Here’s the thing: I’ve been running Web sites and digital publications since (*cough*) Clinton was President and because of that, I usually don’t talk about them in my writerly world. But I’ve seen a few posts about author Web sites recently (including this great one from Kathleen Ortiz) and I thought it was time to cross the line. So here it is, Holly’s condensed tips on creating a digital media strategy:
1) Yes, you need a Web site and it needs to link from your domain name – yourname.com. If you can’t get yourname.com, get something really close like yournamebooks.com or yournameauthor.com. Whatever it is, register it and keep it registered. And EVERY SINGLE TIME you send out information about yourself, use it. Post it on your Twitter profile, your Facebook profile, your Goodreads profile, your signature. Heck, put it on a bumper stick and t-shirts if you want. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE of your online brand. Use it. Don’t lose it. And please don’t panic if you don’t know how to do this. There are sites like rebel.com that cost $10/dn/yr and they are very easy to use.
2) You must have one Web site and ONLY one Web site. I know some people might hate me for this one, but I’m sorry, it’s true. Having multiple Web sites under the same brand is probably the number one usability mistake I see. There needs to be one place where people can go to find out everything about you. If they have to go to two Web sites with different looks and navigations, they’ll either a) get confused and annoyed, or b) (and this is more likely) they will pick the one they like the best and ignore the other one. And if they do, they’re missing whatever it is you’re putting on the one they are ignoring.
3) One of the other mistakes I often see is the missing mission statement and by that, I mean the answer to “who the hell are you?” NEVER assume people know who you are. I don’t care if you are J.K. Rowling, your Web site needs to say that you’re an author and it shouldn’t be buried somewhere in a blog post from 2007.
4) It will significantly improve your brand if you post a professional photo on your Web site, but only if you use the same photo everywhere and NEVER CHANGE IT. When you’re a person, you don’t have a logo like Nike so your face becomes your logo. If your picture keeps changing, people will no longer associate it with your name, which means they might not recognize you when they see your face on your book jacket.
5) There are MANY ways to get a Web site for little to no cost and to be perfectly honest with you, most of them are as good as what you’ll get from a reasonably-priced Web designer or host. I don’t mean to insult Web designers here (I have some very nice ones that work for me!) but unless you are going to spend a bomb to get a design that screams YOU, I don’t see the point, especially when you’re starting out. You can get free or cheap designs for WordPress and Blogger and many look as good as, or even better than, what you might get if you spent 5K on something custom. This is not to say you can’t get something nice from a Web designer. I’m just saying that, maybe, your 5K would be better spent elsewhere.
6) Finally, remember that, like your face, your name is also your brand. If you’re going to get out there in social media world, ALWAYS use the same name you’re using to write under. Use it on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads and use it every time you comment on someone else’s posts. If you take only one thing away from this post, it should be that the whole point of a digital media strategy is this:
YOUR NAME + YOUR FACE = RECOGNITION
Okay, that’s it. I apologize if this is abrupt (it’s kinda of hard to put 15 years experience into one blog post). I will happily answer any questions in the comments or via email at holly[AT]hollybodger.com.