When your name is mentioned, what emotion do people feel? Is it exactly what you would like for them to feel? This is where personal branding comes to play. As a writer who dreams to make the craft much more than an activity for your leisure time, you should take the perception of your work more seriously. This is why I decided to discuss building a strong personal brand for yourself as a writer.
It takes time to attain the visibility of a widely read writer. You have to keep at it. Work really hard. Beat deadlines. Get piles and piles of rejection letters. Battle self-doubt. Get lots of promises. Stay up late into the nights. Write, rewrite, edit, rewrite. It takes a lot of determination to get there and what makes it easier is the fact that every day of hard work only gets us closer.
What is personal branding?
Is this about adding poet or writer to your name? No dear, it is not about the suffix or prefix. It is not about choosing the best pen names there is, in the literary community. It is not also as simple as getting a striking logo designed for you. Although all these and a few other things (which I would mention) sum up into becoming the physical parts of your personal brand.
Most times, people spend time building a brand even without knowing. Being intentional becomes important when they want to get optimum results from owning a distinct brand. What then does it mean to intentionally build a personal brand for yourself as a writer? It is not as complex as many people want you to believe it is. When you are thinking about a brand for yourself as a writer, think about what you want to achieve with your art. What promise does your writing craft make? Is this promise to a certain group of people? Say, the disabled, abused children, or traumatized people? Then think about how you intend to fulfil this promise? You choose a vehicle with which to convey your message (fulfilled promise) to your audience and this could be via stories, poetry, essays, nonfiction or whatever genre you write.
Why should an author or writer bother about personal branding?
If you write mainly as a hobby, personal branding might not mean much to you. But if you are looking to make a career out of your craft, you would need to carefully read this. Author branding is a very important aspect of monetizing the writing craft. Just like other big brands out there, you have to spot your unique selling point and leverage it to deliver value to the world. In case you do not know, money is reward for the delivering of value.
Another key reason why writers need to consider branding their craft is, branding gives shape and direction to your passion. It helps you to take out time to answer important questions such as, what do I write? Why do I write it? For whom do I write? If you successfully answer these questions, you will be able to come up with something tangible that distinguishes you and increases trust your audience.
The secret to building a brand that will stand the test of time
- Know yourself.
What is unique about you? What are your weaknesses and your strengths? Build on your strengths. Feed your strengths until they swallow up your flaws. I do not subscribe to the “fake it till you make it” mantra because if you fake it, it is not authentic and therefore, not sustainable. Sustainability is important because the success of any brand depends on consistency which is only possible when you have a defined centre of gravity (goals) which stands as a converging point for every of your moves.
If you do not know where to start, begin by taking some time to discover yourself, this will make it easier for you to find that one thing that is the very essence of your writing. It is this discovery that gives you a drive and enough passion to propel you for a lifetime.
- Look at the big picture.
Project where you see yourself in the next 5, 10 years, and think about what you can consistently deliver. What are the issues you want to thrash? Why are you in the position person to do that? If in the next 10 years you want to be the best travel writer in your country, you have to be someone who comes alive at the mention of tourism and various tourist attractions. You have to be interested in various cultures, get familiar with different accents, and strengthen your narrative writing skills.
Take intentional steps. Go for opportunities around your interests, there are a handful of them on the internet.
- Do not write for everybody.
Clearly delineate the audience you want to reach. Study your audience, understand them very well to enable you connect with them easily. Jumping from genre to genre, writing for yourself without considering your audience or wanting to write for everyone is one of the many mistakes writers make when they start building a brand. Versatility is good but ensure that everything you do draws attention to one big picture.
Bear it in mind that you risk not having a strong fan base if you are all over the place. A little here and a little there is very less likely to produce the best results. The power of mono-audiences is synonymous with the power of choosing a niche, it earns you more trust. Yeah, people are more likely to trust a specialist with their projects than a person who knows a little about everything.
- Who do you want to be like?
Who already has a similar brand to that which you want to build? Definitely, there must be writers and authors who have recorded incredible success reaching the same audience you have in mind. Watch them closely. Read their works. Emulate them but do not turn yourself to a duplicate of them.
There is power in mentorship. Everyone talks about social capital these days, believe me it is not a sham. You need to learn from someone who has gone the way you are looking to go. They do not need to be people you pick up the phone and dial, if you get that, you are very lucky—they just have to be people you dot on via social media, through books and videos. Invest the time to study them long enough to know their secrets.
Selling yourself becomes easier when you have properly branded yourself. A hawker who knows the name of the wares in her tray will know exactly what to chant in the marketplace. You will be able to choose a name, and a distinct writing persona. Even if you want to give your craft, form and hide behind a mask. You will also be able to choose the right colors, fonts, writing tone and the other physical attributes for that cryptic persona.
However, I advise that once you decide on the name to go by, that name should be what you are known as, across platforms. Your voice and your tone should also carry this uniformity because it makes you stand out. I am not saying that you will not evolve. You definitely will. The world is dynamic. Nothing is static. I often advise every writer to welcome change and make it comfortable. Just make sure to devise an evaluation tool to ensure that you are making progress.
Need help with putting your personal brand together? I can help you out. Just leave a comment or get in touch.