Constructing a Personal Brand

What does a down and dirty construction guy know about building a brand on the web?

What does a down and dirty construction guy know about building a brand on the web?


More than most folks if you’re “Ask The Builder” Tim Carter. Carter, a 55-year-old Internet phenomenon makes in the mid to high five figures a month from ads on his web site. Yes, you read that right…a month. And, on top of that he earns a no slouch six figure annual income from the ebooks he writes and sells on every conceivable home building and remodeling topic. Not content to rest on his laurels, Carter is busy churning out videos for YouTube where he has his own channel. Here is he is talking about pressure washing.

It’s not just the quantity of content that differentiates Carter. A throwback to a day when the owner of the local hardware store was a friend and neighbor, not a cog in a corporate wheel, Carter is your folksy, trusted companion. He will tell you exactly how to do a job and won’t mince words if it’s tough. “I try to tell you the hard, cold facts,” he says. “A swig of juice can be bitter but it makes the job go easier.”

So how did Carter go from builder to Internet publisher? It all began in the pre-Internet days in 1993 when Carter, a Cincinnati, Ohio, builder, was selected by Remodeling magazine as one of the top 50 US remodelers. Someone else might have just hung his certificate on the wall and went back to work. But Carter, with his wife Kathy’s urging, realized he could fulfill a life-long dream to write about how the average homeowner gets taken by builders and remodelers. In October 1993, the “Ask the Builder” column was born in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Fourteen years later, the column appears in 100 newspapers nationwide, syndicated by Tribune Media Services. In 1995, Carter took the column online, becoming in effect his own publisher. Today, attracts 30,000 unique visitors a day.

So what advice does Carter offer for people who want to create a successful web business?

Make the website personal. “I use the first person and have my photo on every page,” says Carter. “It shows that you’re not afraid to put yourself out there. It establishes immediate trust.”

Tell stories. “Don’t lecture but try to teach people through stories,” Carter says.


Solve problems. “The magic is having good high quality content about real problems people are interested in,” Carter says.

It’s a marathon. “If you want instant riches, forget about it,” cautions Carter. “It takes diligence, determination and hard work.”

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About the author

Wendy Marx is President of Marx Communications, an award-winning boutique B2B Public Relations agency known for turning companies and executives, including start-ups, into thought leaders. Follow her on Twitter @wendymarx and on Google+ @