19 Feb 2019

Why I spent two months creating a free “how to build a brand”​ tutorial

Credit: faithie/Adobe Stock

I am OVER THE MOON, my friends. Medium just published my collection of 8 comprehensive tutorials on how to build a brand. Here’s why I did it.

Over the past year, I’ve seen faux marketers charge upwards of $2000 for courses on what I’m sharing for free. The difference being is that they haven’t done the thing they’re teaching for no one other than themselves and their personal brand. I’ve been doing this professionally for 20 years. And what makes me postal is the fact that what they’re teaching is WRONG. If you don’t know the difference between brand, branding, and brand platform, you shouldn’t be selling a course on it.

I also created this because $2,000 courses give access to an elite group of people. Not everyone can afford that kind of coin and I think knowledge should be shared and accessible by all. Especially if you’re like me, privileged. I’m passionate about this to my core, and why you may think–meh, this is just a series of posts, it’s so much more to me. It means people can learn for free or on the cheap.

I’m sharing detailed tutorials, downloadables, graphics, and extensive vetted resources for further learning, including free online courses from MIT, Google, and more. You know, reputable brands. So here’s what’s included, and each tutorial can stand on its own:

1. How to Build a Brand: This gives you a sweeping overview of the brand platform process, from research to storytelling including its application, i.e. creating a messaging and content strategy.

2. Let’s Talk About Brand Discovery: I go deep on my discovery and research process using the 3-Cs method (consumer, competitor, and company). I outline how to perform primary and second research along with a crap ton of resources. All brand development MUST START WITH RESEARCH AND DATA. THE END.

3. Let’s Talk About Story: I show you how to create the basic and essential brand narratives–the elevator and signature story. This will be the foundation for your brand platform and story strategy.

4. Let’s Talk About Brand Positioning + Purpose: From prisms to BP and CD-maps (cool marketing jargon, eh?), I’ll explain what these terms mean and show you how to create a brand that stands apart from the pact. This step is CRUCIAL because it’s the foundation. You don’t get this right, it’s like building a house without a blueprint.

5. Let’s Talk About Brand Benefits + RTB: Ah, the meat of the affair. What people get out of your brand (i.e., what’s in it for them) and why they should care.

6. Let’s Talk About Brand Personality, Voice and Tone: This is the fun part–humanizing your brand through fun mood boards and psychology. Yep, I get Jungian on you.

7. Let’s Talk About SWOT Analysis: Because you have to know where you stand relative to your customer and the competition and where you need to refine and improve.

8. Let’s Talk About Content Strategy: Okay, cool. You’ve got the blueprint on lock. How do you translate this to your messaging and content strategy? And ultimately, your marketing strategy. This is essentially your brand, in practice.

I am so proud of this series. I wrote and published two books and I swear this was almost just as hard!

If you love what you read, PLEASE CLAP A LOT (MORE THAN ONCE) AND SHARE.

And listen, if you can’t afford the $5 medium fee (these are behind the paywall and you get three free articles a month), email me and I can send you links that bypass the paywall. Because I know what it’s like to think $5 is a lot of money because for most people it is. And we all need to respect that.

And hey, if you want to support me and my work, consider a donation.

I hope you enjoy this! I’m so grateful to medium for their consistent support of my work, their careful editing and copyediting because every writer NEEDS their editors.


  1. Hi Felicia,
    I’ve read your blogs and a few of your articles and it’s great – you are truly inspiring.

    I would like to hear, if it is possible to gain access to “how to build a brand” since it is not possible for me to pay through medium as a student.

    Especially the part about how to build a brand, the tone and voice and story, but i would love to read all of it.

    Loooking forward to hearing from you.


    Posted on 2.20.19 · Reply to comment
  2. Sharon wrote:

    HI Felicia, I have followed your blog in its many incarnations for years. I also followed you on Instagram and just recently noticed that you seemed to have disappeared from my feed. I’d love to continue to follow you and to read this series.



    Posted on 4.2.19 · Reply to comment
    • admin wrote:

      Hi, Sharon! I’m no longer on social media, but if you’re signed up for my newsletter you should get all the goods on new articles.

      Posted on 4.4.19 · Reply to comment

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • As you guys know, I am BIG on education. My goal for this year is to share as much education and free resources on freelancing, marketing, and writing as possible. I'm even switching email list providers (moving to ConvertKit) so I can send you better emails related to what you're interested in. Don't care about the brand stuff, but want to know more about writing? I GOT YOU. When I sell resources, I want them to be relatively affordable. So, I'm starting small with a MONSTER guide on freelancing. I originally thought this was going to be 100 pages. Well, it's 150+ pages with 40% of NEW content I'm writing RIGHT NOW. Templates, how-tos, personal stories, resources, and everything you need to know about getting started, getting clients, onboarding them, managing them, and dealing with them when they drive you bonkers. .

You know me. I write long, comprehensive how-tos in ENGLISH, not jargon. .

So if you want to get started with freelancing (or are considering it), you're going to want to get this guide so you can avoid all the mistakes I made, get all the resources you need without spending $$$ and hours on the internet searching for competency. I'm selling this guide for $49. Pre-order link is in my bio. I'll be sending this out on 5/1, and then creating a fun course around it so the price will inch up a bit. .

And don't worry--I have guides in the works for people who want to write, market, and SO MUCH MORE. I'm on a tear, my friends. Pre-order #education2019tour
#freelancewriter #freelancetips #freelancer #risingtidesociety #beingboss #sharetheknowledge #brandstrategist #marketingtips #marketingstrategy #bosslady
  • In this era of competitiveness and self-serving "entrepreneurs," it's rare to come across a peer who is generous with their work and their heart. Rarely am I moved by people, but today I was on the receiving end of an act of kindness that I had to share. 
I contacted a peer in the marketing space, a woman whom I revere and admire. She's young, smart, passionate, hardworking, and knows more about marketing than most people I've encountered in my two-decade-long career. 
I wrote her wondering if she was selling educational materials she created a few years ago-- an education that helped me refine my acumen. She replied and sent me the materials FOR FREE. 
I gasped. 
Who does this? Who extends their work and kindness so generously? I came away inspired. Inspired to share my knowledge--as much as I can--for free.

So many people paint consultants, marketers, educators and course providers with a broad brush. Yes, there are hoards of incompetent hustlers. People who don't do what they teach. But there are those who are bright lights. And today I was reminded of that. 
There are good people out there and I can still be surprised by kindness.
#freelance #freelancelife #risingtidesociety #karma #beastudent #beingboss
  • With the exception of the cruelty that is tax day, I’m toasting some professional wins. I’m creating a comprehensive ebook on freelancing—the ultimate guide before I go the course route. Hit the link in my bio to subscribe to my email list to get all the details! I’m excited about this one because I’m rocking the baby steps before marathon approach.
Inspired by one of my professional heroes, @byreginatv, I removed 2,000 people from my email list and it felt glorious. Don't be tethered to a vanity metric. If people aren't connecting with you, the numbers are meaningless. I'd rather have a smaller, engaged audience of people who are into my vibe and work than the ability to shout out a high subscriber count. #foodforproverbialthought.
I’ve got new book recommendations up on my personal blog: http://www.feliciacsullivan.com if you want to devour some excellent reads.

Finally, aided by a new friend, I’m going to my first Quilt chat this week. The Wing isn’t my vibe and it’s can’t rationalize spending the money and Quilt is my scene. I’ll likely be chatting about this in my newsletter as I’m FINALLY in a place where I can network in a non-smarmy setting.
Here’s to an excellent start to the week!
#freelance #freelancelife #crushingit #bosslady #goaldigger #fuckhustleculture #beingboss
  • This year is shaping up to be my best yet, and I’m happy to have made it out of the dark country. I’m writing work that means so much to me. I’m reading 2 books a week. I’m tackling challenging, but thrilling projects. I’m collaborating with brilliant, beautiful friends. And I’m calm, centered, and focused. It too a long while and a breakdown to get here, but I’m grateful for my small patchwork of a family who always checked in, hired me when I desperately needed it, and didn’t flee when things got tough. Sometimes you need to feel the weight of your sadness to unburden yourself of it. Here’s to yummy lunches and the best year yet!
  • Over the past two years, I’ve been toying with teaching. I’ve taught marketing to creatives at USC. I’ve taught creative writing in New York. I’ve mentored employees and friends. I love learning and sharing what I’ve learned, and forpeople I know and love I often do it for free. 
So, what’s stopped me? Honestly, the machine that’s become the online course industry irritates me. Webinars that waste time. Who wants to watch a 45-minute infomercial? Not me. Or how about the fake fan love and Instagram platforms that are transparently transactional? Courses that are a million dollars, taught by people who haven’t done the thing they’reteaching beyond their own privileged platform. And did I mention that everyone looks the same? The super stars are white, well educated, and bragging about their seven-figure incomes. 
I mean, COME ON. 
Listen. I’m half-white, privileged as fuck, well educated, but I definitely don’t make seven figures. And I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated with freelancers who call themselves brand strategists (aka, predators posing as house pets) making bank, yet they lack the experience, education, and discipline. But I’ve learned that complaining does nothing if you’re not creating, if you’re not putting out the thing you want to see in the world. I spent two months creating an 8-step tutorial on how to build a brand platform because I was tired of people not having access to education and opportunity because they couldn’t drop $1,500 on a brand-building course.

Then I thought about how I need to stop complaining about the shady machine that is the online course space and put out the education I want to see in the world, made accessible to people who don’t look like me or have the fancy-pants Ivy League degrees I have (which have driven me to paralyzing debt, but that’s a whole other bag of sad tricks). I’m planning two courses: one on getting into the freelancing game and another on building your brand and finding your customer. Interested? Sign up for my email list (link in bio), where I’ll keep everyone posted.
#freelance #beingboss #freelancing #risingtidesociety #brandstrategy #lifeisgrand
  • It may only be 5:48am, but I woke to amazing news. I’m toasting with coffee and a scone this morning. I’m partnering with brilliant friends and marketers (eh-hem, @luciaioevans) on incredible projects, my pipeline is healthy, my mental health is aces since I got off all personal social media. Granted, I won’t be able to see humans for the next two months as I’m locked down with some major projects, but I am not complaining. I’m ELATED. It’s all happening!!!! Yay! Finally!!!
  • You guys. I’m having an incredible fucking year. I’ve published tutorials, thought leadership and essays I’m proud of, I’m working with incredible clients who are breaking ranks, I’m partnering with brilliant people on projects, my pipeline is healthy, my mental health is getting back on track, and I’m reorganizing my business so I can run it more efficiently. Sometimes you have to applaud the wins, especially when they’ve been earned.
#fuckhustle #worksmarter #brandstrategist #freelancer #crushingit
  • What a day! Ive been floored and humbled by the tens of THOUSANDS who viewed my 8-part brand building series on medium (link in bio)! I’ve heard from four university professors who want to incorporate my work as assigned reading, the people who were grateful not to have to spend $2K on some wack course taught by an “expert” whose only success example is their personal brand.
Today, I had a day of interviews that culminated in a presentation to the executive team. After it ended, several people asked if I’d considered teaching because I just delivered a master class on brand strategy.
It feels good to know your stuff but still have the hunger and drive as a student!
#brandstrategy #marketing #brand #freelancer #nofauxmarketer #therealdeal #beingboss

Follow Me!