Cue: support teams. That’s where you come in. You and Posie and many other people like you – the blogging community are an incredible support in both the publishing world and every other world you can think of – from crafting to raising baby. There’s never been a finer time in history to take full advantage of tangling oneself in the virtual web that is the internet – and entering people’s home and hearts like never before.
I have experienced first hand that the route to expanding my brand is squared firmly in the world wide web. Of course, I create tangible products (books) and eventually they need to enter the real world, to connect with kids and hopefully warm their hearts – but the vast majority of even these real life interactions has found its origins in the internet.
My current (enormous!) network of crafting and publishing contacts, for example, has been sourced and maintained online. Essentially, we’re all in it together, and the support we give to each other on an hourly basis is truly exemplary. Anchoring myself firmly in this online community (and making some wonderful friends along the way) has been a key achievement in marketing myself or my brand – but how exactly do you create a ‘brand’ out of yourself?
I have witnessed many authors and other creative professionals who finally get to stack a book on the shelf then sit back and wait for the money to roll in. Even with a major publishing house behind you – proactivity is everything when branding yourself. Whether your ‘brand’ is a product, a service or you as a person (with regard to authors, this is often the case), its upkeep needs constant care, and in my many years of structuring a marketable future for myself and my books, I’ve learned much (including how to make the best gin and tonic, like – ever). I’m hoping that some of these ideas will help you brand and market yourself and your products more effectively. And if you have your own suggestions, leave a comment!
• Do everything with the utmost of professionalism at all times. From wording emails correctly (never use SMS-talk!) to printing gorgeous business cards to dressing the part.
• Be polite, generous and approachable when dealing with potential clients and media.
• Never shirk on quality. Create with excellence. Offer up big.
• Always always always honour your word.
• Research your market and watch it intently for shifts and changes. Be on the lookout for market niches and pounce. One example: me and twenty other women I know have whinged for years about the lack of affordable and whimsical tween girl clothing ranges (ie: something to compete with expensive brands Country Road, Fiona and Seed and something that doesn’t look like it’s been attacked by a lace-wearing vampire with a fluorescent pen). Has anyone done anything about this lack? No! Why? In my humble opinion, it’s because people are slow off the market in identifying market niches, and opportunities are quickly lost. Whoever corners this market will make a squillion.
• Think outside the square – create something unique and think of an unusual way to present it. Be creative and unexpected.
• Don’t copy someone else’s idea. People WILL know and you will quickly lose credibility.
• Keep up with latest trends – postcards are so in right now, as are blog tours!
• Consider creating complementary or auxiliary products to your range. You might produce amazing dolls, for example. Why not have them photographed and printed on beautiful greeting cards that can be used when gifting the doll?
• Pay to have superb, professional photographs taken of your product. Have a really fantastic self-portrait taken, too. If you can’t afford it, track down a friend or ask someone whose work you respect, and work out a deal.
• On that note, contra-deals are a marvellous way to secure services you need (like a photographer) for no cost. For my book launches, I ask sponsors to donate prizes or services in exchange for exposure for their business – via the use of their logo on all my advertising blurb and websites, and mentioning their name and providing their brochures or business cards at the launch. Oftentimes, this kind of advertising exposure is worth even more than the product or service they provide you – so it’s a great way of sharing the marketing love.
• Network. This doesn’t mean visiting blogs and pestering them to visit your blog. It means interacting, offering something of yourself and making your presence known in a valuable way.
• Events. They are an extraordinary way to attract attention and have people get to know you and your product. They’re also great fun and the media are more likely to cover an event than a product.
• Have giveaways, especially in local magazines, radio and newspapers. Get involved in local charity and school events and offer your products as prizes.
• Approach national magazines and local media frequently with new product. The cost of an item and its postage is minimal when compared with the exposure you may receive. Never expect to be featured. Don’t pester.
• Set up an amazing website that’s beautiful to look at and is CONSTANTLY maintained and updated.
• Have purchasing capability on your website to bump up sales.
• Consider approaching stores or online stores with your product.
• Be prepared to work harder than you ever believed was possible. Be prepared to lose your social life and never have time to wash your hair. But do take care of your body and mind.
• Be relentless. Don’t give up. Ever.
Tania McCartney is an author, editor, publisher, blogger, book reviewer and mango devourer who loves writing, celebrating and supporting children’s literature – and literacy. She is the author of the Riley series of travelogue picture books, as well as several published and self-published books. Tania is also an experienced magazine writer and editor, is the founder of Kids Book Review http://kids-bookreview. com and is a Senior Editor at Australian Women Online http://www.australianwomenonline.com/. She lives in Canberra with a husband, two kids and a mountain of books.
See www.taniamccartney.com for more. Click here for her fun blog!!
Riley and the Curious Koala: A journey around Sydney
Riley and the Curious Koala is the third in the Riley travelogue series of picture books, taking young children on a journey to far flung destinations. Riley’s first adventure began in Beijing with Riley and the Sleeping Dragon, continued on through Hong Kong with Riley and the Dancing Lion, and now enters home turf, with a fun-filled adventure through the beautiful city of Sydney.
Will Riley find this terribly elusive and quite curious fluffy creature amongst the gorgeous watery vistas of one of the world’s most beautiful cities? Panda, Dragon and Lion from earlier books join this little aviator on his sensational Sydney search… and their discovery is a curious (and funny!) one, indeed.
Using stunning black and white photos, pictures of a real life tin aeroplane and hilarious illustrations by illustrator Kieron Pratt, Riley and the Curious Koala is perfect for experienced travellers, armchair travellers or for those wanting a fuzzy little adventure.
Part of the profits for Riley and the Curious Koala will go to the Australian Koala Foundation https://www.savethekoala.com/.
Available Australia-wide from 22 November 2010.
EDIT: Ok so i've updated it with more colour & page breaks, couldn't help myself!!