Personal Branding for Authors: A Simple Definition
Personal branding can be a vague term…
It isn’t just a website, a font choice, or a clever tagline. It’s a blend of your skills, talents, values, interests, and beliefs reflected through your writing, online presence, and offline interactions.
For authors, it’s often a mix of professional and personal branding which includes what you do, why you do it, and who you do it for.
It’s also an indicator of your value to your readers, industry professionals, influencers, or other key players in your topic area or genre.
What Makes You Different?
It’s not enough just to be good at what you write.
You must be able to easily and clearly communicate your vision or the purpose behind your work, and coherently voice its importance to others.
This is why effective branding is such a big and significant part of developing and growing your writer platform.
In this three-part series we’ll:
- Clarify what personal branding is, and why it’s essential to incorporate into your writing business if you want to stand out from the crowd.
- In post two of this series, we’ll cover the most common mistakes writers make when building their author brand.
- And finally, in post three, we’ll focus on brand strategy and how you will connect your work and writing to the people who will be most inclined to read and appreciate it.
Why Author Branding Matters
The following are several key reasons why developing your personal author brand is a must.
1 // It Enhances Your Self-Awareness and Clarifies Your Goals
Who you are speaks even louder than What you do.
Developing an effective author brand requires a certain level of introspection and soul-searching. You need to dig deep and define what you do and why you do it – and be very clear on why this should matter to anyone else.Author Branding Series: Define what you do and why you do it – and be very clear on why this should matter to anyone else.Click To Tweet
This careful self-analysis can (and should) happen even before you have a book released. It will help you understand the grand vision of your future writing career and how to best position yourself for the growth and manifestation of a successful author business.
Here are some questions you should be able to answer:
- What future are you trying to create? Where do you desire to go? What does success look like for you?
- How do you want to be known? What words, ideas, concepts, and feelings do you want people to associate with you? How do you want people to feel?
- Exactly what do you consistently promise to deliver? What experiences can your readers expect from you? What problems do you solve, desires do you fill, or transformations do you give for your readers?
- Why are you the one to do this? Why are you a writer, and why do you write what you write? How do your values and the values of your audience converge?
Why you do what you do, as well as how you do it, informs every aspect of your author brand.
Taking the time to clarify your core values and writing goals will not only aid in your marketing and promotional efforts but improve your writing as well.
2 // It Requires You to Establish and Prioritize Your Values
It’s important to take a step back and look at your author business as a whole. What’s the point or purpose? What’s your real end goal in pursuing a writing career?
Developing your personal author brand pushes you to decide what matters, and to say no to other opportunities based on those values.
It also allows you to mitigate risk by taking ownership of your writing career, and control over your creative and financial future – a future that is intentionally designed and planned by you.
Ask yourself, “Is this worth pursuing even if I fail?”
When you establish and prioritize what’s most important, it’s easier to identify where to spend time, money and other limited resources most effectively.
It also helps you determine who precisely your target audiences and segments are – and who they are not – because what they desire, what they need, and what they wrestle with, should align with your values and priorities as well.
There is no value in building a community around your work and writing if that community is fundamentally at odds with your core beliefs and ideas.
3 // It Allows You to Capitalize on the Skills and Traits You Already Possess
With the advances of social media and tech that help multiply reach and increase access, even the smallest of businesses, with the smallest of budgets (authors included) are able to grab and hold the attention of their target audiences in a very impactful way – through brand storytelling.
And guess who’s uniquely qualified to capitalize on this strategic marketing opportunity?
Marketers have been telling brand stories for years through advertising, in-person brand experiences, and so on, but the art of writing those brand stories as effective pieces of online content is a challenge that few are trained to do. That’s because the best brand storytellers understand the critical elements of fiction writing, which are skills that few marketers have been formally trained to do.
Well, that’s convenient. Might you possess just such skills?
You’ve established who you are, why you matter, and why you’re worth having a relationship with. You’ve taken a personal inventory (above) of your talents, goals, and values, so now you can build a narrative.
Think of your brand story as a rallying point where people with similar beliefs, interests, fights, obstacles, and so on, can gather.
Research shows that the brain has a natural reception to storytelling and that stories are up to 22 times more memorable than facts and figures alone.
With the right mix of branding fundamentals (which we’ll explore in post three of this series), and your ability to write an intriguing, emotional, and well-crafted brand story, you can expertly build a memorable and meaningful personal author brand.
4 // It Gives You a Competitive Advantage
Developing your personal author brand allows you to position yourself for the best opportunities (regardless of whether you self-publish or are traditionally published) in a way that attracts your ideal readers, collaborative partners, and media opportunities.
Essentially, you are putting a name and face to your author business; you become real and distinctive, rather than just another generic ‘author’.Author Branding Series: By putting a name and face to your author business, you become real and distinctive, rather than just another generic ‘author’.Click To Tweet
People tend to buy on emotion, and less so on logic. The emotional solution you deliver, the unspoken deliverable for your readers, is what sets you apart from your ‘competition’ or others in your niche or genre.
- Do you create meaningful experiences that resonant with your audience? That motivate and inspire?
- How do you articulate the impression you want to create?
- How are you different? What can only you deliver?
- How do you make your readers feel?
By creating a community that is engaged with your message, you build trust, loyalty, and credibility with your readers.
It’s the strength, quality, and uniqueness of your author brand that earns you book sales and generates other opportunities for growing your writing career.
5 // It Will Simplify All your Marketing Efforts and Communications
Here’s what we know:
- People have too many choices and too little time
- Most offerings have similar quality and merits
- We tend to base our buying choices on trust
The old way of branding and marketing was transactional, with the emphasis on maximizing the volume of individual book sales rather than developing a relationship with your readers.
The new approach is all about creating great relationships with readers: conversations, experiences, significance, authenticity, and rallying a community that supports and believes in you.The new approach to author branding is all about creating great relationships with readers: conversations, experiences, significance, authenticity, and rallying a community that supports and believes in you.Click To Tweet
Through developing a well-defined brand strategy, you provide the core unifying idea or theme around which all of your behavior, content, and products (books, services, training, speaking) are aligned.
And when your brand clearly articulates who you are, what you do, and why it matters, every touchpoint with a current or potential reader feels familiar and the experience is in line with your brand promise (what readers can consistently expect from you).
When all the pieces of your brand come together in a way that feels seamless, it fosters loyalty, makes you memorable, and people become magnetically attracted to you rather than you having to hunt them down.
Having worked out your brand strategy, your marketing strategy becomes infinitely easier:
- You understand your core identity and how you are positioned in the marketplace.
- You have identified your direct competitors/collaborators (and what makes you different).
- You know exactly who you are trying to reach, what you have to offer these people, and why they will care.
- You have determined your brand story, your message, and your brand personality, as well as how you will communicate your personal brand to your audience (voice, visuals, tagline, book covers, etc.).
- You have integrated your brand into every aspect of your writing and author business.
6 // It Evolves and Grows As You Do
Creating, refining, and consistently presenting your personal author brand is a core part of your marketing strategy.
It will continue to evolve with the needs of your readers as well as your own.
And aside from the obvious marketing and business benefits, developing your brand can be an incredibly creative endeavor.
Think of it as an expression of you and your work – that grows and changes as you do – reflecting and showcasing your writing and the value you bring to the market.
Is Your Writing of Value?
…the intention and energy we put into our marketing is a clear reflection of how much we believe in what we’re doing.
–Benjamin P. Hardy
Like it or not, writers are no different from any other type of artist or creator.
You’ve chosen this path, so you need to believe that what you have to write is a) worth writing, and b) worth reading.
If you’re certain that these are both true, be prepared to do the work to show your readers exactly what makes you different.
Don’t wait for your readers to “figure it out”.
Don’t hope for people to guess why they should care about you and your work – tell them exactly what you want them to know.