A few years ago, “branding” became an oft-discussed element of a writer’s career. Features vs. television. Drama vs. comedy. Serial vs. episodic. These were labels that writers had to fit in. Entertainment, however, has evolved and those are no longer the important labels to look at. Instead, writers must define their Voice, Tone, and Individual Strengths. And how you go about showing those strengths is just as crucial as knowing what they are.
It’s all about who you know
As the old adage says, it’s all about who you know. That life lesson doesn’t change if you’re just starting out in your career or well-established. You need to know what you’re “brand” is and then you have to let people know what it is.
The pandemic has, arguably, democratized networking. As people have started doing meetings on Zoom and are spending less time in production, representatives, producers, and executives have been making more time for reading and meeting with writers in all stages of their career. Now, with the end of the shutdown seemingly in sight, take advantage of the opportunity to keep networking while people still have that extra wiggle room in their schedules.
Where are you online?
Social media can be a great way to get your name out there, but it’s not the only way, so if you’re going to do it in this vocal era, be incredibly mindful of how you’re communicating. When talks broke down between agencies and the WGA, staffing season appeared as though it may be upended. Instead, writers came together online to promote both repped and unrepped writers alike, helping many writers book new jobs.
For all the negative rhetoric online, the positive community proves that there’s still a great need for social media and the connections it can bring. So, if you’re online but not active, or debating how you want to brand yourself online, take a look at other writers that inspire you. Are they giving advice to younger writers? Do they take you behind-the-scenes of their shows, writers’ rooms, and everyday life? Are they advocating causes both inside and outside the industry? The internet can be an incredibly powerful tool when used correctly.
Get Involved with the WGA & other Writing Communities
As mentioned before, the WGA has been very active on Twitter in the past year, but they’ve done more than just highlight emerging writers. The WGA, Launch Pad, Screencraft, Final Draft, and many other writer arenas have been building a community that goes beyond the confines of remote work and only grows stronger in 2021. AMA’s, panels, writing resources, and more have created a dialogue that any writer looking to brand themself in 2021 can utilize.
Goal setting with your reps
People start every year with new resolutions… that are often dropped three weeks later. Smart people set goals, not resolutions. They have a plan of attack. You’ve probably done this at some point in your life already, if not regularly. Have you thought about doing this with your agent and manager? If you’re looking to brand yourself, talk to your manager about what your goals are, what direction they think you should be headed in, and what areas they think you need to step up to make a strong brand for yourself in the next year. Getting that third-party perspective can often give you the insight you hadn’t considered before.
What are you writing?
The final and most important piece of the “branding” puzzle for any writer is what are you writing? You’re here because you’re a writer and you want to be known as that, but what you write is the best way to tell people what your brand and voice are. It used to seem that you had to stay in one genre, but lines between genres continue to disappear as writers blend them to create whole new styles. Just look at some of the most successful shows in the past year, like The Great, Queen’s Gambit, The Watchmen, Euphoria, and many more examples. The more genres and unique energies a show touches on, the more likely it is to be a popular pick for fellowship season. Mixing genres is a great way to show off your personal voice and style, as well as write a sample that will work for multiple shows as a sample.
Personal voice is going to be more important than ever in 2021, thanks to the rise of vocal activism and inclusion in the past year. This was a growing trend in the writers that were successful in Launch Pad competitions. Upon speaking to them further, it was often cited that using their scripts as a platform for a bigger issue was an essential part of being a screenwriter.
Whatever your brand and voice, make sure that you kick off 2021 being loud and clear with how you’re going to use it. Doing so will inevitably help you find more opportunities and like-minded individuals as you conquer your goals for the year.