What Good Writing Does for Your Brand

Last month, I reposted a photo on LinkedIn that delineates ‘content’ versus ‘copy’. Before becoming a full-time writer, I was unsure about the difference between the two, and it seems others in my network weren’t, either. The post and subsequent discussion got me thinking about the various forms of digital text: copy and content writing, UX writing (used to help guide user experience within a digital product), and conversion copywriting (used to persuade and/or sell) and how they work together to grow a business — and build a personal brand.

For a business, the more effectively it communicates both its value and its values, the better it performs. Educating an audience with content, providing an engaging user experience, and influencing behavior through compelling, well-crafted copy leads to more sales and happy customers: the end goal of every profit-seeking organization. A strong web presence creates a vibe that tells a story, forms a connection with the reader, and inspires action.

As individuals, social media has transformed the meaning of “personal brand”, extending to both our personal and professional lives. Thinking of ourselves as a business is necessary to developing a well-rounded (and appropriate!) online presence that tells a good story. For professionals, a LinkedIn profile combines visuals with copy to tell the story of a career and academic life, and optimizing your LinkedIn profile with a well-developed headline and summary that showcases your skills, experience, goals, and values makes you more visible to recruiters, leads, and connections to attract the work you want.

The more effectively and consistently we tell our stories, the stronger our personal brand becomes. Whether you’re an employee or a business owner, communication is at the root of your success: writing and telling our stories attracts our tribe and begets opportunity. For organizations, good storytelling is essential for strong leadership and brand perception, leading to satisfied employees and customers.

Good writing is good storytelling, and sharing your story isn’t just good for the soul, it’s good for business — and for your brand.

(The image for this post is a detail shot of a project that Corey Carbo and I co-created: I wrote the copy, she handled the visuals, and the collaboration was a highlight for 2018. Prints of this are available for purchase in her online shop!)

resources related to this post:
Punchline Conversion Copywriting
Conversion Sciences
Content Bistro

What I Learned From Collaborating With an Artist

As a writer, words are my medium. I’m comfortable reaching into my arsenal of language tools and personal experiences to paint a picture of emotions for my reader. Art is something that has always confounded me, though: with abysmally poor depth perception and zero aptitude for illustration, I'll forever be in awe of anyone who can render an idea visually in any capacity, much less create a masterpiece.

So when I approached Austin-based illustrator Corey Carbo earlier this summer about a potential collaboration, I was honestly quite nervous about the reaction I’d get. Though I admired Corey’s work and she was my first choice to illustrate this idea I’d had rattling around in my head for awhile, I didn’t know the “right” way to present my proposal: is there a checklist or a specific protocol when asking to collaborate with another creative? I certainly didn’t have one.

The idea for a not-so-judgmental map of Barton Springs came to me on one of my many visits to the Austin recreational hotspot, where summertime seems to last all year long. I wanted to somehow capture the different groups of people one encounters at Barton Springs, calling out various archetypes and personas in a fun, playful way. Corey’s style and aesthetic was the perfect fit for what I’d envisioned, and, despite what my inner cynic kept telling me she would say, she was into the project, and we set out to make the idea a reality.

In working over the course of several weeks to bring this project to life, I learned a lot about collaboration and how to effectively combine talents to create something that all parties involved can feel good about. In retrospect, there were three core principles that guided our process and helped us manage expectations along the way:

Vulnerability. Coming at a project from an authentic, vulnerable place is essential to any creative venture, particularly when working together for the first time. Though Corey and I had met before, we’d never worked together, nor had we spent any amount of time just hanging out. Choosing a collaborative partner you trust and can be yourself around is crucial to creating an end product that you can believe in.

Accountability. Corey and I have different work styles and schedules, so keeping each other informed and updated every step along the way was crucial to seeing this project through to completion. We mapped out a schedule of activities and deadlines, kept each other updated on progress and ideas, and gave each other the necessary time and space we each needed to do our thing.

Compromise. A true collaboration should reflect the inputs of all parties involved. Corey and I are two creative individuals who joined up to make something, so it stands to reason that it should reflect both of our thoughts, ideas, and personalities. While she was responsible for illustration and I did the copy, we each shared ideas and gave feedback on both aspects of the project. As this was a passion project for both of us, the creative freedom (and lack of any external pressure) helped us compromise and marry our two separate visions to create the final version together.

I recently read something powerful that a friend and fellow writer posted on social media: the crux of the message was that if you like someone’s work, you should absolutely tell them, tell others, and never shut up about it. This is how great work gets out into the world, and it’s what fuels talented people to create meaningful work that resonates with people. I had been a fan of Corey’s work, and in telling her that, she shared that the feeling was mutual, and a collaboration was born.

The main thing I've learned from working with an artist is to tell others when you like their work. Great things happen when we're encouraged and empowered to become the best version of themselves, and telling someone you like their work can open doors to amazing collaborations and lasting friendships. You are never too experienced or too old to learn something new from someone you admire.

And you’re never too cool to be a fan of someone’s work.