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Branding & Marketing for Writers, Roanoke Writer's Conference

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Branding & Marketing for Writers, Roanoke Writer's Conference

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This is a quick deck I put together for writers and other creatives who want to start digital marketing for their personal brand and brilliant work. It was presented at the Roanoke Writers' Conference on Oct. 6, 2018. Great event and I look forward to seeing it grow.

For a link to all my notes, please visit my site at storytellingforsuccess.blog -- and thanks for reading!

This is a quick deck I put together for writers and other creatives who want to start digital marketing for their personal brand and brilliant work. It was presented at the Roanoke Writers' Conference on Oct. 6, 2018. Great event and I look forward to seeing it grow.

For a link to all my notes, please visit my site at storytellingforsuccess.blog -- and thanks for reading!

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Branding & Marketing for Writers, Roanoke Writer's Conference

  1. 1. BRANDING & MARKETING 101 You’re a business, man. @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG
  2. 2. HOW’S YOUR HUSTLE? Jaldskfalsdkjfalkdjsf I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man. Lemme handle my business, Damn. -- Jay-Z Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix) @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG
  3. 3. @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG
  4. 4. SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG Brand is a Noun ● You’re a person ● You have a style ● You have ideas Marketing is a Verb ● What you’re doing ● When and where ● Also the why Both your brand and your marketing are dependent on the one word writers hate above all others...
  5. 5. @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG CONSISTENCY
  6. 6. @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG CONSISTENCY Voice, Visuals & Video
  7. 7. @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG CONSISTENCY Voice, Visuals & Video
  8. 8. BRAND MOJO: VOICE @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG Standardize dates, times, and addresses: This is an easy way to look polished. Standardize headers in blogs/social posts: Pick either sentence or headline case. Hashtag responsibly: Use conference hashtags and tag for engagement.
  9. 9. @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG WHO’S #ON #TWITTER #WRITING #TODAY? GO AHEAD AND #TWINKLE YOU #CRAZY #DIAMONDS! #AMWRITING #AMEDITING #WRITERLIFE #COFFEE #LOL
  10. 10. BRAND MOJO: VISUALS @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG Fonts: You need a sans-serif and a serif that work together. Color: You think Coke uses any old red? Neither should you. Images: Stick with one filter. Check out Canva and WordSwag.
  11. 11. @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG ● Cityscapes ● Flames ● Rain ● Clouds ● Your desk ● Your shelves ● Your ukulele ● Your cat ● Your neighbor’s cat
  12. 12. @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG ?
  13. 13. @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG ?Your Blog & Your Social Channels
  14. 14. MARKETING MOJO: BLOG @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG Site: I dig WordPress but YMMV. Posting: Ideally? Once a week/every other. More if’n you like. Variation: Different types of posts keep things from calcifying.
  15. 15. MARKETING MOJO: SOCIAL @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG Holy SHIT there are SO MANY PLATFORMS: I know. It’s okay. You don’t have to do them all. No, but seriously, SO MANY: Chill. Do two. That’s it. And if that’s too much, stop. B-but...SO MANY...I don’t know which ones...: Choose platforms based on audience and effort.
  16. 16. LINKEDIN @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG ● LOL NO
  17. 17. TWITTER @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG ● Skews older; good for nerds/genre fiction ● Lots of brands and marketers ● Shows when trends hit the mainstream ● Pretty high effort ● No more than 2-3 tags per tweet ● Cadence: 3-5 times daily (or more if you’re chatting)
  18. 18. INSTAGRAM @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG ● Skews younger ● Influencer-heavy ● Great for visuals ● Medium effort ● As many tags as you want! Go nuts! ● Cadence: 3-5 times weekly
  19. 19. FACEBOOK @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG ● Skews older ● Unkillable social media zombie ● Organic reach is dead ● Pretty high effort (pay to play) ● Tagging hardly used at all ● Cadence: 3-5 times weekly
  20. 20. SNAPCHAT @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG ● Skews younger ● Possibly doomed? ● Reach is wonky/mostly paid ● Medium effort ● Tags for people, not topics ● Cadence: 4-5 times weekly
  21. 21. MEDIUM @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG ● Terrible idea (unless you’re a Thought Leader™) ● No, really, what are you doing? ● This is why you have a blog! ● Zero effort because you’re not doing it ● Don’t bother tagging ● Cadence: 0 times never
  22. 22. @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG BUFFER
  23. 23. FEELING OVERWHELMED? Jaldskfalsdkjfalkdjsf @EDITRIX_STEPH STORYTELLINGFORSUCCESS.BLOG Real G’s move in silence like lasagna. -- Lil Wayne 6 Foot 7 Foot

Editor's Notes

  • Roanoke Writers Conference, Oct. 5-6, 2018
  • On 2005’s Late Registration album, Kanye included a remix of Diamonds from Sierra Leone featuring a verse from Jay-Z. Jay’s said a lot of interesting things over the years, but this is the crux for writers: You are a small business. And most businesses need both branding and marketing.

    I say “most” because there are many writers who are successful without doing much in the way of digital mojo at all. And I also say “most” because it is entirely your choice how many or how few of these strategies you wish to employ.
  • A lot of creatives resent this idea. And I get it. You are not a number! You’re a free man! But a brand doesn’t mean selling out, and marketing yourself doesn’t mean being creepy. Marketing in itself is value-neutral. Yeah, it can sell terrible stuff like cheap umbrellas that never go back in the little umbrella condom they came with, but it can also be used for good.

    One of the most impressive pieces of marketing I’ve ever seen was from the Canadian Lung Association. A single line of text in a tasteful serif font on an off-white background that just read, “For more information on lung cancer, keep smoking.”

    Let’s knock out a couple of definitions so we can get you started on that kind of marketing badassery.
  • To break it down to its most simple Lego-block pieces, branding is who you are and marketing is what you do to let people know it.

    Brand is a noun. You’re a person with a writing style and ideas about both storytelling and the world.

    Marketing is a verb. It’s telling the world what you’re doing, where and when you’ll be doing it, and why -- both why you bother writing and why they should bother reading.

    The key to both is the one word writers (and all creatives) may hate more than any other.
  • I know. I’m sorry. But if you’re going to have a brand, it needs to be yours and yours alone. So that means doing some stuff at the beginning and then keeping on doing that stuff. It’s like squats. If you stop, change radically, start and stop again, your brand is gonna sag.
  • Big brands like IBM and Coca-Cola and small local businesses like Interobang Books or Deep Ellum Art Co. standardize across three main aspects of presentation: Verbal, Visual, and Video.
  • (But we’re not screwing with video today. Not enough time, and it requires more effort and expense to begin. That barrier to entry is decreasing all the time, though, and maybe by next year we’ll be able to do a whole presentation on it.)
  • Now, you’re all writers, and it would be arrogant of me to assume you need help defining your voice. I’m not going to tell you what words to use or how to establish rhythm in your sentences or where to end paragraphs. I’m just going to blaze through these points quickly.

    Dates, Times, & Addresses: Standardizing this across all of your promotional writing is easy and sends a subconscious message that you have your poop grouped.

    Headers in Blogs or Social Posts: Sentence case or headline case? Both are dandy. Go to town. Just pick one and stick with it so, again, you’re communicating that you’re badass.

    Hashtags: Oy. Hashtags. If you’re sharing on social media during a conference, use their hashtag. So easy. For engagement you can also use tags like #amwriting, #amediting, #writing, etc. (Also, don’t be a #hashhole.)
  • If you tweet like this, you can’t come to my birthday party.
  • To generalize, this is the bit we as writers tend not to think about unless and until we’re confronted with a book cover or promo image that looks like reheated ass. And look, I am not a graphic designer. If you have there wherewithal to hire a designer to do great visuals for your Twitter banners or self-published anthology covers, go for it. If you don’t? Here’s the skinny.

    Fonts: I made this deck with Google Slides, which is a free PowerPoint clone available to anyone with a Google account. Slides “ships,” for lack of a better word, with somewhere around 45 fonts. How many have y’all seen from me today? Two. And those fonts are on my blog. And those fonts are on my resume. And those fonts are on my cover letters. And...yeah. Consistency. Montserrat and Times New Roman. Sans-serif for headers and headlines, serif for blocks of text. (Serifs are the sticky-outty bits that protrude off of the main trunk of a letter.)

    Color: I know it will shock you all, considering how rugged I am, but I’m fond of pink. I chose this particular pink because it’s hard to ignore, it isn’t all over the place as part of anyone else’s branding, and because I pulled it from a picture I took with the single greatest piece of personal branding tech in existence -- a cell phone. When I put this deck up on my blog, I’ll include some links to some of the tools I use, on this phone and off, to do things like pick colors and add text to images.
  • Images: Speaking of images, let’s get back to that picture. I took a bunch of shots one afternoon at the Dallas Arboretum. Roughly an hour wandering around someplace local and beautiful snapping shots of whatever I wanted. Now this pic is the header image on my blog. And my Twitter account. And my LinkedIn account. See where I’m going with this? And you can do this with a picture of damn near anything.

    Word of warning: If you use an app to take pics, like Hipstamatic or whatnot, you will be confronted with a metric buttload of filters and flashes and options. Go ahead and play with them! They’re awesome! I use all sorts of them for my personal stuff. But for the stuff that’s on brand? I use the same set every time.
  • So. Here you are. You’ve got all this stuff. You have a couple of fonts you like, you have a color or two you dig and enjoy together, you have some kickass images of alpacas frolicking in a meadow or whatever. Where should you put it? What should you do with it?
  • In my opinion, as a writer, you should have two main vectors under your control: Your blog and your social channels.

    Please remember: ALL of this is voluntary! If you only want to do one, or only do both sometimes, or want to say, “Hey, Steph, screw you pal,” and go live off the grid writing on strips of bark with ink you make from beetle guts, that is totally legit. I am not your mom. So don’t feel like the stuff we’re about to cover is holy writ. These are just best practices to keep in mind.
  • I recommend WordPress for a number of reasons. You can start for free, there’s a lot of cool stuff baked in like analytics that will tell you the best times and dates to post, and if you want to upgrade to your own domain they make it really easy. There are loads of templates to make your blog look snazzy and it is easy to upload images. Plus, there are more YouTube tutorials out there about WordPress than about other blogging platforms (and that right there is free education).

    By far the most frequent question I get is “How often should I post to my blog/Twitter/Instagram/Tumblr/MySpace…” I’m kidding. No one asks about MySpace. But when it comes to blog posts, keep a few things in mind:
    You want over 350 words in a post so Google doesn’t think it’s “thin content” and decide not to index it.
    Blogs with images on them get more engagement and more shares because we are basically primates.
    Blogging weekly is the ideal. Blogging every other week is still worth it. Scalzi blogs like eight times a day but he’s bonkers.
    I assume I don’t have to warn y’all about plagiarism. Do not make me regret that assumption.

    And don’t be afraid to mix it up. Varying your posts by length, topic, number of images, even time of day will help keep your blog from getting stale. I also suggest promoting your blog posts on your social channels at least twice, at different times of day and on different days. You can also remind people of older stuff as it becomes topical or interesting again.
  • There are roughly as many social platforms as there are mosquitos. Many of them are just as annoying. But you do not have to be all things to all people. So don’t sweat it. Choose the platforms that work best with what audience you’re trying to reach and how much effort you’re willing to put in.
  • LinkedIn:
    Unless you’re looking for journalistic or copywriting work, don’t bother.
  • Twitter:
    Skews older
    Lots of brands and marketers, still humans there for now
    Great for seeing trends hit the mainstream
    Pretty high effort
    No more than two or three tags per tweet
    Cadence: 3-5 times daily
  • Instagram:
    Skews younger
    Lots of influencer marketing but also still humans
    Brilliant for visuals; not so much for text, obviously
    Medium effort
    Stack all the tags you want on each post
    Cadence: 3-5 times weekly (or more if you’re at a conference with cool visuals)
  • Facebook:
    Skews older
    Social media zombie that will never die
    If you want reach, you will have to pay or boost posts
    Pretty high effort (because of said paying/boosting)
    Tagging...I mean, you can, but no one is really looking (except maybe during conferences)
    Cadence: 5-7 times weekly
  • Snapchat:
    Skews younger
    Possibly doomed?
    Getting to the point where reach is all paid
    Medium effort
    Tagging
    Cadence: 4-5 times weekly
  • Medium:
    Terrible idea
    No, really, what are you doing?
    This is why you have a blog
    Zero effort because you’re not doing it
    Cadence: 0 times never
  • See that? Thats’s large, friendly letters telling you not to panic. Buffer is a social media scheduling and analytics tool that at the free level allows you to link three accounts and bank 10 posts, which gives you a few days of set-it-and-forget-it social goodness. Upgrade to their Awesome Plan for $15/month (or $144/year saves you $36, y’all), and you can link eight profiles and bank up to 100 posts.

    There are other great services out there, too, like Hootsuite and Sendible, at various price points. And if you want to get into analytics, you can take free courses all over the place. Google has classes specifically for their tools, and Hubspot offers free inbound marketing classes.
  • I know this has been a lot. But if it gets too much, you don’t have to do it. Like Lil Wayne said, “Real G’s move in silence like lasagna.”

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