by Emmanuel Nataf
One is painstakingly brainstorming a bank of catchy post titles and content.
The other is agonizingly working out a plot twist that could be spectacular, but isn’t yet.
One is seen trying to untangle HTML and make sense of SEO.
The other is busy buying thirty notebooks in the space of one year.
As you might’ve guessed by now, one is a blogger and the other is an author. And, despite these surface differences, the two have more in common than you might think. Both are striving to perfect a word-based craft — and both can be found banging their foreheads on their keyboards when writer’s block strikes!
Perhaps more importantly, both bloggers and authors must survive in two incredibly competitive and saturated markets. To thrive, branding is key. So let’s take a page from an author’s book and find out 3 things that authors can teach bloggers about branding.
1. Niche and brand go hand-in-hand
Somewhere between 600,000 to 1,000,000 books are published every year in the U.S. alone. Any author who enters this market must compete with countless other stories clamoring for readers’ attentions! So if you’re wondering how an author can stand out and stand a chance of actually selling anything, a big part of the answer lies in one thing: the niche.
Knowing one’s niche is absolutely imperative to a writer’s success. The more popular and bestselling books that they read in their genre, the more they understand the patterns and tropes that made those works successful — as well as how to subvert them. Let’s say a writer is aiming to write a science fiction novel. They might first check out a list of the greatest science fiction books of all time, and start by reading some of the classics.
This goes for bloggers as well. The Internet is saturated with blogs these days. A simple search for “cooking blogs,” for instance, returns millions of results. Instead of wading into the thick of it and attempting to appeal to “anyone who wants to cook,” an aspiring cookbook blogger would be smart to determine a niche and narrow their brand down to that space. For instance: quick and easy recipes. Or Asian food. Or gluten-free recipes. The point is to clearly define it so that you can answer easily if someone asks you, “So what exactly is your blog about?” Then focus on owning that niche and becoming the go-to expert in it, so you can grow even more from there.
2. Voice is key to communicating brand
Once you’ve figured out what you want your identity to be online and which kind of niche will become your abode, you’ll need to develop a consistent and compelling voice to convey that to your audience.
This means neatly packaging your personality into your writing and all communications — and making sure that it’s uniform across your platforms. For instance, do you want your voice to be authoritative? Fun? Playful? Educational? It might be tougher than you think to nail down something that feels true to yourself. Even writers, who work with words every day, can take years to perfect voice. In this case, P.D. James advises aspiring writers and bloggers: “It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.”
In other words: start writing and practicing now! Gather inspiration from other bloggers in your niche. Trust your gut. And when you’ve perfected your voice, remember to stick to it. This is another important bit from the writer’s toolbox: you won’t find Stephen King, the undisputed king of horror, suddenly publishing a romance book. Likewise, you won’t find romance authors writing grimdark stories. (In fact, an author’s brand is so important that prominent authors in certain romance subgenres need to use pseudonyms in order to publish in other romance subgenres. Just take paranormal romance author J.R. Ward, who publishes contemporary romance under the name of Jessica Bird.)
Ultimately, brand coherence is important to retaining your audience and keeping your brand strong — and that goes for both blogging and writing.
3. Your audience will definitely judge your website by its design
At Reedsy, we tell authors over and over again that their book covers are one of their best marketing tools. For authors, an eye-catching, high-quality book cover is absolutely vital if they want the book to sell.
Why is that? Well, mostly because the book cover is the reader’s first impression of the book. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” may be a cliché, but as with many clichés, it’s totally rooted in truth. Like how your fashion style represents you, the vast majority of readers will see a book cover and decide in an instant if it’s interesting enough for them to actually read it.
This goes for your blog, too. Your blog is going to be the first point of contact for your audience, so you want to make sure that it’s presented cleanly and effectively. Your goal should be to make it an extension of the brand that you’ve created. From the color scheme to the overall presentation, it should make your audience want to linger, just as a book cover will encourage readers to actually reach out and read it.
But more than that, your blog is going to be a culmination of all the points that we discussed above. It should present your story, exemplify your niche, and incorporate your brand voice. Once you’ve nailed down these elements, you’re a step ahead of the crowd in perfecting your brand as a blogger.
About the Author: Emmanuel Nataf is a co-founder of Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. Emmanuel dedicates most of his time to building Reedsy’s product and is interested in how technology can transform cultural industries.
This post originally appeared on the Secrets of Success blog.