by Lisa Norman
One of the most common mistakes I see writers make with branding is to pull their punches. They have power. They have a unique take on life and story. But they also want everyone to like them.
15“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. 16So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth.Revelation 3:14–16
That’s a pretty strong quote. Just by using it in this article, I’ve elicited strong feelings either toward or against me. My spirituality is a part of my brand. If you don’t like it, you won’t like my books.
Think back to the marketing wheel I shared in a previous post. As a refresher, I refer to your website as a way that people decide if they like you and like your writing. If the website does its job and attracts people, they buy the book, join your email list, and then go on to recommend your book to others, getting the wheel spinning.
That’s what happens when you attract the right people, your superfans. But what happens if you attract the wrong people?
Let’s say you write steamy romance. Now, let’s say your website appeals to people who love all kinds of romance: sweet, steamy, everything. You’re out in the world, using social media, and you draw all kinds of romance lovers to your site.
What is going to happen when you attract a reader who loves sweet romance?
Let’s say your website and your online presence work so perfectly, this sweet-romance-loving reader picks up your book and … oh my!
You’ll get a less than stellar review.
That fan isn’t likely to do much to make that wheel turn.
You want to attract avid fans, people who will love you and turn that wheel.
Trying to please everyone results in a bland website that probably won’t attract anyone.
True fans want to know your quirks. They love you because of them. To quote Margie Lawson, “Quirky Sells!”
Let’s look at what happens when you attract the wrong people:
Specifically, your list can cost more to send and manage. A huge email list is great if it is full of your true fans. You’ll send out an email and you’ll sell books. That list will support itself.
If you have the wrong people on your list, you’ll pay more to send and maintain your newsletter while not getting a strong return on the investment. If your list is generating less than 10% engagement, you may be attracting the wrong people.
In addition, while modern web hosting gives us a generous allowance for traffic, if you have too much traffic your site will slow down and you may have to pay more for hosting. Again: fine if that traffic generates income. Not fun if people who think you are barely tolerable waste your traffic.
If you are ranking for topics that you aren’t a good fit for, people will come to your site and then hit the back button. This is called a “bounce.” When people bounce, search engines downgrade your website for that topic. You want your branding to be so on point, so clear, that search engines never rank you for terms that you are not appropriate for. You also want people to be able to see from the search engine results whether they want to click through to your site or not. Stop them before they come and they won’t bounce.
Trying to please everyone and offend no one creates a bland brand that is hard to define. Writers who are tied into their superfans sell more books. They know who they are as a writer and they devote their energies to pleasing those superfans. The fans reward them. Once your brand is muddled, you’re likely going to have fewer fans, and those that you have will be less dedicated, less passionate.
Remember: the goal of the website is to encourage people to buy, read, and review the book. If you attract the wrong people, people who aren’t your ideal readers, then you’ll pay for it in lower-star reviews. Don’t be afraid to turn off some people. Your true fans will love you for it!
Think about the authors you love. What draws you to their brand?
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Lisa Norman's passion has been writing since she could hold a pencil. While that is a cliché, she is unique in that her first novel was written on gum wrappers. As a young woman, she learned to program and discovered she has a talent for helping people and computers learn to work together and play nice. When she's not playing with her daughter, writing, or designing for the web, she can be found wandering the local beaches.
Lisa writes as Deleyna Marr and is the owner of Deleyna's Dynamic Designs, a web development company focused on helping writers, and Heart Ally Books, an indie publishing firm. She teaches for Lawson Writer's Academy.
Interested in learning more from Lisa? See her teaching schedule below.
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