Basics are important. When I was advanced to a pre-algerbra class in 7th-grade, I missed crucial math basics that were taught that year in regular class. It wasn’t until I was 30-years-old that I would learn those missed basics. Suddenly math wasn’t so difficult. That’s why I’m breaking down the components of the platform so you can understand the basics and decide how to use each as a building block.
The purpose of this series is to teach other writers the marketing basics that form what a writer’s platform is and how to use it.
For twelve years, I was marketing communications manager for a natural foods cooperative in Minnesota. I built a national reputation as a brand manager: I built the co-op’s brand through communicating stories, wrote a brand case study for a marketing workbook, presented workshops on the topic and was the subject of numerous magazine articles. When I left, I freelanced over 30 articles on branding.
My personal brand evolved from my specialty; I was the Brand Buckaroo. It stuck in the minds of those I worked with, taught and networked among. I had fun with the buckaroo image, even though I was strict with our store’s branding. I created a western-themed “Branding 101” continuing education course for our workplace. Thus, staff nicknamed me, “The Sheriff.”
When I turned over the store brand to my predecessor, I kept my buckaroo image. After all, I truly was born into a buckaroo culture which shaped my natural inclination for story-telling, and I was headed west to write. I had to shape a new idea for my platform because I was identified with business and freelancing when I wanted to be identified with literary writing. Buckaroo writer and Carrot Ranch became my branding foundation.
My strongest writer’s platform component is branding. This is also an example of how your platform does not have to be like mine. I love branding, I understand it at a deep level and I use it strategically. It’s fine for you to have a simple brand that others experience. But you need to think about what it is.
As a writer, you are the brand; how others experience you and your writing is branding.
A brand creates physical, emotional and intellectual triggers in the mind of the reader. A writer’s brand is unique, identifiable and visual.
Your name, photos and even the symbols, fonts and colors that you use in your social media, marketing collateral and public relations all add up to your brand. Writers are like cupcakes: the outcome between cake, frosting and decoration is endless. Build your brand like a cupcake and be consistent thereafter.
You don’t change who you are once a month, so don’t change your brand after you’ve established it. Keep your brand as close to who you authentically are, what you write and what you publish. Be your own cupcake and maintain your personal recipe.
This doesn’t mean you can’t re-brand. Sometimes it takes a year or two to get a feel for who we are as a writer. Sometimes we begin with free templates or generic colors and fonts to set up our initial presence. As you evolve, so will your brand. Therefore, let your brand grow into something more definitive.
Take a vanilla-chai cupcake, for example. In the beginning, you put out a flavor that rocks the cupcake world. But your cupcake looks, well, overly vanilla. You spice up the look, give the decoration a flair and you’ve re-branded. But it is still the cupcake others have come to recognize and want. You are still the same writer.
What if you no longer want to be a vanilla-chai cupcake? Maybe you started out writing romances because that was the easiest way for you to earn money as a writer. Now you want to write epic political thrillers, definitely a jalapeno-dark-chocolate kind of cupcake. You are a different writer. Develop a new brand (that’s why some writers have multiple pen names, thus multiple brands). Keep in mind that managing multiple brands consistently is complicated.
Branding goes beyond the visual cues and becomes an experience.
Branding occurs the moment a reader takes a bite of your cupcake. You are not in complete control of your branding. No matter what you do, you can’t make every person like your cupcake. Maybe someone likes the idea of vanilla-chai and someone else thinks it looks too bland. Both may or may not like the taste. It’s perception. And you can’t waste your time trying to change the perception of another. Focus on those who connect to your brand.
Your branding is based on how others experience your:
- Image of who you are as a writer
- Quality and style of your writing
- Level of professional manners
- Emotional, intellectual or physical connection with your readers
Branding is how others experience the visual cues of who you are as a writer. The quality and style of your writing adds to that image. How you treat others on your blog, their blog, Amazon reviews, at book signings, in the media or in correspondence to publishers is a measure of your professionalism. Think of this as manners or customer service. All this leads to connectivity with others, or not.
If your branding isn’t connecting with others, go back to the most basic element of who you are as a writer.
Be authentically who you are: that writer who likes ballet, lyrical sentences and collects Victorian dolls. Or that writer who wiggles at the sound of a race car revving an engine, collects all things Coke-a-Cola and writes terse dystopian YA. Don’t be pictures of your iguana or sprinkle your website with cartoon butterflies if you write modern spy novels, unless you can tie it to who you are as a writer in a way that others would understand.
Think about your own attributes, interests and strengths. Think about personal relationships.
- What do you connect with about yourself?
- Why do you write?
- Who do you connect with as a kindred spirit?
- How do others perceive you?
- Ask a friend or family member to be a mirror of you at your best.
Think about longevity. Will your branding work in the future? My buckaroo brand has been with me throughout my career. It evolved from marketer to writer, and is something I can imagine in the future. I can visualize myself at 92, wearing my buckaroo hat and turquoise boots to a book signing. That I arrived by walker or horse doesn’t matter. That my book is a western, eco-thriller or chick-lit doesn’t matter, either. The buckaroo is me, not my books. My branding is built around my ability to tell stories and make emotional connections: Wrangling words for people, roping stories for novels.
Let’s examine some existing brands so you can get a feel for branding and how it works for a writer’s platform.
Norah Roberts. Her official website is clean, professional and has a romantic flair without being over-the-top. Her picture is fun and you can almost imagine her as one of her jet-setting characters. Even her husband fits the brand of a handsome spouse to the world’s top romance writer. The colors are modern and not gender specific (no obvious pinks or frills). Go to her blog and you might be surprised to find it plain and simple. She’s approachable, enjoys fun times among girlfriends, uses party-left-overs to make a vat of chicken soup and has the same complaints as others on the east coast about the long winter. Her branding is engaging and despite her opulent life, she connects with her readers by being her authentic self. Note: go to her J.D. Robb page and see how different the branding is there.
Clive Cussler. Actually, his website is under a re-brand, which is good because the design looks dated. It is heavily focused on his many books, but note that a photo of him dominates over the bookselling. Clive Cussler is the brand. He makes a surprising statement: “I have never considered myself as much a writer as an entertainer.” His branding is that he is the grandmaster of adventure. He’s lived a life worthy of fictionalized tales in adventurous novels. He is not as approachable as Norah Roberts, but he welcomes readers to his website and feels present. He does not blog. All his books are housed on this one platform.
Wine Wankers. This is blog is one of the best blogging success stories from branding to community to credibility to audience. Conrad (one of the wankers team) was among the first to follow my blog. I thought he was a nutcase. His picture made me think that this was some creepy dude that I would not want to follow anywhere, but I do look at other bloggers’ sites when they follow me. I laughed when I got to the site and read, “Smile 🙂 You’re at the best wine blog ever!” Why does this creepy picture work? First of all, it actually represents the three-man team with a knack for branding humor. The other part of their branding is an authentic enjoyment of wine beyond the pretense of the industry. It’s a wine blog for the common person who happens to love wine. They are Australian, thus they focus on their region. From their branding and community they built up credibility and the site is among the most influential on the internet. And you bet that equates to a large audience.
Here’s a chart of branding specifics that you can use to define who you are as a writer to others:
Tell me about your branding in the comments. Do you feel it is an important component of your platform? Why or why not?
Awesome. Excellent. Fantastic. I’m bookmarking this. I was looking forward to this since your last “Decoding” post. Love it. Now I look forward to your next. No pressure or anything. 😉
Oh, good! The last two were to set up the structure so this one gets into the details. And branding is something I do enjoy. Community is another so I look forward to the next post, too! 🙂
Thanks for this, Charli, and so helpful!
With my background in the public sector, and some negative experiences of having philosophies forced upon us from the commercial world, I’ve been a little suspicious about the notion of branding. But one thing I can say for sure about your brand is that you’re 100 percent trustworthy so when YOU nudge me in that direction I’m listening! The other aspect, that wasn’t immediately obvious to me, is that being one’s brand as a writer is being the best/most interesting/quirkiest aspects of one’s authentic self; thus your comments on my blog about therapy being part of my brand was so validating. I’m SO excited about this series.
I get excited about authentic branding. Marketing can be so manipulative because branding has those connecting elements that can trigger an emotional response. That’s why authenticity is so important. You have terrific branding that enhances your credibility, and yes, therapy is a major component. This will come into play later in the series when we discuss application because your brand can help you uncover topics of “authority” that you can write posts or articles about while at the same time leaving a bio that includes your book which ties back into your credibility. Once you recognize the components, your platform can give you so many options for promotion without ever having to actually promote “buy my book.” I’m glad you are excited; I’m excited for this series too!
Couldn’t agree more with Anne’s comments, and like Sarah, I am following this series enthusiastically, having just this week established a WordPress site. As I build the first pages and make some crucial first decisions (do I want the blog to be the home page? What should my tag be? WHAT IS MY BRAND?), I am studying blogs I admire (like Carrot Ranch) and seeing how others achieve an engaging web presence. Authenticity is of course the key, but as you address in this session Charli, not always easy to combine distinct identities, or cross over from one to the other (in your case, from freelancing/business to literary). So, thankful you are sharing your expertise in this area. And happy to have found other sites like Anne’s that give me a sense of the sky-wide possibilities for the way writers reveal themselves to the world.
I was like you, Jeanne. I had business clients and I had a long trail of freelancing, but none of it connected to my creative writing goals. But my business clients are established enough that I get gigs or proposals by making phone calls or sending email. I don’t need the website. The day I turned Carrot Ranch over to literary pursuits was the day my brand took on new life and energy. Think of your dream, your biggest dream regarding creative writing. What does it look like? Go into that and mine your brand image from it. That dream is your vision. You are the brand, the creator of that vision. Connect the two and you’ll find your elements. The Rough Writers are a great example of individual “brands” based on interests, writing and careers. Norah with joyful education; Anne with modern literary reviews and commentary on therapy in literature; Geoff who casts wide with humor, travels, history, reflections, sonnets, advocacy and yet ties it all to his family and family history; Ula with her art background, poetry and broccoli; Larry with his background in college sports and teaching; Pat with a mining background and interest in movies; I could go on through the whole list! What makes this group special is that each writer is authentically engaged with why he or she writes and that becomes the branding we see in their platforms. I’m very excited for you. I know what threshold you are standing upon. It will be an uplifting leap and your brand will emerge with you.
Soo interesting. Thank you again for the ideas you’ve shared with us.
Right ho. Yes you have a startlingly consistent and memorable brand. Me, my tagline was deliberate – Tangental. A misspelling (to make it unique (well -ish) – should be Tangential – and an explanation of me. I go off on thought frolics; I love learning about other people, places, personalities, possibilities. I have – not exactly a butterfly mind, more a jackdaw. I steal ideas, stimuli come from all over and I pick up and run with them. I don’t bore easily but I do enjoy difference. So being me, baring enough of me that people can come away with an idea of me is important. Hiding too much makes people suspicious. The ‘but’ comes from my working background. I was a lawyer – it very much made my brand in many ways and dominated – still dominates – the picture people have of me. If you search my name you’ll still find my legal career leaping out at you. If my blog can do one thing for me it is to replace Geoff le Pard Lawyer with Geoff le Pard blogger/writer/other in google (and other reputable) search engines. And that is a hell of a rebranding exercise in all sorts of ways.
Professions can be such a big part of who we are. The good news is that, unless you were a mob boss with an illegal past to hide, your profession can actually be a part of your new brand. I really struggled with how in the world was I to pick up an old dream to write creatively when I filled two decades after getting a degree in creative writing with business and journalism? Even Carrot Ranch began as a business website and the original “carrot story” was about my knowledge of cooperatives and community food systems. Like I wrote to Jeanne, you have to go into your dream and find your image of you as the creator of that vision. I’m so thrilled that Carrot Ranch became a place for other literary writers. I get my inspiration from all of you! From the discussions and shared creativity and the magical dynamic that occurs each week with the compilations. GLP the Lawyer is a stepping stone for GLP the Shakespeare of his time. One thing that stands out with your writing and blogging is that family is the hub no matter how many spokes you cast out into the world. You’ve built your brand on connecting all those divergent interests. Unless you have readers asking for solicitor’s advice, I’d say you’ve achieved your re-brand! The profession is a part of you; it’s no longer the image of you.
Ok. That’s encouraging
Yeah definitely family and detail, I would say. If you know anything about Myers Briggs I would take a guess at saying you were an S for sure. Your ability to plunge into a depth of rich detail is something I could only ever dream of being able to do. And there’s one other thing that stands out for me about you. Your eyewateringly funny! Had a bad day? visit Geoffs blog cause he will be sure to make you giggle. That’s your brand for me: Family, Detail, Humour.
What a fascinating comment about Myers Briggs! S makes sense. Geoff’s probably rolling his eyes (or eating cake). And I agree. He’s outrageously funny!
Aw wow. That is truly the nicest compliment I’ve had since I was told by my very serious three year old daughter that daddy was very clever because his farts didn’t smell… Ah that it were true…
You’re welcome… and eww! you had to ruin the moment! lol
I recall a moment after a lecture I gave on something really dull on which someone was complimenting me. I made a feeble bowel related joke when one of the associate solicitors said, ‘You do have a scatological sense of humour, don’t you?’ I had no idea what she was on about but when I looked it up, she wasn’t wrong.
I could so relate with Geoff’s comment. I have only made small inroads into developing a web identity as a writer, but I get a little frazzled at how work acquaintances still want to endorse me on LinkedIn for online learning or adult education or other attributes connected to my days in higher ed. I guess this is where I have to honor that past but “mine” my brand image from the vision of it that is formulating. Geoff, people have all sorts of images of lawyers. I have my own negative ones, but you can bet I would want a smart lawyer by my side if I got into real trouble. That is what comes to my mind when I think of a lawyer: very smart, quick on his feet, someone with a superior command of logic and language. I must visit your site again soon and see how you weave that magic that makes the lawyer disappear 🙂
Oh I hope I have rubbed most of the worst traits away. Especially the ego – save me from supercharged male legal egos. One of my most disliked characteristics (according to my long suffering) is my ability (if that is the right word) to sound like I’m completely correct when in fact know diddlysquat about the subject in discussion. BSC – bull-shitting with confidence…
I understand what you mean on LinkedIn, yet my staunchest supporters for “going literary” have come from those colleagues and acquaintances. Move forward with your new brand based on your new vision and some old friends will catch on to the new.
So here’s the thing. What you have triggered for me is the realisation that whilst I tried to do ‘branding,’ what I did was consistency (to a point) ive made it look a certain way, tried to use certain imagery and text etc. What Ive not done is given enough thought to meaning and why. I think I have a clear linguistic style now when blogging so that’s fine. I have a regime 5 days a week and specific things on each day. BUT what I haven’t done is consider your questions:
What do you connect with about yourself?
Why do you write?
Who do you connect with as a kindred spirit?
How do others perceive you?
Ask a friend or family member to be a mirror of you at your best.
I know why I write – cause I HAVE to or I get noisy characters shout at me and because it makes me happy. But I’m not sure I can answer the other questions so that’s something I’ll consider over the next few days. I also hate my tag line! And maybe I need to pad my story out too, sigh, so much work to do!
None of us are McDonald’s (thank God) so we aren’t going to roll out invested brands. Instead, our brands are going to evolve as we grow as writers. I like how Anne summarized a writer’s brand as “being the best/most interesting/quirkiest aspects of one’s authentic self.” And when we are being authentic and consistent, the brand emerges. You do have a distinct voice and that is part of your brand. I know you love to write because you demonstrate your commitment with your blog posts and collection of weekly prompt responses. So that is coming through. It can be tricky finding that visual image when, as a writer, words are the focus. As I pointed out with Norah Roberts, her blog is plain. You can build a brand with your words. Those questions can help you come up with more words to describe what it’s like to be that author who has to write before the characters get too noisy! Another point to consider — we all are going to build our platforms differently. I’m heavy on branding. How much and what varies greatly. Ultimately, it’s all about aiming at our target audience. If we know what to adjust, we can be more effective. I don’t believe you need to adjust your brand, but think about how you as a writer are connecting with that audience who will one day read your books.
That’s a great point, my current audience, is probably not the same as those that would hopefully read my book – well, in the sense that the friends I am building would, but aren’t really the intended audience. But then I am not sure the intended audience would necessary read a blog… hmmm… that is food for thought. I like the idea of building a brand through words, its not something I had thought of before. I know there are a couple of things I am not happy with – tag like being one of them, it makes me cringe! so I know when I think of something better it has to go! I like Anne’s concept too, although what quirky bit to choose… I am about 95% quirk, 5% normal! lol. All joking aside, it’s a hard one for me at this point in time, I am still trying to find the ‘me’ post baby. Such a great series though this is Charli, really thought provoking. <3
Exactly, Sacha! Audience is layered. We have a target and we build toward it through the platform. Eventually, it’s WOM that works either a small scale or large. But you have to know someone who knows someone who would read your book. And we’ll talk more about audience and then applying tactics to get to that target audience. And I think we are exploring ourselves — that’s a big part of writing. We define, redefine and get down into our own layers and use our brand to communicate across the audience layers. Just keep it real and if you are still exploring who you are as a writer, that’s authentic!
Okay, here goes. My “brand” is me. I am my brand. My writing brand/platform/audience is confusing. I think I might be the only one of the Rough Writers who is not actively writing a novel. I have books in the works but they are on the back burner for now. I am a Lifestyle writer. I created a blog because I was told I should. I blogged into the ether for a year. Then I moved to Lemon Shark which has been great but… Now with the fiction. It has no place on Lemon Shark–two completely different audiences. I have to split up the Lifestyle writing and the fiction but I’m creating a division in my brand/platform I think. I feel stifled sometimes. I don’t have the freedom some others have on their blogs. I’m not an author OR a blogger. I’m a writer. I’m not writing a novel or trying to be the next “big thing” in blogging.
I’m curious about this question: How do others perceive you? I have no idea. I’m afraid to ask, quite honestly. I love your building blocks approach but, if I follow that, I need to get a solid brand down to build on so I can’t be offending anyone or splitting my “brand” with ficiton. O_o
I see you as fearless (so the shark image fits well) and prepared to go against the flow (fitting in with the lemon). I also see you as honest, with almost stream of conscious writing. I know I am always going to be left thought provoked and entertained.
You completely, utterly, and in all other ways made my entire day. Thanks, Irene. <3
A solid brand is good, but it can be simple even when you feel life is complicated. All your points of differentiation — good! You don’t have to be a novelist or blogger to be a writer. You know you are a lifestyle blogger. You know you like to write shorts. Build on that.
Now what you did is all Sarah Brentyn and is brilliant. It’s why I like to read what you write, lifestyle or fiction. You are smart. You have grit. And you are a big fish writer. You are the lemon shark (lifestyle writer) and you just created a reef for your fiction. Yes! It connects; most importantly, it connects for you thus it will connect with your readers.
You already give a brand promise — you are navigating the uncharted waters of the lifestyle you live. It’s gritty, it’s real, no Betty Crocker sugar coating there. That’s being authentic to who you are and why you write (to communicate). Now you take us over to the reef, the lemon shark’s lair. You are taking us into your brand and giving us what we expect — sharp writing on tough modern topics. You will cultivate that as you write and it will evolve with you.
I haven’t really thought about branding either. I don’t think that I have done it well. I probably started off on the track I wanted to go with the label memoirist. I don’t know that my blog entirely fits that as I am doing a lot of photo challenges and now I have started on the flash fiction….
I am going to have to give this a lot of thought. Like Sascha I know why I write but the other questions require some thought.
Thanks for a great post that will leave most of us mulling over our branding.
Branding happens. We naturally gravitate to the things that interest or compel us. You travel and tell stories about the places you’ve been and you are able to articulate cultural differences in a way that makes others interested. You have a great sense of humor, witty and even dark. The photo posts you do all tie into travel, oddities and culture and place. This will give you credibility as you launch your memoir because you already have visibility as a traveler with wit and depth and a keen eye to the unusual. I think you can pull it all together intentionally for a stronger presence.
You are kind but I know what you are saying. The big question is how do you pull it altogether intentionally? I am hoping you will have hints in future posts on this score.
I really related to your comment here Irene, having started out on Blogspot as Memoir Crafter. I still want to make memoir a big part of my writing but it seems restrictive to just focus on that one genre. On my new blog on WordPress, I hope to solve some of the problem with a good use of the category tool. I figure I can blog about a whole range of topics and do flash fiction to boot, and then categorize it…it is still a big question in my mind though…there is always the issue of consistency :-/
After reading through the comments, I’m going to do a Part II to Branding this week and focus on the nuts and bolts of establishing a brand, how to apply consistency and and the relevance of voice.
Yes I agree with everything you say. Have you got your WP site up and running yet? Will visit you. The other problem that I have as far as sticking purely to memoir is that I have been told that if you have it available on a blog Amazon won’t publish it on kindle unless it is removed from the blog site. This has left me uncertain as to the position of mainstream publishers so I have limited my memoir writing as a consequence putting only snippets or items that I would not be putting in a book anyway. Charli may enlighten us further but I do think that the use of categories in WP does make the genre problem a little easier. WP I find much more interactive than blogger or blogspot or google + . I certainly try to be consistent by doing the same challenges each week and I am sure that I probably have an audience that look only at my photographic posts, some that look only at my writing and a few that look at all.
Great pointers here, Charli.
Alas! I am such a naive in all this. Will either need guidance or gotta read more on how to polish my platform.
However, you got me thinking my friend 🙂
You are true to your brand, focusing on uplifting mantras that encourage life. You wrote a novel about choices and and you give readers the understanding in daily chunks as to how and why we choose. You also have a strong commitment to community and do reviews and host blog hops to further your reach. You are always reaching into human aspiration and what is possible.
An excellent post and very helpful Charli! I totally agree that branding is important whether you’re a writer of novels, or like me, who just likes blogging. As writers, we are called upon to be ‘jacks of all trades’ – to craft and write quality output, to market it, brand it, stay current with technology, etc. I can see how it can be quite overwhelming for those who are starting out. I do love reading your blog. It’s refreshing and entertaining. The flash fictions are some of my favorites and I’m always amazed at the themes you come up with. When anyone asks me about my blog, I tell them I’m a Lady in Transition – work in progress. 😉 Yes, I’m still working on finding a better visual. Thanks for posting these helpful insights into branding.
A Lady in Transition! That’s having fun with what you do and who you are. Of course, not everyone likes to have fun…there are serious writers with serious brands (secretly, I think they like to have fun being serious). 🙂 Whether you try to or not, branding will build up around your writing especially if you have a blog. You have a beautiful visual that caps your posts like a Lady’s hat. Thank you for reading, especially our stories!
OK Sheriff Charli, you mean business, fantastic, and at last I’m back on the trail, making my way back to the Ranch with a careful canter as I start kicking up some dust once again, back to your wonderfully wrangled words!
What a great explanation of what it really means for us writers/bloggers to have a that all elusive Brand 🙂
I’ve been thinking so much about this. When I started blogging I agonised for ages about what I should call my blog. I wanted to document my writing journey to publication, but because I didn’t really have much to blog about on that front, I thought it might be nice to blog about my cats, my garden, walks in the country and foreign places I’ve visited, illustrated with my own photos even though I didn’t think my blog would be anything like as professional as the ones I had come across which were all terribly serious, professional websites with the author’s name as the title and their blog as a mere link from that website.
But I also wanted to share what I knew from personal experience about Asperger’s in females and some of the other harder-hitting stuff, such as about my dad and how I came to reach the point of being able to tell his/mine story – all with his approval!!! So because of all these different subjects, I got the idea of ‘A View’. And then ‘share the view with me, rain or shine’, because it wouldn’t always be pretty.
I also knew from the beginning that the main thing I wanted to do was to try and inspire others who were finally able to pursue their writing calling later in life despite troubles along the way. But I’m not sure if this is my brand or not? I think maybe more a question of ‘you never know what you’re gonna get…’ :/
So then in reading your Author Platform posts, as with everyone else here, I’ve been taking a closer look at my blog, and headed back to my ‘About’ page, which I have only tweaked very slightly in the not far off 2 and 1/2 years I’ve been blogging. What IS my blog about, I wondered? I mean, really about and do readers know what they are getting when they come to my blog? Do I have a brand? I don’t know. But I wrote this: ‘Weaving stories from my past to help make sense of the present and so give hope for the future’. As readers began to tell me they enjoyed my stories, I hoped that this validated my reason for writing: that I have a burning desire to share my stories with others and in so doing, encourage and inspire them to do the same.
As with Irene, I started doing the photo challenge regularly and then of course, a completely new and unexpected new thing: Flash Fiction!!!! I am just so grateful that my readers seem to enjoy these fictional stories even though I wondered if I was getting off track.
How you describe your own brand and illustate your excellently well presented points with you fab charts and diagrams is so helpful and I really can’t wait to read on as we all learn with you.
And I would just add that the Wine Wankers found my blog early on too. They are an amazing successs story in the blogland, no doubt about it and I will check out the other two as soon as I possibly can, so thanks for the links!
I’ll be back later with my flash, and how great that feels 🙂
Loved reading about your blogging/writing journey Sherri. Just moving over to WordPress from Blogspot, for months I have needled my mind with that one basic question: Use my name or come up with something snappy? Right now I am using my name since I decided to use it for the domain name and I also want clients to be able to find me, but hoping I might find a way to incorporate another name that expresses the purpose and spirit of what I am doing with my writing. It sounds like your purpose is revealing itself to you as you grow with your site. look forward to reading more of your writing.
Thank you Jeanne! I had no idea that writers used their names for their blogs when I started out! It makes perfect sense when you want clients to be able to find you, but I didn’t feel established enough, not yet a published author with a website. Apparantely WP is more SEO friendly than other blog hosts (Charli will know more about this than I do, I’m sure!). I started off with A View From My Summerhouse but then after the first year, paid a small fee for my registered domain (sherrimatthewsblog) so anyone can find me from my name, but I still keep the Summerhouse name as my blog title. Hope I haven’t confused you! It certainly is fascinating the way our blogs grow, living and breathing things they are, with us at the helm! I love Charli’s analogy with the cupcakes and how although we should keep our brand, we can change things up without losing the original flavour. I hope you will find the name you are looking for at the right time and I also very much look forward to coming over to your blog which I shall do very shortly 🙂
Jeanne, I would start by clarifying your goal(s) for your blog. When I originally set up Carrot Ranch my goal was to have a writing business. Thus I felt my business needed a name. I had planned to write novels, but given my beginner status, I figured I would need the business to carry me to my literary goals. What happened is that I felt divided. My heart was pouring out into my literary goals, and while clients help me make a living by the pen, they don’t interact with me through my website. I find my clients through my established business network and I get projects through email or phone calls. I recognized that I needed a literary network. When the flash fiction was successful in building community, I transitioned the site to a literary community. However, I still need to continue to build an author brand. I don’t believe I have the credibility yet to establish CharliMills.com. I have no published books. But I can set it up and use it to target agents. My author website will be simple — who I am and what I write. Agents can easily see who I am and what manuscripts I am seeking representation for. So my goals are clear: Carrot Ranch is branding and community; author website is credibility. Both will be connected and continue to build audience.
If your website is a business, give it a business name. If your blog is a publication, give it a title. If your website is to get published, use your author name. If it is a combination, decide which is more strategic — your name or a business/blog name with a page about you as a writer. Does that help?
Ah, Sherri, you have a beautiful and beckoning brand and its all built on who you are and why you write! I love what you wrote: ‘Weaving stories from my past to help make sense of the present and so give hope for the future’. This refines what you’ve explored as a blogger. all along your reason has been with you and evident is all that you write and share. This is in part why you have an actively engaged community — because you do inspire and encourage others!
“Buckaroo” is a persona. And it’s not necessary to go that deep; like I said, I love branding and I have fun with it. You have fun with it and that makes my day! But a writer doesn’t have to “be” something other than herself or himself. In a way, the Summerhouse is your brand. It’s that place where you write and from where you take your views of life past or present. Your View is your mission. It expresses why you write.
And yes, we do have to assess where our activities fit in. From the beginning I wanted to gather different types of writers that shared a common love of literary craft. I also wanted it to be a small activity (thus 99 words) so as not to be disruptive to primary projects. I know that regular practice opens up creativity, improves writing and allows for exploration, but that is something each writer has to discover. I think those who hang out have discovered something in the practice and in the community. If it serves a craft purpose, then the response can be left in the comments. If it serves something more, the response can be embedded in a post. Hopefully, it has a purpose to you and can be flexible. And don’t ever feel guilty for time off or frequency. Each writer has to make that call. But of course, I love having you at the ranch, wrangling words!
You are the best Buckaroo of all Charli!! Writing FF serves a most wonderful purpose for me, I would never have discovered this if I hadn’t started blogging. And as you say, being able to embed the challenge within a post most weeks has taken the challenge even further as your prompts provide such great writing fodder. But, I can also leave it here in the comments for craft purposes and as we here read one another’s work and comment and encourage, our community grows and takes on an even deeper meaning. It is really wonderful what you are doing here. And thank you so much for your very kind words about my blog and my brand…I’m really touched actually.
But you are taking us to new heights as you encourage us to really think about why we write and who we are as writers and what we want our brand to be…even if that means changing things from time to time. And that is something I will be pondering deeply as I go through this series with you – with great anticipation for the next part 🙂
PS Apologies for all the errors and typos…I’m still a bit ‘out there’… o_O
I didn’t notice any! I was reading your communication, not your words. Which, of course, makes me a questionable editor! 😉
Oh good…don’t look again or you will!!!!! But I love what you say about reading the ‘communication’ 🙂
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[…] Decoding the Writer’s Platform: Part II, we discussed branding and how my own brand evolved around my name into a persona of a buckaroo […]
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Charli, I’ve finally gotten around to really reading this series. Although I bet I’ll reread it a few more times. You present it all in such a straightforward and easy to understand manner. I’ve read many articles on platform and branding, but none of it has made such complete sense until now.
I rather like the association with art, poetry and broccoli. Do you think it works? I keep having these internal fights within myself as to what is authentic and how I want to represent myself. The broccoli is obvious as it’s in the name thus the photos (which I hope make some people giggle). But is that OK? I mean, what does it bring to the literary table? Does it have to? It does make me stand out in some way, I think.
I also feel like you do that I am not at the place to have an author website as I have no published books, but I am already thinking that I do want a professional author page at some point. And I wonder how I can make the blog and author site work together. Do I transition at some point? Do I do both? Get rid of one?
So much to think about, but you are clearing a lot away.
Yes! Art, poetry and broccoli collectively express your brand. You have fun with is, and others will respond to that playfulness, but also get what you are about as they get to know you through your writing and art. It’s a great example of how something about you (a love for broccoli) fits. If you said you were a vegan artist and poet, it would be flat. Broccoli makes if quirky fun. It does make you stand out and see how simple it is?
You are thinking along the same lines I am. You can rename “About” with your name or About Ula Humienik and you can add a Books page. You can do a simple author website and link the two. What’s important is monitoring how people find you and that they find your brand consistent between all the author pages (Amazon, Goodreads, social media, G+). Google+ is a good place to start building your writer’s bio and linking to all your social media, blog, Rough Writer page, writing, poetry or art that is published online. Have fun with your broccoli addict persona in your bio, too. It’s a great brand!
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