As an author, there’s more to making it big than just writing books. While creating great work is an integral part of becoming a successful author, to grow your personal brand, you’ll have to put effort into getting your name in front of people before you can expect to be selling out books.
While there’s one one-size-fits-all process for authors trying to build their brand and following, there are some tried and true practices and techniques that can be useful for you to know.
And though it can seem daunting to step out into a different territory as a writer, having some guidance around self-promotion and building a brand can make the process feel far more accessible.
Here are ten tips on growing your personal brand as an author.
Take Advantage of Social Media
Whether you have a pool cleaning route or a personal brand as a creative, social media is a powerful tool that can help you effectively build your brand and business. As an author, social media allows you to connect with your readers and potential consumers in a deeper and more personal way while also marketing yourself to new potential consumers. While you may not feel like working with some of these various platforms is your forte, making it a point to post on social media consistently has the potential to help you grow your personal brand exponentially.
Some of the most attractive aspects of promoting one’s brand on social media are the fact that it’s free and relatively easy to use. While you can pay someone to run your accounts if you choose to, social media is an extremely accessible way to start promoting your personal brand immediately.
So even if you’re new to social media promotion, it’s worth putting some time into creating a few pages and accounts for your personal brand as an author and gaining a loyal following who is invested in staying up-to-date on your current work.
Understand Your Customers and Consumers
Before you start spending money on marketing your personal brand as an author, it’s imperative that you have a clear understanding of who your customers and consumers are. Without knowing who you’re targeting, you might waste time, money, and effort promoting and marketing to the wrong people. While you may have a rough idea of who your target consumer is, it’s important to look at data about the people purchasing your work to get an accurate picture of your consumer. Skipping this step could end up wasting a lot of marketing dollars, time, and effort.
At this point, it can also be helpful to understand the difference between customers and consumers. While consumers are the ones reading your books, customers are the ones purchasing them.
For example, parents may buy fantasy books for their kids to read, making parents the customers and their children the consumers. Depending on your type of writing, you may need to think about marketing towards customers rather than consumers. Accordingly, no matter what kind of author you are, it’s important to gain a clear idea of who is buying your books before pouring time into promoting your personal brand.
Build an Email Subscriber List
No matter what type of business one is in, building a robust email subscriber list is an incredibly effective practice. If you were to peruse any worthwhile brand engagement guide, you’d find that building an email list is almost always a top priority. This is because emails allow you to have a consistent line of communication with your customers for a practically unlimited amount of time. In addition, it allows you to notify potential customers of things such as sales and upcoming releases, creating a strong, effective, and easily sustainable marketing channel.
As an author, creating emails can be a project that allows you to showcase your talents and pique the interests of readers. You may share short stories, news updates, or simple blog posts. However you choose to express yourself, emails are a great way to engage audiences and get them excited to purchase and read your books. If you’re unsure of how to get people to sign up, you can offer a coupon such as “10% off of your book purchase when you sign up for email newsletters.” And just like that, you’ll be able to start growing an engaged audience that is more likely to purchase your books.
Invest In SEO
The days of spreading the word about your work by word of mouth are over. While you might be able to find some minor success with this method, it won’t be anything close to the expansive reach that search engines can offer you. No matter what kind of writer you are, it’s important to invest in search engine optimization (SEO). This is the practice of optimizing your content for specific keywords or phrases, ensuring that your content appears on the screens of potential customers’ devices when they search for certain things.
For example, if you’re a fantasy writer that writes about magical metropolises, you want your name to appear when someone types in: “fantasy story in a bustling metropolis.” This way, those who are interested in the type of subject matter you write about will have the opportunity to find you and your work. Unfortunately, many authors don’t take advantage of this powerful practice and lose a large number of potential customers.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be one of those authors. Do some research and start making sure to optimize your digital spaces so people who are potentially interested in your work can find you.
Look to Other Authors
Looking to other authors can be an amazing way to gain guidance and inspiration about growing your personal brand as an author. Whether it’s authors that write in the same genre as yourself or in a completely different space, taking note of how successful authors are growing their personal brands can provide you with an ample amount of ideas about how to effectively market yourself.
To start doing some research, simply search the names of some authors whose success you’d like to duplicate. Make sure to take some time exploring their websites and social media pages and take note of the practices that seem effective to you. After checking out what others are doing, you can incorporate different techniques, practices, and methods into your own efforts. With a little luck, you’ll be able to find some tactics that help you grow your brand and find success similar to your peers.
Look At Your Name as a Business, Not A Person
For creatives in all fields, it can be difficult to switch gears and treat one’s work as a business rather than a form of personal expression. Unfortunately, when it comes to growing your brand as an author, you’ll need to change your perspective on your work and your image. Thankfully, starting a business from home is easier than ever today, and you as an author have an amazing amount of resources at your disposal. By taking advantage of these resources, you can turn your name into a business that drives sales and keeps growing.
Start thinking about your name as a brand rather than your personal name. This will make it easier to come up with marketing ideas and promotional tactics. The more comfortable you become treating your personal brand like a business, the better you’ll become at engaging in effective promotional practices and growing your brand as an author.
Make Your Website an Extension of Your Work
As an author, website building and UX design may not be in your wheelhouse of expertise. While it’s ok if this is the case, it’s important to enlist the help of professionals to make your website impeccable if you need to. Your website will likely be the first impression of your brand that many of your potential consumers will come into contact with. As such, an unprofessional or lackluster website could potentially lose you a significant amount of customers.
By putting thought and effort into crafting a professional website, you’ll give your audience the impression that you’re a writer whose work is worth purchasing and consuming. In addition to crafting a professional website, it can be helpful to have additional content that attracts people and keeps them coming back, such as blogs, writing tips, or short stories. However you decide to create your website, it’s important to remember that it’s an extension of your brand and it should be thoughtful and well put together.
Think About Branding
While you might be tempted to just let your books speak for themselves, in order to get a large number of people to read them, you’ll need to have some robust and engaging branding. This includes everything from the color palettes you choose to the type of tone and language you use to communicate with your audience. While you’re free to choose how you do this, you’ll want to be careful not to keep changing things. Being consistent with your branding will help your audience see your brand as strong.
If the thought of branding seems overwhelming to you — don’t worry, it’s easier than it seems. Branding your personal brand as an author requires a few key decisions about how you intend to communicate with your audience and the way you would like them to perceive you. After you’ve spent some time thinking about these things, you can implement your branding across various pages and ensure that your audience is getting a consistent experience when interacting with your media in all of its various forms.
Create a Strategy
While you might be able to get by doing many different things to market your personal brand as an author, this tactic can quickly become chaotic and hard to keep up with — especially as you grow. To make things easier on yourself and create reasonable expectations, making a growth and marketing strategy can be extremely helpful. Your strategy will act as a guide that you can refer to periodically to make sure that your efforts are being channeled into the right places to make your brand grow.
When creating a growth strategy, it can be helpful to start with the goals you want to achieve. Once you’ve got your goals locked down, you can reverse engineer the steps that you’ll need to take to get there. The process of creating and following a growth strategy will make growing your personal brand a less mysterious procedure.
In addition, having a strategy can help you stay on track and not get overwhelmed in moments when you feel unsure about what to do next. So when you decide you seriously want to pursue growth, make sure to create a strategy to help you get your personal brand to where it needs to be.
Don’t Be Afraid to Enlist the Help of Others
While it can feel like it’s your personal responsibility to build your personal brand as an author, the truth is, it can be an enormous amount of work. While it’s possible you might be able to pull it off alone, it’s probably not worth the many sleepless nights and brutal workdays you’ll have to engage in to get there. Understanding your limits and personal skill set will allow you to find the exact type of help that will help your reach your goals and grow your brand as an author.
Whether you need someone to run your social media and make consistent posts or someone to help optimize your website and content for SEO, it’s ok to reach out and get some help. As all entrepreneurs know, growing a brand is hard and takes a lot of effort in different areas. By enlisting the help of others who are more knowledgeable about the process of growing brands, you’ll be able to focus more deeply on growing as a writer.
Make Your Personal Brand Shine
As an author, you have the power to grow your personal brand and reach more people than you ever thought possible. While the process may seem daunting at first, if you just follow some key tips, you’ll be able to grow your brand with ease and confidence.
So, if you’re ready to take matters into your own hands and take your personal brand as an author to the next level, keep these tips in mind and start growing today.
Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He implements lean methodology and currently writing a book about scaling up business. Twitter @AndrewDeen14