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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Corn Flakes or Lucky Charms: What's Your Brand?

by Rachel A. Snyder

The best advice I got when I planned my wedding was, “Pick a theme.”

And, yes, this does have something to do with being an author.

A friend of mine had her wedding in December, and everything was snowflakes. The decorations, the invitations, the confetti on the table. She told me that picking a theme made everything easier. She knew that whatever she chose had to have snowflakes. After that one big decision, all the little decisions were easier. When I planned my wedding, she told me to pick a theme first. 

So my husband and I picked a theme: music. We’re both musical, so it was a natural choice for us. Then I just had to stick with my theme. The confetti? Musical notes. The invitations? Concert tickets. Table numbers? We used band names instead. It was so much easier on my brain to know the answer to every d├ęcor question was simply “music.”

Now I’m going to do you a favor and give you some advice when it comes to your online persona:

Pick a theme.
Once you choose what you’re going to write, pick a theme that you can live with. And I mean long-term. When you create your blog or website, you’re building a brand; the title, the design, and even the smallest details should all tie into it.

Here are some things to think about: 

·       Choose something classic. Your title should be clever and catchy, but try not to make it too cutesy (which may turn people off) or too of-the-moment (or it will be out of date in no time). You want your ideas to last in this world of ever-changing media, so choose wisely. 

·       Design for your audience. If you want men and women reading your blog, you probably shouldn’t do pink with flowers. Just sayin’. Think about who you want reading your blog, and make sure the title and design with connect with those people. Consider graphics, colors, and even fonts. And please don’t use Comic Sans. Just as a personal favor to me.

·       Love it. And I mean LOVE it.  This may be the most important. While you want to attract the right audience, be sure you are in love with your title and design; you’ll need to stick with it for a while. You want your page to be recognizable to your audience, and it won’t be if you change your look every week.

·       Read other blogs. This is good advice for social media in general. Make sure you’re looking at other sites regularly to see what new design things people are doing or what buttons other people have. You need some way for readers to get to your social networking locations, as well as additional pages for information about you. Your choices may be limited with certain blogging programs, but do your best to keep up.

·       Carry your theme everywhere. This is another reason you need to love your theme: Every corner of your site should have something to do with your theme. Every heading in the sidebar, text on your additional pages, and even the sentence enticing people to comment should all tie in to your theme. Make it your e-mail address. Use the same fonts and graphics on your business cards. Use the same background on Twitter.  It’s all part of building your brand.

·       Hire help if you need it. If you’re going to be a full-time writer and you don’t have a background in design, there’s no shame in hiring a designer to spruce up your blog or website. While you’re blog-hopping, see who designs some of your favorite blogs (ask the blogger if it’s not listed). Designers are available in a wide variety of price points, and the very least you’ll pay is $50 for something very simple. Make sure you know the designer’s work, and understand that you get what you pay for.

Blogging can be a great avenue for getting published, promoting your book(s) or it can be quite fulfilling as its own endeavor. Whatever your plans, be intentional about creating your online brand. 

If you’d like some personal feedback on your blog theme, e-mail me at TheLazyChristian@yahoo.com.
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Rachel A. Snyder blogs at TheLazyChristian.com. She currently lives in Indianapolis with her husband and son, but is an honorary Virginian.