I remember the discussion like it was yesterday, even though it has been well over a year since the conversation took place. It was my last annual review at the last job I had before I retired in March 2014.
I had met or exceeded expectations in all of the categories of my review and even received a very generous bonus for the projects completed on time and on budget. But there was one glowing issue. I had not promoted "my brand" very well over the past year and well, not many people outside of my niche group of co-workers and internal customers knew me aside from seeing my name on various project documents.
Ah, this is what happens when you are an I.T. Geek who has her nose to the grindstone and does not spend much time hobnobbing or socializing with the powers that be. My manager said that I would need to put some focused effort into making "my brand" shine and this would garner me much more recognition in the company, not only in name but in promotional opportunities and bonuses in the coming year.
So why am I telling you this ?
Glad you asked ...
I was not really in tune with "my brand" when I worked for Corporate America. I went to work, did my job (very well, thank you) and was paid handsomely for it. No one ever told me that I had to have a "brand". Now that I have been away from the mainstream of the work-a-day world for a bit, I have had some time to reflect on what "developing my brand" really means and am very glad that the topic was brought up to me in that last review.
As a newly published author in 2013, no one knew who I was or what my writing was all about. I failed miserably at marketing those first few short stories that I published, but somehow managed to get a few hundred fans of my writing over the past two years.
In the summer of 2014, I felt that more people would read my work if I could just get them to notice it. It was then that I realized that I needed better marketing skills if any of my books were going to be seen by anyone other than my family and friends. Aside from this, I thought I had a good product in the short stories and essays that I wrote, but I had nothing really that set me apart from the rest of the indie authors trying to sell their wares.
I then got a brilliant idea (or so I thought).
I went about trying to think of what phrase or label that best described me and the books I had written. In a few months, "I.T. Geek to Farm Girl Freak" was born.
In January 2015, I relabeled my Facebook page previously titled, "North Florida Farm and Garden" (how boring, right?) to "I.T. Geek to Farm Girl Freak" (a bit more fun and exciting). Up to that point, I had a small number of followers on the page - about 400 or so. Immediately when I changed the name on that page, there were hundreds of new followers within the first week. Today, just a few months into the name change, the page has over 1,100 fans and continues to grow each day.
I also set up a blog for this new name as well as an email and Twitter account. I then went about providing content on Twitter, Facebook and Google + that related to my hobby farm and my decision to leave the I.T. sector of Corporate America.
So, what did all of this do for my "brand"? Well, quite a bit.
People on social media now know me as the author who lives on a hobby farm, who used to be an I.T. Geek and has a memoirette out called "I.T. Geek to Farm Girl Freak: Leaving High Tech for Greener Pastures" that just reached #1 this week on the Amazon Best Seller list for Rural Sociology.
I have noticed an amazing increase in readership and subsequently, sales of my various e-books as a direct result of having a better "brand".
For new indie authors starting out, I highly recommend that you develop your own "brand" - something that sets you apart from the rest of the crowd of other authors. The time and effort in doing so should increase your visibility and that of your books as well.
Your thoughts and comments are welcome.