OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
The internet is made up of many tiny niches and websites, blogs and books relate to those markets. People find those sites by searching for specific words and phrases based on what they are interested in. Your author website, or your book, can be found in this way too.
Branding is important because it enables people to find you, and when they find you, they might just buy your book. So who are you online? Which niche do you fit into? How do people find you?
Creating an author platform is vital for a new author’s success, and creating a brand is the basis for the platform. You need to know what you are creating before you start!
Deciding On Your Brand
To decide on your brand, answer the following questions:
- How do you want to be known? What words do you want people to associate with you?
- What are your goals for the next 3 years? What words are associated with that?
- Will your books be in a particular genre?
- Who do you admire and want to emulate in writing and also as a brand? Find their websites and keep screenprints of what you like and don’t like. Use them as a model (but obviously no plagiarism!)
- If you have a website already, enter it into Google Keyword tool. Are you happy with the keywords associated with your site? Do you need to change your focus?
- What images do you want associated with you and your brand?
You also need to know what you want for your future, because if you can’t see the brand extending over multiple books you have hard work ahead! I made this mistake after my first book “How To Enjoy Your Job” when I branded myself with “career change” and a business image. I quickly realised that I didn’t want to speak or write on this topic anymore and started The Creative Penn, a new brand, from scratch. I brainstormed ideas and settled on using my own name and the image of a pen with creativity. You can still keep more than 1 niche/brand, but be aware of the effort involved!
Having a brand doesn't mean you need an expensive logo or unique design (although you can do these things). It means you have an image and words associated with you in people's minds. You resonate with something to your fans and customers. People will form these opinions themselves, but you can control this if you build a brand.
Building Your Brand
Once you have decided what you want your brand to be, then you need to ensure you stay on message, and make sure people don’t get confused when they arrive at your site. For example, if you write a horror book, people will not expect pink teddy bears and smiley faces on your site. If you write romance, have a site that reflects that.
* Blog and network on topic and within your brand niche. For example, on this blog I will not talk about my day job, I won’t give you cooking or family advice. I also won’t review a sci-fi book. I will stay within the bounds of The Creative Penn brand because that is what you expect (and want) from this blog. I will also only tweet the same topics as it fits with my brand.
* Be consistent. Try using the same photo across multiple social networks so people recognise you. Put your picture on your key material because you want people to connect with you personally, not just your book. Try not to jump around too much with your brand ideas. Think about it, then focus your energy on developing that brand consistently. The internet compounds your efforts, so the longer you are in the game, the more effective you will be.
* Find others in your brand niche. Connect with likeminded people and follow similar blogs. Get to know who makes an impact in your area and read what they are doing. Connect with them on Twitter if you can. Perhaps interview them for a podcast? Google them and see where they have been posting or appearing. Do they have video or audio? Which social networks do they use? Where do they sell books? From there you will also find people you can network with and who may start following your blog.