As a content strategist, my primary goal is to help my clients develop content which is engaging and entices readers to take action. Valuable content cannot be overlooked when one is building a brand -- as quality content helps establish you as an expert, shows your distinct personality, and builds relationships with your prospects.
If you are an author and you are working to build your platform, and secure more book sales, then you have a brand. And when you have a brand, you must have a content strategy in place so that you can stay top of mind, interact with your readers, and continue building relationships with those who are discovering you online.
When I became an author this past year, I applied all the "stuff" I knew about effective content strategy in building my business, to building my author brand and platform. One of the most effective ways I have found to increase exposure to and engagement with my memoir was to create visual content to use in a variety of places online.
Here is an example of an image I have created to use to promote my book:
As you can see from the image above, there are 4 key features:
- My face: When authors use their faces in social media, it makes them seem "real" and "human". People really like that--they like to get a glimpse of you, as a person, and feel like they can get to know you better.
- A book excerpt: I believe one of the best decisions I ever made was to develop a series of images which contained book excerpts. This not only gives your readers a glimpse into the book itself, but look how powerful the quoted text is with the image of my face. It's like I am talking to you, as you read it!
- Website URL: Whenever you create images for your brand, you should always include your website URL. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, including the URL ensures that people know where to go to read more. Second, when you brand your images with your URL, no one can take them and use them as their own--it protects your ideas and hard work.
- Title and author information: Be sure to include the entire title and author name in the image. Also, I made sure that I said, "Author and Speaker", because I wanted people to know that this was a book excerpt and that I am available to speak. (And...of course, my speaking page is up-to-date at the URL I provided.)
(Note: I also choose to include a hashtag in my content marketing, so that I can engage with my audience on social media. This is an optional, fifth element, you could include if this is part of your strategy.)
Creating an image for your book is a lot easier than you might realize. I don't have any graphic design skills at all. There are lots of online tutorials and apps that will help you create stunning images for free! For the most basic image, you can use Powerpoint to place the image and text in an appealing manner, and then export to PDF. From there, you can take a screenshot, and you now have a JPEG image that is easy to use.
How to Use the Images To Build Your Author Brand
Now that you have an image, what should you do with it? Here are some of the ways I am using my images to market my book:
- Every Thursday, one of my images is published to Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. Because the image is appealing, it is shared quite frequently. I also get responses based on certain quotes/excerpts, and this is a great way to start conversations with your online friends and followers.
- I created a Pinterest board, just for my book images. The board is called My Memoir: Breaking the Silence. As I create more images, I add them to the board, and this keeps all the people who love images, and are using Pinterest for this very reason, engaged with my content. (And if I used Instagram, these images would be perfect to use there too--but I can only do so much!)
- When I email my book list, sometimes I include an image from the series. They enjoy the visual aspect to go along with the words they have encountered in the book.
- If you have a blog associated with your book (and you should--it is a powerful marketing strategy), you can publish these images as individual blog posts. I am a big fan of repurposing the content that I have already worked hard to make!
- I loaded some of my images into my Amazon Author Page, so that people who were interacting with my product on Amazon, could view some of the most compelling content in visual format.
I'm sure there are countless other ways that you could use a visual image series as a powerful strategy for marketing your book and selling more copies! As authors, we must always provide value and produce content for our future readers who have yet to discover us!