Posts

Q: I want to start a website to gain followers and make money with my writing. I’ve identified a niche, but I’m wondering how to get started branding myself. -Trish

Andrea:

Understand Yourself & Your People

Before you do anything else dig down deep and articulate who you are and what the overarching themes will be.

Next, figure out who your audience and what they are in to on a deeper level. I’m talking micro, like what kind of food they like to eat (i.e. are they granola, or junk food). This will help you identify what they are into, where they like to go and what kinds of things they’ll want to read or see.

Develop deep knowledge and show it off.

I think the most important thing is knowing about your subject matter on a deep level. Demonstrating that you are a “go-to” person for your niche subject matter will help a lot.

I recommend making a list of six months worth of content ideas. Then break up those ideas based on how you want to write about them. For instance, some ideas might be better for blog posts while others might be best to pitch for publication. Blog posts are great for once people get to your website and can also be useful for SEO (search engine optimization), and getting pieces published elsewhere online can help drive traffic to your website as well as give you more credibility.

For the website itself:

If you don’t want to hire someone to create a WordPress site for you, depending on your technical skill, I suggest just setting one up yourself at wordpress.com, or setup a site with Squarespace, though I prefer WP.

Keep it simple, but make sure you have these elements:

  • clean design,
  • quality content (decide on that beforehand),
  • an email list sign up,
  • links to your social media,
  • SEO driven content (you can find a great guide to some of the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress by heading to the Victorious website).

Make Time for Your Brand

Next, schedule regular time for promoting yourself. Quality and consistency are the most important factors in building up an audience.

Collaborate with Others

When you’re first starting out and don’t have an audience yet, it can be really helpful to partner up with folks who have similar audiences that are already built. Whether it’s a podcast, a webinar, a guest post, or an event, you can build your audience by giving valuable content to sister audiences. Start reaching out to others that relate to your niche–people or brands who have a bigger audience and figure out ways to collaborate. And always make generosity a priority. What will they get from you, if they partner with you?

If you implement these things it will give you a great start on building your writer brand.


Do you have a burning question about branding your writing or creativity? The business or psychological side to pursuing your dream of supporting yourself with your creative work? Please email it to me. It just might get selected to be featured on this blog.


 

Q: For writers new to the idea of writing as a business, what are some of the mistakes to avoid when thinking about branding? —Gabrielle

Andrea: Great question.

One of the biggest personal branding mistakes is trying to be everything to everyone. A lot of this is based in fear–that if we have too narrow of a focus, we won’t appeal to enough people. But something important happens when we go deep on the things we truly care about: we gain clarity, and that makes us more appealing to others as well.

We’re often told that branding is all about our audience–not ourselves. In other words, we’re supposed to appeal to what they want in order to be successful. And while that is true to a degree, we also have to be true to ourselves.  I think that’s actually where we should start.

More and more, readers crave authenticity. You can’t have authenticity without deep self-knowledge. But you don’t have to share EVERYTHING either.

in general, writers should have a layer of separation between who they are as a person and who they are as a brand. You can use your voice, style, talent, personality, and knowledge to express the parts of yourself that you are willing to share publicly.

For example, you might be interested in a variety of subjects but most want to write about only one or two, in this case, your focus should be there. That’s only one example though, you can differentiate yourself from other writers in subject matter, approach, voice, and other ways.

Keep the focus on what you want to build your brand around, not being “all the things.” Zero-in on one primary throughline to your work and once you’ve established yourself there, you can always add new priorities/facets, down the line.


Do you have a burning question about branding your writing or creativity? The business or psychological side to pursuing your dream of supporting yourself with your creative work? Please email it to me. It just might get selected to be featured on this blog.


 

Q: My profile photo on Facebook and Instagram is my book cover. Should I keep it that way, or have a picture of myself? —Brian

Andrea:

Make it a personal photo for sure! People want to connect with a human being, they like books because books are about people. 😛 So upload a nice author brand photo of yourself as your profile pic.

It’s safe to assume that most people are in a hurry and are distracted. Make it as easy as possible for them to find what you want them to find. BTW, I suggest making your cover photo your book, along with one or two positive review quotes/blurbs, and then your profile should be your personal photo.

Remember, you’re building a career–one that won’t just be based on one singular book.

You can find more tips for building your author brand on social media in my article on The Write Life.

 


Do you have a burning question about branding your writing or creativity? The business or psychological side to pursuing your dream of supporting yourself with your creative work? Please email it to me. It just might get selected to be featured on this blog.