This month we're looking at another way that authors can improve their online platforms and get a fresh start in the new year. Today, our focus is on streamlining the many online bios we all have.
Over the holidays, my wife and I went to a party where there were a lot of kids. At one point, a man dressed as Santa came out and surprised the kids with gifts. Half an hour later, I was getting a cookie at the snack table, and a man I'd met earlier with glasses and black hair grabbed a cookie of his own and said, "Wow, that was great fun!" I blinked at him for a few seconds before I realized what he meant…he had been dressed as Santa Claus, but I didn't recognize him and make the connection.
Does this ever happen to you on social media? If you're like a lot of authors, you've got a personal website, a Twitter profile, a Facebook fan page, an Amazon author page, and who knows how many other profiles on sites like Goodreads, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, etc. If you're even more like a lot of those authors, the photos and descriptions on those different sites are not all the same—but they should be!
In a fragmented online environment, it's important to present the same personal brand across networks.
Streamlining Your Online Bios
- Research. Figure out which photos and bio text you have on which sites. Create a simple spreadsheet to track which bio photo you use on each profile, then copy/paste the bio text from each profile into the spreadsheet. It will be tempting to start replacing photos or retyping bios as you go, but don't do it. It's too easy to get bogged down rewriting that bio on the spot or getting frustrated by the photo upload process. Just log them all first, then come back and change them once you've decided on which photo and bio version you want to use.
- Photos. Now that you know what you have, it's time to choose what you want. Select one bio photo that you want to use on all of your social networks. For some tips on what makes a good online bio photo, read this ClickinMoms article and make sure all of your online profiles use the same image. It's normal to have some old photos floating around on networks you don't use much, or attached to an old email account. It's worth it to dig in and make sure you consistently use the same photo on every network.
- Bio Text. This may take a little longer, but it's well worth it. Readers could first encounter you via any of your online profiles, and you want those readers to get the same impression of you no matter which site they’re on. Distill your online bio into 2 or 3 sentences and use it consistently across all networks, then go back to each network and paste in your new master bio. When there is a constraint on how much you can write, for example on Twitter, choose keywords that convey what is most important to your personal brand.
(This post is the second in a series of three devoted to platform development in the new year. Look for the next installment in March!)
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All of us at Greenleaf Book Group send congratulations and best wishes to our authors who have books launching in February.
Game the Plan by Christopher Cabrera
Optimal Living 360 by Sanjay Jain, M.D., M.B.A.
The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet by Joe Cross
Your Vibrant Heart by Cynthia Thaik, M.D.
Reversing the Senses by Martin Hubbard
The Giving Prescription by Courtney Clark
Wellness to the Core by Dr. Jason Sonners
Integrative Nutrition by Joshua Rosenthal
Ask More, Get More by Michael Alden
Ward Allen: Savannah River Market Hunter by Jack Cay, Jr.
The Last Akaway by Gary Karton
Rhythm by Patrick Thean
StoryBranding 2.0 by Jim Signorelli
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Amidst the clamor of new and recycled ideas that make up the current book market, making your voice heard above all the noise can be difficult. Losing your voice in the clutter can also present real obstacles to your author brand, which means that marketing your book is more important than ever before. Finding the best influencers to help promote your book by offering honest, constructive feedback is an essential part of this marketing process. So…how do you find these people?
The first question, of course, is how do you identify your best influencers? There is no cut-and-dried answer to this question, as every individual author platform requires its own tailored circle of influencers based on project goals and brand vision; however, the best place to start is by selecting influencers who already have a strong following and a loyal audience, also known as a platform. These individuals are experts in their fields who have garnered a fan base across a variety of social media outlets, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and blogs that they use as a platform to launch and spread their ideas. Just as their name suggests, these people have the unique ability to influence your intended audience because they already have command over some portion of the market. If they have already effectively captivated an audience, their endorsement is a great starting point to help you launch your unique ideas out into the world.
If it’s important that you spread your ideas far and wide, as is the case for most author brands, selecting influencers from a variety of sectors is essential. Although you may be inclined to focus all your efforts on one audience, for example academia, expanding your outreach to other arenas like the corporate or government sectors allows your ideas to reach new audiences who may benefit from your expertise. This process not only furthers the spread of your ideas but may offer you, as an author, insight into the future of your brand.
All that being said, it’s also crucial to remember that not all of the influencers in your circle will always agree with or endorse your ideas, and that’s okay! Your critics may often be your allies, as they can add credibility to your ideas and your brand as a whole. Your vision as an author is just that, your vision, so don’t be discouraged by constructive criticism.
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Ah, the first month of the new year. There's that crisp morning air, the sense that everything is starting fresh, and, of course, the chance to make a resolution. A lot of authors we know resolve something like, "I'm going to write more." And that's great—more books make us happy! But, from one book geek on the couch with a tin full of Christmas cookie crumbles and a carton of eggnog to another, it's not enough. One of your resolutions needs to be:
"In 2014, I will develop my author platform."
In the coming weeks, we'll be looking at different ways you can do that. Today, let's talk about shipping.
Stop Talking… Ship!
But wait, you say, this post is about online platform development—like blogging and social media and stuff, right? Yes, it is. But the backbone of any platform, and the purpose of having that platform in the first place, is the actual work you create.
In the new year, we all make lists of the new projects we plan to start. But before you start too many new projects, take some of that refreshed energy you have after the holidays and commit to finishing the most important one.
1. Take Inventory. Write down all of the projects, big and small, that you're working on right now or were working on over the last few months of 2013. Not the novel you've been working on for years, but the shorter projects you were making progress on—the meaningful blog post you know your readers will love, the new story you've been playing with, the eBook you've been endlessly drafting, the supplemental videos or worksheets for your book, or maybe that email newsletter you've been meaning to send out.
2. Choose. Pick one of them that you can finish in a month, or even by the end of this week. The key in this step is to narrow the list down to just one thing. That's your focus. Make sure it's a project you can prioritize and one that you'll be psyched to finish. You will ship it in February.
3. Finish it. Do what you need to do to make it happen. There are many potential reasons why you didn't finish this project last year. If your big demon is fear of failure, read Seth Godin on dealing with resistance. If it's time management, Zen Habits has a great post on some simple-but-effective approaches. If it's productivity in general, check out this list of the 20 best productivity apps from last year.
4. Ship It! Get it out to your readers. Imagine the boost to your online author platform if you start the year off by sending everyone something that's complete rather than sending them a list of what you're thinking about starting to work on.
(This post is the first in a series of three devoted to platform development in the new year. Look for the next installment in February!)
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How are you gauging the value of your LinkedIn experience? By the number of your connections? How many people view your profile each week? The frequency of your updates? Or maybe you’re waiting for your “profile strength” indicator to creep up to All-Star status? By no means are these meaningless metrics—it’s just that they’re data points, not relationships, and building relationships is where you’ll discover the real value of LinkedIn.
Here are just a few ways to get the conversation going:
- Ask for Recommendations – No, not the professional endorsements related to your stellar performance. Rather, consider asking the people in your network for hotel or restaurant recommendations the next time you’re faced with business travel to a new city. (Although, for privacy and security reasons, I’d not publicly broadcast your travel dates.) Need a web developer, an illustrator, a great creative team, or a rock-star publicist—ask your contacts. Not comfortable posting an inquiry to your entire network? Simply sort your contacts by location, company, or title and send messages to just the folks on those lists. When your contacts respond with recommendations, offer to discuss over coffee or lunch—it’s a great way to catch up!
- Share the Media Spotlight – Use Google Alerts or Newsle to keep track of when your close contacts or significant clients are mentioned in the media, then post a congratulatory update and a link to the coverage. Use the @ sign to highlight your contact’s name and then select how broadly you’d like to share the post—publicly, with your LinkedIn connections and Twitter followers, or with just your LinkedIn network. In most cases, the person whose media coverage you’ve highlighted will respond with a thank you and that’s a perfect opportunity to schedule an in-person meeting—another great way to keep in touch!
- Celebrate a Milestone – I’m sure you notice when business associates, former colleagues, and current clients post updates related to new jobs and promotions. While it may be tempting to just click the “like” button, take a few moments to send a handwritten card with a brief congratulatory message. The recipient will appreciate your thoughtfulness—and it’s another great way to create a meaningful connection.
LinkedIn is tremendously valuable in helping busy professionals maintain a constant stream of information and updates about contacts in their network but, to really use it to your advantage, do what most people don’t. Take the conversation offline to build stronger business partnerships with your online connections.