The comment can be made that writers are a bit obsessed with writing, and promoting this writing. what they don’t think about, at least at first is how they are a brand. Writers are creative people by nature and the thought of not writing scares them. It is their heart and their soul. This begin said, there isn’t much thought given to branding until much later.
If you aren’t worried about your website or your blog, or even your online writing, this doesn’t apply to you. If you are, then the post does apply to you. These days it’s all about the brand you give to your readers. They see you as a writer, and then the style of writing, and then as a person.
I can understand that you want to be seen as a writer, we all do, but being a part of a wider community means being human, and showing others you care. It also means looking back and finding ways to renew or rebuild your brand, and to think long term about income. There is magic when the right things happen at the right time.
When I first began writing a blog, I didn’t think much of myself. I listened to all the suggestions people made, nodded and then listened to the one person who was filled with critiques on my writing. I didn’t understand my brand was personable and open. I also didn’t understand he had a niche corner which he viewed life from. He didn’t have a brand, per say, but he certainly was bitter about how other writers were learning to grow.
It very nearly destroyed what little confidence I had in my writing. I didn’t believe I could write, and I subsequently nearly burnt myself out, trying to produce a ‘better blog’ with the voices in my head screaming at me I should not. I didn’t take as much action to improve my writing as I could have.
I didn’t understand how much the readers of my blog valued my personal brand. Nor did I realize, until it was almost too late, that I was harming my brand. My goal by 2009 was to simply write as much as I could, and as fast as I could.
I didn’t take the time to value myself as a writer, and I didn’t take a moment to stop and think about the harm I was causing to my own brand by not taking educated risks. A person who is beginning to think about being a brand, needs to think about what the readers already see in them.
After a while, I found a bit more about brands.
1) I might not exactly like the fact I write non-fiction, but people know me as a non-fiction writer. This is how my brand is built.
2) People can see my face and know who I am. For a while, most people could guess who I was based on what I mentioned in passing. Only then was the question asked if “I knew this author?” This is not a good thing if you want to earn a bit of income or even recognition as an author.
I’m by nature someone who hates crowds and loud noises, so having my ‘face’ out there is a lot more challenging than most people think. However my brand is my quirky hairstyle and general perky demeanour. That’s my writer’s brand, and people know me this way.
3) My writing style is more on the side of storytelling or conversation style, possibly even narrative. Almost everyone knows me by this style, and people seem to want more of it. It’s become a brand of mine, and people can recognize my writing by it. Can it be changed? Yes. Should it be changed? Possibly.
4) A brand is easily created, and not easy to get away from. Most people are amazed when I tell them I prefer reading fiction. My brand is blogging and non-fiction. People make assumptions and create a brand of a writer in their own minds.
It’s a challenge for a writer to learn what people think of them, but also rebuild a damaged brand for others to learn about. It’s one part learned and two parts breaking inertia in your writing life.
5) A brand can make or break a writer. If you publish a lot of writing, and don’t take the time to ask what could be better you can hurt your brand before you begin. It takes a lot of reflection to try and get it right, and there will be mistakes, but as a wise friend once said, if you go back to square one you’re going to have to earn it.
6) A writer’s brand can be as big or as small as you like. One of my writing friends does a lot of co-authoring. Their brand is exactly three photos and nothing else. The face of all eight of their books is the other co-author. It’s part of the brand. A well known writer, Keri Smith, doesn’t have a great many photos out there, but her brand is the fact she’s not seen. The same holds true here. This is their brand. It’s a small part to writing, but for these two writers it is big.