Chances are you hate to hear the words, “Build your brand.” Thinking of yourself as a brand may feel gross or even wrong. But it’s not. Building a personal brand simply means defining and clearly conveying what you’re all about — who you are, what you do, and why you do it.
In part one of the “Write Like a Boss” series, we established that you are a writer. Remember, to be a writer all you have to do is write. But I want you to be a writer who makes money and makes a difference. One thing that will help you do this is building a personal brand.
Who Are You?
Yes, you’re a writer, but what kind of writer are you? Are you a journalist or columnist? Are you a memoirist or essayist? Are you a fiction writer or poet? Do you write to inspire and empower? Do you write to motivate and educate? Do you write to entertain?
You don’t have to pick just one title and stick to that forever and ever amen. But try to narrow this down as much as possible.
I know who I am and who I am not.
While my love for writing began with writing poetry and I do still write poems occasionally, I don’t consider myself much of a poet these days because I’m not as dedicated to this craft as someone like Ashley M. Jones or See Jane Write member Kwoya Fagin Maples.
I am a journalist/columnist not simply because I have degrees in this field but because I love interviewing people and sharing their stories with a distinct perspective. I am also an essayist because I strive to share my own story, too.
I write to inspire, empower, motivate and educate. You might giggle a couple of times when you read my work, but I am no Luvvie Ajayi. I am not a humor writer. I don’t write to entertain. I’m glad if you find something I say funny, but that’s not my goal. My goal is to make you walk a little taller and feel a little stronger.
What kind of blogger are you? Are you a fashion or lifestyle blogger striving to be a top influencer or a personal blogger sharing your story and hoping to build a community along the way.
You see, you must get clear on the type of writer and blogger you are or else you’ll end up going after things you don’t really want. As Ashley Coleman of WriteLaughDream once said, “Stop chasing goals that aren’t your own and you won’t feel like you can’t catch up.”
For far too long I yearned for major brand campaigns that the top influencers enjoy. But in reality I don’t like doing a lot of sponsored posts. I only want to write about brands I actually use and enjoy and brands that are relevant to my audience, something I would do whether I’m being paid to or not. So while I still dream of working with brands like Day Designer, Dove, Kendra Scott, and a few others, being considered a “top influencer” is not really one of my goals anymore. Building community is my goal and so I want to work with these brands to help me create events for my tribe.
Speaking of brands, let’s get back to defining yours.
Building a personal brand is not about looking at yourself or your craft as a commodity, it’s about getting clear on your values, vision, voice, visuals, and vulnerability. I walk you through how to define each of these in my Personal Branding Tips for Writers.
What Do You Want?
One of the things I encourage you to do in these tips is to write a mission and a vision for yourself. These are not the same thing. A mission is something aspirational — meaning it will never actually be accomplished, yet it is your driving force. My mission, for example is to empower women and girls through the written and spoken word to share their stories and be the authors of their own lives. This drives nearly everything I do from writing to teaching to public speaking and even sharing my workouts on social media. But this is a goal I will never fully accomplish. I’m never going to wake up one day and declare that all women and girls of the world have been sufficiently empowered!
While a mission is about what you want to do for the world, a vision is more about what you want for your life and it is something that changes as it is something you do want to accomplish by a specific time — at which point you’ll then get to work on a new vision.
Lois Weinblatt, a phenomenal business coach who specializes in helping entrepreneurs get clear on their vision and bring that vision to fruition, says a good place to start is to imagine the life you want 5 or so years from now and simply describe it. Write it down!
Armed with your mission and vision, I recommend that you then set specific and measurable goals for yourself, not only related to writing and blogging, but all areas of life because they should all work together. Your writing and blogging goals should help bring you closer to your vision for your life and further your mission.
How Will You Get What You Want?
Once you’re clear on what you want you need to figure out how you’re going to get it. You know how the saying goes — a goal without a plan is just a wish.
Break down your goals into smaller tasks and plan when you will work on each task. Give yourself deadlines.
Along the way you’re going to need encouragement and support from like-minded women. (Be sure to join the See Jane Write free Facebook community.) I would also recommend some one-on-one help from a coach if you can afford it. And you need what I like to call a “mindset mentor,” too. A mindset mentor is that person you admire from afar and follow every move she makes because it inspires you pushes you to keep going. My mindset mentor is Carrie Green, the founder of the Female Entrepreneur Association and author of the book She Means Business. I want See Jane Write to be for women writers what FEA is for female entrepreneurs and I want to write a book that inspires women who write and blog the way She Means Business motivates budding businesswomen.
Whenever I’m feeling discouraged I just watch Carrie’s vlog, read her blog or book, or listen to her podcast.
A word of caution: don’t get caught up in the comparison game. While I believe we all need someone to admire, don’t start putting yourself down because you’re not yet where that person is. Find a writer, blogger, or entrepreneur who energizes you to go after your goals, but if you notice that following this person makes you feel anxious or discouraged, take a break.
I’m speaking from experience. There is a lifestyle blogger and infopreneur that I love, but I realized that after I’d look at her blog and social media feeds I’d immediately start throwing myself a pity party declaring, “I’ll never get there! I’ll never get to do the things she does or have the numbers she boasts.” So, I had to take a break and revisit my own vision and mission. And in doing so I realized that my goals weren’t even the same as hers! I was doing exactly what Ashley of WriteLaughDream warned against: I was chasing a dream that wasn’t my own and that’s why I felt I couldn’t catch up.
Know who you are, what you want and then get busy developing (and carrying out) a plan for how you’re going to get it.
So let’s review:
- Know what kind of writer you are.
- Define your personal brand by getting clear on your values, vision, voice, visuals, and vulnerability.
- Use your mission and vision to set goals for writing, blogging, and life as a whole.
- Get support from like-minded women and a coach.
- Find a “mindset mentor.”
In part three of the “Write Like a Boss” series I’ll discuss why trying to write for everyone is the fast track to failure and explore ways to get your work in front of more people. Be sure to sign up for the See Jane Write mailing list to be notified when the next post publishes.
And if you want to dig even deeper, join me Tuesday, June 20 at 6:30 p.m. CT for the Write Like a Boss webinar. I’ll go over the content covered in this series and more and I’ll answer any specific questions you have about writing and blogging. Space is limited. Sign up here.