Now that you’ve created your author brand it’s time to share it with the world. Here are five tips for promoting your author brand.
- Build a website
- Start a blog
- Get on board with social media
- Track yourself
- Create good products
1. Build a website
Rather stick pins in your eyes than write code? Put your sewing kit down - these days creating a website is almost as easy as opening a social media account. If you haven’t done it before, here’s your how-to guide:
- Revisit the style guide you created for yourself. What kind of image do you want to convey? What types of graphics and fonts will you use to support this image?
- Collect your assets. Gather your biography, contact details, portrait photo, links to your social media accounts and examples of your work. If you have testimonials from your clients, reviews of your work, links to your published work, videos or book cover photos then make sure they’re on hand too.
- Find a website provider you like. Wordpress and Weebly are both popular, free and easy to use (personally I use Weebly).
- Your website provider will have several editable design templates to choose from. Consider selecting a template that makes your blog your homepage - that way your website will always look current.
- Now it’s time to play around with your design and bring all the elements together. If this is the first time you’ve made a website, you might want to set aside a weekend to do this. Your website provider will be able to help you out with any technical issues that crop up. You can even find free images online.
- Purchase your own domain name. Yourname.co.nz looks a lot more professional than Yourname.weebly.com. I purchased my domain through Hostpapa and Weebly gave me instructions on how to set it up.
- Get to grips with search engine optimisation (SEO). In a nutshell, this about using key words in your headings, photo captions and meta data to help ensure that your site is found when people search for it. Sound scary? It’s really not, and your website provider will be able to help you out here too.
Need more help? Check out these blogs on creating an author website and getting to grips with SEO.
2. Start a blog
So now you’ve got a website with a blog section - but what are you going to blog about? And why?
Take another look at the work you did on developing your author brand - it will help guide your content decisions. If you’re writing historical novels then you might want to share interesting tales from the vaults of history. If you’re a fashion writer you might share beauty product reviews.
Why not take your reading and writing journal online? As well as giving you interesting material to share with your audience, this has the added benefit of forcing you to write well-structured reviews. Have you read an interesting book lately? Been to see an inspiring play? Instead of keeping all of this to yourself, why not share it with other people?
Assess your content from your reader’s point of view. Do they want to know how much of a struggle writing has been for you lately? Do they want to read about your head cold, how tired you are this week, and how you struggle to spend quality time with your cat? Probably not. But they’re likely to be interested in your thoughts on that book you just read, or what you learned from that writers’ event you attended. By sharing interesting and useful content with your readers, you give them an incentive to keep returning to your site.
Aim to blog once a week, and at around the same time every week, so your readers know when to check back in. Once you’ve published your blog post, share it with your followers on social media.
3. Get on board with social media
So now you’ve got a great website with an interesting blog, but chances are people aren’t just going to stumble upon it. Luckily you’ve got millions of people at your fingertips thanks to social media. Check out Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads and other social media platforms and figure out what’s going to work for you. (Personally I went with Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads - but if your work has a visual focus or if you do a lot of visual research, you might want to consider other platforms.)
People refer to using social media as ‘connecting with your tribe’. I recently went to hear Tui Allen, author of Ripple, speak about self-publishing. Tui’s book is about dolphins, and through social media she’s managed to reach almost every dolphin lover in the world. She has definitely connected with her tribe - and she’s had amazing opportunities because of it. In their book Branding Yourself: How to use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself, Erik Deckers and Kyle Lacy talk about the concept of ‘givers gain’. Tui is a real social media ‘giver’ who takes the time to review other peoples’ work, comment on forums and share her insights. Think of social media as your opportunity to connect with and support your followers. Like Tui, you’ll find that they’ll start to support you, too.
Tips for using social media:
- Share interesting and useful content
- Like and share other people's posts
- Be professional. If you disagree with something you read online, think ‘critical’ rather than ‘abusive’ when you respond
- Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your employer, mother or future self to read.
Worried that you’ll spend all your time on social media instead of writing? Check out Hootsuite, a social media scheduling system that enables you to plan future posts across multiple platforms (they’ll let you use up to three social media accounts for free). When you spot interesting content you can click the owl icon on your browser and schedule a post for later.
4. Track yourself
Your website and your social media accounts allow you to track the number of people who read, like and share your posts. Check in every week or so to see what’s resonating with your audience. Once you know what appeals to your followers you can tweak your content accordingly. You can also experiment to find out what times of day are the best to post.
5. Create good material
Releasing great content is the best way to cement your brand - so now it’s time to focus on writing again. Along with working on your major project, consider other ways that you can practice your craft while promoting your brand:
- Write guest posts for other blogs
- Submit articles to magazines and newspapers
- Seek speaking engagements
Developing and promoting your author brand will take time, but stick with it. Your brand will give you credibility, a point of difference in the marketplace - and it will lead to new connections, business contacts and opportunities.
If this post has been useful for you please let me know in the comments!