Even before I published my first book, I made a declaration to anyone who would listen to me that: I am a writer. Then a friend from college started pushing my buttons about how to market myself. I told her, “I have nothing to market…yet.” After all, I was still in the writing stages of my first book. “It doesn’t matter. Brand it as a work-in-progress.”
It made sense. I suppose it was akin to someone saying that they are an out-of-work actor. It didn’t make the branding any less important, it just meant the resume wasn’t as substantial.
One author told me very bluntly, “You’re a writer. Now act like one.” She mentioned the importance of how one is perceived [online], and that I needed to understand the business of writing and what direction to take my brand. She also inspired me to create a mission statement. So many companies use them as part of their branding, so why not an author?
Whether you are a writer, a therapist, an electrician, or a dog groomer, these are the basic steps on how to start establishing your brand.
Register your domain. It’s important that you “dot-com” yourself somehow. Usually it’s using your business name, but make sure it’s simple enough.
Create a website. Many free website-hosting sites are user-friendly these days. They can include drag-and-drop methods making it easy for a novice website manager.
Link your domain to the website. Create a custom URL to give your website address a clean look.
Create a business email. This is usually your first impression with clients. Create an email that is clearly you, without giving the wrong impression.
Create a tagline. Short and sweet, in one sentence. That’s you. Use it on your website, social media sites, and any literature you create.
Take flattering, professional photos. This means no selfies. Let someone with a DSLR camera take photos of you in good (or appropriate) lighting. Use them to upload as profile photos.
Create social media accounts. Claim all of the social media platforms with your name (before someone else does) and if possible, keep them all the same. Interact and share, but don’t rely on social media for important information. Always draw the attention back to your website.
Create literature. Direct your clients to your website and social media using business cards, rack cards, and brochures. Carry them with you wherever you go. You never know when an opportunity will strike.
Create a mission statement. How would you inspire your clients to use your products and services? If you have staff, what makes them proud to work for you instead of someone else? Your mission statement should be a reflection on how you view your brand and how you feel about your clients and staff.
Proof read. Your site, social media, and literature should be clean and professional. Make sure there are no errors.
Be the brand. You're the professional now. This may require resisting negative interaction online, including personal public conversations on social media. Whether your style is to be formal or informal, let it reflect your brand and attract your target market.