Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

Micro-Branding: How To Do It

Let’s say that like me, you’re an aspiring writer (or blogger/painter/webcomic artist/web page designer/photographer). You know, something creative. Anyway, whatever your skill set right now, it’s probably a hobby or side pursuit; you’ve yet to make some serious cash from it. The web looks good, right? It’s friendly, and inviting, and tons of people out there make their money by doing online… things. With people and stuff.

It’s a great place to do what you do, right? It would be, except for one problem: everyone else has the exact same idea that you and I do. We all have this vague goal of becoming well-known online and either selling a product or generating enough ad revenue off of a really popular site that we don’t have to get a real 9-to-5 job in some generic corporate hellhole. You don’t want to become a nameless suit, right? You want to be successful online so some other poor schmuck has to be the suit. How do you set yourself apart from everyone else? It’s actually not all that hard: use micro-branding.

Basically, micro-branding is the idea that you yourself are a product, and you’re trying like mad to sell yourself to the masses. How do you make yourself so unique, recognizable, and likable that it’s possible? I can’t really help you with being likable – that’s your problem. As for the rest, there isn’t one set, single way to do it, but there are several guidelines that can help you out on your road to success.

1. Define Yourself

So you want to be successful online – big deal. We all do. What most people never really grasp, however, is the idea of presenting themselves correctly. They’ve got tons of ideas, which is awesome! Only they never figure out how to market any of it correctly, so they end up with a big jumble of crap that doesn’t make sense to anyone but themselves.

What are you trying to do? What are you selling, whether metaphorically or literally? Figure that out, and then run with it. Make yourself a standout in that area, whether it’s writing gripping short fiction, or making a series of increasingly-insane videos on YouTube, or writing a ton of how-tos on gardening in urban environments. Use wit, use charm, use whatever great character traits you’ve got and make a really cool/interesting/informative/funny product. Make your webpage unique. It’s design should tell a little about what sort of person you are – remember, you’re the brand. There should be coherence, flow, and continuity in everything you put out there.

2. Network Appropriately

Just putting your product out there and hoping people line up for it isn’t exactly the best way to be successful. You’ve got to be proactive. Find out where there’s a big community for what it is you do – trust me, there’s a group out there for anything and everything under the sun. Get involved in the community for your interest. Be polite, helpful, and build a solid reputation. Tell your new friends about your website or product (nicely, now; nobody ever got respect for spamming), and ask for feedback. See what sorts of improvements you can make – chances are somebody else will think of something that you didn’t. Get your information on Facebook, on Linkedin, on Twitter, etc etc etc. I’m not suggesting you pour all of your time into social networking services, but they certainly don’t hurt.

3. It’s All About Image

You can have great ideas and a unique product, but if you can’t present that stuff professionally, it’s not worth anything. What if you don’t know how to create a custom web page, or you’re not very good at writing? Never fear, there are easy ways to get around those problems. If you’ve got the money for it, consider contracting the work out to another freelancer. Even better, find someone to trade skills with. You need a slick page design, which they can do, and they need some writing and editing done, which you’ve got covered. Help each other out! You’re both in the same boat, so you might as well cooperate. That’s a partnership that is mutually beneficial, and you’ve just built a connection with someone who will probably collaborate with you in the future. Exchange contact information, and send each other clients when possible. It’s a win-win situation.

4. Be Bold

This one is simple. If you don’t take any chances or risk anything, you’ll never get as far ahead as you would otherwise. Will you ever fail? Sure, plenty of times. I’ve made article queries and submissions to certain unnamed publications that have rejected me, laughed at the idea of an “unknown” getting published, made derisive comments, etc. That’s all they can do, though. At worst, I’m at the same place I was when I started.  At best, I’ve gotten something published and put my name out there with an editor that has a bit more influence than I do. I’m going to sum this up with a series of cliches, because that’s always fun. Grab the bull by the horns. Grow a pair. You gotta bet big to win big. Just do it.

Obviously, four steps don’t constitute a perfect solution. This won’t turn you into a web celebrity or make you rich overnight or anything like that. Regardless, it’s a step (or four) in the right direction. Be patient and build a portfolio of work you’ve done, or projects you’ve recently completed. If your website shows that you have experience, and it looks good, eventually someone will come to you with an opportunity.

I’ll admit that I haven’t even finished working on these concepts yet – I’m still a work in progress. That being said, I’ve already benefitted from what I’ve completed so far. For example, after publishing several music reviews to my blog and on Blogcritics, I was contacted by a band asking me to review their album. As a result, their PR agent now regularly sends me more music to review. It’s not a paying gig, but I get free music out of it and a contact in the industry. If that’s not a good start, I don’t know what is.


May 5, 2009 - Posted by | Personal, Tech | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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