How to Build a Personal Brand

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Write your articles cleanly focused on your topic with no deviations and you will be one more competent writer in a crowd of competent writers. Nobody searches for a writer who fits in with the crowd. Any similar writer will do. How can you stand out? How can you build a personal brand?

Finding Your Brand

Your brand is not what you would like to be doing. It is what you are doing. How do you spend your time? What’s your job? Who do you socialize with? What do you talk about? What do you write? What do you read?

The ancient saying “Know Yourself” is important for finding your brand. You may think you know who you are, but how much of that is a fiction? What do you really do? What are your obsessions? What fascinates you?

You work in a factory and write mysteries, but any time you’re not doing either of those things you’re playing survival horror video games. There’s some great potential for moving from mysteries to thrillers. And if your preference is nonfiction writing, you can hit the angle of dealing with what can go wrong in each topic. If you write about travel, why shouldn’t the reader pick up hitchhikers? Why shouldn’t the reader hitchhike themselves?

Maybe your unique perspective isn’t so thrilling. One of mine is psychology. I’ve been reading psych textbooks since I was 13 and have a degree in it. If I’d take an additional one year course, I could be a therapist. But there are only two kinds of patients; rich people tweaking their feelings and people who’ve gone so far off track that the government pays for their therapy. I don’t want to be fighting for my life because a psychotic patient thinks I’m conspiring with the aliens. I prefer to take my violence one step removed. Put it in a movie or book for me. And I put it in my own fiction. I put it in my nonfiction too, as you may have noticed.

What Makes Your Brand Stand Out?

We all want to fit in. Nobody wants to be a weirdo that everyone avoids. Because of our tendency toward conformity, we will often say what we believe everyone wants to hear.

It’s not your conformity that causes your friends to look you up. It’s the ways you are different from your other friends. You’re the only one who is willing to play a two hour chess game or go to nude bowling night, for example. You have unique skills, knowledge and interests. Finding ways to fit them to your writing will make you stand out.

Your eccentricities make you interesting

What’s unique about you? It may be something you’ve always thought of as a flaw. Some examples.

You’re a smoker in a world that’s slowly going non-smoking. Mentioning smoking will make smokers like you more and anti-smokers leave forever. Non-smokers won’t care. Going against trends is one way to be distinctive.

The MPAA likes to sue people for downloading music they own, so you’ve taken up a hobby of finding great independent bands on Jamendo. If your blog’s about music, it’s an easy fit. If not, let’s say it’s on something you’re readers are learning or studying, how about a monthly “Free Music While You Study” blog post?

If you’re like most writers, you get ideas for articles when you’re in some odd places. Mention that in the post and reveal more of your unique slant.

Pick a side

This makes you easier to relate to for those who are on that side. It also alienates the other side. This goes against the common wisdom of becoming an unbiased authority figure, but you are simply defining the area of your authority.

Writing about what you really believe is more authentic. It’s always easier to write the truth. You will also get more debates going in the comments when you pick a side.

Be dramatic

A new category on your blog can do it. Try to find something a bit bizarre that fits into your main subject. There are borderline subjects in most fields. For psychology, it’s sex. For writing, it’s free form fiction.

Create products

If you have nothing to sell, why do you need a brand? When you create products to sell, you also need to find a business model. But that’s another blog topic entirely.

Products are writing projects too big to be blog posts. Way too big. Anything you write over 100,000 words may be worth submitting to a traditional publisher. Small works can be sold as e-books. Really small works that are still too big to be blog posts can be given away.

By writing books and other long pieces, you force yourself to focus in on a narrower topic within your field. Once again, you are setting yourself apart from the crowd. And that’s how you build your personal brand.

Article by Ivan Izo.


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