|Good branding should not only make a person stop; it should
also effectively communicate why they have stopped.
Shocker: If you're a writer who's interested in getting published and making an income (whether supplemental or full) from your writing, then you're in the business of writing. If you are some kind of unique creative talent, then you're a perfect candidate for personal branding.
What is branding?
Many people make the mistake of thinking that a brand is the reach a company has. Like the stronger brand between Pepsi and Coca-Cola would be determined by which one sells the most soda pops. However, branding is not about who's bigger, but how well you communicate your core identity.
One of the products I work on as an editor is WritersMarket.com. The WritersMarket.com brand is not its sales figures. Rather, the brand is built around the idea: Get Published and Get Paid for Your Writing. If writers identify the site with getting published, then we're doing a good job of branding. If they think it's a site for buying bubble gum, then we're failing.
What about personal branding?
As a writer, you are basically trying to accomplish the same thing when you are carving out your niche. Maybe you write science fiction novels, or specialize in medical writing. Don't let yourself just be a writer. Try to pick a few keywords to define who you are as a writer.
For instance, I don't expect people to see the name Robert Lee Brewer and think romance novelist. Instead, I'd hope most people think things like editor, poet, blogger, speaker, father, husband, and helpful person. That's who I am, who I strive to be every day.
Why is building a brand important?
Your brand defines who you are to the outside world. Carving out a niche as an editor who understands the publishing industry has afforded me several opportunities that other editors have not received. Likewise, branding myself as a poet with a popular blog has led me to be named Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, be invited as a National Feature Poet to the 2011 Austin International Poetry Festival, and sit on a panel at the upcoming AWP Conference (where I'm referred to as "poet" in the panel description--along with a professor, journalist, and novelist).
Brand identity is what helps you get to the point that clients are seeking you out, instead of the other way around.
How to build a brand
Building a brand is easy on paper, but it requires rolling up your sleeves in real life.
- Make a list of who you are as a person. Are you nice? Are you helpful? Are you outrageous? Are you funny? Are you authoritative? Try not to answer yes to every question you ask yourself.
- Make a list of who you are as a writer. Same types of questions. Hopefully, the answers align with step 1.
- Define how you'd like others to view you. Again, it would be nice if this aligned with steps 1 and 2.
- List your writing specialties and successes up to this point. It's okay if you don't have a long list. Maybe you've just finished stories that are hidden in a closet.
- List what you'd like to do with your writing in the short-term. Then, begin working toward these goals while keeping in mind how these goals align with steps 1-3 and/or build off step 4.
- List what you'd like to do with your writing in the long-term. In a perfect world, this will build off step 5.
Don't worry. World domination will come, but it often takes time. If you're consistent in your approach and identity, success will rush in upon you when you least expect it. And often in ways that you'd never expect. After all, I would've never imagined being a featured poet or poet laureate of anything just a few years ago. Those honors came as a result of me working on my identity as a poet.
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Check out previous Not Bob posts for writers: