When you think of creating online, most people immediately think of personal brands. But not everyone wants to get in front of a camera or publish with their own name.
In their podcast, The Colin and Samir show, Colin and Samir introduced the concept of idea-based creators. They explained, “the content is rooted in the idea, and you might be interested in watching that because the idea is interesting.”
Idea-based creators can build faceless brands e.g. The School of Life YouTube channel explores philosophy, relationships, and psychology without a single personality being attached to the brand.
Choosing between a personal brand or a faceless channel depends on your goal as a creator.
A strong personal brand involves sharing your story, values, and perspective with your audience while a faceless brand focuses more on the knowledge you share.
Whichever route you pick, know that you can have success either way.
In this article, we'll cover:
- the pros and cons of having a personal brand
- the pros and cons of having a faceless brand
- three factors to consider when choosing
Let's get right into it.
The Pros of Having a Personal Brand
It's easier to stand out
With a growing sea of new creators, your greatest competitive advantage is being yourself. After all, each of us has something unique to offer.
When you establish a personal brand based on your interests or personality, it’s easier to stand out. People start following you for you.
Your work is a reflection of you
If you're a creator, putting a lot of effort into your craft is a given because your work is a reflection of who you are.
You work harder for things you care about. And often, that shows through the content you make, whether that's video, blogging, or recording podcasts.
When the audience can tell how much you care about your work, they will also start to value and get invested in it.
A strong relationship with your community
Your audience becomes a part of your online community when you have a strong personal brand.
This is crucial when building a creator business as it leads to:
- having fans that trust you
- knowing what problems you can help others with
- building a sustainable creator business
Not only is it easier to sell to your community, but it's also a strong motivator for you to show up daily, knowing that you're creating a real impact.
Attract the right people and businesses
Building a strong personal brand also means you’ll have reach.
Not only will you attract a like-minded community, you'll also be able to connect with creators and companies that you believe in.
For example, many productivity YouTubers, such as Ali Abdaal, Mariana's Study Corner, and Thomas Frank, have been sponsored by companies they already use like Skillshare and Notion. They’ve built a strong community with their YouTube channels, gaining hundreds of thousands of followers while attracting brands that make sense for their audience.
The Cons of Having a Personal Brand
It’s harder to sell in the future
You don't go into creating content thinking you will sell it if it becomes a success.
But that's exactly what happened with Cora Harrison. Cora is a blogger and a YouTuber and is into multiple niches like finance, travel, and cryptocurrency. At the beginning of her journey, she wanted to sell her finance blog as her interests changed, but she had difficulty doing so.
She said in an interview, "the reason I struggled to sell that website was that there was so much of me involved in it."
In the future, you might decide to sell your digital assets, which might be challenging if your content relies heavily on you.
Hard to outsource
If you create content based on your lifestyle, hobbies, and interests that people follow you for, it might be harder to outsource things like writing or filming.
Instead you may only be able to outsource the roles that don’t rely on your presence such as editing, admin tasks, and finances.
It’s more difficult to scale
If your entire business model is built on you, it might be more difficult to scale. After all, there’s only one of you. You can only take on so many clients, customers or brands.
Instead you might have to think of revenue streams that don’t completely depend on you. For example, doctor-turned-YouTuber Ali Abdaal launched the Part-Time YouTuber Academy (PTYA) at the back of his personal channel. Whilst Ali is still the face of the business, other teachers are also present on the course. In this way, Ali has been able to build systems and processes to build a multi-million dollar business.
The Pros of Having a Faceless Brand
You can build multiple digital assets
Having multiple digital assets means you can explore multiple niches and build up different revenue streams.
For example, Cora Harrison has a personal finance blog, a travel blog and a cryptocurrency channel. Rather than relying on one channel and building revenue streams within it, Cora has built multiple revenue streams by having different assets. This means that her eggs aren’t in one basket, which was helpful during the pandemic when her travel blog had less traction.
Having multiple assets means you're clear about the target persona you're talking to, and your asset will also be easier to manage.
Your business has a clearer market-fit
Having a faceless brand means that your readers or viewers won’t be invested in you or your story. They’re there for your content and the information you’re providing. It also means you're clear about the target persona you're talking to.
Here are some examples of famous YouTube channels that have done this well:
- The School of Life with 8.08M subscribers
- Crash Course with 14.2M subscribers
- Einzelgänger with 1.63M subscribers
If you you no longer want to talk about that topic, it will be easier for you to sell it on to someone else.
Your tasks are easier to outsource
Having a faceless brand means that anyone can create your content.
You can hire agencies or writers to create your content for you. You can also put less effort into creating and instead focus on generating ideas for your business.
This allows you to grow and scale faster.
It’s easier to separate things from your personal life
Many creators use their personal lives as content inspiration, and some creators like lifestyle vloggers use their entire life for content. This can affect your work-life balance but it also means you can take negativity more personally. Faceless channels create healthier boundaries between your online and personal life.
The Cons of Having a Faceless Brand
Harder to manage if you have multiple assets
It might be harder to manage your business if you have multiple assets like YouTube channels, podcasts, blogs, Instagram, and TikTok. Growing on one platform can take a long time, and it's especially tough if you're also into multiple niches.
Your content has to stand out
To stand out with a faceless brand, the quality of your content needs to be high value, relevant, and solve a particular problem for your targeted audience. Faceless channels often need to rely on evergreen content to show up on search engines. Evergreen content is “search-optimized content that is continually relevant and stays “fresh” for readers over a long period of time,” according to the Digital Marketing Institute blog.
What to consider
Not sure if you’d rather have a personal brand or a faceless channel? Consider these factors.
Your brand’s purpose
Your decision to build a personal versus a faceless brand will depend on your goals. If you want to be known for your work, you may lean towards building a personal brand. However, if you see content creation as a vehicle for your business and hope to eventually move on from it, then the faceless brand route might suit you better.
The type of digital assets you want to own
It's worth asking yourself, "how do I want to show up online?". When you have a personal brand, you might need to pick platforms that suit your personality, whereas with faceless channels you might need to be more strategic about where you create.
How comfortable you are showing up online
Personal brands require you. Choosing between a personal brands and faceless channel can simply come down to whether you’re happy for people to see you online and everything that comes with it. Fear shouldn’t hold you back, but you should make a choice based on your lifestyle and values.
Whether the content requires you or not, you can create value by sharing your knowledge, research, or experience. It’s a personal choice to make and one that affects your business strategy.
To find out more about building multiple assets as a creator, listen to our full conversation with Cora Harrison.