By Emily Cobb
In an image-saturated, digital world, creating a brand and website is important. As a Christian, I always feel it is a fine line between increasing your viewership and sales through creating a clear brand, and chasing man’s approval. Yet, as we write, we want people to read what we are writing, meaning we want to make it accessible.
Aside from writing my blog, I run a web design and branding business and so want to share a few tips with you as you think about developing your ‘brand’.
1. Who is your Target Market?
Being clear about your audience is an essential place to start. What women like to view is different to what men like, which differs again to what interests children.
Like many women, I like things that are pretty. Blogs that I follow and continue to read are enjoyable to read because they combine attractive visuals with great writing.
2. What is your Budget?
When considering your budget, it is important to note that a poor website presence is thought to be worse than having no website at all. Website design trends change every 2-3 years, and so your website needs to be updated during these times. A good designer can ensure your branding is clear and you can have the ability to integrate extra functionality such as an e-commerce store.
If you want to create your website yourself, some self-maintenance platforms include Wordpress, Blogger or Wix. Wordpress is the platform I build on and there are some great templates and tutorials to step you through how to set this up for yourself.
As a designer, in addition to my maintenance packages, I build sites that are able to be self-maintained so that a client is able to reduce ongoing costs once the initial build is setup.
3. Keep Your Site and Image Clutter-Free
Often people get excited about including as much information as possible however when it comes to websites, people can tend to go over-the-top. Current trends are fairly minimalistic in order to be easy to navigate. Jackie French (www.jackiefrench.com.au) has a very clear site that is easy to navigate. She also has a slider that adds some excitement and movement to her page.
4. Pay for a Great Headshot
If you are working out what to pay for and what not to, having a great headshot is important. As an author, you are your brand, so it is important to have an image that is friendly yet professional.
Having social media integrated into your site is important and vice-versa. Barriers between an author and their fans have been broken down with social media and this is a key part of developing your brand. Make sure though that you don’t spread yourself too thin- choosing one or two social media platforms is better than all as they need to be kept current.
Websites can also integrate social media feeds and have users ‘subscribe’ to a newsletter.
6. Be Consistent with Your Design
It is important to be consistent with your layout and design. This means choosing a clear colour scheme. It also means choosing one or two and sticking with them throughout your site. Naomi Reed has recently had her site redesigned, keeping her signature purple a key colour of her site. She has also had a logo designed and has incorporated e-commerce into her site with an online shop.
7. Buy a Domain and Keep It Simple
A Domain is the address a person enters to get to your site. Purchasing a domain that is easy to remember is really important. This is essentially your ‘Storefront’ and people need to remember the name. Hyphens and elongated names make things confusing, so my advice is to steer clear of them. While sites like Wix or Weebly may seem like a great option, there is nothing worse than them using your site to advertise. Be careful with your footers and domains as nothing screams unprofessional louder than www.iamanauthor.wix.com or “This is a Free Site Created on Weebly”
Spend the extra money and purchase an e-mail address with your domain. To create a professional image, means communicating this image through everything you do, even through your e-mail.
Depending on what website building platform you choose to use will depend on if you need hosting, so make sure you either ask your designer about this or research it before committing to anything.
8. 8. Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile-Optimized
There is something very frustrating about going to a website on your mobile phone and being unable to read the writing. Nowadays, the majorities of mobile phone users now use Smart Phones, which means that are accessing websites from their mobiles. If this isn’t enough to convince you of the need for your website to be able to be accessed from mobile phones, Google also have come out to say that how mobile responsive a site is will factor in their searches. It is therefore vital that your site is able to be clearly viewed from a variety of devices- mobile phones, IPads, laptops or desktops.
9. Be Personal Yet Professional
People want to feel connected with those whom they follow. It is important to share aspects of yourself in order to connect with your audience. You want to communicate you are friendly, humble and accessible yet also want to present in a professional way. Purchasing an e-mail address (that you or someone else monitors) is important.
10. Have Fun!
Building your brand and website can be a fun process. Think about what connects with you, what you enjoy and what style you like- if you have a clear style, then your branding will too. Pinterest is a great resource for ideas and working out what you like and what you don’t like.
For the months of November and December, I am offering a special design package for authors. Branding +Website Design for $500 or with e-commerce $700.