“With over 15 years of experience in online marketing, I can say without a doubt or any reservations, that developing a personal brand online is crucial to your success as an author.” Fauzia Burke, (Founder and President of FSB Associate,@WebSnapshot)
Building a Personal Brand isn’t for the meek and mild. It takes commitment, hard work and a lot of intentionality. Whether you are Building a Community, Branding an In-Credible You, or looking to make yourself visible, the road to successful PB is going to be paved with time, sweat equity and a lot of coffee.
So where do we start? How do we go about becoming ‘visible’ to the community that we’ve chosen to build in? In my own journey, I’ve found that there as many variables as there are writer’s willing to give advice.
When I first started taking a look at how to go about developing a visible online presence, the task seemed completely over whelming, even daunting. I meet with a local writers group twice a month, and when I would listen to them talk about the two thousand and one things a writer needs to do before even considering sending out their first query letter, I have to be honest, there were more than just a few occasions when I found myself driving away thinking, “All I want to do is write. If I had wanted to be in sales and marketing, I would have stayed in interior design.”
But A Type personalities are never daunted for long, so I made a decision to begin educating myself as quickly as possible. For the next couple of months, if I wasn’t writing, I was perusing the internet and library, gathering together everything I could find on the subject of writers and developing visible branding. At the end I found four items most frequently listed as ‘must do’s’ for building author visibility.
- Writer’s Groups
- Commenting and Forums
- Social Media (Twitter, FB)
Let’s start with: Blogging;
The powers that be almost unanimously agreed that anyone wanting to develop any type of PB or online presence has to have a web or blog site where they can post on a regular basis and let the community get to know them.
Now for most of you, the subject of blogging, is by now, probably blasé’, and you’re doing your best to keep from yawning. Yet I wouldn’t be that quick to judge this part of my post as unworthy of your notice. There are some really great blogger-writers out there, and the really good ones have a following that is pretty impressive. They’re like the E. F. Hutton’s of the blogging world; when they speak, everyone listens.
Now granted not all of them write novels or non-fiction work, but the quality of content they deliver on a regular basis makes it possible for others like me, to break down the process of developing a personal brand into bit size pieces that are do-able. And let’s face it; all the information in the world won’t ‘getter done’ if we can’t see the trees within the forest.
So with my brain loaded down with ‘How To, Where To, and How Often’, I set about finding a blog spot that fit me.
But finding the right blog site can be as challenging as finding a great fitting pair of tennis shoes for wide-flat-feet; one brand does not fit all. Some sites require little or no knowledge of site construction, while others should be labeled: Enter at Your Own Risk. But after a few bungled attempts, I finally found one , WordPress.com (which practically uses crayons in the support and how-to tutorials with lots of pictures, videos and examples) that worked for me (Since this post is about building personal branding, not blog sites, I’ll leave that subject for another time.).
The next step in the journey was even more challenging than getting a blog that fit. What to write about? I wasn’t anywhere near the same playing field as those writers and bloggers I had begun to follow, but sharing the blather of everyday life had (and still has) absolutely no appeal.
As favor would have it, while I was out cruising through my favorite bloggers-authors sites, I came across this comment by Suzan Butler, author of pirate anthology, Spells and Swashbucklers, “As a writer, your blog is your showcase; much like a photographer’s online portfolio is theirs. It shows your personality, your voice, your writing style. People who mesh with your blog will mesh with your writing. And the more people who show up will see your name over and over. If it’s a familiar name, they’re more likely to pick up your book when it’s time.”
Our blogging posts are like a window into the soul of who we are as writers. They need to be a reflection of what we’re passionate about, and if we’ve already got a manuscript or two under our belts, then they should also give our future readership insight into who they will be investing their time and money in, every time they click, buy and read our work.
Almost every article I’ve ever read, from publisher, to editor, to agent to author, says the same thing; become part of local and online writing groups, where we can share our work, get critiqued by fellow authors, agents, and editors, and learn from their critique of others. It’s often one of the best places for iron sharpening iron.
Being part of a community oflike-minded individual’s is also a great place to go when we need reminding, that even if Uncle Carl doesn’t think our attempts to become a successful writer qualifies as a real job, there are still hundreds of others who do.
Here are a few to get you started:
Connecting with other bloggers and writers is one of the most powerful online tools we have for building visibility. What better way to establish our presence and get to know our neighbors than to read and comment on what they are writing about. Nothing establishes rapport with fellow authors quicker than stopping by and saying something encouraging about their work. It is especially powerful when we use something they’ve written in one or more of our own posts. What better way to make someone feel honored than when someone else likes what they have said enough to quote it?
Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success (Kaplan, April 09), and owner of the award-winning Personal Branding Blog had this to say about using the ‘comment‘ factor, ” Bloggers love comments. Don’t even deny it! When you comment on someone else’s blog it’s like a kudos or a pat on the back. A blogger is more apt to comment back on your blog, subscribe and link to your blog if you’re a part of their community. If you comment on every blog in your industry on a consistent basis, people will get to know you based on your avatar (go to gravatar.com) and your brand will flourish.”
It’s a great way to give what blogger>author Kristin Nador calls ‘shout outs’. Free PR. Who doesn’t love it! Before you know it, you’ve just added one more person to the community of people who now know who you are.
Social Media or SM is such a ‘tag’ word now days that I don’t think a lot needs to be said. I would like to comment on some of the abuse I’ve seen though, like using it to air your personal grievances or bad mouth other social media or platforms. Whether we like it or not, once something gets on the internet, it will always be out there somewhere, just waiting to come back and bite you in the hinder parts of whatever you’re currently doing.
- Your website
- Your blog
- Your Facebook
- Your Twitter
- Your LinkedIn
- Your writing clubs
- Your previous magazine editors
- Your previous guest blogs
- Your speaking engagements
- Your blog posts on other blogs
- Your guest appearances online and in person
“Notice that the above ways to find you, dictate that you be PROACTIVE. And it means that you KEEP being proactive. The minute you snooze, expecting others to spread the word, the word slows down and disappears. Ask anyone with an online business or multiple books in a backlist.”
Next time we’ll talk about what “Marketing the Goods” (which would be you and I) looks like and how and when we can begin to incorporate it into the PB community we’re building.
So what does your strategy for building author visiblity look like?
I’d love to hear your story.
From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer,