Building Your Brand - Writing For Yourself
Recently I had the pleasure to participate in a Clubhouse panel (follow me @cole_turner) where folks gathered to chat about Networking in Tech. One of the ideas that folks discussed was how to approach writing and building your own brand. This is a topic of interested to me in recent years as I have moved away from publishing my content on other platforms, and started building cole.codes.
Building my own brand means that I am in control of my audience and how my message is delivered. This is important as you grow your network and audience, so that you are capturing the intrinsic value of your hard work. Other platforms like Medium, Dev.to, and Hash.node are great opportunities to build a following, however, when you publish your content on these platforms you are at the mercy of the platform. This leads me to my first piece of advice.
The first piece of advice I give is to start building a following by publishing content, fast and frequently. This is where platforms like Dev.to and Medium are really effective tools because it allows you to focus on the content and start producing. In time, you will start to understand what performs well.
If you're struggling with writer's block, one tip I found most effective is to start with a topic. Once you have your topic, it's easy to start telling a story from there. Storytelling is the most effective device for creating content. Another great tip is to source questions that relate to your topic. One of the ways I do this is to search Quora for questions that are related to the topic I am writing about. An example is when I was writing "How to Write a Software Engineer Resume" I used the the following search query to lead me to more talking points: "software engineer resume site:quora.com". This search lead me towards more inspiration for what I should be writing about, and the kinds of questions that needed to be answered for my topic.
Once you have enough content, and you have leveraged other platforms to build a following, it's time to capture your audience.
Now you have people reading your blog and posts, and it's time to think about how to keep them coming back. This is where you will begin to build your brand and provide a destination where your audience can follow you. This means establishing your name, imprinting your presence on others, and defining your own space.
My advice for capturing your audience is to start moving them towards a platform that you control. I started doing this by migrating my Medium posts to my own personal blog. Now when I publish new posts, I syndicate them to other platforms and use canonical linking. By doing this, I control how my content is distributed and the value returns back to me. Hashnode has a great explanation further on this topic.
Canonical linking is important because it allows you to capture your future audience whom are searching for your content through organic searches. If a platform does not offer canonical linking, I will not share my content there because then you are essentially giving away your work for free.
However, if it is not an option to create your own blog or space, it's perfectly acceptable to leverage one of these platforms. I highly recommend starting with Hashnode.com as it provides the most flexibility and affordance for writers to own their own brand. You can also leverage a platform like tinyletter.com to create a newsletter to engage with your audience through email. This is another useful tool for syndicating your ideas.
Now that we've covered capturing your audience, the last step to capturing your audience is to engage with them.
The last piece of advice I will share is to engage with your audience. After I moved my writing to my own personal blog and started sharing more - people began to notice. And suddenly, my ideas were becoming a conversation and that's the real pleasure in doing this work is that you get to hear others experiences too.
This is why I've recently been participating in Clubhouse chats because one small idea becomes a conversation, and I learn more as a result. Moreover, when you engage with your audience, they become advocates and sponsors of your ideas too, which allows your brand to network further and farther.
One thing to also consider is amplifying other voices and incorporating that into your brand. Incorporate other's ideas into your work, and amplify their voices through credit and citations. Being authentic in your work and branding yourself is important, because others will take notice and start to advocate for your ideas too.
I hope this was helpful! My experience in doing this with my personal blog and writings has helped me to share my ideas and own my own brand. If this advice helped you, or if you have any thoughts you'd like to share, please tweet me at @coleturner.
If you want to learn more about How to Stand Out in Tech, through your Linked In, CV, Resume, and more - there is a great discussion coming up soon where experts in the Tech industry will share their thoughts:
Follow the link above to add it to your calendar. Folks from the panel will be answering your questions.