In the digital age, an author’s website is among your most important assets. After all, it’s your home base online and your only truly owned corner of the Internet. This is where readers will turn to discover you, connect, and learn about your writing.
Thus, it is important that your website establishes a recognizable look and feel that readers can instantly recognize and associate with you wherever else your platform extends.
In other words, your website must clearly establish your brand.
When branding is done well, readers may not be able to articulate exactly what defines your brand’s parameters on their own, but they will recognize it instantly upon sight with the easy familiarity of recognizing a friend.
But how is such a seamless recognizability accomplished? It takes a number of key elements, all working together.
1) Signature colors
Pick a few colors—three to five is a good number—and use them consistently throughout your author materials, starting with your website. Choose colors that go well together and reflect a tone consistent with your genre and writing style or themes.
If you’re like me and get stuck when it comes to color matching, there are a lot of places you can draw inspiration from. Search Pinterest for color schemes, or try a free online tool such as Adobe’s color wheel.
Regardless of what colors you choose, don’t just try to get the color “close enough” each time you design something new—note the RGB and HEX codes for each color in your scheme so you can be sure you have the colors exactly right every time.
2) Signature fonts
Just as consistent colors can make your brand instantly recognizable, so too can your fonts—even something as simple as Helvetica can create an easily recognizable look.
And certainly, when it comes to fonts, simple is best. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun, too. Typically, it’s best to pick two fonts to stick to. Choose one font with flair to it—a script or other decorative style. Use this one for your headlines and callout statements. For the second font, choose something simple and easy to read, such as Arial or Helvetica. Use this one for sub-headlines, supporting statements and paragraphs.
In this way, you can create an overall look that is consistent, recognizable, but still interesting.
Do yourself a favor—hire a professional to take your head shot. It may cost a couple hundred dollars, but it’ll pay for itself in the professional image it will portray for you.
Have some fun in your head shots—draw out your personality and embrace the tone of your genre/motifs. But remember that this is a professional image, and one you want to last for many years, too. Think about how you want your readers to see you.
A logo is a simple graphic that represents your brand. The best ones are simple, but distinct, and incorporate the visual cues of your brand from your colors and fonts.
Many authors tie in something related to writing in general into their logos, or an element that ties back to their genre, or another signature of their works.
If you’re looking for inspiration, this collection of author logos from Adazing is a good place to start. It’s also a good idea to look at the logos of your own favorite authors.
5) Header Graphic
Any website template I’ve ever encountered offered a space at the top for a header image. The header is the first thing your website visitors lay eyes on, so don’t miss this opportunity to create an visual impression in your readers’ minds.
Make full use of your brand colors here, and consider incorporating your logo and perhaps the cover of one of your books.
Once ready, modify this graphic’s dimensions to fit the header image of any social media accounts you use for your author platform. The consistency will pay off dividends.
6) Blog Image Template
Check any top level writing blog (including this one)—they all have rules they follow to make them all appear to “match.” Having a consistent shape and size to your own blog post images will give your website a polished, professional look.
At minimum, create standard image dimensions to use for all your blog posts. But if you want to take it further, you can create a frame, and apply your two fonts for header and subhead language.
(NOTE: For all three of these image types—logo, headers, and blog images—Canva is a great free tool for design beginners.)
Look Like A Pro
Your website is you’re readers’ best way to get to know you and your work online. All roads should lead back to it! Which means your website is an all-important tool for establishing your author brand with readers, and making it easy for them to find you and your books elsewhere.
If you take the time to set up these key elements for branding on your website, you’ll not only put your best face forward to fans online, but it will also be a lot easier for your fans to recognize you anywhere else they come across you, your online platform, and your work.
By day, Emily Wenstrom is an author social media coach and content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author whose debut novel Mud was named 2016 Book of the Year by the Florida Writers Association.