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Today marked the first official day of Book Expo America (BEA). The largest publishing event in North America, BEA is a place where all different kinds of industry players - authors, publishers, agents, and marketers, to name just a few - congregate to network, learn, reflect on history, and look forward to the future in the world of publishing.

 

Happening concurrently with BEA this year is BlogWorld & New Media Expo. Since online marketing and building your personal brand is an integral part of marketing, we are attending several BlogWorld sessions and reporting our learnings to you. Ready to get started learning how to best manage your online presence? Read on for some key takeaways from each session.

 

365 Days to a Household Name: Leveraging Conversation Wherever It Happens

Srinivas Rao, the host and co-founder of podcast BlogcastFM, talked this morning about how to build a brand and connect with people online using blogs and other media. He placed much emphasis on relationship-building and the various ways to reach your audience. Some highlights from the session:

 

  • "In today's world, your success is not just about you anymore. You can no longer operate in a vacuum. Your ability to connect with people is essential to your success. Relationships are what let you spread your influence."
  • Participating in the conversation: Conversation appears everywhere, not just in social media. Your readers spend their time on you, so you owe them your attention.
  • Because you're limited to 140 characters, you can't get very intimate with readers in Twitter, but this is a great place to start relationships. You can engage with them more in blog comments, both on your own and interacting in other blog conversations. Commenting on other blogs and adding value to the conversation can lead to reciprocation.
  • "Comment on blogs the same way you'd want readers to comment on yours. Be thoughtful, be yourself, and reply in kind. Converse with the community." - Ingrid Abboud
  • In addition to blog comments, other ways to reach your audience are email ("Email is not dead. It allows you to have a one-on-one, personal conversation."), social media ("It's a great starting point for conversation."), direct mail ("Snail mail stands out. We live in a world full of tweets and status updates - things that take seconds - so when someone takes the time to send you a physical letter, it makes an impact."), and Skype/Chat/Phone to create the most intimate conversation.
  • "When conversation evolves into relationships, relationships evolve into opportunities."
  • To build your brand, consider doing guest posts with emerging bloggers. Interviews and podcasts are also great, since multimedia content increases the authenticity of the relationships we build online. Also, make introductions and referrals. You build your brand reputation and influence by introducing people who can benefit from one another.
  • When it comes to social media followers, quality trumps quantity. "One person who shows up every day is better than 17,000 who show up once and never again." Plus, heavier engagement with less people usually will result in growth and "true fans."
  • "There is no formula for blogging success, so don't be afraid to break rules. Just enjoy yourself!"

 

Breaking the Bell Curve: Standing Out in a Sea of Same

Tamsen McMahon, director of strategic initiatives at Sametz Blackstone Associates, provided tips for how authors can use their uniqueness to break through the online noise. She talked about how to differentiate yourself by going against the grain when building your personal brand.

 

  • Ask yourself: who is my target audience? Speak to them in words they'll understand and pay attention to them, because you don't want them to get bored. Avoid vague generalities you use in an effort to appeal to everyone, and focus on those who are really interested in you or your subject.
  • Find out what makes you distinct and different and establish your own niche. It's possible to differentiate yourself by what you do (what's your main focus?), your specific product or service (what do you offer that's different from everyone else?), how you do something (the subject matter might be common, but the way you do it is not), who you are (can take a while to define), where you are (does your geographic location differentiate you, or do you offer something unique to your area?), and who your customers are (ex. reader testimonials, partnerships).
  • You have many dimensions. The more you show off those varied dimensions, the more opportunities people have to connect with you. This helps you find out how what you offer intersects with what your audience wants.
  • Every interaction counts - are you delivering a similar experience for your audience across all your marketing platforms (social media, blog, website, etc.)?

 

Why an Authentic Voice Rings True

Jodi Beck, co-founder and president of Womensforum.com shared her experience as the creator of a Top 5 destination website for women and offered a few tips about what having an authentic voice online really means.

 

  • Having an authentic voice is important when building your personal brand. What is an authentic voice? You (the real you), only in print. It's honest, transparent, first person, relatable, and relevant. Help people make an emotional connection with you. An authentic voice is not preachy, arrogant, perfection-oriented, or manufactured.
  • Rules to Blog By: Never underestimate the intelligence of your audience by talking down to readers, create stories that are relatable, be comfortable opening up and sharing valuable information, show your personality (flaws and all), and speak up and out about the things that matter to you.
  • To get more online traffic, be relevant. Tell everyone you know about your online presence. Use social media, network in person at events, join local groups, and find like-minded bloggers to work with for mutual benefit.

 

Zero to One Million

Jared Polin created a website that now receives more than a million pageviews per month, and he did it in less than 10 months by building his personal brand. Some highlights about how he did it:

 

  • Take what you're great at and turn it into a blog rather than trying to "be a blogger."
  • To get in the right mentality to create a successful online presence, seek out encouragement from people in your field, surround yourself with successful people, cut out negativity, and become open to sharing information about yourself.
  • Before launching a website, determine if you have enough content to launch and know how often you will update it. If you take too long of a break from updating content, you risk losing the attention of your audience. Always have backup material for when you're pressed for time.
  • YouTube: Create a video presence here. It's one of the most-trafficked sites, it's free, your content can be shared, people can sign up for notifications for your channel, it has good visibility in Google search results, it gives you more multimedia content, and your videos will live online forever.
  • Suggestions for getting more online traffic include social media channels, hosting contests with free giveaways, repurposing your content on other sites, and using the right keywords in your content.

 

The New "About Me": Why Every Blogger Needs a Bigger Story

Author, consultant and speaker Michael Margolis specializes in storytelling and has helped create stories for brands like NASA and Marriott. The author of "Believe Me: Why Your Vision, Brand, and Leadership Need a Bigger Story," Michael shared some invaluable advice for creating bios that resonate with readers of both your blog and your book. Some highlights:

 

  • On blogs, the "About" page is the #1 page people visit after the homepage. Is it connecting with people, and better, converting them to start a relationship with you? Your perceived worth, value, and compensation is determined by your personal story. You need to tell it in a way people can connect with it.
  • Unless you're a celebrity or a big-time CEO, people will know you wrote your own bio, so it's important to minimize things that come off as bragging. In the past, people wrote bios with a competitive mindset, but our world now is based on relationships; your bio should reflect that.
  • On your blog, use first-person for your bio, but use third-person for your book.
  • Approach your bio like a story: Have a beginning, middle, and end, and paint yourself as a sympathetic character. Also include creative tension in the form of a dilemma, challenge, or mystery (i.e. what defines your work?).
  • Your bio should make your audience the hero. You're telling the story so you can connect with your reader. It also should show that you've been on a journey and learned stuff, that you have something to share based on that journey, and that you don't want others to suffer the same pain. It should remind your audience you're more similar to them than different, that you share something in common. Ultimately, you're helping people locate themselves in your story.
  • When developing your back-story, think about what forces shaped you, where you were born/raised, who your parents are, what you studied in life, and why you see the world as you do. As a storyteller, you also have to self-edit; what's important to include and what isn't?
  • Use these 7 steps to write a bio like a story:

1.   WWW (who you are, what you do, who you serve)

2.   Superhero Origins (superheroes have back-stories that made them who they are - what's yours?)

3.   Point of View (what are you curious about? what's your perspective on the world?)

4.   Twists and turns (what was character-building in your past?)

5.   External Validators (don't lead with this, but note your accomplishments)

6.   Humanize (share real, personal stuff)

7.   Invitation (call to action to learn more about you, like your Twitter handle or website)

 

That wraps up today's sessions - we hope you're now on your way to creating an authentic personal brand. We'll be blogging again tomorrow with information from the second day of BEA and updating Facebook and Twitter. If you're attending BEA this week, remember to stop by booth #2538 to meet our CreateSpace staffers!

 

Until tomorrow,

-Amanda

 

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BEA Recap: Day 3 - Editorial & Design Tips from IBPA

BEA Recap: Day 2 - Book Promotion Tips from IBPA

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