That’s the question one of my high school teachers asked my classmates and me on the first day of school. We struggled to come up with the most interesting facts we could.
When we read our lists, our teacher surprised us by saying, “Not one of you included the most important thing: your name.”
Talk about a palm-to-the-forehead V-8 moment. That lesson stuck with me. These days when I meet someone for the first time, I hold out my hand and say, “Hi. I’m Keli Gwyn.” Right away the person has the information that will enable them to remember who I am and tell others about me.
If you’re visiting this site for the first time, you didn’t have to wonder who I am because my name is right there in my blog’s title and sidebar. I didn’t make you guess.
For those of us who are writers aspiring to get our work before readers, the best way we can help ourselves is to get our names out there. Our names are our brands.
What came to your mind? If you’re like me, you thought of the kind of books they write: horror, thrillers, and romance. That’s because their names are their brands.
Sure, there are some famous authors whose names are synonymous with their taglines. In the inspirational market, if we hear “Seatbelt Suspense,” many of us immediately think of Brandilyn Collins. However, most of us haven’t achieved her level of notoriety and haven’t coined a tagline as succinct and memorable as hers. Thus, we’re wise to use our names.
To establish our brand names, we need to use our names everywhere. The idea is for people, including those all-important readers, to be able to find us when they search for us online.
By using our names as often as possible online, we begin building up a bunch of Google hits. The more hits, the more chance we have of “owning” our names in cyberspace. The goal is to be the top hit when someone types your name in the search bar.
Places to Use Your Name
In your email address
In your website URL
In your blog title
In comments your leave on others’ blogs
On Linked In
I’ve interviewed over 200 novelists on my other blog, Romance Writers on the Journey. At the end of each interview, I include contact info. When I see a guest’s name appear in each of the links, I know that writer has been working hard to build a brand.
As someone who receives emails from hundreds of people, I don’t have to guess who the person contacting me is when I receive an email that includes the sender’s name in the email address the way I do when I see something like onlychildmom or tacobelladdict.
Similarly, when I see a blog name in Google Reader that incorporates a writer’s name, I don’t have to struggle to remember which blogger uses Joy on the Journey or On the Path to Publication. (Those are two names my blog carried before I learned from Kristen Lamb, author of We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, that our names are the best blog titles possible.)
For those who write using a pseudonym, my advice is to use it everywhere. Those bloggers who host you will thank you. Most of us have far more names to remember than we care to think about, so remembering that Ima Writer is really Awesome Author can be a challenge. Make it easy for blog hosts–and for readers, agents, and editors–to find your name, and we’ll thank you.
• • •
Is getting your name out there an exciting or somewhat scary prospect?
How often do you perform a Google search on your name to see the hits that come up?
What have been the most rewarding aspects of using your name to establish your brand?