2 years ago, a new writer popped up on Quora by the name of Nicolas Cole. He was a kid fresh out of  college, writing about everything from World of Warcraft to health and fitness,  discipline and productivity to advertising and digital marketing. Before he started writing, he had sent me a message asking if I could mentor him. I responded but had too many obligations at the time to take him on as a mentee. He didn't let that stop him as he started to break down the science behind my content and figured out how to find his voice.

Less than nine months later, he was one of the fastest-crowned Top Writers on the platform, had pieces published in TIME, Inc., Forbes, Fortune, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Observer and more.

Cole is now a columnist for Inc Magazine, the Editor in Chief of one of Chicago's hottest digital advertising agencies,  Idea Booth, and is a published author of a health and fitness e-book series called "Skinny to Shredded," sold in 30+ countries worldwide.

And he's only 26 years old.

When I asked Cole what ignited his success, he said, "As soon as I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to build a personal brand. In today's day and age, it's the most valuable thing you could possibly have. Not a resumé. Not even a degree. A personal brand. Because if you have a true personal brand, you have an audience, and if you have an audience, you have people's attention. And attention is the new currency."

Cole then proceeded to share with me the 5 things he did to build his own personal brand and how he continued to leverage his influence to bigger opportunities:

1. Volume Wins

Cole explained the importance of putting out great content every day. Especially in the digital landscape, quality volume is the winning method. Some people make the mistake of pumping out average or low-quality content. Other people make the mistake of tunnel-visioning on one piece of content for too long.

In order to actually build an audience, attract attention and ultimately build a personal brand, you have to find your rhythm and consistently put out quality content -- whatever that means for you. If that's Snapchat videos, make Snapchat videos every day. If that's Quora answers, write Quora answers every day. If that's Instagram photos, create the best photo you can create, every day, then put it out there and share it with the world.

2. Finding Your Niche(s)

A Personal Brand isn't so much about owning a niche, as much as it is about owning who you are. You have to understand what value you provide that is different than everyone else, then you have to go all in on that. From there, your niche(s) reveal themselves.

In order to find your niche(s), Cole suggests writing and creating a lot of content. You have to experiment and gain feedback before the dust can settle and your personal brand can begin to take shape. This is why starting on social media can be so helpful -- because it gives you access to audiences that can help steer the exploration.

3. Small Wins To Big Victories

Cole's ability to ladder his successes on top of each other are one of the most unique ways he was able to grow so quickly. As he explained it, the first thing he did on Quora was figure out how content publishers like TIME, Forbes, Fortune, etc., source content. Then, each week, he would pitch the people who sourced that content a handful of answers he thought would be a good fit for their publication. Eventually, one of them would get picked -- and then he would use that one small win as credibility for another, and another, until he had an entire arsenal of publication features.

This is what Cole means by organic growth, being able to ladder your small wins up to bigger victories.

4. Expanding Your Reach

Cole will be the first to tell you, however, that it's better to own one platform than to do an average job with a handful of platforms. Before you can expand your reach, it's important that you focus on your strength -- whether that be Twitter, Instagram, Quora, etc. Own one platform, build a loyal following, then introduce them to the thought of following you elsewhere.

Every social media platform should offer something slightly different. That's what is going to keep people interested over the long term.

5. Launch Your Blog

Cole's advice when it comes to starting a blog is to make that the last priority. First, build a following through social media. It is much easier to learn and develop yourself as a thought leader in social ecosystems like Twitter, Medium, Quora, etc., than in isolation on a blog somewhere hidden on the Internet.

A blog is where you share content pieces that are simply too robust for other social platforms. You can't launch an eBook series on Facebook, you need to host it somewhere. You can't launch an online course on Twitter, you need to host it somewhere. You can't write novella-length informational articles on Instagram, you need to host them somewhere. A blog should be your biggest value add to a reader -- which is why you shouldn't start one until you are far along enough in the process to be able to share that depth of knowledge in the first place.

Once you are ready, however, a blog can be the final piece of the puzzle in order to start building a truly influential and profitable personal brand.