Are you branding yourself properly?
Writing often requires you to build separate platforms. This can cause increased anxiety, since you suddenly become the manager of multiple different brands.
There is rarely any reason for this.
As a writer, building a platform is essential, and hiding separate work from readers is doing you a great disservice.
If you are a writer, there is no reason your name shouldn’t be your brand. You may create a separate blog title, domain or product name, but your name needs to be somehow integrated.
For example, once you choose a niche for a website, let’s say “Science Fiction Adventures”, place your name in the title or at least create an “about” widget on the side of your site so people know it’s you.
“Science Fiction Adventures with Joe Warnimont” will do two things for me:
- Grab people who know me – If someone stumbles upon my site and they already know how awesome I am, they are more prone to stick around.
- Entice people who don’t know me – If someone who doesn’t know me stumbles upon my site, the “with Joe Warnimont” area indicates that I might be an expert in that particular niche. This builds perceived credibility and may push those people to search my name online and view my other work. It causes them to ask the question, “Who is Joe Warnimont?”
I received a thoughtful question from Susan Call Hutchinson on whether or not she should have two different brands for her two websites, or just one. This is one area that correlates perfectly with an identity problem in the publishing industry. Author Nathan Bransford wrote a blog post on how publishers are squandering their own selling power through the use of imprints.
He’s absolutely right. The publishing industry is making a huge mistake by selling books through unknown imprints instead of their high-powered publisher name. Some readers obviously don’t choose books based on publisher, but many will actually pick up a book with the HarperCollins name on it simply because there is a better chance it will be worth their money.
The same goes for writers.
Danny Iny is referred to as the Freddy Krueger of Blogging.
Because he is everywhere on the internet. He constantly preaches the importance of guest blogging, email marketing and various other marketing techniques to get your name out there.
In order to be everywhere as a writer you can’t keep changing your name or creating new sites or literature that can’t be traced back to you.
Declare your name as your company.
The quicker you embrace your own face and name as the rock of your platform, the easier you will be able to spread the word about your offerings. Also, if your name is on one product, blog or service, people will be pushed to checkout your other work as well. Minimize your multitasking from brand to brand by focusing on one powerful platform.
Leverage your tent pole
Most movies that studios pump out every year don’t turn a profit. However, they counter these losses by always delivering one or two “tent-poles” that cover all the costs of their other movies, while pushing viewers to the smaller ones. Think about it, you have one giant pole in the middle to support all the other poles on the outside of the tent. Without this pole, the tent would fall down.
Find your tent-pole and use it to push people to your other work.
Pen names are an interesting branding topic because they are typically not used properly. There are three reasons why you should use a pen name. Otherwise there is a good chance you are hurting your own brand and diminishing your selling power by not making yourself recognizable.
You are just starting out
Some writers like to assign a pen name because it seems fun, or their name is difficult to pronounce. In this case, it should only be done if you are just starting to build a blog or other platform. There is no reason to completely change your name once you already have readers.
The one argument I have against creating a pen name for fun is that it can cause billing or tax issues in the future. There are many stories about freelance writers or authors working under a pen name who cannot deposit a check or report their earnings because the publisher or client confuses the pen name for the person’s actual name. Although a pen name can seem glamorous or fun, it might create problems in the future.
Your content is inappropriate for your other audience
If you are writing a family-based blog and you decide to venture into erotic fiction, I doubt your family blog readers would find your new venture helpful. In fact, it would probably turn them off. In this case you would want to completely separate these platforms.
Don’t confuse “inappropriate” with “different”. Using an example from Susan Call Hutchinson, she has a freelancing platform, an editing service, an inspirational writing platform and a site that explores reading aloud with your family. These are different, but do not pose any threat to offending viewers on the other platform. So she should use her name for all of these in order to push people to the other sites and build brand recognition.
Not only will this show readers that she is well-versed in various areas of expertise, but it will also make it easier to manage a single brand.
If you are famous or you found success in a particular niche and want to challenge yourself to become successful without utilizing your current platform, then you might use a pen name. Honestly, this would typically only occur if you are rich, famous and bored.
Let me know in the comments how you have successfully branded yourself or if you have any questions about the process.