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  • That time I led the This Branding Workshop Will Change Your Life workshop at the Northwestern University Summer Writers' Conference.

    I should begin by stating that the workshop's full title is "This Branding Workshop Will Change Your Life: Story, Saturation and Selling Books in the Age of Social Media." I would add that the development of this workshop grew out of a post on marketing I was once asked to write for a blog tour I was on for my story collection Repetition Patterns. That post - "Being Gary Coleman" - begat a short workshop at the terrific Chicago Writers Conference some time later and that workshop has morphed into this one. What I would like to do today is share how I visualize this workshop flowing at this time. It could change, and if it does, I will let you know. In the interim, I would also add, that I designed, and wrote, this with writers in mind, but it applies to anyone, or any organization, with any passion, who is looking to separate themselves from the clutter.

    FIRST EXERCISE

    What 3 words would I use to describe myself when I first meet someone?

    What 3 words would someone else use to describe me having just met me?

    How do they compare, and are there words that work better/

    PREMISE

    People will not find your work. Okay, they might, and they do, but mostly they won't. There are waves of good to great writers making noise and a lot of clutter out there. You need to somehow rise above that clutter, if only for a moment, but how do you do that?

    WHAT WILL WE ACCOMPLISH TODAY

    We will talk consistency, celebration, saturation, connecting, rinse, repeat.

    We will also do personal branding exercises and draft brand action plans.

    And it will be beautiful.

    PAUSE

    You must write.

    Your work is a product. Like Tide, but more interesting. Your work is also an extension of you, the best you, not necessarily the most attractive you, bed head is fine, even the occasional lapses in the brushing of your otherwise pristine teeth, but your writing must rock, you must hone it, get feedback, tweak and re-tweak, and keep writing, everything, every idea, all of it, writing, writing until you have a voice, any voice, as long as it yours.

    CONSISTENCY

    What’s important to you and how are you going to use it?

    Or said differently, what am I really all about?

    What are you going to glom onto, be, hype, create, craft, build on, build off of, use as your platform, and form of expression?

    Also, how are you going to say it? And keep saying it.

    SECOND PAUSE

    You must love yourself and your work.

    And then you must celebrate it, like your very own Technicolor dream coat. You are your brand and you must love your work. Love it so much that you want it out there because you know without question that people, some people anyway, will love it as much as you do. How do I know this? Because I do, this is how it works, even when it doesn't, see JT Leroy or James Frey.

    SECOND EXERCISE

    Determine Your Description

    What are the words I would use to describe my work? And feel free to build on the FIRST EXERCISE (and yes, that is purposeful).

    Determine Your Emotional Appeal

    How does your personality affect the experience someone will have with you?

    Determine Your Function

    What do I do that makes me stand out from everyone else?

    Put It All Together

    Combine the above words into a short sentence or phrase—no more than five words.

    SATURATE

    Now saturate. And produce quality content.

    Blog, Tweet, blog about Tweeting, update your Facebook status, more blogging, more Tweeting, share links, blog about your links, shoot a video for YouTube, start a Tumblr account, be funny, and blog, start a newsletter (Mailchimp, Tiny Letter), shoot another video for YouTube, get a LinkedIn account, Tweet, Facebook, Tweet about interviews, blog more, be interesting, and then Tweet some more.

    Do this compulsively. And then repeat.

    Really.

    CONNECT

    Get out, share links, make friends, make more friends.

    Be funny, swap books, be engaged, and available, go to readings, conferences, cocktail parties, ask publishers, agents, reviewers, bloggers, book store owners, and writers to meet for coffee so you can tell them how much you like their work, write media alerts, link to other blogs, leave comments on people's blogs, write press releases, schedule a reading, let local media know when you are doing readings, do interviews, ask people to do interviews, go to more readings, Support your friends.

    And do not pass-up opportunities to write, or read, or blog, never, or at least not until you can.

    FINAL EXERCISE

    Action Plan

    Clear Mission

    What’s your why?

    Target Niche

    Where are you going to shine?

    Social Media Presence

    What channels are you going to use?

    Content Strategy

    What are your primary topics and categories?

    Brand Story

    What is your journey?

    RESOURCES

    7 Highly-Effective Ways to Maximize Your Online Brand Presence/Huffington Post

    10-Step Personal Branding Worksheet/job-hunt

    Brand Yourself in 30 Seconds/Ivy Exec

    The First Step To Building Your Personal Brand/Forbes

    The Ultimate Personal Branding Checklist for Creative Entrepreneurs/Branded By Britt