July 5, 2012

Brand, platform, and digital writing: an interview with Krissy Brady

Krissy Brady, a freelance writer and the owner of Krissy Media Ink, is working on her first novel, poetry collection, and screenplay but has already authored The Freelancer's Guide to Starting Right and Staying Strong and other titles available on her website and also Amazon. Dedicated to keeping the passion for writing alive, Krissy fluently speaks the digital language poets and writers need to keep their careers up to Internet speed, so I’ve been eager to interview her in hopes she’ll help those of us living In a Christian Writer’s Life to be informed about the Digital Age.

Mary Harwell Sayler: Krissy, Christian writers often begin their writing life with a sense of ministry or a calling to write about a particular topic. To get our writing ready for the digital age, however, we keep hearing about the need to “build a platform” or a “brand.” Can you briefly define those terms for us?

Krissy Brady: Absolutely! A platform is essentially the representation of your writing career as a whole – articles you write, books you publish, blog posts you write, classes you teach, etc. – all of which connect back to your platform.

It's a common misconception that your blog is your platform, when in fact your blog is one piece of a much bigger puzzle, though often your blog becomes the visual representation of your platform. That's why there's so much emphasis now on "defining your target audience" and "defining your niche," because your blog becomes the central location for all that you're doing to become an expert in your field. You want to use your blog to connect with your target audience, the people you're writing for who will eventually purchase your writing and products.

Defining these things gives you the opportunity to build a brand around your platform –the "look" of your platform and products – and build a successful writing career based on what you're most passionate about. Your platform, and the brand you design around your platform, all become pieces of your writing career as a whole.

Mary: What steps do you suggest to start this building process?

Krissy: The best place to start when deciding on what your platform is going to be is to ask yourself: What am I most passionate about? What do I want to be known for?

Create a manifesto that describes your ultimate goal for your writing career. Your manifesto will help you to determine what your niche is going to be and the target audience you're going to reach. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. It just needs to be a description of the core of why you have to write; why writing is so engrained in you, and what you want to do with it. We all have a need to write; it's the why that will set you apart.

Mary: Good point!

Krissy: It's important to remember, too, that your platform is about your audience, not about you. In what ways do you relate to your audience? What emotional void are you going to fill for them? Then create a profile of who your ideal audience member is. It really makes the difference!

Mary: Yes! And obviously you have chosen other writers for your audience, but in the present economy, how can any of us hope to earn an income for our work?

Krissy: Multiple income streams can include such things as selling freelance articles to publications, offering copywriting services, blogging for other blogs in your industry, and creating and selling eBooks, as well as creating and selling eCourses.

Many writers become overwhelmed by this, but if you leave yourself completely open during the learning process, you'll find that it will inspire you, and motivate you to write more than you ever have before. If it weren’t for my platform, I wouldn't be a full-time writer today.

Mary: Those of us who have been writing a while have built our publishing credits – sometimes extensively – only to discover that print books don’t stay in print very long. And most of us also want to make our books more accessible to readers, which makes e-books sound like a good option. Since you have already endured that learning process, would you tell us how to go about this? The fewer and simpler the steps, the better!

Krissy: The two best pieces of advice I can offer in terms of eBook publishing is to thoroughly educate yourself, and make sure you don't rush the process.

Here are steps I recommend:

1. Write down a list of eBooks you'd like to write for your target audience. That way, during the education process, you can take notes specific to your goals.

2. Educate yourself about the entire process. The education process is essentially set up in three sections: learn how to set up a Kindle eBook, how to effectively set up sale pages for each of your eBooks on Amazon, and how to market them through your platform.

3. Plan ahead of time how your eBook production line will go (each step you'll complete in what order), and you'll be well on your way to establishing yourself.

Mary: What else do you advise for those of us considering e-books?

Krissy: I would recommend creating a Word document that's essentially going to be your blank template, and type your eBook directly within the template. This is a huge timesaver as opposed to writing out your book and then trying to format it afterward.

Mary: Let me interrupt a sec to inject a hotlink to Microsoft on creating Word templates and to reassure those who think they have not done this before – you probably have! Basically, creating a template just means setting up your page format with the page size, margins, and font you want.

Besides that important suggestion, Krissy, what other time-savers do you suggest?

Krissy: I know what it's like to be a writer on a tight budget, but I highly recommend you have your eBook professionally edited, and a professional cover designed. A cover can literally make or break your sales. In order to be taken seriously as an indie author, you have to go about it seriously.

I would also recommend learning how to set up a blog tour, so that when your book is on the verge of launching, you can set up a blog tour with top bloggers in your niche. It's recommended you start planning the blog tour up to 2 months before your eBook launches in order to create a tour that will impact your sales in a positive way.

I find that the further ahead I begin to plan any writing or marketing, the better things turn out. It leaves room to take care of potential snags along the way and vastly improves your learning curve since you're not in a rush. Make sure every eBook you put out is the best it can be, and this can become a solid income stream for your writing career.

Mary: Thanks, Krissy, for all of your good help – and for reminding me to research the correct spelling for e-books. After searching the Internet, I discovered there isn’t one!

I noticed you use eBook, which is the current terminology among digital publishers and writers, whereas I use e-book, which is what usually appears in the print dictionaries I favor. If our readers do not like either of those choices, ebook provides another option, but even spell-check in Word won’t take our word for that.


© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.


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