What is an author brand? Why is it important for you to start building one, even though you might not even be published yet?
Hello, my name is Natalie, and this is episode four of A Year of Writing, podcast about productivity writing and marketing. In today’s episode, we’re going to go through:
- What an author brand is.
- Why you should start building one, even though you might not even be published yet.
- Different ways to build an author brand.
- And we’re going to talk about strategy.
So let’s start with what an author brand is. An author brand is your identity, the picture of yourself that you present to the world. You may think that, but I’m just going to be myself and that’s fine but the truth is that you’re not going to share everything about yourself with the world. When choosing what you share with the world, you’re already presenting a picture of yourself. An author brand is the way you present yourself online as a writer. This includes the photos you share, the way you write, the cover art on your book or the fonts you use. Everything combined is your author brand. And there are some people that confuse an author branding with a boring corporate brand manual. It’s not really the same thing, because an Author brand is, in essence, the personality that you you choose to show to the world. It will help you sell more books and it will help you create an authentic marketing material. Your Author brand will evolve over time. It is important that you start building one as soon as you decide to become a writer.
This brings us to the next topic: Why you should start building an author brand today, even if you’re not published.
I started building my author brand some time before getting published. I decided to make my Instagram a writer/author account. I started sharing things with in my author niche, instead of just posting random stuff from my everyday life. And the reason why I did this is because I wanted to connect with more writers out there. I wanted to feel inspired and be a part of this amazing writer community that’s out there. This also led to people finding whom want to read my book now that I’m a published author.
If you start building your author brand, as soon as you know that you want to write, you will be able to connect with people and they will like you for who you are. And if they like you, they’re more inclined to buy books from you later. This is also a way for you to build real relationships and real connections with your readers.
How can you build an author brand?
There is social media. And as some of you know by now, this is one of my favorite channels to build my author brand. Why?
- Because it’s easy
- Because it’s free
- Because a lot of other writers are out there on social media.
I love creating. I like taking photos, I love creating short form videos. That’s why Instagram Reels, TikTok and YouTube Shorts are a great way for me to build an audience and connect with new people – both readers and other the writers.
I have been working on my accounts for quite some time and I’ve learned a thing or two about what to do to get your channels to grow. The first thing that you want to do if you want more followers on social media is to pick a niche. Preferably a niche that’s somehow connected to writing.
Maybe it’s your writer journey or maybe you want to be a part of bookstagram or booktok. Maybe you want to talk about the ups and downs of writing, I don’t know. But pick a niche and stick to it. You can’t go around and post random things and think that people that don’t know you are interested in what your dog ate for dinner. Maybe they will be later when they get to know you, but not before.
If you want to grow to say, 10,000 followers, you need to have a niche and you need to stay focused within that niche. Because for a stranger to follow you, you have to somehow inspire them or talk about something that they’re interested in. To be frank, no one is interested in random people’s everyday life. But they may be interested in a niche.
It will also help you with the next stage of building a social media presence. Which is creating content buckets. I’m not sure if this is something I learned from growth marketing? But a content bucket is ideas that fit within your niche. So let’s say you have your journey to becoming a published author as your niche. One content bucket could be books on writing. Another content bucket could be author memes, funny things that only authors writers will understand. A third content bucket could be writing stages. And one could be authors or writers that inspire you.
Once you have chosen a few themes or content buckets, go onto that platform and look at what other people are doing in this niche and in those content buckets. What are other people talking about when it comes to author memes? Save inspiring ones into a folder within the app and see if you can either get inspired by them or recreate the same thing.
Look at what other people are doing, especially what other successful people within that platform, within your niche and learn from them. I do this all the time. Whenever I see something that I like that’s within any one of my content buckets, I’ll save it into the app, and then maybe I’ll recreate it in my own style. This has helped me to go from, I don’t know, 500 followers to now almost 1500. It’s not that much, but a lot more than when I started. It makes me so grateful that other people are actually interested in what I have to say on social media.
Tip number three to succeed on social media is to engage with other people within your niche or within surrounding niches. Let’s say once more that if you have the niche of the writers journey. Go in and comment on other writers posts and comment on bookstagrammers posts. If there are book accounts that you like and that talk about great books that you like, comment and make sure to connect to that account, Because then one day, when you launch a book, maybe they’ll be able to review your book. If they review your book, you’ll get exposure within their audience and show to the people that are following them.
And once you’re a published author, it’s important that you do not only talk about your book. Why do I say this? Because I’ve seen this a lot on both Instagram and TikTok, that once a writer has become published, all they want to do is share posts about their book. All they try to do is sell, sell, sell. And the thing is, okay, yeah, you launched a book. I get it. You’re super happy. But I don’t want all the people that I follow to only share posts about their books and try to promote themselves. I want to know them. I want to be inspired by them.
Don’t make that mistake, because people will unfollow you, and you will seem quite unprofessional. But there are some ways to get around this. If you have published your book and you want to talk about you can post about your book without being too much of a seller. You can talk about stuff that are related to the book. Maybe you make videos or take photos of places that you visited during the research phase of the book. Or places that are in the book. You can present your characters, or, I don’t know, do funny things related to the book without saying: Hey, come and buy my book. Does that make sense?
And the last advice I’m going to give you on social media is to publish regularly. As often as you can. I would say if you’re serious about growing your Instagram or TikTok, you should publish something every day. And this may seem like a lot, but you can schedule reels, ordinary posts, carousels, whatever. You can even, with help from other programs, schedule stories.
Another thing you can do to create an author brand is to get your own website. Why should you have a website? Because you want to control some of the narrative of what shows up when people Google you. You want that traffic. And also, once you’re published, it’s good to have a press kit ready, some photos and interview questions, some way for journalists to get in contact with you.
But just having a website in itself that never gets updated is honestly quite boring. So I do recommend also having a blog or an article series that you post regularly. And it can be a blog about writing. You might blog about your writing process. Maybe you blog about things you’ve learned. It is a great way for new people to find you, and it also makes you more of an authority and an expert within your subject. So create a website. How often should you post on your website? Well, that depends… but I would say that the more you’re able to publish, the better. I try to publish once a week on my blog. But I know that it can be a hustle finding the time to create everything.
So I just told you I post on social media every day and I post on my blog once a week. I also have a podcast that is released ever second week. How do I manage to create all of this content? Well, I actually batch create content. I usually create content on the weekends. I will film short form videos for TikTok and Instagram reels and batch create blog posts. Sometimes I’ll write four articles in a row and schedule them.
I do the same thing with podcasts. Actually, I batch write a bunch of scripts for podcasts first, then I film a bunch of them as videos. I’m not sure that I’m going to be able to film every weekend, so it’s better for me to create content in advance. I want to be able to make plans with my partner and with my friends and with my family. That is why batch creating is a great way for you to free up time and for you not to feel stressed when it comes to building your author brand and growing your following.
Another thing you can do is of course to start a podcast. I think the podcasting is a great way for you both to reach potential readers, but it’s also a great way to connect with other writers. I started in this podcast because I wanted to challenge myself to learn something new. And it’s a great way for me to continuously learn more about the art of writing. For every one of these episodes, I have to do a bunch of research. I have to write a scrips before filming it, and then I both do the audio and video versions of the podcast. This means that I get more comfortable talking English. It’s not my native tung, as you may have guessed. It also makes me a lot more comfortable in front of the camera. And I think that one day might lead to me becoming a better public speaker. Because once I sit down and edit both the video and the audio, I hear the way I talk, and I learn to become a better public speaker. It also helps me become a better storyteller.
And last but not least, I want to talk a little bit about strategy. So, strategy for author branding is about knowing who your target audience is. You need to figure out what the target audience for your books are. You also have to figure out who the target audience is for your Instagram. What’s your target audience for your website? What’s target audience for your podcast? Are they one in the same or are they different audiences? And once you’ve figured out who your target audience is, you should start looking at your competition. What does other creators offers within your niche? What do they do to succeed on social media? How do they present themselves on their website? What kind of strengths and weaknesses do they have? And what can you learn from them?
Another thing you should think about is the current state of the market. Are there any influences or trends that will affect your readers or that will affect the authorship in general? An example could be AI. How will that affect authors in the future? Well, of course, we don’t know yet, but we do know that it will affect us somehow. Think about that one. And just a reminder here that once you look at the people within your niche that are really successful and that reaches out to your target audience – feel free to get inspired by them, but don’t copy them. Don’t try to be someone that you’re not because people will see you through it. You have to be your authentic self. Because otherwise you won’t find the right readers.
Last but not least, you should create a brand strategy. This means a logotype, brand color, choose what fonts you use and all of this should be reflected on all your platforms. Let’s say you have a website and social media. Use these brand colors of both. This is important because once you’re starting to grow, people will find you or meet you through different platforms. Someone might may find you from ads. Another one might find your blog first or might find your podcast. Someone else will find you on social media. And independently on where they find you the next time they bump into you, they should be able to recognise that you’re you. If you have a brand manual and hold everything together, people will be able to recognize you. And this will also help with the way that people associate with you and it will help build trust between you and your readers.
With branding, you can also decide: Do I want to be a writer and an editor? Do I want to be a bookstagrammer and writer? Who do I want to be? How do I present myself?
To conclude this episode, yes, building an author brand is very important. Doesn’t matter if you have published a book or not yet, you should still will start building your author brand. In the end, it will help you to sell more books. If you like this episode, please subscribe to it and share it on social media. My name is Natalie. Thank you so much for listening.