Red flower in garden

Imagine choosing your favorite writing projects and working with clients who light you up.

You could say “no” to those who aren’t a good fit for your skills/interests and “yes” to the ones that excite you.

I think you’ll agree that’s every professional writer’s dream.

However, if you’re like a lot of newer writers, you might wonder how that happens. How do you get a steady stream of inquiries and have the chance to pick the work you most want to do?

You might wonder if there’s some secret sauce.

If you could just crack the code, you’d have all the fun and interesting work you wanted.

Well, in a way, there is.

It’s Called “Personal Branding.”

Now, hear me out on this.

Maybe you think “personal branding” is for “gurus” who publish best-selling nonfiction books and take to big stages at industry conferences.

That’s valid.

It’s how I thought for a long time too.

But after years of reading the books and articles, taking courses, and studying the social media habits and posts of successful writers, I’ve realized it’s more than that.

Personal branding is for everyone who wants to build a successful business.

You can choose to be a “celebrity” at industry events or quietly run a six-figure freelance career from your tropical balcony.

And it’s simpler than you think.

You don’t need a grand plan. You don’t even need strong opinions. Start where you are and adjust along the way.

But first, let’s define what I mean by “personal branding” so we’re on the same page.

What Is Personal Branding?

I first learned about personal branding back in the 1990s when I moved to New Orleans right after college. Within a month, I made a friend who understood the simple key of branding.

Be memorable.

In his instance, he was a 23-year-old New York City native looking to build a career as a blues musician in New Orleans. He had a handle on his slide guitar and fingerpicking, but he needed to find a way to be noticed by the seasoned musicians he admired.

His goal was to get invited to sit in with them on gigs for a song or two. That way, he could demonstrate his chops and build trust. Daily, he made his rounds. He’d stop by their gigs to show his support and chat with them on breaks.

And he had a secret weapon — a purple velvet slouch hat.

One day, he told me he wore that hat every day despite the sweltering heat because he felt it was a necessary prop. It helped him be memorable.

I’ve remembered that ever since.

Imagine wearing a specific hat every day.

It paid off for him because he’s built the career he wanted over the years.

Fast-forward to 2012 or so, and a woman called Mari Smith took a similar tactic. She decided to be a Facebook expert and stand out; she wore turquoise in every image for several years.

You can take this approach too.

And you don’t have to wear a specific color or clothing item or post a picture of yourself every day either. (Unless you want to.)

The entire “secret” to personal branding for writers (or anyone) is showing up consistently, making friends online, and sharing valuable insights related to your work.

In fact, the longer I run my freelance writing business, the more I believe that building a personal brand is essential to creating a business you love.

It helps you stand out from a sea of other writers and gives you the best chance to book your calendar with work you love.

Best of all, you can start from wherever you are today in your writing career.

Here’s Your Playbook for Personal Branding

The mechanics are simple, and you likely already know how to make a social media post. You don’t have to post earth-shattering revelations either. You can share industry statistics or an article like this one and add a few words about what you got from it.

The secret is doing it consistently. If you only drop in once a month or so, it’s hard to get to know others (and for them to get to know you).

Here’s the simple blueprint.

  1. Choose a Primary Platform — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, whichever tool you feel most comfortable using and where your clients spend time. Don’t feel like you need to be “everywhere.” You can add on later. Some of my best clients come from LinkedIn.
  2. Review Your Profile — Does it look professional? Do you have a profile picture that shows your face? Do you have a title that says what you do? Here’s how to establish a good LinkedIn profile. Prefer to focus on another platform like Twitter? Apply the same thinking.
  3. Start Making Friends — aka “networking” — Follow people who look interesting. Comment on their posts with thoughtful remarks if you can. Can’t think of anything to say? You can “Like” and/or share it. That helps the original poster get more visibility.
  4. Start Posting — Share insights, testimonials, statistics, quotes, articles you’ve read. There’s no shortage of good content available. Everyone wants more visibility and distribution, so don’t psyche yourself into believing you need some brilliant statement on the industry. Sharing something is enough.
  5. Make a Schedule for Yourself — Post every Tuesday and Thursday or whatever works for you. Don’t overcomplicate it. You might find it’s easiest to plan 2-3 weeks’ worth of posts at once to have it ready to go.
  6. Think About “Buckets” of Content — I tend to post about content marketing and SEO. Productivity experts post about productivity. If you want to be known for something, post about that. If you don’t know what you want to be known for yet, post anyway. It’ll help you develop your confidence and experience.
  7. Don’t Give Up — I didn’t start gaining traction on LinkedIn until I’d posted regularly for a year and a half. However, now, I regularly have prospects coming to me, and they’ve already read things I’ve written and know some of the clients I work with. In other words, they’ve already selected me.

Building a personal brand for writers can be fun. You get to know interesting people. However, it does take time to pay off, just like in the physical world. Stick with it, and you’ll find yourself fielding invitations for interviews, guest blogging opportunities, even potential job offers.

If you can, take a quick moment and let us know below what you’ll do to build your personal brand on social media.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: June 3, 2021





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