Promoting your writing isn't like selling your house - you're not supposed to paint it magnolia and remove your personality. I know this. We all know this. We're trying to get ourselves noticed. But what's the best way to go about it? And just how much colour and personality is the right amount?
In the real world I'm a skulker in the shadows and if you haven't noticed me then I've achieved my goal. So trying to make my blog stand out is a big challenge.
As a trained artist you'd think I'd have the whole visual thing sussed out. Well yes and no. The thing is I'm a painter not a graphic designer and, contrary to what people assume, artists aren't general practitioners in all fields of art. Like doctors we tend to specialise. Trying to design my blog page I've felt like a dermatologist trying to remove an appendix. In an emergency I'll give it a go. I might even have some idea of what I'm doing. But I might kill the patient.
Here are a few of the things that I've learned so far:
1: You can't have too many photos.
This really is true. I doubted it. Now I'm a believer. Photos are now pending!
2: You need a very smiley author photo.
Smiley = confident professional.
Not smiley = unappealing, pretentious, slightly creepy.
Laughing = probably a genius.
Even friends have shuddered at the photograph on the About Me page of my website. Oops! I thought that was my friendly face. Someone needs to tell me a very funny joke and have a camera at the ready.
(Btw laughing and wearing a series of funny hats = mad as a box of frogs.)
3: Colour is good but not essential. More isn't always better.
Colour is an important tool but the challenge is to be visually interesting without being dazzling. Eye-popping colour and a cheap design can make even the best writing seem unprofessional.
4: Having a go is more important than getting it right first time.
Unless someone is setting your web pages up for you, you have no choice but to launch right in. There's no point in waiting until you know what you're doing, you'll have to surf that learning curve. Looking at other blogs is a great way to see what works and what doesn't. And, importantly, to see what other people writing in your genre are doing.
5: Paying for professional input may be worth every penny.
We all want to believe that the quality of our work will shine through regardless of poor presentation, but it probably won't and why should it have to?