I have a confession: There was a time when I was a hater.
The world of journalism has changed. Many of the people who are getting opportunities to write essays and even regular columns for publications and being asked to cover events for media outlets are not trained journalists; they’re influencers.
As someone with two journalism degrees and 20 years of journalism experience, this trend used to make me angry. But then I decided that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I decided to consider how I could use my own “influence” to get gigs.
I decided to build my brand. And it worked!
Many of the opportunities I’ve had over the past several years have landed in my lap because of the buzz I’ve built about myself by blogging and by hosting events for See Jane Write. And if I can do it, you can do it, too!
Here’s how you can build your brand as a freelance writer.
What is a personal brand?
Many writers hate the idea of building a personal brand. It sounds shallow or gross. But it’s not!
Building a personal brand simply means figuring out who you are, what you want, and what you stand for and then effectively conveying this to other people.
Related Reading Personal Branding Tips for Writers
To start building your personal brand, you need to do three things:
Pursue your passion.
Figure out who you are and what you stand for. What are your values? What’s your worldview?
I stand for women – unequivocally and unapologetically. And that’s why, as a freelancer, I mostly write stories for and about women. And through See Jane Write, I help women write stories of their own.
Know your purpose.
Part of figuring out who you are is also figuring out what you want. What kind of writer do you want to be? What are your writing goals and which goals do you want work on first?
After I stopped being a hater, I realized that many of the opportunities that influencers had that I was envious of were things that I actually didn’t even want to do!
Sometimes we covet experiences simply because we think we’re supposed to want them. Figure out what you truly want to do and start creating content that proves you can do it.
Pick your platform.
If you want to build your personal brand as a freelance writer, you have to be online and on social media. Sorry.
But the good news is you don’t need to be everywhere all the time.
Where focus goes energy flows, so focus your energy on two platforms: one platform for long-form content that adds high value (i.e., blog, YouTube channel, podcast, email newsletter) and one platform for high engagement (i.e., Instagram, Twitter, Facebook groups, LinkedIn).
That long-form platform will help you establish yourself as an expert and is especially helpful if you want to develop a niche for yourself. So, for example, if you want to do health writing you could start a blog, podcast, YouTube channel or email newsletter about health.
Establish yourself as an expert and you’ll become a go-to writer for certain topics.
Your high engagement platform is for networking. Twitter and LinkedIn are probably the best social media platforms for writers. But if you don’t like either, don’t fret. I believe any platform can serve you well if you’re willing to put in the work.
My favorite platform is Instagram, which isn’t necessarily where many editors hang out to search for writers, but I’ve landed steady writing gigs through Instagram, nonetheless. By following hashtags like #freelancewriter and #freelancejournalist, I’ve connected with a lot of other freelancers as well. And recently I’ve started snagging paid collaborations with brands, too!
If you want to learn more about freelance writing, sign up for my course See Jane Freelance. The first 15 people who register and use the code SJFEARLYBIRD will receive 25% off. Enrollment closes Dec. 1, 2020.