How to Build a Solid Writer’s Platform, From the Ground Up – Part Four
This is the fourth part of a series on building a writer’s platform
Personal note: I have been absolutely *up to my eyeballs* busy with work and life lately, so I haven’t had the proper time to devote to this post until recently. And this was a post that I really needed to devote time to planning and thinking about. I hope it paid off. I hope it helps you better understand how to consciously craft your own personal brand!
Understanding the Personal Brand
For today’s post, I interviewed SEO professional, Daniel Westcott, to help me understand what branding is and how it can be consciously crafted.
Daniel has served as a VP of Branding, a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) guru, and an advertising account manager, as well as being a writer, poet, and incredibly talented operatic tenor.
When it comes to branding, no one else I know understands it better than Daniel. I’m really glad he agreed to help me with this post.
AT: Inevitably, when you hear talk about “building your platform,” you hear about building your personal brand. Chances are most people don’t immediately understand what that means. I know I didn’t. I thought, “Personal brand? I’m not a company, how is it even possible for me to have a brand, let alone build one?” Could you explain to me and to my readers what is a personal brand? Is it something you acquire? Something you go to school to learn? Something you get from your parents?
DW: It is all of those things and yet none of those things.
Everybody has a brand already, whether you know it or not, and whether you like it or not. The question is, is it worth anything to you? Does it help you or hinder you?
First, let me try to explain what a brand is.There is not just one brand, there are actually two: an external brand and an internal brand.
Your external brand is how the world sees you.
Your internal brand is who you really are.
The best way to change your external brand is to figure out how you want the world to perceive you and then change your internal brand to match that.
AT: This certainly sounds like something that applies to companies, but does it also apply to people?
DW: This is true of companies, and it is also true of individuals.
Most people think of a brand as a company’s logo and maybe the company’s look, but that’s wrong. The brand is that emotional attraction or repulsion that you get when you look at the image. The image is merely the symbol that represents the brand.
This emotional response is strengthened by each additional interaction that your audience has with you.
It is essential for the internal brand to focus on who your external brand says you are.
If you want to be “Brand X,” then you must do the things that say you are Brand X. For instance, if you want your external brand to be “the go-getter,” then you must do the things that say you are a go-getter. If you repeatedly show up late to work, fail to complete your assignments on time, fail to contribute positively to brainstorming sessions, etc., your internal brand is showing you’re anything but a go-getter!
A brand is an abstract notion that evokes the way the perceiver feels about you.
AT: What contributes to the formation of that notion?
DW: For an individual, it’s just about everything. From the clothes you wear, the car you drive, to whether you dress in business attire or casual shorts and t-shirts, those are the first impressions by which you are judged. Those quick judgments become the first superficial brand impressions that you make upon an audience.
In a digital world, this includes profile pictures and other digital visual impressions that replace the normal, in-person social cues.
Once the first impression is made the real work begins. Over time your internal brand (the real you) will color the external brand you have been carefully crafting. When I’m talking to companies, I often ask the brand manager if they would invite their brand home for dinner; for an individual it’s when the target audience really starts to know you that your brand becomes strong. This notion, this emotional response, is strengthened by each additional interaction that your audience has with you.
So here, in the digital world, the things that you do, the regularity with which you write or post or tweet, really make the big long term difference. “I liked you on day one and now I know you as a friend, ally”—or, “I hate you and I read everything you write”—your brand can be what you make it; and it will be what you make it, regardless of how intentional you are in its crafting.
AT: What are some tips for consciously crafting a personal brand?
Think about and decide what you want to accomplish and who you want to reach.
DW: I can’t stress enough how important it is to think about and to decide what you want to accomplish and who you want to reach. Obviously, if you are thinking about marketing yourself, it’s useful to consider the depth of the connection you would like to make.
Once you have decided what you want to do, take a good look at yourself and see if you can find personal habits that do not resonate with what you wish to achieve. If you can get rid of those things that you do that are in conflict with who you want to be, you will not only be a happier, more successful person, but also you will be a stronger, more successful brand capable of achieving deeper and longer lasting bonds with your target audience.
Get rid of those things that you do that are in conflict with who you want to be.
AT: Couldn’t it be perceived as inauthentic to consciously craft your personal brand?
DW: It’s possible, of course, to be inauthentic in anything—but every morning you probably spend time selecting clothes for the day, getting dressed, brushing your hair and doing a dozen other things which you do to craft others’ impressions of you throughout the day. These things can give you confidence, and that also affects the way you comport yourself, which in turn influences your brand.
AT: Daniel, thank you very much for talking with me about the personal brand. I have learned a lot, and I hope my readers have, too!
DW: Thank you for having me.
If you have learned something about branding that we didn’t mention here, please leave a comment!
I would love to hear from you!
Stay tuned for the next post in the series, Connecting With Influencers.
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- Cooperation Equals Reciprocation, Part 3 of How to Build a Solid Writer’s Platform
- Connecting With Influencers – Part 5 of How to Build a Solid Writer’s Platform