Colin Wright describes himself as a Author, Blogger, Entrepreneur and Traveller.
Colin started his first business at age 19: a culture magazine. That magazine did really well and then flopped, which gave me my first taste of the sweet-yet-bitter field of entrepreneurship. From there I worked all the harder, taught myself all I could about how businesses are actually run, graduated, moved to LA, and worked for a production studio for a year before starting up my own multidisciplinary practice. At first I did generalist design work, but quickly integrated web development into the equation before refocusing heavily on branding, a field that hit the sweet spot between many of my interests (namely design, philosophy, communication, and sociology).
I decided to get in touch with Colin to find out where he stands on Brand Story and why he has recently turned to become a fictional writer.
Novel Influence – 1. The content you produced for ExileLifestyle is like serial storytelling. You keep your readers fascinated and excited with short updates. Why do you believe this has been so successful?
Conveying information through stories tends to pull folks in, but also helps with retention. If you have a story to tell beyond the straight up facts and advice you’re providing, there’s a good chance it’ll achieve more than a list of bullet points trying to do the same.
Writing that way — with quick snippets rather than long prose — also seems to appeal more to people who read on their phones, or who are easily distracted; essentially everyone these days.
Novel Influence – 2. You have been involved with different start-ups and worked as a consultant for various companies. How significant has content marketing been for these ventures?
It really depends on how you define the term, and where you draw the line.
For me, it’s always been about producing value and then seeing what I could do to make money as a result. I started writing my blog long before I started making money from books, for example, and the money-making was a result of building an audience who was then willing to give my books a shot.
Most of the work I’ve done for clients has been similar; the ‘marketing’ efforts tend to be valuable unto themselves, and can even stand apart as their own product, potentially. Building goodwill is tricky, though, because you want to avoid starting the relationship with a sale. Do enough good work for people who appreciate it, though, and your opens are many, and much better than they would have been had you pushed hard to sell from the get go.
There are a lot of ways to approach such things, and I would probably make a horrible used car salesman because of how I view transactions, but this idea of building relationships then selling as a result of them (rather than the other way around) works incredibly well in a tight-knit community like the internet. It also helps you sleep better at night, since you never have to push anyone to buy things they don’t want to buy.
Novel Influence – 3. Colin, could you share what with living your values, why the necessity for social good & authenticity must be adopted by personal brands and large business’?
If you enjoy the work you do, you’ll never work another day in your life. Similarly, if you feel the work you do is good, and aligned with your values, you’ll never stress out as a result of it. You’ll always know what the proper response to accidents or issues is ahead of time, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of having true fans, rather than folks who might be downtalking you behind your back.
This allows people or businesses to pivot, adjust, and even make mistakes, and their audience will be on board. I’ve been able to change careers many times, and each time I was supported early on because I’d done well by people and they wanted me to succeed. It’s amazing to me with people look at their numbers before their philosophies, because the money tends to follow folks who believe in what they’re doing.
Novel Influence – 4. More recently you have wrote a science fiction trilogy. Why did you decided to turn to writing fiction?
I’ve always been a fan of fiction, and after being asked to write a short story for a collection, I found I really enjoyed it. I decided to take a stab at longer works, collections, and novella-length pieces, and enjoyed those, too. What’s more, I found I could elaborate on the topics I like to write about on my blog and in my nonfiction books, but could more easily cover difficult facets, because I was doing so through fictional characters and situations.
It’s also just something I thought would be a lot of fun, and my philosophy is that I work hard to do good work so I can invest my time however I like. I wanted to write fiction, so I did; a lot. Like I mentioned above, loving your work means it doesn’t feel like work, so I’ve produced a great deal of fiction in a very short period of time. That’s helped me grow, but has also helped it turn into a real business asset, not just a passion.
Novel Influence – 5. Has it improved or changed your perception on writing & developing your personal brand?
Absolutely it has. It’s a very different industry, the publishing world. It’s been slow going, but I’m learning more and more how different every day, and adjusting accordingly.
That being said, there are benefits of coming from one field and investing yourself in another. I don’t have the background some people in publishing have, and that’s an advantage as much as a hindrance. I don’t have the history, but I also have new ideas, and not as much baggage (“This has to be done this way because it’s the way it’s always been done.”)
It’s also added another facet to my larger brand. Im a guy who travels, conducts lifestyle experiments, runs small businesses, and writes, both fiction and nonfiction. It’s an ever-growing self-concept, and it can be a struggle to know which piece is the most important in a given situation (and therefore which to promote or focus on), but it’s worth it. I’m becoming a rounder person, and the increased difficulty in expressing myself fully is worth the cost of entry.
Novel Influence – 6. With it so universally accepted that everyone has a personal brand. What role does brand storytelling have in developing this reputation?
It’s really a matter of understanding who you are on a fundamental level, and then figuring out how to express that (and in what order). From there, it’s much easier to know which stories are worth telling in a given moment, and which are better kept to yourself (because they don’t add anything to the conversation). It’s about identifying relevance, which can be tricky when it comes to yourself and your life, but it’s worth learning how to do it well.
Novel Influence – 7.Whats next for ExileLifestyle, your fiction writing and in general for Colin Wright?
Oh, all kinds of things. There are a lot of opportunities that have cropped up, so I’m exploring those, some in very unfamiliar media (which is a little disconcerting, but fun). I’m going to continue writing a whole lot, and traveling. I’ll be touring with some fellow authors, soon, and will be continuing to flesh out the real-world network for the publishing company I co-founded, Asymmetrical Press.
I’ll also be having fun and exploring as much of the world and its cultures as possible. That’s the kind of stuff that informs everything else I do, and I’m itching to get back on the road!