Published Podcast Ep. 4 — Establishing an Author Brand, part II
This is the second of a two-part series on Author Branding. Part I can be found here.
In this episode, we'll be doing a deeper dive into the components of an author brand, like website, social media, newsletter, etc. Brand Strategist Sam Alexander joins the show again to discuss the author brand in more detail.
1:15 Does every author need a website?
- The short answer is no. If you're just starting out you can build a brand around a different platform.
- Overall, there are many benefits to building your platform on your own website. It does take time and effort to build, but a website will always be under your control. Social media platforms not only have terms of service that you agree to, which can change.
- Your website can be completely dedicated to your message and your format preferences (not limited to 140 characters).
5:23 Should authors brand their website around their name or the book title?
- It's probably best to build on your name, because it gives you credit for everything you do - past, present, and future. It allows you to reframe your messaging in the future.
6:22 What sets apart a good author website?
- The hallmark of a great author website is clear messaging in whatever form that takes. You want to make it as easy as possible for your audience to consume your content, be helped by it, and share your message.
- Good author websites are also mobile-friendly and easy to navigate.
8:00 Should authors try to sell books on their website?
- If your audience trusts the author enough to buy directly, they certainly can sell books on their website. But established retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble have a level of trust with readers.
- It's also dependent on the rights negotiated with the publisher. Some authors may not be able to sell directly.
9:18 For authors building a website from scratch, how should they get started?
- Ask yourself, what is my message? How am I looking to present myself?
- Sites like Squarespace or Wix can be helpful if authors are short on budget or time, though sites like this are able to change their terms. It may be worth investing more in developing a Wordpress site.
- Overall, do some research on your options.
11:35 Which social platform should an author spend most of their time using?
- Which social platform to focus on depends largely on the author and the content they're sharing.
- Start where you're comfortable and then add platforms as appropriate.
- Look where your audience goes. Ex. If you're targeting a business audience, will you find them on Snapchat?
- Look at the kind of content you want to share. Is it visual? If not, it may not be appropriate for Instagram or Pinterest. Follow where it makes the most sense for your content.
13:40 Should authors plan posts in advance?
- Yes. It's always a good idea to be strategic about how you're communicating.
- That said, there's no reason not to be flexible. You should always be yourself on social media. There may also be something going on in the world that demands a change of plans.
- Staying flexible also allows you room to talk about new topics that you hadn't thought about/foreseen.
15:50 Can you give us 1-2 takeaways for each social media platform?
- Twitter: Listen before you talk and get familiar with the 140-character format. Don't stress out about it too much — the average lifespan of the tweet is 18 minutes.
- Facebook: Take advantage of Facebook Live if you're comfortable being on camera. Leveraging video will give you the best chance to break through. Focus on engagement, driving shares and conversations.
- LinkedIn: Keep the tone professional. You're expected to network, so you can be more business-focused. Take advantage of the opportunity to write longer thought pieces on the platform.
- Instagram: If your content isn't naturally visual, it's a place to be yourself and share your lifestyle.
- Pinterest: Pinterest is about share-ability and requires visual appeal. It's also a transactional site, so you can drive people to your site or a buy page.
21:14 What is the benefit of an author having a newsletter?
- Newsletters have always been very important, arguably the most important piece of the author's platform.
- A newsletter is a direct connection to a place where people inevitably spend time every day — their inbox. People may come and go on social media sites, but people don't change their email addresses often.
- A sign-up form should be located on your website and be easily accessible. It should also offer readers some value when readers give their email addresses.
- There are no set rules for what to include in your newsletter. Ideally, you should provide some content that's not accessible to people in another way (i.e. bonus content).
26:30 Do you recommend a newsletter service?
- We typically recommend Mailchimp because it offers a free option to get started, is intuitive, and can be shared on many other platforms. But there's no right or wrong.
27:30 How frequently should you send out newsletters?
- It depends primarily on your content.
- An example is Faris Yakob, whose newsletter Strands of Genius, just switched from 1x weekly to 2x weekly because he had enough newsworthy content to share.
- Another example is Greenleaf Author S. Alexander O'Keefe, whose newsletters go out quarterly because, as a fiction author, he uses it as a way to update fans on his progress on new work.
- You never want to send a newsletter just because it's time to send one.
- Questions? You can find Sam on Twitter at @gbg_sam.
- Your Newsletter: The Golden Ticket
- Expanding Your Social Media Presence Beyond Facebook and Twitter