Branding Your Author Platform

I know, I know – I have talked a lot about my website and branding and all that blablabla.  But yesterday I got all hot and techy on it and sat myself down to some serious website stuffage.  I glued myself to my chair, got into the Geek Zone and went for it. 9 YES NINE new pages later, I emerged, itchy eyed but feeling rather darned pleased with what I had created.

It’s not that the copy is odiously long or clever.  It’s not even the fact that I have created “Parent Pages” with “drop down menus” (oooh get me!).  What I really love about my new look site is that I have gone all out for consistent branding.  And by that I mean it’s all beautifully colour coordinated.  Yep my new look site is positively awash with gold and blue and green with some dashes of fiery orange for good measure.

And no, these colours were not randomly plucked from createyourpalette.com  (that’s a madey uppy website… or is it?).  No no, I got all intentional and, dare I say, symbolic in my choices of colours.  I went all chakra on myself.  Green to represent healing, gold to represent courage and blue to represent communication with a splash of creative orange.  Well namaste to me and all that.  Of course the blue goes with the dress I am wearing in my header photo and the other colours coordinate beautifully with the cover of my free opt in and the book that I am working on at the moment.  Result?  Consistent branding that I can use across my different author platforms. yee har…

I am not saying that you need to be coordinated.  I am not even saying that you need a ‘colour palette’ (gorgeous word – let’s say it again – palette).  However as a non recovering stationery addict and someone who has a linen cupboard with labelled shelves, I do recognise that colour coordination appeals to the OCD in me.  What I will say that is that if you want to Go Pro (and let’s face it who doesn’t?) then it’s probably a good idea to learn from the Branding Gurus who all say that consistency is important.  (I am not sure if they should really be referred to as gurus by the way – I am not sure that a real Guru writes books about Branding on his way back from the Ashram).  Here’s what else I know – creating a brand is kind of fun.

Picking colours for your website is about getting to grips with who your ideal reader is and what they would like to see.  Sure, I am a pink kind of girl with an inordinate soft spot for mint green in private but there is not even a whiff of that on the site because this is my professional site and coordination is Queen here. The tone of my book is upbeat and zesty so the colours reflect that.  And describing my site as “zesty” also gives me a great deal of pleasure.  How many times to do you really get to say “Check out my site – it’s zesty”.  Well, if you are me – all the time now! Yay!

Actionable step today.  Look at your author branding.  Is it consistent?  Is it coordinated?  Does it reflect the style of your writing?  Will it connect with your reader?  Go onto other sites and find examples of branding that you love love love.  How can you bring a slice of that onto your own site?

Tomorrow I am going to talk about how I created my header.  I promise you that it is a perfect way to lose an hour or two!

Okay off to lavish some love on my zesty website. 

Toodle-oo

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Can I really create a blog in 20 minutes?

So when you are creating your author blog, how long is it going to take?  You are a busy creative,I know, I know, and time is money and all that!  It’s tempting to fall for those blog posts and email newsletters which promise you that you can really create a blog in 20 minutes and then just sit back and watch your stats pile up.

I believed them too.  Until I created a blog that is.  When I did that I realised that the reality is that registering for a blog takes 20 minutes but to actually create a blog with something for people to read is actually a much longer process.   Take this blog for instance…

Yesterday I sat down thinking that – yes, 20 minutes and I am up and running.  I logged onto my WordPress dashboard that I use for my other site and hit the button that said “create new blog” and the party began.  And what a party it was?  Not one of those sedate dinner party gatherings that ends at a reasonable time – oh no!  This turned into a downright “gathering” to which the Frustration police were called in the early hours of the morning… nuf said!

Still the blog was created – check!  Then I had to whip out the credit card to pay for a dot com domain so that visitors to the site would see a .com address rather than wordpress.com address which comes for free.  I know that this is a good idea – it oozes professionalism and professionalism is important to me.  But having made that decision, I then had to waste a half hour deciding on what I wanted that domain to be.  I have read enough books about making money online to know that your web address should be eminently searchable.  You are supposed to go through all sorts of rigmarole around search words and SEO ( note to self: what the heck is SEO?) but I was in a hurry as per normal so I just went ahead and hazarded a guess thinking that it should be related to what the blog was all about.  The temptation was to get all clever and literary and come up with a sparklingly witty blog name, but, you know, I was tired etc…  Ok decision made, domain available, credit card used.. Next step-

Then you have to go through it all again by coming up with a title for your blog.  Do you choose a name that you already have ie your own name?  Yes if you are wanting to build up a brand and you have the dream of creating lots of books.  This is the goal for my other site, so there I chose my name for the domain address and put the title of the book as the name of the blog – “Change Your Life From the Inside Out’.  I was invited to shell out a vast amount for their professional package and as a newbie I did pay the $99 fee because I thought I might need those extras.  In fact I have used them to alter fonts and colours and create some general niceness.  For this site, I didn’t do that, opting instead for just the domain name.

Then you need to choose your theme.  Oh the joy!  This is like real estate shopping except all the free ones are in your price range and so many look good.  Say goodbye to another half hour of previewing contenders until you eventually come back to the original choice.  I chose blissful blog because well … I liked the name, ok.  Plus it’s cute and a little bit (a lotta bit) feminine which is v. me!  A word about themes – steer clear of anything that looks too dark or space agey (unless you are dark and space agey in which case knock yourself out, buddy!)  For me, professional is about light and bright.  Not too many squiggles.  Think clean and elegant!

Ok so now we are onto headers.  Easier this time.  Flipped over to another window and searched images for ‘lady writing’.  Picked a pretty one, cropped it and pressed the button.  Yep all good and only 2 hours behind schedule!  Now onto the pages.  Keep it simple here.  At the moment on my site I do not have my book ready to sell but I do provide face to face coaching and hypnotherapy so I created a page for products and prices.  Then fill it up with some copy.  30 minutes – check!  An About Me page – do I go narcissistic or humble??  Instead I chose on the other site to speak about my service and say what I can offer to my clients and what my professional experience is.  On this site, I tended towards the mememe approach… As an author wanting to sell products, I may create another page on that website and call it “Books”.  Never let it be said that I am not an original thinker…

Next I needed a landing page, which is basically where people land on your site if they search for you direct.  This is the page which offers an insight into your service/offering and sets the tone for the site.  On my professional page, it is like this but for this site I wanted to focus on the challenge that I have set myself so it is slightly different in tone.  Make your Welcome Page nice and colourful and I would suggest that a picture is good.  I have even embedded a Youtube video on my welcome page (wow – such a whiz) which I had to teach myself how to do.  But by now you can imagine – my caffeine levels are running dangerously loowwww and I am in danger of a mercy run to the biscuit tin.  It’s already lunchtime and I still haven’t actually written a blog post. Grrrrr…

One caffeine stop later ad I am finally onto the blog bit because this is where I am going to be reaching out from and was (can you remember still) the point of starting this whole circus in the first place.  Make your first blog about the first question that you would ask if you had found your site.  Write as yourself not as some corporate robot who is just churning out generic copy.  If I wanted generic, I would go the the library, or read ‘The Secret” or something.  Be you – the writer – someone who is human and genuine and nice and dazzlingly witty (my head is swelling…)  Oh and one thing that I have learned is to put on an actionable step at the end of the post.  Not actionable as in ‘buy my book – it’s awesome’ or ‘pick up the phone and call me now.”  An actionable step is something that your reader can do or think about after they have got to the end of the post.

Then create some tabs and categories on the sidebar. I am still getting my head around tags so I will keep you posted on that.. Stick in some links by using the link icon at the top of the page and press publish.  I will talk about widgets later this week as I am currently navigating this learning process myself and even heard a whisper that widgets were easy to create yourself – What???  Do I sense another 3 hour “20 minute ” session a-brewing….  That’s enough.  I’m off for another cuppa – biscuit tin, watch out – I am heading your way!

Your actionable step today is to set a three hour window aside for the creation of your WordPress blog.  Be prepared for frustration and keep calm and carry on.  Oh and you could leave a comment below if you have some insights or questions – I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Over and out.  Gotta dash

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