As part of my debut of NetCastles – Virtual Author’s Assistant services, I am sharing some resources.
If you are thinking about paying someone to set up a website or manage your social media, you want the most bang for your buck. Having some things in place beforehand will allow a VA to develop the best services and present the most authentic face for your author brand. Knowing your personal why and why you write leads to your brand archetype. Your brand archetype can inform your social media strategy. Everything trickles out from that why and investing the time to develop your brand will enable your VA to be confident in representing you as an author.
*If you’re looking for something quick and want to skip all this malarkey, I recommend you take the Brandality Quiz from Kaye Putnam. This is your first baby step to branding.
OR you can get this post as a PDF
Branding is a mystical concept for many writers, or even a dirty word. I prefer to think of branding as another tool, a way to focus yourself so you can stay on track. If you pin down and put into words what you are trying to achieve, that goal can always be in sight.
Your favorite books, the books that touched you and stayed with you, most likely had common themes. Overcoming adversity, friendship, family, love… things that resonate with you. You can use these themes, and your why, to connect emotionally with your readers.
I saw a TEDx Talk and the speaker was talking about your deathbed. He said you only have room for about 7 people around your deathbed. So in your life you need to find those 7 people and cultivate your relationship with them, invest in them.
Writing is the same in some ways, you can write creatively and do whatever you want. But if you focus your writing on specific things, on themes that you can use to connect, you get more out of that investment. If you need to invest 10,000 hours to master a skill then you don’t want to be wasting any of the hours you have available.
This is why I think branding is important, even if some creatives think marketing is a dirty word. As long as you let your branding remain flexible as you evolve, all it does is give you a strong footing to start from. Branding enables you to be intentional when a new opportunity arises, to judge if this is something you want to develop or just another drain on your time and energy. Some think they are stifling their creativity with planning, but I don’t think there’s any problem with being creative intentionally.
When you buy a book, you are trusting that author to entertain you, to connect with you, to tell you a good story and leave you feeling satisfied. Your blog and social media presence can help to establish that you are a trustworthy writer and people can invest their visits/time/buys/money on you.
A lot of bloggers make the mistake of paying to make their site pretty and think that is taking the next step, but are disappointed when they don’t see any improvement in traffic. This is because the bones of their site haven’t seen any changes. You have to focus your content to be consistent and attract people you can provide value to. Those people you can truly reach are the people you should be speaking to, in your writing and your brand.
I’m linking some worksheets here. These worksheets are all available online free, although often you have to sign up for a mailing list
These are somewhat in order from wide to narrow. I suggest you read over the titles and pick one that excites you, then do that worksheet and think of 3 action points that you could do to implement what you learned. Then repeat next week, or next month, or whenever you have time to do another.
Melissa, writing as M. D. Flyn. Visit me at NetCastles.org for Virtual Author’s Assistant services
Know Your Why
Brandality Quiz from Kaye Putnam gives you percentages
Primary Archetype Quiz from Cerries Mooney Creative more personal, free with email opt-in, good info in the results she sends
Brand Psychology Workbook
Personal Brand Obituary
Share Your Brand Story
Brand Story Worksheet
Understanding Your Brand
Use Your Voice
In How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul, Ruth Soukup talks about developing 5 main categories of content. These can be categories/types/values offered. This way a visitor/reader can go straight to the thing of most value to them.
Next you develop pillar content (also called cornerstone content) for each of these categories. This would be the pieces that offer the most value and are best representative of your work. If something were to go viral/become a bestseller you would want it to be one of these pieces. There’s nothing worse than something going viral that has nothing to do with anything else you’re doing, you get all those visitors that you have nothing else for.
Blog posts have shifted, it is no longer ideal to post every day. Less frequent, higher quality posts get better search engine positioning. You can post as infrequently as once a month. However, Google heavily penalizes inconsistent posting, so you need to commit to whatever schedule you settle on.
Target audience is something that is hard for writers to pin down. I found this site where you can search popular media and see what their audience is interested in. So if the people who liked Hithchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy would love your work you search for that. Or search for your favoritest thing in the universe, in theory if it resonates with you then that is reflected in your work. This will show you the kinds of things you can share on social media that your audience will find value in.
Customer Profiles (ie Moulin Rouge)
Target Audience: Identify
Target Audience: Understand
Find Your Readers as a Fiction Writer
Dream Customer Exercise
Ideal Customer Profile Tizzit
Ideal Customer Profile Beyond Mastermind downloads directly
One Page Business Plan Template
Business Plan for Writers downloads directly
Author Business Plan