It may come as no surprise that swaths of consumer products rely on their brand to drive sales. Slap a famous logo on the rim of a pair of sunglasses, and by default, customers will flock toward it with their wallets in hand. Even children are accustomed to using brand names over generic terms for items like tissues and basketball shoes. But what does branding mean when the product is not clothing or instruments but yourself, and the potential buyers are freelancing clients or employers in the publishing industry?
Why Personal Branding Is Important in Publishing
At first glance, branding may not seem integral to book publishing. Readers are not likely to base their decision to buy a book on the publisher’s brand, but among publishing professionals, establishing a personal brand for yourself is crucial. Potential collaborators will want to know who you are, what you value, your level of expertise in relevant fields, and how to connect with you. Future employers will do their research. Authors considering you as an editor for their book want to be confident that you are a good fit for their project. You can control what they see by branding yourself online and within the industry according to how you want to be perceived. Sure, career advice tends to be all about getting the right experiences and fine-tuning your portfolio, but the way you present that information and tie it in with your values is equally crucial.
How to Create Your Personal Brand
To clarify, the word “brand” here does not refer to logos, color swatches, and slogans, although those could come into play when building a personal website or a business card. Instead, it refers to your values and areas of focus. The more specific you are, the better off you’ll be. Condensing these into a concise message that you can communicate clearly and consistently is how you create a brand around yourself and your abilities.
Figuring out your niche and solidifying your message involves a lot of brainstorming. Throw everything that resonates with you onto a whiteboard or into a notebook and begin narrowing it down until you have three or four main brand attributes. Consider questions such as:
- Who are you most eager to work for or partner with?
- What promises can they expect you and your partnership with them to make?
- What is the voice or tone that you most want to convey?
- If you could inspire change in one specific area of publishing, what would it be?
Next, try crafting a personal mission statement that is easy to remember. Re-work this into an elevator pitch that is clear, concise, and memorable.
Once you feel confident and comfortable with the message you’ve aligned yourself with, it’s time to start sowing the seeds of networking.
How to Get Your Brand Out There
Now that you have your brand, you need to show it off and take it with you everywhere you go, and in today’s industry, that means starting online. Social platforms and your website should be the first place you make your brand apparent. Don’t feel like you have to use every form of social media available—in fact, that could lead to burnout! Instead, focus on building the two or three platforms you plan to use most and try to keep them updated as much as possible.
Use whatever networking tools are at your disposal. Enter both the physical and online spaces where your target audience or buyer is. Be genuine, professional, and above all else, never sell yourself short.