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The Brand Challenge Introduction

October 12, 2022 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , ,

This month, I’m introducing a concept called The Brand Challenge. It’s a way to encourage you to try something new on your website to help you build your brand.

Blog header with right side showing laptop and left with words The Brand Challenge by Denise M. Colby

Sometimes branding and dealing with your website can be challenging. The purpose of this challenge is to encourage you to just try. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It can even be something you decide to change later on. The idea is trying something new to keep propelling you forward in your Author career.

For a list to choose from, here are some ideas to help you with your Brand Challenge this month:

  • Create a new blog post this month about a character, your story theme, or genre you write in
  • Up your on-page SEO with each post and page (for help, I’ve created an On-Page SEO Checklist for you to download, and check out my past blog post Using a Blog SEO Checklist to Streamline Your Blog Post)
  • Create a book page on your website for every book you have or are working on
  • Link two or three pages on your website to one another using Anchor Text
  • Design a social media post about the genre you are writing in, or a book you’ve read recently

Pick One Task A Month For This Brand Challenge

Again, I encourage you to do one thing on this list above to help build your brand. It may not seem much, or it may feel overwhelming. But just stick to one thing only for the entire month. Then do another thing the following month. Pretty soon, you’ll have many months of blog posts or content you didn’t have before.

I’m always amazed at how slow and steady can be the right way to approach brand building.

Sometimes we feel this urgency to hurry up that adds extra stress we don’t need as we are busy writing our next book.

I’d love to hear other ideas that can help you build your brand. Do you like the idea of a monthly Brand Challenge? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.



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How Big Is Your Writing Box?

April 12, 2021 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , ,

We all have created a box for our writing, whether we know it or not. It’s our map, so to speak. And detours can either help or hinder our writing journey. So how big is your writing box? And how do you adjust when potential opportunities or detours appear?

Blog header with white background and laptop open with white screen and Writing Box in it

We all have a game plan when we first start writing. We sort of need to in order to reach our goals. But is your writing anything like you originally planned out when you first started?

Mine isn’t.

I get asked a lot by friends who know I’m writing a book “When will your book be published?” “Have you finished that book yet?” Well, I can understand their questions, since I’ve been working on my book for over eight years now. (I’ll be honest, I’m not focused on it full time, since I’ve had other commitments, including jobs & volunteer positions for my kids schools).

I still plan to publish, but after some amazing side journeys, I now wonder if my book(s) are not the entire piece of my writing journey?

I love my Writing Journey so far

My experience has been awesome, overall. Sure, there have been high points (winning a contest, learning, making friends) and low points (getting hard feedback from a contest, not figuring out a scene, everything taking too long), All of it has helped me learn so much about myself. From putting my work out there, to learning from so many fantastic workshops I feel like I’ve gained a second degree, to making great friends and joining some amazing writing groups. 

But I’m finding as I complete this latest round of edits and share my MS with a few additional people, I’m curious to see what will come next. And I’m willing to step out of my original writing box to see where it can go. Which is very different than having the focused expectation of how the next step will happen.

See, In the beginning, my book was the main goal. Now I’m not so sure.

Be Willing to Expand Your Writing Box

We all have to start somewhere. But, if we are too rigid with our plans, we may miss opportunities that help us with the bigger picture. For me, I needed to explore other areas of writing to help me figure out what I could and couldn’t do. Some of these side journeys have helped me continue on this writing journey.

Magazine Articles

I wrote magazine articles, which took time away from my book, but I found the deadlines, working with an editor, and seeing my writing in print, helped to keep me motivated, and help me be a stronger writer.

Magazine cover articles written by Denise M. Colby for Westcoast Magazine July 2018
Some of the magazine articles I have written and published. If you click on the picture it will take you to those articles that are published digitally

Blog Posts

Blog posts and being a part of this blog has helped me gain confidence in putting my work “out there” and learn that the sky won’t cave in, I do have something to share, and how to respond to comments (and experience the thrill of connecting with a reader). Some of my first blog posts covered topics of hard-learned lessons (Let Me Tell You Something, Face Your Fear) and sharing what I was doing and testing out theories (What is Alt Text and How To Use It), which lent to the next step…

Marketing for Authors

When I made connections between my day job (Marketing) and this author thing and realized I had expertise to share. I felt a nudging to teach (at writing conferences, and in blog posts, and a training course in the works) and establish my Marketing for Authors newsletter. Now I find I love teaching and helping other authors figure out their brand and creating additional content and how this all ties together.

Marketing for Authors Logo - Teal, black and white text with a light bulb and MfA over it. By Denise M. Colby

With all that, I really don’t know if my book is the end all goal now. Or it may still be and all of this will support it in ways I can’t explain yet.

Am I going to finish it and publish it? Yes. Do I have more stories in the works? Yes. But by allowing my writing box to get bigger, I’m seeing infinitely more ways to connect and be a part of this publishing world.

Our Writing Box ties into our Author Brand

What do I want my brand to be?

Our Author Brand is our Author Name and pieces of who we are (and who we decide to share with the world). How we explore and expand as our writing grows and expands. It takes time to develop what our voice is going to be about. And it should continue to evolve.

I have found that by being flexible with my writing box I see a bigger picture. And I’ve learned to trust my instincts and take some side journeys.

My Writing Box Grew Bigger When I Took a Detour

I know I’ve talked about this in snippets in my classes, but here’s a deeper dive into how this came about and became an aha moment for me. And why I believe my branding brainstorm I teach in my classes can help you figure out your brand and new and different ways, which can in turn help you to connect with your readers.

My Example:

I love journaling. Whether it’s a prayer journal, or a travel journal, or what I’ve now started as my Word of the Year Journal, capturing thoughts and writing them out help me process things.

When I started writing my novel, I wanted to have an element of a journal in my story. I didn’t know how I would do it, but wanted my heroine to have a diary that turned into prayer journal. Something which helped show her journey throughout the story.

I wasn’t even completed with my first round of edits when I had a nudge to create a website page about starting a prayer journal. And I argued with myself for taking away precious time to work on my book, etc… But in the end I decided doing so would be good practice for putting something “out there” on my website. So I created the page 7 Steps to Creating a Prayer Journal.

Example by Denise M. Colby of how her writing box expanded by creating a webpage about creating a prayer journal

It didn’t click until afterwards how much this fell in line with my story.

And by flushing this page out, it helped me see more clearly how to implement what I wanted to do. This little detour actually has helped me write my book. And I think it is something I can tie into when my book is published.

Side note: Something else that has come out of all this is the desire to design a line of journals as well. Who would’ve thought that something I love and hold dear, would become a large part of my story and brand?

If I hadn’t take then the time to flush it out and do it, I would’ve limited the potential of offering more than just my story.

So am I the only one to experience this?

Do you have a side journey that has helped your writing career?

I’d love to hear about it.

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Teaching SEO Marketing and Author Brand to Writers At SoCalCWC 2019.

February 12, 2019 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby, Writing tagged as , , , ,

I’m super excited to announce I will be teaching for the first time at a writers’ conference in June this year. The SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference will be held at Hope International University in Fullerton, CA on June 20-22, 2019.

SoCal Christian Writers' Conference June 20-22, 2019. Denise M. Colby will be teaching two workshops - one on SEO Marketing and one on Author Brand

I will be teaching two workshops. My topics? 

  • SEO Marketing for Your Website
  • Developing Your Author Brand

And I’ve been given a cute social media button to announce that I’m faculty on my website and social media. I thought it would be fun to add it here, too.

SoCal Christian Writers' Conference Faculty Member Denise M. Colby will be teaching SEO Marketing and Author Brand

What is the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference? 

This is what is listed on their website:

Whether you’re a new writer or you’ve been in the industry for a while, you’ll find a wonderful community of writers at the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference.

  • Meet with and learn from top-name professionals who will share their insights and expertise from their work in the Christian publishing industry, including agents, acquisitions editors, and best-selling authors.

There are several topics that attendees can learn about, but to help you find out more, take a look at their websiteor Facebook Page.

Did I tell you I’m excited? I am a little giddy about sharing my knowledge and experience with others in a way that I hope will be helpful. I’ve been waiting a while to have this opportunity. I also will have time slots for people to sign up and meet with me one-on-one for advice or input. I wonder if anyone will be interested in hearing what I have to say?

Whether you are a screenwriter, fiction, nonfiction, memoir or teen writer, this conference has something for you. The morning is filled with continuing sessions in a specific topics such as platform, editing, screenwriting, memoir writing, fiction, and nonfiction. There’s even a special section just for teen writers. Each morning session builds on each other throughout the three day conference.

Then there are also individual topics in the afternoon workshops in areas including; publishing, the writing life, fiction, nonfiction, screenwriting, specialty and marketing.

This is where my two classes fit.

In the Developing Your Author Brand class, I plan to help attendees figure out what their brand is or at least narrow down options to help them decide later. And how to develop that brand with your target audience. We will brainstorm applicable content for future use and introduce apps that can help create posts for social media and websites. I’m hoping to have it be a hands on class, where people can actually make something on their laptop during class they can use right away.

For the SEO Marketing for your Website workshop, I will go over what is SEO and why it is important, how to use search engines to find strong keywords and how to create strong SEO with your photos and text (and the steps to do it). We will brainstorm content ideas and create one item from your list.

SoCal Christian Writers' Conference 2019 Marketing Workshops by Denise Colby or Denise M. Colby, SoCalCWC2019
Look – My name is listed!

Years ago when I sat in on my first writers meeting, I had an interest to want to teach a workshop. But I felt at the time like I didn’t have anything to offer, especially because I didn’t know much about this industry. How would I ever have enough experience to provide knowledge and inspiration to both published and unpublished authors?

Well, it turns out I can use my knowledge in my 20+ year career in marketing. The only thing I didn’t have, was an understanding of the publishing world. Yet.

Fast forward five years and I’m ready.

I’ve had several years’ experience in creating my own website and evaluating other author’s pages, as well as practicing different theories and formulas and working with experts in the field. And I’ve learned that what comes naturally for me, may not be natural for other writers. But it doesn’t have to be scary. Thus, this is where I can help.

SoCal Christian Writers' Conference Faculty Member Denise M. Colby is teaching SEO Marketing and Author Brand at SoCalCWC2019, Denise Colby
Here’s my picture and bio on the faculty page

This year, the conference is in its third year. I wrote about the first year in my blog, What Do You Do At a Writing Conference? Since I’ve been involved from the beginning, I’ve made such wonderful friends and have learned something new each year I’ve attended. It’s the perfect place for me to get my feet wet as a new faculty member. I can’t wait!

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