We live in a world where personal branding has become the norm. Everyone has an Instagram aesthetic, a website or at least a LinkedIn where they don’t fail to inform their network how delighted they are about pretty much anything.
When writing, it can be easy to bypass all of these attempts to create branding and stick to perfecting the art of writing. Now here’s a hard truth. To monetise something, it must be accessible to as many people as possible. And there is no better way to do this than with creative, engaging, authentic personal branding.
What is personal branding?
Most large companies that we know by name have entire teams dedicated to branding. Even though Coca-Cola’s logo is recognised by 94% of the world’s population, the company continues to release material to work on its branding. This is a great example of how name and logo recognition isn’t the full story when it comes to branding. Otherwise, Coca-cola would have all but stopped putting out ads. Although maybe they’re still trying to offset the fact that they once had cocaine in their products. But that’s beside the point.
Branding is also about reputation. It is about curating what you want your audience to see. It is ongoing and requires maintenance. It’s about packaging your skills and personality to get the right kind of promotion for your writing. Here are 7 tips to get you started on the right foot.
1. Know what you want for your personal branding
This is the tip that will probably take the longest. It is about figuring out who you are or who you want to be as a writer. This kind of advice is always vague and generally unhelpful but there are practical things you can do to get there.
Among these is getting any writing experience. Freelancing and taking any opportunity to write is a great way to find out where your niche may lie. For all you know, you are great at writing technology content but had never considered it before. Even knowing what kind of writer you definitely do not want to be is useful in creating specialised branding for your writing.
2. Know what your personal branding seems like from the outside
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell what your branding seems like to others. It is important to seek the opinions of those you trust so that you can have an understanding of what kind of impression you are giving to those who come across your material. Have loved ones read your writing, see your logo and scroll through your website or blog. They may notice ways to make your content more friendly for your audience or tell you if that green you chose for your logo isn’t very appealing.
3. Understand your niche
Note that there is a difference between knowing your niche and understanding it. There is a difference between a writer who knows that they are into travel writing and one who has made a point of reading other travel writers, travelling themselves and knowing what makes content about travel engaging for an audience.
The point here is that having an inside-out understanding of what you are writing about gives you an edge. It makes writing knowledgeable, original and useful for readers.
4. Start a website
Think about the times have you googled a company only to find that there was no website for you to peruse. It is an easy way to lose customers or in this case readers.
Having a website allows you to say what you want to say about yourself and your writing on your own terms. The best part? You don’t even have to make it from scratch. There are great website builders such as Squarespace and blogging platforms like WordPress that can help you set up and host your new site without you having to take a degree in graphic design.
5. Use social media…but be engaging
One of the best ways to gain a following on social media is to say something interesting or to provoke people’s thought. Just posting your writing or quotes of it is one method that may prove successful. But you can supplement this by making your platforms places for discussions. Try asking questions. Get people talking about topics that you have written about.
6. Be consistent
Consistency doesn’t have to mean that you post or update your platforms every day. It can be suited around your schedule. The point is that working on your branding should be well-organised and planned out. Use timers and schedule posts on social media ahead of time. This gives you more control over exactly what kind of content goes up.
7. Think outside of your personal branding
When it comes to personal branding, the reality is that it might change. And perhaps it should. Between personal growth and life changes, you may want to see something different from your brand than what it already is.
Even if you are happy with your brand as it is, challenging yourself can strengthen and diversify your offering. This can mean writing with different prompts that you find online. It can mean trying poetry if you normally write short stories. You never know. Experimentation can give you more clarity on who you are as a writer and that can only reflect positively in your personal branding as one.