I’ve mentioned adverts before and the best ones are remembered for years. Brand recognition is important.
It is for writers too.
Brand covers everything from style of book cover (my Chapeltown Books covers are all square with a frame with a central image. Distinctive and eye-catching, which is the idea) to the kind of post you write on social media. My posts are down to earth and share writing advice. People know to expect that from me. My Youtube channel is a relatively new avenue for me but I’m using it to continue to share my mini-flash tales and so am increasing, I hope, my brand recognition. Again, people expect flash tales from me so I deliver!
Being Creative and Consistent
Consistency and persistence are keys here. You do need to decide what you want to share out there and then follow through with it. It’s why having a weekly post here on Chandler’s Ford Today is so useful. It makes me work to a deadline (which is a good habit for any writer to get into) and again it is part of what I do and who I am as a writer.
Finding creative ways of getting your message across (which in my case is “hello, Allison Symes, author here. This is what I write. Hope you like it.”) is a challenge but also stretches you. Nobody wants the “buy my book” message all the time (and Twitter is notoriously bad for this) but talking about what you write and this is how I did it is far more interesting. Hints and tips shared this way are always useful to other writers but readers are often interested in how the author came to write their story.
I’ve found thinking of what might engage me if I was on the other side of the coin to be a useful method of working out ideas in how I can share information and stories without being too pushy about it. It’s not an easy balance to get right. I once came across someone at a well known festival who was giving the “buy my book” message in a hard sell way and it put me right off. It also taught me a useful lesson – here’s what not to do.
Accepting Building a Brand Takes Time
So building up a brand then is something to do, it takes time, but you are more likely to engage with potential readers (rather than annoy them) doing this as you will have to produce something of interest to them. Thinking of your potential audience and providing entertaining content on your website, blog, social media platforms etc., does take time and considerably more effort than just the “buy my book, buy it now, and here is where you can get it”.
But it is far more sustainable over the long term and you do need to consider your writing on that kind of scale. I can’t think of any writer who ever wants to write just one story or one book and that’s it. You want to build on what has gone before (which is another reason to build a platform so people can see you do have something to build upon).
It is a question of working out what you want to do. I like posts so for me Facebook is a must. I don’t get Instagram. So guess what? I’m not on there! I’ve found Twitter useful for sharing mini tales and links to blog posts. Youtube has given me a great way of being able to share content visually. And those are the social media platforms I stick with as I know I can do them consistently. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew here, any more than you would want to do elsewhere.
I focus on my blogs for the non-fiction side of what I do – blogging here and a couple of other places (monthly for Authors Electric, More than Writers – the Association of Christian Writers blog spot). I’ve recently started writing monthly for an online magazine called Mom’s Favorite Reads. (I’m writing for them on flash fiction and I am now their “Flasher Queen”!).
All of this gets my name out there and the act of writing the posts shows (a) I can write and (b) I can write something of interest to others. That does mean people are more likely to see what I get up to fiction wise as well.
For my fiction side, I am now writing regular 100-word stories (also known as drabbles) for a website called Friday Flash Fiction. The discipline of producing regular stories is wonderful. I have found writing more encourages you to write even more and triggers more and more ideas to write up. Win-win there then.
Choosing Your Platform
So if you are thinking about building up your writing platform, where do you start?
Firstly, think about your interests. If you like words, then Facebook is probably going to appeal more than say Pinterest. Likewise if you like pictures, reverse that! A good tip is to prepare a few draft posts for these things so you have something to put out there. Then see if you can produce posts regularly. If you can, and love doing it, then great. Off you go.
It really is important to like what you do. You need momentum to keep you going and if you don’t like or get bored by what you post, so will others. Also, even if you’re a non-fiction writer, we are all in the entertainment business to a certain extent. We want people to read our words and engage with them so we need to use words to persuade them to do exactly that.
Secondly, think about what it is you want to do long term. I knew I wanted to be a published author. Once achieved, I wanted to see if I could be published again and so on. I still have that wish to keep on being published. Enthusiasm is important too. All of this also meant allowing for the fact that there will be downs as well as ups to the writing journey. But it doesn’t mean being without support.
This is why building a network of supportive writer friends is so important and makes a huge difference during the down times. I am so grateful to my writer pals for their support of me. (This shows up the most in things like book launches of course but it can be as simple a thing as re-tweeting a Twitter post a writer chum has written or sharing their book cover on your own timeline. Little things like that do get noticed and writers are phenomenally generous here in that the vast majority will happily share your book covers on their timelines too. It is a question of playing ball here).
Thirdly, think about how you want your brand to be. I want mine to be a down-to-earth, helpful, and entertaining style so that is what I aim for. Think about how you want your readers/followers to react to what you share with them on social media/in an author newsletter or both.
I take the view that what I produce work wise is the thing I would want to read if I wasn’t writing it. Sounds odd I know but it works as it helps me to focus on what is important for all writers – engaging with potential readers.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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