Branding.

“Build your brand.”

That’s advice that writers, bloggers, and artists hear all the time, and one that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, given my love of playing Journalist at various comic-con style events (and the limitations I have in that arena), and my aspirations as a writer.

Build your brand. Grow your brand.

Good advice.

But what, exactly, is my brand?

I mean, this whole “Shadow” thing is cool, but what’s my brand? What makes me, me? What do I have to offer that is different from everyone else out there, trying to build their brands?

I do movie reviews. So do a lot of other people.

Books? Yep, that, too.

Television? Oh, yeah…

Writing and editing? I get paid an extremely tiny amount to do that, also.

So, how am I different?

I don’t have an extensive pedigree in the film industry (but I’ve written a short film), I’m not extensively published (but I am published), and I’ve never worked on a TV show (but I have written treatments that show-runners seemed to enjoy). I am, for lack of a better term than the one I am about to claim for myself, a

Mark-of-all-trades

Yep, kind of like a Jack-of-all-trades, except my name isn’t Jack.

I can’t devote myself to just one bit of subject matter. I love too much stuff, so I learn what I need to know, figure out how to (hopefully) present it in such a way that it’s enjoyable, wrap it up in my admittedly non-standard personality, and put it out there for everyone to see.

Okay, maybe not everyone, as evidenced by my continuing pleas for folks to click “like” and “share,” but you get the point.

But my real point is that I can do all this reviewing because I can tell a good story from a bad one, a worn-out, cliched plot point from a creatively-presented cliched plot point, or a paper-thin character from a fleshed-out protagonist.

The reason I edit is because of all that stuff. I can help a writer figure out where the holes are in their story, where their characters fall down, and help them craft a line just-so and change the feel of a section, all while helping maintain their vision and style.

The reason I cover comic cons is because they’re fun to do, and I want everyone to enjoy my time there are much as I do.

And, not to toot my own horn, but I think I’m pretty at it. All of it. Sometimes it might not feel like it, or look like it when I try to quantify it for someone, but I am good at it.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve had a heck of a good time doing things as the Shadow. I’ve gotten the opportunity to talk for longer than autograph-line minimums with people like Edward James Olmos, Chandler Riggs, Daniel Logan, Felicia Day, Richard Hatch, and Marilyn Ghigliotti.

Sure, My Own Little Shadow isn’t big enough to be getting sit-downs with Chris Evans or Patrick Stewart, but doing this has had its perks. But I’m not doing this just for me; I try, every time I sit down to write up something about a movie, book, or TV show, I try to do it from a fan’s perspective, so that when a fan reads it, they’ll appreciate what I’m saying. Maybe someone will be intrigued enough to look into what I’ve written for themselves, and a new fan will be born.

That’s why I do this.

Because I’m a fan. And I love talking with other fans about stuff we get all fan-boy/girl about.

But is that my brand?

Maybe my brand is that of the Every-Fan. Maybe I’m that voice behind everyone that gets really, really, excited about movies, comics, games, actors…

I don’t know. Maybe it’s like a presidential legacy: you don’t get to pick your own. Maybe you are what the audience says you are, no matter if you paint, write, act, sing, or whatever.

All you can do is do what you do, the best you can do it, and hope that people appreciate it enough to keep coming back.

do-bee-do-bee-do.

See you around the shadow.

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