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Ask yourself why you want to be a chronic illness influencer. What is the larger mission you are trying to achieve? Try to be as specific as possible. This will be your guiding principle when things get tough, when you encounter opportunities in the future, and will be part of what distinguishes you from others. Reference Page 5 of our Advocacy Toolkit for more. First, narrow in on what channel you plan on posting content on. Is it a blog? Instagram? Twitter? Do you like longform writing or are you more visual? Once you narrow in on your channel, you can get really clear on building your brand. When building an online brand, it is important to be as clear as possible when thinking about the unique factors of your brand. Ask yourself, ‘how will people start to recognize my content?’ Do you use specific colors? Do you have a logo? What is the tone of voice in your content? Do you prefer a humorous tone or more educational? Remember that you can’t be everything for everyone. The more specific you can be the more people will remember you. If you build an online brand through social media, you need to narrow in on what kind of content you will post. Choose four to five content pillars, or topics that you will build content around each week. For example, your personal story, tips/tricks, funny/relatable content, and educational content. That way, people know what to expect from you and start to recognize your content when they are scrolling through their feed. This also helps you know exactly what to post and when. Make it as easy as possible for people to read your social media bios and understand exactly what you do and stand for as it relates to chronic illness. Add in your chronic illness(es), credible organizations you are affiliated with (such as the Chronic Disease Coalition) and your mission in one sentence. People should be able to read your bio and know exactly what it is you have to offer. Be a consistent face when building your online brand. This can mean whatever it needs to for you, as long as it is consistent and meets your quality standards. In order to make an impact and have influence, you need to have relationships with people. If you aren’t focused on building a community and interacting with your community, people will feel that and not want to engage with you. Engagement is much more important than the number of followers you have, so focus on that instead of the number of people who follow you. If you show up and interact with your audience, they will show up for you and your account will grow organically. Another great way to help build your credibility is to join organizations (like the Chronic Disease Coalition) that's mission align with yours. Become an ambassador and participate in opportunities to share your story on other social media platforms/websites as a way to increase your visibility and involvement in the chronic disease advocacy space. You can check out page 6 of our Advocacy Toolkit to learn more about how to partner with other groups/ The fastest way to create trust online is to show up as an expert in your space and teach your audience something they didn’t know. Remember that there are many different ways you can do that (go back to your content pillars) and when you are creating content, ask yourself, will my audience find this valuable in some way, shape or form?’ If the answer is yes, you’re on the right track! People need to know the person who is behind the account/brand. People want to connect with other people and are going to resonate with your story more if they see your face and can tie your story to who you actually are. It takes time, consistency and persistence to build a brand for yourself in order to create influence. Remember your why and don't give up when things get tough! Keep moving forward and know that you are creating impact on people's lives by sharing your story and ensuring people don’t feel alone in their chronic illness journey. Download the 10 tips one-pager today and share with your friends and family!