Get smart about personal branding with Maddie Peschong

Maddie Peschong is a brand photographer, business coach and versatile social media expert who has helped many people find and define their own personal brands. She sat down with Sioux Falls Simplified to discuss all things personal branding (and her favorite Instagram features).

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

How “smart” are you in building a personal brand, i.e. what in your background or in your own research/activities prepared you for your job today ?

Work in digital and social media in college and after, I saw the impact of social and digital media on the clients we worked with.

  • I loved that you could measure it, but I also I liked that there were things you couldn’t measure like the relationships and the community you could build.

When I quit my job and did photography full time, I wasn’t doing brand photography (yet), but I was trying to build a community around my work.

  • I started sharing more about myself, and it was the stuff that people were engaging with.

We’re all about simplicity here. Can you describe personal branding in 10 words or less?

Establish reputation. Establish rapport. Deepen relationships. Refine as needed.

What do people most often understand about your work or building a personal brand alongside your business? (And, if you could politely correct them, what would you say?)

I think people generally think of personal branding or even branding as a whole, and they think of logos and colors and an aesthetic.

  • All have their place, but a personal brand is really your reputation, and in the digital world, it’s the digitization of that reputation.

People will say to me, “I don’t want to have a personal brand”, but I think that about any the company could benefit from the contribution of humanity, and that’s all personal branding is.

What do you like about your own personal brand?

It allows me to have conversations about things that I struggle with and other people struggle with as well. And that’s where this community comes in.

It’s so easy – especially in the world of business and entrepreneurship – to feel like you’re going it alone, and the connection is established in these vulnerable conversations.

  • What I love about the platforms I’ve built is that we just say, like, fuck it. These conversations are important – we are just people. No one has it all figured out. Let’s talk about that.

What’s your favorite Instagram feature right now?

I love that you can respond to comments on a reel that’s turned into a video.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn more about personal branding or brand photography?

I send weekly emails all about how to grow your personal brand and how to do it succinctly.

  • Most of the time it’s aimed at business owners, but most of the time it’s just good advice for anyone.

Editor’s note: You can subscribe to Maddie’s mailing list here, and you can also get more personal branding tips on her Instagram page here.

How do you spend your time when you’re not working on your business?

I love baking, and I have fun decorating and nesting in our new home.

I also like spend time outdoors, going for walks, spending time with the family – at this time of year, especially. I can’t wait to go to an apple orchard.

Is there anything else you would like the people of Sioux Falls to know about you, your work or your brand?

It’s so important to realize that everyone has a personal brand.

  • It doesn’t matter if you’re a business owner, if you’re an employee, if you’re old, if you’re young. It does not matter. You have a personal brand.
  • So now the question is: what do you want to be known for?

We actually have a lot of control about what is being said about us online via our websites, social networks, etc.

You are in the driver’s seat.

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