Maddie Peschong is a brand photographer, business coach and all-around social media expert who has helped lots of people find and define their own personal brands. She sat down with Sioux Falls Simplified to chat all things personal branding (and her favorite Instagram features).
Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
How did you ‘get smart’ about building a personal brand– i.e. what in your background or in your own research/activities prepared you for your job today?
Working in digital and social media through 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 loved 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 that was the stuff people engaged with.
We're all about simplicity here. Can you describe personal branding in 10 words or less?
Establish reputation. Build rapport. Deepen relationships. Refine as necessary.
What’s something people most often misunderstand about your job or about creating a personal brand alongside your business? (And, if you could politely correct them, what would you say?)
I think in general, people think personal branding or even branding as a whole, and they think logos, colors and an aesthetic.
- Those 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 tell me, "I don't want to have a personal brand," but I think that just about any business could benefit from bringing humanity into it, and that's all personal branding is.
What do you love about your own personal brand?
It allows me to have conversations about things that I'm struggling with that other people are also struggling with. And that's where that community comes in.
It's so easy – especially in business and entrepreneurship – to feel like you're going at it alone, and connection is made in those vulnerable conversations.
- What I love about the platforms that I've built is that we're just kind of saying, like, screw it. These conversations are important – we're all just people. Nobody has it all figured out. Let's talk about that.
What's your favorite instagram feature right now?
I like that you can reply to comments on a reel that's turned into a video.
What's your advice for someone who wants to learn more about personal branding or brand photography?
I send out weekly emails all about how to grow your personal brand and how to do it in bite-sized ways.
- A lot of time it's geared toward business owners, but a lot of the time it's also just good advice for anybody.
How do you spend your time when you're not working on your business?
I like to bake cakes, and I'm having fun decorating and kind of nesting in our new house.
I also like to spend time outside, go for walks, hang out with the family – this time of year, especially. I'm itching to go to an apple orchard.
Anything else you want the people of Sioux Falls to know about you, your job or personal branding?
It's so important to realize that everyone has a personal brand.
- It doesn't matter if you are a business owner, if you're an employee, if you're old, if you're young. It doesn't 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 over what's being said about us online via our websites, social media, etc.
You're in the driver's seat.