Every day we see it. People seemingly coming from nowhere and finding their way onto your crowded radar; they're carving out a reputation for themselves as an expert or authority in a particular space and then over the journey you watch them get bigger and more influential as their star rises with each new blog or video post.
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Some individuals don't just gain visibility, they take things to the next level by building an emotional connection with a cast of thousands, often on a global scale. In other words, they are building a tribe of followers and advocates for their thoughts, ideas and opinions.
But it's not just about being famous in a particular niche; there's much more to it than that. With a growing connected audience comes the opportunity to develop products and services and grow business revenues, all off the back of your reputation, your personality, your passion and purpose.
Welcome to the world of the 'micro maven'. The emergence of the social web has seen the rise and (continued) rise if a new breed of creative entrepreneur I call 'micro mavens'. Micro mavens, in essence, leverage the power of the internet to build a global platform for their personal brand, along the way creating a flexible and sustainable business enterprise they can operate literally from anywhere in the world.
Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) who turned a daily web show about wine into a global microbrand phenomenon spanning books, speaking, angel investing and a growing social media-focused branding agency called VaynerMedia.
Trey Ratcliff (@treyratcliff) who has taken his passion for travel photography and turned it into a hugely popular blog Stuck In Customs as well as a global following of more than 9.5 million across social media channels such as Pinterest, Twitter and Google+. Not only does Ratcliff get to traverse the globe taking photos but he also speaks professionally, produces HDR photography tutorial packages and runs a growing e-book publishing business, flatbooks.com.
Brian Solis (@briansolis), who has built his brand through what he calls 'relentless giving', the practice of solving people's problems by constantly creating and distributing free content. Today, he's a principal analyst at research and advisory firm Altimeter Group as well as a best-selling author, influential blogger and in-demand keynote presenter.
Today's micro mavens understand the powerful role a credible platform plays in helping an individual to get noticed, amplify their message, spread their ideas, express their opinions and ultimately build a connected audience that over time a becomes a mass group of dedicated customers and advocates.
Years ago a platform may have consisted of a TV show or regular radio spot, a magazine column or a major book deal that gave an individual high visibility across multiple channels; these opportunities were in short supply and by and large were unattainable for everyone except the 'chosen few' whom the designated gatekeepers deemed worthy enough to take a chance on.
But not now. Today your platform is eminently attainable and while it might include more traditional mediums, in all likelihood it will be anchored by a blog (or similar such as a podcast series or online video show) along with a person's aggregated audience across social networking channels such as Twitter and LinkedIn, plus their email list.
Today, you don't need to ask anyone's permission to build your platform — you can literally become your own media channel. Using new media technologies you can grow your own audience by creating and distributing content that's compelling and relevant to the audience you seek. Who knows? Maybe you will become big enough that the traditional media outlets come calling, which in turn will help lift your brand to even greater heights in terms of credibility and visibility.
A Warning Though . . .
If people think they can just whack up a blog or podcast or web TV show and they'll suddenly become rich and famous, forget it!
It took Chris Brogan eight years to reach 100 subscribers for his blog; today he's a blogging powerhouse and best-selling author who influences and inspires hundreds of thousands of people around the world. As a result of the reputation he has built not just from his blog but also his presence on Twitter and Google+ as well as his public speaking and weekly newsletter, Brogan has been able to build a growing business design company called Human Business Works.
Vaynerchuk, Ratcliff, Solis and Brogan are just some of the micro mavens I use as examples in my book microDOMINATION. Others include podcasting queen Mignon 'Grammar Girl' Fogarty, multi-passionate entrepreneur Marie Forleo and Australia-based bloggers, Nicole Avery, Nikki Parkinson and Darren 'Problogger' Rowse.
But there are many others out there in various niches using social media and content marketing strategies to develop their platform, build their personal brand, grow their authority and along with it a multi-revenue stream business that fits with their lifestyle, not the other way around.
You could say that becoming a micro maven is one of the great business opportunities for the 21st century.
Trevor Young is a consultant, author, speaker and coach. His new book, microDOMINATION: How to leverage social media and content marketing to build a mini-business empire around your personal brand, is out now. Catch him on Twitter @trevoryoung.