When I taught blogging workshops for writers and authors, one thing was predictable. Their eyes would always glaze over when I got to the part about building an author brand.
They thought of selling out, of compromising their art, of consumer brainwashing. They had seen too many taglines, too many TV commercials—Coke (“refreshing”) and Apple (“think different”).
“I don’t need a brand,” they would say. “I’m not a product.”
They were confusing a brand with an advertising slogan.
Branding is simply the feeling your want your readers to experience when they see your name—the emotional connection you want them to feel with you as an author.
And a blog is a perfect stage upon which to build your author’s brand.
Your author brand is the character and your blog is the stage.
Like a character, your brand has a personality. It has a way of looking at the world. It behaves in a certain way. Your brand is not the story, but it has a story to tell.
Your brand matters because it is how readers figure out who you are, what your message is and—ultimately—whether they want to buy your book.
Like well-crafted characters, good brands are:
Consistent- Ever read a book where a character did or said something that was so not who you thought they were that they became unbelievable? When your brand’s character shows up on your blog, who they are should not change.
Clear- Know the market niche your blog fills and how you will communicate that. Knowing your audience and message helps you get clear with your brand.
Convincing- Show the character that is you the author—and you the person. It’s how readers get a sense of who you are and why they should care about you.
How to use your blog as a branding stage
1. Get the look right.
Your story’ s character has an exterior and so does your author brand. On a blog, that would be the first thing we see when we land on your home page: the look.
But, unlike a fictional character, who might mask her inside with an exterior that sends another message, your brand’s outside should mesh with the inside: your blog’s message and content.
A good brand can be ruined by bad design.
Choose a style and tone that’s consistent with your brand. Even the font types and colors you choose tell something about your author brand: playful? dramatic? quirky?
2. Define your audience niche.
You may focus on a certain market (readers of historical fiction), a character in a series (think Harry Potter), a region (stories set in the deep south) or your own personality ( a business coach writing a series of self-help books).
But the way you define your niche determines who your audience is—and what you will blog about. So nail down the thing that makes you different, then highlight that in your branding.
One of my wife’s and partner’s blog coaching clients, who is testing the book publishing waters with her blog, has branded herself as The Erma Bombeck of Grief. She blogs about the impact of the unexpected death of her husband and being shoved into single parenthood, but her posts are infused with humor. Sad subject. Interesting and unusual take on it.
And within five seconds of landing on her blog, you get who she is, what her brand is and who her audience is.
3. Consider a tagline.
Your tagline is the short descriptor in the header, right below the name of your blog. It’s your brand and audience, in one sentence.
Hollywood does taglines well.
But unlike movie taglines—unless you are John Grisham and everyone on the planet knows you—your tagline should be specific enough to let visitors know up front what they can expect to find on your blog.
Take Larry Brooks’ tagline on Storyfix.com:
get it written. get it right. get it published.
You know right away what Larry is about. He helps readers manage the writing process (get it written). He teaches form and structure so your plot doesn’t fall apart (get it right). And he helps you explore publishing options and find the right one for you (get it published).
With these three bold statements, I get a sense of his brand: He is a no-nonsense guy and he’s not going to sugar-coat things.
4. Find and claim your blog’s voice.
Just like you as a writer, your brand has a voice. It can be elusive, but when you’ve finally claimed it, your branding is complete.
Your blogging voice should be congruent with what you write and how you write it. As people get interested in you, your blog and the things you write about, they are going to want more.
And where will they go? To the bookstore or amazon.com, of course, to read more of this author with the unique voice.
5. Show your real, three-dimensional self.
Your author brand should be convincing.
More than your newest book, more than your recent reviews, your blog’s readers want a ‘behind the velvet rope’ moment. They want to see who you are, what you are passionate about, what makes you tick.
Let your readers in close. In addition to a compelling, authentic about page, consider a bio box on the sidebar of your home page with an engaging, brand-centric photo and a few sentences about who you are, what you write and the things you care about.
First-time visitors will especially appreciate this introduction-at-a-glance because they are deciding in scant seconds if they want to hang around. Help them out.
What about you?
Do you have an author blog?
Do you know what your author brand is?
Keep an eye out for a new e-book that will be on my bobwp.com: How To Create a Compelling Tagline.