Have you developed a writing brand?
A Bronte Novel. A Shakespearean Sonnet. Anything by Stephen King. The latest Evanovich.
These are writers we know and love. They write (or wrote) prolifically, and we would know their work anywhere.
How often have you picked up a book or article and known almost immediately who was writing? The tone, the phrasing and the texture of the piece all define the author’s signature on the page – his voice.
In the world of writing, perfecting your voice – or your brand – is as much an art as it is an essential to your ultimate success in the industry. By focusing on your voice or brand, recognition and ultimately profit, will have a smooth path to follow.
Fortunately, building your writer’s brand is easier than you think.
1. Understand a Brand
To build a brand, you have to understand what the term means. In business, a brand is your image. It’s your face in the community – both online and offline. Companies that are successful have terrific branding.
You see a rounded yellow M and you think of convenient food, although not necessarily great taste or nutritional value. You see an endorsement by Consumer Reports and know that you’re reading a quality review. The brand can stand alone. So it should be in writing – your brand will become your voice.
2. Envision a Brand
Your brand will be of your own creation, but it should always be positive in nature. Are you reliable and trustworthy? Experienced and above the fray? Sassy and bold? Envision how you’d like to be branded online and always keep that vision in the center of your writing career.
3. Create a Blogging or Marketing Plan
Your brand is integral to your writing plan. The better prepared you are when you hang out your shingle, the more authoritative your brand will be. After all, being paid for writing means marketing for those customers looking for writers just like you.
4. Make Contacts
Well before you start offering any writing services, work to develop contacts in your target niches. You’re trying to make a name for yourself, after all, not writing for beer money – industry contacts are a critical ingredient of success.
5. Take Your Time
When you’re building a brand, you’re starting a new writing venture and investing yourself and your money into the planning that this entails. You should also invest ample time towards the development of your concept, your site and everything that follows.
6. Make a List of What Is Most Important Now
Building a new writing platform and brand can be overwhelming and it’s easy to get bogged down in small things. Make a list of what it is critically important for you to achieve in the first month, the first six months and the first year to make your new project a success.
7. Tackle One Thing at a Time
It’s important to avoid getting overwhelmed by the many things that your new blog or writer’s platform will require. Tackle things one at a time, proactively. Don’t rush decisions or you’ll find yourself putting out fires and correcting typos rather than stoking the flames of success. Spreading yourself too thin means not doing anything very well.
8. Delay Your Announcement
Don’t lock yourself into a time frame that doesn’t fit with your branding. A solid launch of your new writer’s brand is critical to how well it is perceived down the road, and being sloppy because you hurried isn’t going to look good now or in the future. Take the time you need to prepare the first blog posts and samples, at the very least.
9. Plan Your Launch
Be sure to include your official launch in your plans for the new writer’s site. Make separate checklists for your first week or month of blogging or marketing. Start the way you mean to continue.
10. Launch Your Brand through Writing
When it’s time to start offering your writing services online, do so significantly. Consider a special sale or promotion. Put out a press release – make a big deal out of your brand. You’re proud of your writing abilities, so now is the time to show off!
11. Expand Your Writing Using Your Brand
If you’ve branded yourself well, it should be straightforward to gather new clients and expand your writing to new areas under that umbrella. Your brand is essentially what you offer through your blogging or writing services, so stick to that message as you seek new opportunities – it will make the business grow smoothly without having to fight to make areas fit together.
12. Ensure Your Brand Stays Positive
It’s easy to get nasty online and sling mud at competitors or those who have different opinions. Unfortunately, this reflects badly on you and reduces your credibility – being nasty to the competition makes you look like a nasty person and who wants to work with that? Stay positive, helpful and knowledgeable.
13. Represent Your Brand in Social Media
Social media is huge now and will continue to be important moving forward. Embrace social media possibilities by staying current with what is being offered and ensuring that you have media representation prior to your official launch. Manage your social accounts religiously to address any questions or concerns that come up.
14. Represent Your Brand with Proper Clients
The clients and projects you choose will represent your brand as much as your words do. That’s not to say you can’t work with who you want to work with, but public, working relationships with those who have sour reputations can work against you. You’d be “hanging with the wrong crowd” – just like in high school.
15. Manage Your Blog or Writing Business with Brand in Mind
All aspects of your writing under your new blog should stem from the central philosophy that you’ve embraced as part of your branding. Live your message every day and incorporate it into all your plans for the future. You can’t brand yourself as a high-end provider and suddenly start offering basement bargains – with a brand comes a managerial expectation.
16. Lay Plans for the Future
While your current writing opportunities will certainly keep you busy, you should also be thinking about the future. What are your plans for the future and how will you get there? What additions can you make and how can you continue to expand under your current branding? Keep future plans in the back of your mind and consider making a list of goals that include these items for your business.
17. Consider a Global Brand
There is no reason that you shouldn’t be thinking beyond your current client base. In fact, there is every reason to look beyond your town, city or state. Investigate opportunities to reach out to other markets and embrace the multicultural world we live in today.
18. Keep Things Manageable
The longer you write online, the more you get bogged down. Keep your blog or website manageable by staying true to your brand. End projects that are unsatisfying or not supportive of your direction and goals. Realign offerings and consider outsourcing certain elements to focus on growing the entity.
19. Stay in Tune as Your Brand Grows
Growth is an exciting thing when you’re writing for profit – it’s why so many people enjoy working online. Growth means more money, more profits and more responsibility. Stay in tune with your goals during this time. If necessary, revise your goals and plans to accommodate new directions of growth, but never grow unchecked.
20. Make Intentional Changes
Every writer changes and grows over time, and your blog is no exception. When it’s time to make a change, be sure that you make that change intentionally. Don’t allow things to come together or fall apart without you at the helm. Every boat needs a captain – and you should be steering your own ship with confidence and purpose.
21. Intend to Grow
There are times that growth is exciting and most welcome and there are times where you want to manage direction and growth carefully. Stay aware of changes so that you don’t outgrow your functionality – you only have so many hours in the day.
22. Ensure that Your Current Brand Is Adaptable
There is always a risk of making a brand so definitive that you can’t do much with it if you decide to change tactics down the road. While a specific brand is a good thing, you need to leave yourself room to wiggle and change under the brand you’ve developed. A brand offering “the lowest prices every time” means you’ll likely never be selling high quality pieces with any amount of volume.
23. Maintain Your Customer Base
Customers like to be appreciated and being attentive to your customers is critical to the foundations of writing for profit. Make customer relationships an important part of your everyday business routines.
24. Showcase Your Best Work
When you’re working, always be working on what’s most important. No two client jobs are exactly the same and some jobs are more profitable than others. Always do excellent work and then show off by building a portfolio of your products to share with others.
25. Keep Your Best Fresh
Doing your best every time is always the goal, but your best should not be a stagnant concept either. Always push yourself to learn new things and expand your personal boundaries by taking on new challenges like different kinds of writing or topics you’re not familiar with. Being innovative may not be central to your brand, but staying current always should be.
26. Know When to Walk Away
Not every writing job is the right job for you and sometimes you just need to sever client relationships and walk away. When this happens, act purposefully without emotion – a bad break-up can haunt you for years. But don’t fear the break-up. A terrible, contentious relationship can be even worse.
27. Be Noticeable
Playing low-key can certainly work for you in your regular life, but in the world of freelance writing, you have to be noticed by customers to get any business at all. Be noticeable by putting together a fresh face that energizes and attracts the right people. Producing excellent work and breaking new ground are always great ways to be noticed.
28. Change the Industry
Change is all around us, but rather than reacting to the changes and trying to stay afloat, you would do much better to be the one that actually makes the change possible. Seek out ways to be first by changing the rules, breaking old norms and finding ways to shake up the writing world when possible.
29. Stay Classy at All Times
With so many things going on for a regular blogger or freelance writer, it can be hard to remember to be classy. You should be classy at all times – both online and off – as you are advertising your business in your every word, deed and public action.
30. Improve Your Core Offering
Continuous improvement is necessary for proper growth. This doesn’t mean constantly getting new customers – it means that you continue to learn new ways to make your core offering even better.
31. Delegate Wisely
When it’s time to spread the work out and enlist the help of others to make even more money online, be sure to pick your delegates wisely. You should only rely on those who understand the purpose of your brand and the image and quality you’re trying to project.
32. Seek New Ventures
While your current brand is important, the umbrella of your current brand may be able to cover entirely new endeavors you hadn’t previously considered. For example, if you’ve been offering article writing, you may also start to offer blogging and blog management in a separate, but inclusive way.
33. Burn No Bridges
Over the years of online writing relationships and success, do your best to avoid burning bridges with peers or clients. Being professional in all your communications can go a long way towards making this possible.
34. Humble Yourself when Necessary
Being a successful entrepreneur means you’ve made it and you have a lot to be proud of. While that pride is well deserved, don’t let pride make you foolish. It’s for the benefit of your future writing profits that you continue to learn and listen to what the writing community around you can teach you.
35. Surround Yourself with Peers
Maintaining a successful brand is much easier when you’re surrounded with others who are just as intense about their writing as you are about yours. Find a peer group who understands this and you’ll have an excellent network to draw from.
36. Listen to the Wisdom of Others
There is tremendous wisdom in those who have gone before you and those who have experienced other things. Always strive for acceptance when you’re offered advice, especially if you don’t like it at first. Being challenged may help your brand stay competitive.
37. Actively Seek Feedback
Don’t wait for advice and wisdom to come to you. Seek out what others have to say about your writing or new blog and learn from the community around you by asking specific questions when the opportunity arises.
38. Watch for Signs of Trouble
Don’t be so blinded by your successes that you forget to pay attention to what is happening in your writing career. Always be on the lookout for attacks or failures inside your brand and out. Being aware makes it much easier to address the problems as they arise.
39. Rest When Necessary
Staying fresh and prepared is very much part of developing and maintaining your brand. This requires unplugging and resting often. Take time away from writing and stay healthy as well to stay at the top of your game.
40. End Gracefully
Your brand is a full responsibility until you decide to stop offering writing services. If you’re ready to close shop, do so correctly by notifying clients and bowing out without burning bridges. This protects your brand and reputation should you decide to come back to your writing career down the road, or start a new one.
Perhaps the most important element of your writer’s voice or brand is how you plan to use it. Building a brand can enhance your writing and give it greater depth and focus. But it begs the question, what are you going to make your writer’s brand do for you – what element of the written word is most critical?
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Image: woman writer on field courtesy of Bigstockphoto.com