Why Branding Confuses You and How To Fix That Right Now

Rachel Thompson
Oct 1, 2019 · 11 min read

What author branding is and what it’s not isn’t clear to most writers. It’s not that complicated! Here I break it all down with specific examples just for you.

What Do You Think Branding Is?

In talking with writers and bloggers, I asked them what they think author branding means. Here are some responses:

I think you’ll agree with me when I say what branding is and what it’s not is not clear at all to most writers (it wasn’t to me when I first started out, either). I promise you, it’s not that complicated! There is an easier way.

Here’s what I have in store for you right now:

“Everyone is not your customer” ~ Seth Godin

What branding is:

Do you notice one word that is missing from every one of those bullet points? I’ll wait.

BOOKS.

Branding is not (solely) about your books. I know, right? Weird.

What branding is not:

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Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

Practical Branding Tips

So far, branding may still seem fairly nebulous and confusing, or a buzzword Mad Men came up with back in the 1950s (or the ever-present tired joke about cattle). I’m going to use my author account, RachelintheOC, as a case study here so you can see my branding in action. I’ll also mention other authors who are kickin’ it, so you can see their branding in action as well.

We’ll use:

If you’re still kinda foggy, here’s another simple, great definition: branding is strategic. marketing is tactical.

Keywords/KeyPhrases

You may ‘just want to write,’ but I challenge that notion. Writing is great, which is why we’re authors, but don’t you want people to read what you’ve written? Don’t you want to make people think? Feel an emotion? Incite them to act?

What I recommend, when working with authors, aspiring or veteran, is to identify 5–6 interests, topics you are passionate or excited about in real life and make those your keywords/phrases.

Think of it this way: if you’re at a dinner party and looking for discussion topics, what are your go-to subjects? Not small talk; I mean the meaty stuff you know about, are an expert in, topics you want everyone to know about? Climate change, cookie baking, pet rescue, woodworking, sewing, sports, cars, cats, movies, etc.

Know how you create bonds quickly with people you’ve just met? It’s by hitting on common bonds of interest.

This is how you build relationships.

(Caution: even though it’s just about impossible right now, avoid discussing politics and religion unless you’re a well-known expert, you have well-established keywords/keyphrases and an author platform directly related to politics and religion, and you have already established your branding through your writing and social media on these topics.)

Why do I say this? It seems obvious but it’s not because writers have voices and we want to use them (believe me, I’m no exception): you risk alienating readers, book bloggers, and book reviewers — particularly on Facebook where people write novels about their opinions on politics.) If you’re OKAY with that, cool.

These keywords/phrases will change and are not set in stone, as you change and grow as a person and writer. However, set up your 5–6 to start (and pick 3–4 as ‘back-up’ keywords/phrases — topics you may not discuss all the time but still round you out as a person).

Another tip: think like the reader you are. You use Google all the time — what do you search for when you want to find a book? Then those are the words and phrases you want to apply to yourself.

My keywords/phrases for my author account are as follows:

I also have ‘back-up’ keywords/phrases which are more fun and less serious. These are:

This sets expectations for readers. They know whether they come to my blog, social media, read a quote or an article I’ve shared, it will consistently be about one of these topics.

Visuals

Here are two of my book covers and my current social media header. This header is consistent on ALL of my RachelintheOC social media. My book covers all have red. That is my signature. My Broken books have the same font, and my author name is at the bottom in a band of red.

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(Source: Rachel Thompson)

Blog Posts

If you head over to my RachelintheOC blog, you’ll see that my overall blog topic theme is Real Life. This goes for my blog posts as well as guests. Topics range from sexual abuse to relationships to mental health to women’s issues to survival and PTSD, etc. Again, all within my branding.

Articles

What do we share once we figure out our keywords and keyphrases? This is the easy and fun part! We can’t possibly create original content constantly or our brains would implode (or is that explode?).

What to do? How do we find relevant, timely, interesting content that fits within our branding?

There are honestly hundreds of options to find great content, but I’m going to share what I use. *Note: These are not affiliated links and I receive no monetary compensation if you sign up for services. I’m not responsible if you do sign up and find the service unsatisfactory.

Tip: If you use a social media management tool like Hootsuite or Buffer (both are great!), you can import these apps to pull the articles and schedule in a snap, and then it’s all in one place.

Social Media Examples

I typically share four types of social media posts:

Here’s an example of each:

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(Source: Rachel Thompson)
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(Source: CoSchedule)

For Twitter: This is the Reason Writing Your Story Helps you Thrive http://ow.ly/AqCY30a1FbR by @RachelintheOC #SexAbuse #survivor

For Facebook, Linked In, and others: This is the Reason Writing Your Story Helps you Thrive http://ow.ly/AqCY30a1FbR by Rachel Thompson, Author #SexAbuse #survivor

Lovely and wise: On #Loss: Beautiful Letters of Consolation from Great Artists, Writers, and Scientists http://ow.ly/IVYh309U1oV via @brainpicker

Women Who Write: #Female Editors-in-Chief You Need to Know via @MAKERSwomen http://ow.ly/bUPq309XjHk #writing

5-star @ReadersFavorite The @BadRedheadMedia 30-Day #BookMarketing Challenge https://geni.us/30DayBkMktgChlgeBook #Amazon, just $4.99! “Get this book!” #BookMarketing #WritingCommunity 📚

Beyond these four types of posts, I also share humor, trending topics, and questions. People LOVE questions — ask people to give their opinion on something and they will typically jump on in. Put some thought into it. Example: Recently, I asked folks what word they have unknowingly mispronounced their entire lives. Lots of interaction. Don’t be afraid to be imperfect and have fun!

Avatar

It’s most important that you use your face in your avatar. Why? Humans are funny creatures. We start recognizing faces as babies. Notice how you can remember someone’s face, even if their name slips your mind? If we can’t associate a face with a name, we are immediately uncomfortable on an instinctual level.

A few other key points here:

Bios

Every social media channel gives you space for your bio (most are 155–160 characters including spaces). I go into specifics in my BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge, so I won’t do it here, but there are a few key points to remember that hold true no matter which channel you’re on:

Here’s my author Twitter bio. You can see that I use hashtags for author, survivor, and a few of the chats I founded (remember, they hyperlink):

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(Source: Rachel Thompson via Twitter)

As you can see, all of this works together across my entire platform to create a seamless picture, if you will, of what interests me, what I’m passionate about, what I want to share with people, what connects me to others, and yes, what I write about. My branding is not difficult because I’m already writing about it (blogging, articles, guest posts, and my books), and that carries over to social media.

Branding Examples

Here are some other authors whose author branding is spot-on:

Sacha Black:

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(Source: Sacha Black via Twitter)

SugarBeatBC (Barb Drozdowich, Author):

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(Source: Barb Drozdowich via Twitter)

A Final Word

Branding isn’t brain surgery. Find your voice, be consistent, and be authentic. We spend our whole lives ‘finding ourselves,’ and all that. Now that you have a chance to truly express yourself, don’t run from it — rock this shit.

The key to building relationships on social media is being generous — so retweet/share, comment, like, interact, and provide interesting content that’s not all about you all the time. Whether you ascribe to the 80/20 Rule or 30/30/30 or no rule at all, remember to mix it up, give back more than you take, and keep writing great books.

***

Connect with Rachel on her personal site at RachelintheOC.com or on her business site at BadRedheadMedia.com, Twitter at @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia, Instagram, Facebook, and join her free weekly #SexAbuseChat on Twitter every Tuesday 6pm pst/9pm est or #BookMarketingChat on Twitter every Wednesday 6 pm pst/9 pm est (just use the hashtag to join).

Want an insider peek at her writing and other marketing projects? Join her street team!

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Rachel Thompson

Written by

Author, 6 books. Writer: The Every Day Novelist, PS I Love You, Ninja Writers Pub, Writing Coop. Assault survivor/advocate. Marketer http://BadRedheadMedia.com

The Every Day Novelist

An Experiment in Reading + Writing

Rachel Thompson

Written by

Author, 6 books. Writer: The Every Day Novelist, PS I Love You, Ninja Writers Pub, Writing Coop. Assault survivor/advocate. Marketer http://BadRedheadMedia.com

The Every Day Novelist

An Experiment in Reading + Writing

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