Most authors have a day job, and sometimes we’re lucky enough for that be writing-related. They say that the creative brain has the ability to be creative in multiple ways, and you’ll often find those who write also paint, act, sing, compose. In my case, I’m both a writer and graphic designer –and I do a lot of different types of writing.
But the audiences for those things are not the same.
In the design world, one of the most important ways to ensure a successful brand or identity campaign is protect your brand. That means making sure nothing competes with or dilutes your image or message. Examples of this might be using another logo alongside yours, or talking about another service or business while promoting your primary business.
It’s the same thing if you write technical material for a living while promoting your fiction. The audiences are different, and so is your conversation and message.
Of course, there are situations where combining your online presence (website, Twitter, Facebook) for all types of writing makes sense—or at least, isn’t detrimental to either business. And let’s face it – maintaining separate accounts for your different businesses could get exhausting.
But would it serve you better?
In my case, I had a situation that required some choices to be made. I’m a big soccer fan (or football as it’s called outside the U.S.) and this year I began writing articles for football sites. I also followed a lot of football supporters on Twitter, and they followed me back. When my favorite teams played matches and I happened to be on Twitter (and really, when am I not on Twitter?), I was a bit….well, exuberant. A completely un-scientific poll of some of my followers on Twitter said that no one cared about me tweeting with a million exclamation points about teams my fellow writers didn’t know or probably care about. But as time went on, I felt increasingly uncomfortable.
I was having two separate conversations with two separate audiences.
I thought about it for a few days. Setting up another twitter account would be easy enough to do, but how much time and energy would it require? Would it really matter that much?
Eventually, I decided it would matter. Twitter, of course, is for having conversations and engaging with others. That’s why it’s such a terrific way for anyone with a business to reach out to people. Building my profile as someone who can write reasonably well about European football is a different goal than being an author of women’s fiction. I wanted to have different conversations with the two audiences.
It sounds sort of crazy to separate out parts of yourself, but as it turns out, it wasn’t that hard. If you have multiple sides to your career, give some consideration to this idea. Here are some pointers:
I created a new Twitter account for the football. It is only semi-annoying to switch back and forth between accounts on my mobile devices—but the Twitter mobile client makes this fairly easy with just a click. It was even easier on the laptop through Tweetdeck, which allows you to view a bunch of accounts all at once. Is it a lot of noise? Yes. But in a way it was also much quieter, because each stream is devoted to its topic. I also found I was able to really focus my message because now my tweets were consistent for each account.
Make sure that if you operate a tandem twitter account that you are willing to switch between them and tweet in each when required – I also found it good practice to include my twitter handle for each account in my profile. So for writing/publishing, I’m @sierragodfrey and my profile includes, “football writing is @sierragfootball.” Likewise for the football account.
Yes, people look at this. Yes, it matters because you’ll catch the cross-over people this way—those interested in both sides of you.
For years, you couldn’t have multiple Facebook accounts, yet Facebook didn’t have a way for people to segment out their interests. This was especially problematic if you had a business or interest that you wanted to keep separate from all the pictures of your kids rocking out to music in their pajamas.
Now, Facebook lets you have fan pages for just about anything and you can switch between them with a single click—all on one screen. I have one for graphic design and one for me being a writer for posting all my published items. Those are in addition to my main (private) Facebook account where I put all the pictures of my kids.
Again, this is extra work, but setting up a separate page for your pig-farming business is going to ensure you can focus your marketing to bacon buyers, none of whom care that you write steamy erotic romance.
This is trickier, but I’ve seen this issue with a lot of authors: they have day jobs or other careers that they want to promote through their site, and yet want to promote their books. I also see that people probably wonder who in their right mind would have more than one website when it’s hard enough having one?
Again, it all comes down to focus and opportunity.
Whereas you can get away with diluting who you are on Twitter or Facebook, websites really must focus on one thing only in order to be effective and that’s because websites largely function as a billboard – visitors pass by and glean the purpose of the site in one go. If it captures their attention, they stay. Having one focus means a better chance of capturing attention.
Because my website is set up to house my published writing, I simply added a page that listed all my football articles to date. But…the site as a whole isn’t set up for that audience, and what would happen when I have a book to promote? What would happen when I want to interact with readers? My web traffic statistics showed that I was getting traction for the football writing. People wanted to see who I was. What would they make of my fiction writing? Would that be relevant to them? I decided it wouldn’t and that I needed a second site. Especially if I wanted to showcase my football journalism later in order to query other blogs.
This was easily done. Most web hosts allow you to have a free subdomain – so I added one: football.sierragodfrey.com. Simple, focused, and separate.
Now, if you’re not a graphic designer and can’t throw up a site in a day, then you’d have to pay for another site or at the least set up another template. There are a bunch of inexpensive options for this—Blogger or WordPress.com. But again, if you have two businesses, you really, truly, have to stop and think about marketing for yourself. The purpose of splitting out your sites serve is to better serve your audience. And what does that get you? Future opportunities.
I hope this discussion opens up possibilities for you that you might not have considered before. No solution is easy or simple – but then, neither are we with our varied talents.
Have you split out your interests or businesses? Or have you chosen to consolidate everything? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Sierra Godfrey writes fiction with international settings and most likely a mention of football (soccer) or two. She is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and a quarterly contributor to the Writers in the Storm. Her non-fiction essays have been featured on Maria Shriver’s Shriver Report and Architects of Change website, and in the anthology, Nothing But The Truth So Help Me God: 73 Women on Life’s Transitions (Nothing But the Truth Press, 2014). She writes for the football blogs Back Page Football and Retain Possession, and is also a freelance graphic designer. She lives in the foggy wastelands of the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.
Laura here - Sierra wouldn't dilute her brand by talking about her graphic design expertise here - but I can! We at WITS can vouch for that expertise; she designed our beautiful new website!
Come visit her at www.sierragodfrey.com (or, you know, football.sierragodfrey.com) or talk with her on Twitter @sierragodfrey (or, you know, @sierragfootball).