Keli Gwyn
Top Marketing Tip: Build a Brand Name

“List five things that tell me who you are?”

That’s the question one of my high school teachers asked my classmates and me on the first day of school. We struggled to come up with the most interesting facts we could.

When we read our lists, our teacher surprised us by saying, “Not one of you included the most important thing: your name.”

Talk about a palm-to-the-forehead V-8 moment. That lesson stuck with me. These days when I meet someone for the first time, I hold out my hand and say, “Hi. I’m Keli Gwyn.” Right away the person has the information that will enable them to remember who I am and tell others about me.

If you’re visiting this site for the first time, you didn’t have to wonder who I am because my name is right there in my blog’s title and sidebar. I didn’t make you guess.

For those of us who are writers aspiring to get our work before readers, the best way we can help ourselves is to get our names out there. Our names are our brands.

Try this experiment. Think of Stephen King, James Patterson, and Debbie Macomber.

What came to your mind? If you’re like me, you thought of the kind of books they write: horror, thrillers, and romance. That’s because their names are their brands.

Sure, there are some famous authors whose names are synonymous with their taglines. In the inspirational market, if we hear “Seatbelt Suspense,” many of us immediately think of Brandilyn Collins. However, most of us haven’t achieved her level of notoriety and haven’t coined a tagline as succinct and memorable as hers. Thus, we’re wise to use our names.

To establish our brand names, we need to use our names everywhere. The idea is for people, including those all-important readers, to be able to find us when they search for us online.

By using our names as often as possible online, we begin building up a bunch of Google hits. The more hits, the more chance we have of “owning” our names in cyberspace. The goal is to be the top hit when someone types your name in the search bar.

Places to Use Your Name

In your email address
In your website URL
In your blog title
In comments your leave on others’ blogs
On Facebook
On Twitter
On Google+
On Linked In

I’ve interviewed over 200 novelists on my other blog, Romance Writers on the Journey. At the end of each interview, I include contact info. When I see a guest’s name appear in each of the links, I know that writer has been working hard to build a brand.

As someone who receives emails from hundreds of people, I don’t have to guess who the person contacting me is when I receive an email that includes the sender’s name in the email address the way I do when I see something like onlychildmom or tacobelladdict.

Similarly, when I see a blog name in Google Reader that incorporates a writer’s name, I don’t have to struggle to remember which blogger uses Joy on the Journey or On the Path to Publication. (Those are two names my blog carried before I learned from Kristen Lamb, author of We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, that our names are the best blog titles possible.)

For those who write using a pseudonym, my advice is to use it everywhere. Those bloggers who host you will thank you. Most of us have far more names to remember than we care to think about, so remembering that Ima Writer is really Awesome Author can be a challenge. Make it easy for blog hosts–and for readers, agents, and editors–to find your name, and we’ll thank you.

• • •

Is getting your name out there an exciting or somewhat scary prospect?

How often do you perform a Google search on your name to see the hits that come up?

What have been the most rewarding aspects of using your name to establish your brand?

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Keli Gwyn
Flashback Friday: Favorite Shoes

Do you have a favorite pair of shoes from days gone by, a pair you wish you still had?

When I think back on my days as a teen in the 70s (yes, I’m that old :-)), two pair come to mind.

I had a pair of Earth shoes I loved. They sported the famous “negative heel” said to make a wearer feel like she was walking barefoot in sand. Mine looked much like the ones in the picture, although they were dark brown. I wore my Earth shoes daily until there was no life left in them.

Another pair that stands out are the Famolare Get There wedge heels I just had to have. “Everyone” had them. I wanted to be in style, so I wheedled until my parents caved. I thought the four-wave heel was groovy. Unlike the Earth shoes, though, I was underwhelmed by the Famolares. But I wore them anyhow. Until the fad faded.

A few months ago I passed by the one shoe store in my small town. It’s what call a gourmet shoe store. They carry quality footwear, much of it imported from Europe. I’m not a shoe person like my daughter, but I went inside anyhow.

Boy, am I glad I did. Guess what brand they carry?

Yup. Earth shoes! Who knew they’d make a reappearance? I found a pair I couldn’t resist. Sure, they might not be the cutest shoes in the world, but I like them. They transport me to a time in my life when wrinkles were on my clothes, not my face, and when gray was the color of my grandmother’s hair, not mine.

The clerk brought out a pair. I slipped them on and took a stroll down Memory Lane. The young man looked at me like I’d lost it when I got all weepy, but I didn’t care. One day he might find himself wishing for a way to recapture some of the best memories of his youth. That’s what happens every time I slip into my Earth shoes. They put a spring in my step and a smile on my face.

Maybe I’m more of a shoe person than I thought. It just takes the right pair. Right?

• • •

Did you have a favorite pair of shoes whose passing you mourned?

Do you have a pair now that’s destined to become a treasured memory?

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Keli Gwyn
The #1 Reason for Social Networking

Are you a social media junkie, or did you drag your feet before you began to tweet?

When I crawled out of my cave three years ago and discovered the connections I could make in cyberspace, I rejoiced.

Well, eventually. First I had to learn to speak Facebook and Twitter.

These days I’m becoming trilingual, although I’m by no means fluent in Google+ yet. I have a profile up and am learning to round-up people into circles, but I don’t know how to start a hangout so I can chat via webcam. Give me time, though, and I’ll get up to speed. 🙂

When I was first introduced to the concept of social networking, I focused on the word networking. In all honestly, I didn’t care for the concept. The idea of friending or following others in order to build a platform seemed self-serving, and that left me cold.

As I got more involved on Facebook and Twitter, I realized I’d been focusing on the wrong word. Social networking has to do with the word social, which involves connecting with people. Interesting, clever, fun people. Lots of them.

Meeting people and forming friendships is what social networking’s all about. And that rocks big time.

Just last week, I joined a new friend for lunch. Karen Hansen and I met on Twitter a couple of months ago, got to DMing (chatting using direct messages, not publicly), and learned that we only live about an hour apart. We set a date to get together, and when the time came, we had a blast. Our lunch turned into a four-hour gabfest. We talked writing, kids, gardening. . .and social networking.

Because of Karen’s encouragement, I’m on Google+. I’m not usually an early adopter, especially when it comes to technology-related endeavors, but I’m having fun getting to know fellow, well, Googlers.

These days I embrace social networking because I’ve learned the #1 reason for it: forming friendships. All right, I’ll admit it. It’s just plain fun, too.

• • •

Did you embrace social networking, or were you hesitant to join Facebook, Twitter, etc?

What are your favorite social networking sites?

Are you planning to check out G+?

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Keli Gwyn
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