Building Your Brand Online as a Writer
Your writing is a brand in itself, making it an important marketing tool for you as a writer.
[This post was originally published in May 2014. It has since been updated and expanded.]
Building an authorial brand is a critical component of marketing for any writer. A dynamic, compelling personal brand will draw in readers and increase sales, while also helping you connect to writers with similar strengths and interests.
Building a brand isn’t easy, though, especially for those writers who may not be familiar with marketing themselves. As a rule, writers are great at being creative, but the terms “sales” and “marketing” make them shudder. If that describes you, don’t worry. Brand building isn’t as difficult as you think, and working toward developing your brand will augment your exposure and experience as a writer.
What Is an Authorial Brand?
Developing an authorial brand involves defining who you are to your readers. What do you want readers to associate with your name? That you’re a down-to-earth or funny writer? How do you want them to feel when they think of you, and by default, your work? Answering these questions will help you begin building your authorial brand.
Necessary Components for Building an Authorial Brand
When it comes to building a reputation online or off, consistency is essential. Your readers want to know what they can expect from you, both as an author and as a person. The best way to ensure that this happens is to be authentic and personal in your interactions with everyone you meet or talk to on social media. Being authentic may seem like exposing yourself to strangers, but it’s the only way to ensure that you’re being personable and consistent. After all, when readers feel an individual connection they’re far more likely to follow your work.
Consistency and authenticity are also important to building an audience for your brand. While your regular readers will come to expect a certain voice and style from you, reeling in new readers can often be more difficult. Find a voice that not only suits you, but also your subject matter and ideas. Readers often come to blogs for the information, and stay for the personality behind the words.
To keep readers coming back, make your voice stand out. While you want to embody the approachability and authenticity of other bloggers, you also don’t want to find yourself lost in the sea of bloggers just like you.
You should also remember that every interaction you have with a reader or potential reader counts. It’s easy to remember customer service and due diligence when you’re at a writers’ conference or responding to comments on a blog, but face-to-face interactions with your son’s teacher or a fan you meet at a conference count, too. If you’re interacting with the public in any way, you are interacting with your potential readership.
Using Social Media to Build Brand
In today’s marketing culture, social media is an important tool when it comes to building your brand. When using sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, keep brand-building components in mind. Here are some helpful tips to help you build a brand via social sites:
- Keep readers informed on the progress of upcoming work. This can help build hype around your next project and ensure fans don’t lose interest. You can also add an air of mystery to any big unveilings you have coming up in the future.
- Host giveaways to give some readers a sneak peek of your work. This will allow readers to review your work even if you aren’t well known yet.
- Ask for honest feedback. This will show readers that you’re a real person with real insecurities and will make readers feel valued when you take their opinions into consideration. Ask questions on Facebook and Twitter, and take those answers to heart.
- Set up alarms on your phone for @replies. Responding to readers quickly and personally on Twitter helps build relationships. Reaching out to like-minded writers, readers and companies doesn’t hurt, either.
It takes hard work to build a brand online. Finding the energy for being authentic and compelling on social media while being attentive and personable in-person is difficult — especially for introverted writers — but if you are patient, there are serious rewards to reap.
What techniques do you employ to help build your brand? Let us know in the comments below.