that really sets you on fire?
That’s your special skill. That’s what makes you unique.
And identifying what makes you different is the first step in defining your brand, and becoming more visible.
Here’s an easy way to identify your core special skill: try seeing it as an e-learning superpower:
Capture Your Superpower in One Sentence
If you’re still struggling to define your online teaching superpower, here’s another approach.
Simply answer this one question:
What’s your absolute favorite thing about online teaching?
I bet that the skill you use for that part of the job is what you’re best at.
Once you’ve identified your unique strength, you need to be able to express that characteristic clearly.
In the world of marketing, this process is known as creating a Unique Selling Proposition (or USP if we want to be flashy about it).
It’s what makes you stand out from the crowd.
Far from being just another buzz word, a Unique Selling Proposition is actually a highly practical personal branding tool.
It’s a great method for helping to nail down precisely what makes you remarkable – and why that matters.
Try to express your own USP in one sentence.
Sum up what you offer, and why that’s fantastic.
(Remember: no-one has to see this.
This is simply a private branding exercise for your own clarification.)
Simply ask yourself:
What are you particularly proud of?
What are you exceptionally good at?
Here are some examples to get you started:
- I’m an expert in helping new online students find their feet quickly.
- My special skill is connecting with students, and creating good working relationships.
- I have a gift for explaining complicated concepts in simple terms.
- I have an impressive track record of guiding students through to graduation.
- I specialize in helping second chance learners change their lives through education.
- My subject expertise is right up to date because I also work in the industry.
See what I mean?
There are all kinds of reasons that you’re different from everyone else.
Once you can express your point of difference simply and clearly, you’re one step closer to thinking of yourself as a brand that the wider world needs to know about.
It’s easy to recoil from these fundamental marketing concepts with a shudder of distaste.
You’re not alone.
Many people automatically associate any kind of marketing with shameless self-promotion.
But no-one’s suggesting you start wearing half a bottle of cheap perfume, and handing out business cards at funerals.
The fact is that some marketing fundamentals are essential if you want to achieve a higher profile, and more recognition.
And it’s perfectly possible to apply these marketing ideas to your career in a tasteful way.
Personal branding really doesn’t have to be a tacky process.
If you think about it, any successful business person or media personality is essentially a brand – from Richard Branson to Jamie Oliver.
They have specific skills, a standard of excellence and high achievement associated with their names.
That’s all branding is.
The bottom line is: you know you’re doing fantastic work.
And now it’s time to let other people know that, too.
You do that by defining your brand, and getting ready to make it visible.
Next, we’re going to make sure that when you ARE seen, you look good!