How To Harness the Power of Your Personal Brand as a Poet
It’s the answer to the question: why do you write poetry?
Poets, it’s hard enough to declare yourself a writer, and now I’m going to ask you to take on another hat: head marketer and chief champion of the unique brand that is you as a poet. You are your own best evangelist and your work’s greatest champion. But you have to choose to be. And you have to choose to be daily.
According to Seth Godin, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
Change the word “consumer” to reader and you have a pretty solid definition for poets and writers brands as well. Simply put, if you want your work discovered, read, and maybe even loved, you have to push back from the desk, flip a toggle in your brain, and lean back in as a marketer. You have to go from the art to the craft, from the act of creating poetry to the act of marketing it.
Once you make the shift and learn to live in the balance between your two worlds, you’ll start to see the opportunities for brand building and marketing all around you. You’ll also come to realize that it isn’t all cold, lifeless science. Marketing is every bit as creative as the poetry you’re writing; it’s just different. And that’s your first challenge. Learn to appreciate this difference and embrace the art and craft of building your brand as a poet.
Which leads us to ask the question, just how the heck do you build a powerful personal brand?
How to Build Your Personal Brand
The very first thing to do in order to build and develop your brand as a poet is to write quality poems that your readers will love. If you don’t have this, none of the rest of what I’m about to write will have the strength or purpose behind it and won’t be for any good. Tough love, but I want you to succeed, and success as a poet has to start with your poetry.
You have to have something solid to offer your audiences, and not just one or two poems, but poetry. A body of work. What you’ve written will be what your brand ultimately focuses on and champions, what your brand will be amplifying and carrying its message for. So, when your marketing efforts aren’t quite working, take a step back and look at your poetry first, then look at your branding and marketing efforts.
Going beyond the poetry, branding simply means developing your reputation as a poet and building the mechanisms necessary to spread the message of that reputation.
Your reputation will be directly linked to the quality of your work, but also the personality you reveal through the choices you make and share (meaning to or not) with your audience and others that you interact with.
What do you spend time focusing on, how do you handle different situations, what do you have a name for? These are branding questions.
Your brand is also the topics, themes, and areas of poetry that you focus on. What do you keep coming back to, and how do you share the significance and importance of these themes with your audiences?
Your brand is a reflection of who you are and what you’re about as a poet. It’s a binding connection between you and your work and how you carry yourself, present yourself, and respond to the always-changing world around us.
But it’s also the message you purposefully choose to project into the world. It’s the gospel of who you are and who you want people to see you as. It’s the essence of authenticity, the vulnerable and sometimes raw reality of who you are as a poet. To go deeper, your brand is the answer to why you write poetry in the first place.
Start with these elements and you’ll be well on your way to understanding and appreciating your journey of brand development as a poet.
A quick recap of your brand as a poet:
- Write quality poetry
- Know your reputation
- Choose what you’re known for
- Dig deeper into your themes
- Realize that your brand is a collection of your choices
- Know your why, make a plan for sharing it
Breaking It Down
So far, we’ve mostly discussed the philosophy and ideas behind personal brand building and development. Now I want to take a deeper dive into the mechanics of how to do this.
So, you’ve got quality poetry, a body of work, your message as a poet, the why behind it all, and you’re aware of the reputation you’ve grown and project into the world as a poet. But how exactly do you build all of this, and how exactly do you project it into the world?
Simple answer: One choice followed by the next.
Know your top messages as a poet and what work you most want to share. Choose just two social platforms to start with and grow your presence on these. Build a name and grow a reputation on these platforms and expand out from there.
We live in a digital world, and personal branding as a poet isn’t nearly as complicated as we sometimes make it in our minds. Just remember to be a careful student of your choices and actions, journal often, observe yourself, and measure what you’re doing against what you want to do.
Measure the message you’re actually sharing versus the one you want to be. And when you find discrepancies, ask yourself why and how to fix it if it needs fixing.
Personal brand is all about championing your work, but it’s also about being kind to yourself and championing you as the poet. If you’re growing, you can outgrow your mistakes. So keep growing, keep trying, keep asking questions, keep getting better. It’s just that simple.
Now it’s up to you. What decisions and what actions will you take next to begin the process of purposefully choosing to develop and grow your brand as a poet? How will you begin to see the opportunities that exist around you? And more importantly, how will you make use of these opportunities?
These can be challenging questions, and finding and maintaining the balance between being a poet and marketing your poetry can be a difficult one at first. But writing poetry, editing it, and growing as a poet is no easy task either. You did that, and now it’s time to give what you have created and are creating every opportunity to be discovered by the readers who will love and appreciate it.
Only you can decide your next steps, and so, ask yourself what they will be, jot them down in your journal or planner, and then get to work.
Remember, you build your personal brand just like you build your poetry: One word at a time.
Your brand will take effort. It will require hard work, smart work, and thinking outside of the box. But it’s the single most powerful thing you can contribute to your marketing efforts for your poetry and yourself as an author.
If you take away one lesson from this, let it be that ultimately, your brand is built by the same words and poems that you love writing. Quality poetry, having something valuable and inspiring to share with your readers, and backing that up with marketing strategy and smart marketing tactics is the beginning of harnessing the power of your personal brand as a poet.