Thursday, September 10, 2009

30-Day Branding Challenge: Reflecting your brand in your queries

Yesterday, we examined how the queries you send can help guide the creation of your brand. Today, we'll talk about branding the opposite direction:

How do you put your brand in every query you send?

Yesterday I touched on one way: In your "why I should write this story" paragraph (and if you don't have one of those, you should create one for every query), you should include one sentence that cogently explains your brand. You create it by finishing this sentence:

I specialize in...

For example, "I specialize in simple changes that make a big difference in one's health and relationships;" "I specialize in moving and in-depth investigative stories that make a difference;" or "I specialize in upbeat, quirky stories that revel in my subject's humanity, not their flaws."

Whatever it is, you should know it and you should be able to express it.

But you should also be able to do that time-honored writer thing: Show don't tell.

And you show your brand by pitching stories that are consistent with it. For Jen Miller, she markets her brand by pitching stories on the Jersey Shore. You can do this by pitching stories on quirky people you want to profile, or by pitching investigative pieces.

There's a side benefit to this kind of brand development: This is an opportunity not only to embed your brand in your clients' heads, but to get closer to the type of writing you love to do.

So take a few minutes and free write: What do I love? What do I specialize in? What am I great at?

If you've won any awards, this is one way of telling what you do well. And if you've won those awards doing writing you're good at but are burnt out on, then it's a chance to refocus your querying toward work that feeds your soul.

And then start coming up with vague ideas for stories. Any little kernel that's been fermenting in your head, write down. If it fits with your brand, give it a top priority with your querying.

It's not that you can't query short or simple stories that might bring in money while you build up a practice that supports your brand and your passion. But you should be querying every week or every month stories that support your brand. Make it a goal to send at least one query before the month's end that reflects your passion and your strengths, and then you're marketing your brand.

Photo by Valeriana Solaris