This week I’m trying something new– a guest post! The following was written by branding expert Andrew Wise, who asked if he could share some words of wisdom with aspiring and published authors who read my blog. I thought that might be fun, so here’s what he had to say:
Are These Personal Branding Mistakes Costing You Readers?
As an author, your brand is formed from you and your personal identity, and you should focus on personal branding to increase your readers and grow your fan base.
Unfortunately, a lot of authors are missing out on a crucial aspect of personal branding, their About Me page.
Statistically speaking, your About Me page is probably one of the top 10 most visited pages on your website. However, if you haven’t updated the page in a while, you’re most likely making some of these mistakes:
1. You’re using a “too creative” name for your “About Me” page
The temptation that authors have with their About Me page is to try to prove their creativity by coming up with a wacky and amusing name for it. Never be tempted to do this.
The majority of web users are now familiar with the concept of going to a page called “About Me” when they want to find information about an author, so don’t confuse the issue by calling it something like “The Vault of Legend”.
Most visitors to a website will only give it about 7 seconds before they abandon it and bounce back to where they came from, and if your About Me page takes longer than 7 seconds for them to find, you’ve most likely lost them.
2. Your About Me page just isn’t interesting
As an author, you want people to find you interesting. It doesn’t matter if you write fiction or non-fiction books, your primary goal is still to interest people with your writing. Therefore, you don’t want to send them to sleep with your About Me page. After all, if you can’t even make yourself sound interesting, why should people believe that your books are interesting?
A lot of people over-optimize their About Me page, and think of it only as a way to sell more books. Unfortunately, this misses a huge opportunity to showcase your personality and what makes you different. People remember stories, so tell your story in your About Me page, and people will remember you.
Remember, you’re not writing your resume for a job application, so most readers won’t care exactly where you went to college, or what year you first started writing. They want to know how those moments in your life shaped your personality, and how that personality makes you different from other writers. You’re not just looking for sales, you’re looking to gain fans.
3. Your author portrait is terrible
Just because you’re an author, it doesn’t mean your website is all about the text. People want to know the person behind the words, and a good author portrait is a vital tool for giving them what they need.
Unfortunately, many authors have terrible portrait photographs on their About Me page. They either look like they were being photographed for their driving license, or they look like they were photographed by their cousin at a family picnic.
Use a portrait that reflects your personality. If you write fiction, try smiling and looking happy in your portrait. If you look happy, then readers will assume that your writing will also be an enjoyable experience. Even if you write “serious” non-fiction books, there’s no reason why you should have the same clichéd “serious-person-sitting-in-front-of-bookcase” portrait.
4. You’re using jargon to prove your expertise
The truth is, most people hate jargon. People inside your industry roll their eyes when people overuse jargon, and anyone outside of that industry will just dismiss you if you’re not making an effort to reach-out to outsiders.
If your field of writing requires the use of a lot of technical jargon, save it for the books themselves. Your About Me page should be about connecting with people on a personal level. By all means mention any academic background you may have, but don’t turn the page into a technical essay, just to show how smart you are.
5. You’re not treating your About Me page as a landing page
Many people may come directly to your About Me page from a search engine, without first visiting any other page on your site, so be sure that you treat it as a potential landing page.
Don’t assume that visitors already know all about your writing work and books. Instead, use your About Me page to introduce them to some of your best work, and tell them any interesting stories that relate to the creation of those pieces.
6. You’re using a fake persona and never revealing your true identity
Sure, we all wish we could be Stephen King, but the reality is we’re not. By using a persona, you’re missing out on the benefits that come with building relationships with your readers, and with people in your industry.
In the past, authors could get away with using a fake persona, as readers’ access to information about them was limited, and could therefore be carefully controlled by a publisher or press agent. However, times have changed, and readers (and journalists) now expect direct access to the person behind the book. By hiding behind a fake persona, you’re never allowing your readers to connect with you, or to see your true personality. The “person of mystery” gimmick had its day many years ago, and is now even seen as a bit of a tired cliché.
Build your author brand around you as a person. Getting your name known is a valuable part of the business, and one that will benefit you for years to come. Personal branding shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Now for the obvious question…who is Andrew Wise? Here’s his bio and headshot:
Andrew Wise is a serial entrepreneur whose sites generate $1+ million in revenue and receive 2.6+ million uniques per year. On his blog, Wise Startup Blog, he shares actionable advice on how you can build massive, passive income streams, designed for the complete newbie. Follow him on Twitter @WiseStartupBlog.