Author Marketing 101: Social Media Profiles

A friend and fellow writer recently asked for help building his online brand. Since my advice is generally applicable to any author engaged in online marketing--which should be all them--I thought I'd share it here.

Your profile pages on various social media sites are among your most powerful marketing tools.

Some folks, especially artists, get apprehensive at the word "marketing". That's a counterproductive mindset. Marketing is persuasion--no more; no less, and every human endeavor requires persuasion to succeed.

Sales is persuading a customer to buy from you. Artists aim to evoke particular emotional reactions from their audiences (a form of rhetorical persuasion). Even criminals make pitches to their intended victims.

Whatever your goal, effective persuasion means the difference between failure and success.

Marketing is persuading people to patronize a specific brand. Many artists believe that their brand is their art. This is false. The art is the product. The artist is the brand.

If you're a writer, you aren't selling books, games, or blog posts. You are selling yourself. People won't buy your work until they buy into you.

How do you market your brand? You make it easily recognizable and connect it with positive experience.

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you read the words McDonald's, Nintendo, Volkswagen?

Each of those companies' products feature strong visual elements that make their brands instantly recognizable. If they do their marketing well, their customers will associate this brand imagery with positive emotions.

The miracle of the internet allows you to take advantage of the same branding techniques that billion dollar companies use to win hearts and minds.

Your social media profiles give you the chance to tell prospective audience members about yourself, i.e. your brand. Why let the wild, unpredictable web define you on its terms when you can take control and introduce yourself to the web on your terms?

Building a strong online brand requires laying a strong foundation. Here are the steps to building a strong brand foundation:

  • Pick one image to be your avatar on every social media site where you have an account. You want to make it easy for readers to recognize you. If possible, it should be an original piece you produced or commissioned.
  • Statistically, the writer's About page is the most visited page on any blog. Make sure yours includes a short bio that contains a self-defining statement and lists details about your life that are pertinent to that definition. [Note: contra mainstream publishers, readers don't care where you live or went to school unless it's important to your writing.] Copy this bio and paste it onto every one of your social media profiles.
  • Make sure to include links to your blog's main page in all of your social media profiles. The idea is to use your Google+/Twitter/Facebook accounts to create a funnel that will channel readers to your blog.
  • Choose an aesthetic/color scheme that you want readers to identify with you and, like your avatar and bio, carry it over across all of your social media accounts.

Those are the fundamentals of online branding. They're pretty simple, and you'll find that successful blogging is all about building an ecosystem of small yet interconnected elements.

As visual aids, here are screenshots of my own Google+, Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook profiles. Look at the images and compare them to the list of steps above.

Brian Niemeier Google+ Profile

Brian Niemeier Amazon Profile

Brian Niemeier Twitter Profile

Brian Niemeier Facebook Profile

That's it for now. I'll let you digest and practice the steps listed here before we get into more advanced material.

FYI, the products I'm supporting through all of these branding efforts are my Hugo and Dragon nominated SFF books. You can buy them here:


  1. Thanks for this. It's definitely a good start and I've followed this route pretty much. I am wondering whether I shouldn't redo my bio, though. It's short and to the point, but maybe a change would be good. My real issue right now is generating more content and faster and then, the biggie, finding enough eyeballs to create a snowball effect.

    1. You're welcome. Sounds like you're on the right track.

  2. jellyfish, dragon, unicorn, unicorn, john chrysostom.