You’ve heard the term. Branding. And you probably know what it means…after all you know that popular brands make the most money, but how do you apply it to what YOU do?
Let’s start by first doing a little SAT-style analogy: branding is to freelance writers as genre is to creative writing.
Another way to look at it is “niche”, but that isn’t all that branding is – it is an abbreviated way to tell the world what you do and what value you bring.
“Ahhh” you say, “but what if I don’t want to be stuck in a single niche?”
Good question! And I would answer: 1. you need to start somewhere in order to build your portfolio (and it should be with something you are passionate about); and 2. your brand will evolve as you evolve (so you can add the other niches in as you become established AND comfortable in your “brand”.
One way to try to define your brand, is to write a mission statement about the writing that you do. Answer the question – what specific, tangible value do you bring to your readers, clients, and/or editors?
Another approach is to write out what makes you unique? Do you have 35 years experience in boat building in your basement that you will be drawing from; or perhaps you’ve been in love with dollhouses since you can remember and have done an exhaustive study of the best materials to use; or maybe you’ve made pencil collecting a hobby after years of travelling the world. Most people have multiple ways they are unique…figure out yours so you can capitalize on what you have to say!
Why is it important to “Brand” yourself? (And by the way, I know how that sounds when reading it aloud – lol). It is important because it will help you zero in on the demographics (for example: age, gender, income) and psychographics (for example: adventurous, active, or sedentary) of your target audience – in other words, it helps you find the places to submit your work to that have the greatest probability of success for you.
If your “brand” is business writing for artists, you have a better chance of finding those markets (and of them finding YOU) if you have branded yourself that way.
Your business cards, your website, your blog – would all reflect the image of a business writer for artists, which would look and feel very different from someone who writes about food and recipes and fine dining.
That doesn’t mean you absolutely have to limit yourself, but in order to begin making a living or a reasonable side hustle of writing, it means you must consider the image you are projecting as much as the actual quality of the writing that you produce.
It isn’t an exact science, and you may have to experiment a little before finding a niche that “clicks” and is comfortable for you. Try not to invest too much into your branding until you feel good about what it looks like and what it says about you to others – that way you can evolve it more easily.
In otherwords, test it out and make sure it reflects your value and your values in a way that works FOR YOU.