By Roy Stevenson
Branding is an important marketing strategy for travel writers. The practice originated by marking livestock with a red-hot iron to identify ownership. Ouch!
This widely accepted practice is similar to what successful freelance travel writers and authors do today. It identifies you and helps you stand out from the crowd.
Fortunately, you don't need to stamp your logo on your forehead with a red-hot iron!
Branding provides a specific focus of who you are and what you do. It includes your
values and what you’re best known for. It's also designed
to build trust and a sense of community with your followers - editors, DMOs and readers.
Your brand is a platform that supports the sum total of your self-promotional strategies. It's the image that appears in your mind when we read someone’s name. It’s what pops into our heads when we see someone’s photo.
An effective brand platform includes the use of social media, a writer’s website, networking at conferences and workshops, perhaps a blog or newsletter, and even what we put on our email signatures. And for freelance writers, your brand includes shouting your successes from the rooftops at every opportunity!
Your brand platform is not a one-size-fits-all entity. When you’re building your platform, you’ll need to analyze your own needs and those of your audience. Then you’ll use the components that work best for your own brand.
To get you started thinking about your own brand, here’s my advice on the things you can do:
It still amazes me how many freelance magazine writers don’t use this essential tool. Book authors have been touting their books and themselves for years on websites, but somehow freelance magazine writers don’t do this.
When I discuss the absolute necessity of a writer’s website, most writers say it’s not worth setting one up because they’re too expensive. They also think a writer’s website won’t help them harvest sufficient writing assignments to make it worthwhile.
Neither of these statements is true!
Having a professional website helps your credibility. Editors look for your website when checking out your pitch. It gives you a chance to impress them! And I’ve had some stories fall into my lap from editors searching the web for certain types of articles.
Basic websites are cheap (squarespace.com) and even free (wix.com) these days. You don’t have to be a techie to set one up.
At the very least, someone can set one up for you for far less than what it used to cost. It no longer costs thousands of dollars and many hours of effort. The software tools available make it very easy and fast.
In today’s competitive environment, you really can’t afford not to have a writer’s website.
I’ve been on numerous press trips, often with up to 15 other writers. When I check their achievements online, I notice that very few of them have bothered to set up a writer’s website.
The percentage of travel writers who own and maintain a writer’s website is miniscule. Seriously? The first place a magazine editor will go when checking out your pitch is your writer’s website. You can almost hear the editor mumbling to himself, “No website? Is she really a travel writer?”
As a poor man’s substitute, most freelance writers slap up a half-baked biography on LinkedIn. They think that’s all they need to establish their authority and their credibility online.
LinkedIn is a component of your brand. But it’s only one small component. It’s critically important to create a multi-faceted self-promotion platform.
You need a writer’s website to project your personal brand and show up on Page 1 of search results. And you need to be active on relevant social media.
It’s never been easier to do this! So don’t procrastinate. Start developing your travel writing brand today.
Roy Stevenson is a professional travel writer and the author of www.PitchTravelWrite.com. Over the past ten years, he’s had more than 1000 articles published in 200 magazines, trade and specialty journals, in-flights, on-boards, blogs and websites and has traveled on assignment around the U.S. and to dozens of international destinations.
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