As a writer you are your brand. Everything you post on-line, the picture you choose as your avatar, and every interaction you have with other bloggers defines you. If you didn’t realize that before, consider it now. You can look at branding as a chore, or you can use the myriad of social networking tools available and have fun showing your readers why you’re the author they want to follow.
Go ahead and Google personal branding articles – you can read these posts for days. Most of these articles will tell you, basically, the same crucial steps you need to take to successfully brand yourself. Take some time and peruse them. It is time well spent.
Consider adding Pinterest to your personal branding strategy. Pinterest is a new social media phenomenon that is exploding in popularity. A tutorial on Pinterest was written recently by one of my fellow contributing authors, Valerie Douglas, and I would suggest you read that as well as this post. (I provide links to previous posts below.) My emphasis today will be on what I am learning by setting up my boards, and my reasons for spending any time on the site. We all know and bemoan the shortage of hours in the day, right? Let’s see why Pinterest may be worth a little time.
I am going to assume that you have set up a basic account with a password on the site. On your profile page you can write something about yourself. Since this is the first thing pinners who visit your main page will see, start your personal brand here. All you need is a couple of sentences that say why anyone would be interested in following your boards. Don’t be shy, this is your chance to slow someone down and interest them enough to look at your boards.
The picture is important as well. I almost never like pictures of myself, so take the time to select something that shows you to your best advantage. The picture I put up is one I took of myself at the Dali museum in St. Pete, Florida. I was just fooling around with my iPhone, taking pictures of the amazing museum, with me in them. I actually approve of this one, which is shocking.
Like any other online presence, start your Pinterest interactions with courtesy. If you want to re-pin a picture, like it or comment on it on the board where it is. That shows respect as well as interest in the choices of others. People who take the time to set up their boards (and some of the ones I’ve looked at are amazing) want feedback on their work. Some of the boards you’ll find are beautifully themed and thoughtfully curated, and this took a lot of creativity. Compliment then repin. If you really like the board, there is a box where you can follow the individual board. There is another box that allows you to follow everything that person pins. That box is on their main profile page, near the top in the center.
Everyone has interests and hobbies, and you may be considered an expert at something. This is where you need to start, creating a couple of boards that reflect the uniqueness of you. You can name these boards anything you want, and if you think of something really different to call them, that’s great. Start with a couple, and work from there.
You can load pictures of your own, or borrow. Be careful not to pin pictures that are copyrighted. I always check to the best of my ability to make sure of this. I have a Mac, so the upload is easy. I just go to the upper right on the page, hit add, (all the controls for your account are on the upper right corner by your picture), then upload, and drag it to the appropriate section. Make sure you are pinning to the correct board, and you can write something short and descriptive in the comment box before you confirm the pin.
Let’s say you have set up a book board. I have one that includes pictures of libraries or book stores I find. I also set this board so the largest picture, the cover, is my book. To do this just hover over the board, it will say edit board, click on it, and this is where you can set the cover and attach a url that will forward the user to wherever you want it to. I have the url going to my Amazon author page. This is permitted by the Pinterest site, and is not considered spamming. I also put similar books by other authors on my board, in the same way you might use tag words, to draw someone in to look at the board. My goal is to show that if you like these other authors, you might enjoy my book as well. It is a softer sell. If you decide to add libraries or cool book stores to your book board I won’t be upset as long as you let me know, and I can re-pin them!
I just started a board called Culture and Cuisine Club, which is my two and a half year old blog. The photography is mine. I have many recipes and posts there that I hope pinners will find entertaining. And, of course, my book is on the first page, with a link to Amazon.
Obviously, you can’t do this in one day. Make this a fun, well-deserved break after several hours of serious writing or editing. But time yourself, because you can get lost in the beauty of some of the photography.
I temporarily disabled Pinterest from posting everything I pin to my Facebook. I may enable it again when I have my boards more established, but for now it was just too much information flowing. I want to control what is on my Facebook wall. You can disable this feature under your profile on Pinterest. Pinterest works closely with Facebook and Twitter, so investigate if this flow of pinning information is something that you want.
What looks bad on Pinterest? Messy and hastily thrown together boards. Boards where every picture has an advertising link attached to it. Technically, the rules state that overt advertisement is frowned upon. So don’t do it. Read the rules on spamming, they are very clear what is not permitted. And take the time to make sure any pictures you pin go to the correct board. A shoe pin on your music board is a turn-off. This concept is about your personal style, so create your boards neatly and show why you are worth following!
In closing, please feel free to check out my boards on Pinterest. I intend on having fun on this site, it is definitely inline with the lifestyle brand my readers have expressed interest in. I think it will be an interesting complement to the marketing I am already doing, and it might work for you, too. If you still need an invitation to Pinterest, contact me and I would be happy to oblige. You can find me on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/loislewandowski/. Happy pinning!
Valerie Douglas’ Introduction to Pinterest
K. S. Brooks’ Pinterest Tuesday Tutorial
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L. A. Lewandowski is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of the novel, Born To Die – The Montauk Murders. For more information, please see the IU Bio Page and her blog: cultureandcuisineclub.com.[subscribe2]