J.K. Rowling is a brand. So is Stephen King. So are you. In writing, along with most creative pursuits, the brand has to be a personal matter — no matter how many marketers you can afford to hire. Editors hire writers because one individual writer is very different from another. The same holds true when someone is browsing at a bookstore: they look first and foremost for names they recognize.
There are some other brands that are very recognizable when it comes to writing. Tor’s website has gone far towards creating a brand that is recognizable within the science fiction and fantasy community, while there’s no disputing that the New York Times is a well-known brand. But the fact of the matter is that the individual writer still takes precedence.
Personal Branding and Writing
Personal branding has become a popular topic lately. Job hunters use blogs to get themselves hired, bloggers build up presences on social media to make money and so forth. Individuals market themselves without a company or a broader brand. Of course, this isn’t a new concept to many writers. Book authors have had to market themselves and their work all along and the same goes for freelance writers. But the techniques available are evolving, making it useful to get a handle on personal branding. If you’ve got to compete with thousands of job hunters for eyeballs, you need to at least know what techniques they’re using and which will work for you. If you need an entry point to the many books and blogs on personal branding, I would suggest Dan Schawbel’s book, Me 2.0(D) (which has just been updated and re-released), or his personal branding blog.
No matter how trendy personal branding may seem, don’t discount it. When you’re in a line of work, like writing, where what you create will be entirely different from what another person might come up with, you’re just as much a selling point as your work.
A Writer’s Brand
Since personality comes through in writing, it’s important to make your brand at least a little personal. You don’t have to disclose anything you don’t want to, but in your marketing efforts, let your personality come across. If, for instance, you write a blog, the voice you write in is just as important as if you’re working on an assignment for a magazine or a piece of poetry.
It’s worth remembering that, as a writer, you already have a leg up on all the different folks out there trying to create a personal brand. You already know how to communicate in writing, something some paper pusher looking for a new job will likely have to learn. Make use of your talents and use them to actually get across the message that you’re a great writer without having to pound it into anyone’s head.
Image by Flickr user Randy Lemoine