Written by Rachel Beck

It takes time to build a reputation. Now that we’ve looked at everything from the basics of why you need a personal brand, how to build your own website, make use of social media, and finding your voice, it’s time to plunge in and start building. Don’t wait until you’re ready to sell your finished story before you start branding yourself. You have plenty to offer even if you’re still in the first stages of story-creation.

The best way to spread the word about yourself and build good relationships with your audience and other industry workers is to help others. Reach down to help those who know less than you. Reach out to collaborate with your peers. Reach up to get advice and insights from those who have gone before.

Reach Down

Even if you feel like you’re a total beginner, odds are you know at least something that someone else doesn’t. Reach out and teach others. Offer helpful feedback on a piece of art. Be a test reader. Write a blog post about what it’s like to be an underwater basket weaver while working a day job, and how you manage your time to pull it off. Let’s be honest: the underwater basket weaving community has been largely silent on the subject.

Reach Out

You have peers in the industry. Connect with them. It might take a little bit of legwork to find them, but there are niches of pretty much every genre and medium of storytelling somewhere on the web, and social media does a pretty good job of helping you track them down. You might choose to collaborate with them or not, but at the very least you should be sharing your stories with someone, even if you feel they’re not completely ready yet. Talk shop. Make friends. Do some networking with each other. As you grow in the industry, it will be nice to have a group of peers to keep in touch with, and it might help you cross paths with a mentor.

Reach Up

Always be a student and always learn. There are a ton of resources out there for free to teach you about any medium of storytelling, but nothing compares to the value of finding a mentor in the industry. Mentors fill in the gaps. They’re not a substitute for your own research, but they answer questions you wouldn’t otherwise know to ask. Listen to their experiences, ask them what they did right, and what they wish they’d done differently. And don’t forget to say thank you.

You’re going to make mistakes in this journey toward building your personal brand a storyteller. That’s ok. Push forward anyway. Just as no adventure is complete without dangers, pitfalls and setbacks, you will face failure, discouragement and disappointment. Press on and you’ll have a great story to tell.