Brand Yourself, Brand your Forum Nickname and Brand your Business Name
Here's some free advice that I use myself and have found it to be immeasurably beneficial at least in my own circumstances.
If your into detailing as a business or even a serious hobby for the long run, then either brand your name or brand your business name and when you choose a business name, see if you can work your real name into your business name and that way you'll be branding both.
My name is Mike Phillips and on all discussion forums I belong to I use my real name. I don't post anything that I would not want other's to see or read so I don't have anything to hide or keep secret. I've never had my identity stolen, (knock on cyber-wood), and I've never had any problems on any forum related to using my real name.
My main website is called ShowCarGarage.com and without trying much I've also branded it, at least in the online detailing world.
In the Cyberworld, on detailing discussion forums, your forum buddies get to know you by your forum nickname whether it's your real name or not, but in the real world where you make your money, nobody knows who FuzzyBunny77 is and nobody's ever going to know or care who FuzzyBunny77 is, so to some degree, investing your time posting under a cute nickname like FuzzyBunny77 or fill in the blank doesn't ever really help you, especially if you're in this for the long run.
Because you use your real name in the real world, it can only help to use your real name or a portion of it in the online world, not always but it depends upon how you market yourself and your business and discussion forums can be great ways to get new business. The problem is that non- forum people, (a portion of your customer base, maybe even the largest segment of it), may find it difficult to relate to you in the forum world and the last thing you want to do is make it hard for your customer to relate to you and recommend you to their friends.
Here's an example,
Mr. Smith can relate to you as a person in the real world and then later if you somehow introduce him to your online presence he will still know and UNDERSTAND who you on online, or if he found you online first he can easily relate to you and associate a real name with you in the real world.
Hi Mr. Smith, Mike Phillips here, thank you for calling and I would be happy to swing by your house and give you an estimate to detail your Yugo.
That doesn't work as well if you go by a forum nickname. It's not to say that you can't brand a nickname as you certainly can, but it will take longer, it will require more work on your part and it will never have as much impact as meeting people in person and trying to explain who you are, (that you are your nickname).
Your name as a forum name, business name and domain name
This would also apply if your forum nickname is your business name or if you have worked your real name into your business name. Here's a few examples of people that have worked their real name into their business name,
Nickname - Real Name - Business name + Website name
Scottwax = Scot Hair = Scottwax.com
Jimmy Buff-it's Auto Detailing = Jim Schliebner = Jimmybuffit.com
Nick's Custom Detailing = Nick Chapman = Nickscustomdetailing.com
See how they all tie together seamlessly?
They brand themselves, (their real name), their forum name and their business name.
If you're reading this and you're in this for the long run, (I am), then consider the above when choosing a,
- Forum Nickname
- Business Name
- Domain Name
If you do good work and you take pride in your work, then brand yourself...
The point being, my name was known or branded by my posts on a discussion forum and I honestly don't think it would have meant much, or had as much value had I been using a forum nickname like FuzzyBunny77 or Speeder88, or fill in the blank.Here's an interesting and true story,
One time while doing a Half & Half, Before & After for an upcoming Miata club, I was in the Meguiar's Garage around 11:00pm on a week night buffing out just one half of two Miata's for the event, a black one and a red one.
No one was around as it was way past closing time and the garage doors were closed. Because I was running a rotary buffer I never heard the garage door go up or down in the next garage over so when Barry Meguiar walked into the garage it caught me by surprise.
He had just returned from the John Wayne airport after returning from a trip overseas to visit many of Meguiar's overseas Business Partners and usually these were the prime distributors for a specific countries.
He asked me what I was doing? I said, buffing out a couple of cars for a car show for a before and after, side-by-side demonstration.
He said, very good. He then turned to walk down the hall that leads to some stairs to his office when he turned and said,
By the way, I just returned from an overseas trip where I probably visited around 20 distributors and at least half of them told me to, "Say hello to Mike Phillips" . (This also caught me by surprise).
My take on his comment was that it may have caught him off guard because he probably didn't realize how much reach my posts on the MeguiarsOnline.com discussion forum had since it was still fairly new. This would be back in the spring of 2005. In the bigger picture of Meguiar's Corporate structure, I was a long ways down the food chain from upper management and certainly of no regard in the hierarchy of that business that I should have received any recognition from very diverse people around the world.
If you're reading this and you're using a forum nickname that is undecipherable to just about anyone but yourself, AND you would like to change your forum nickname to something that has more value and is more brandable, you can usually send a polite request to most Forum Admins asking for the change and I know at least in my experience, I would always accommodate the request and change their name for them. You don't lose your post count and now all your past posts and future posts will be branded with your new name.
Here's a brand for you and an end to this article...
Just do it!