I have been debating the best way to present myself to readers for a long time, and with plans of launching a podcast this summer in addition to the blog and social media presence, this debate has been in the forefront of my mind.
There are two schools of thought, at least in my mind:
1. Focus my attention on a single topic. For me, this could and probably should be writing and storytelling. Present myself as an expert on the craft and devote at least 80 percent of my blog and Twitter posts and 100 percent of my future podcasts to this topic. Make writing and storytelling my brand. The center of my author platform.
Many experts believe that this is the best way to draw a sizeable audience, and they may be right. If I position myself as an expert in these fields, potential audience members do not need to know me in order to land on my blog or listen to my podcast or follow me on Twitter. They simply need to be seeking information on these topics. If the information is good and the writing is engaging, they will likely continue to read or listen or follow, regardless of how well they know me or my work.
2. Make Matthew Dicks the brand. This is the strategy that I have applied up until this point, but as I prepare to launch a new book and a podcast, I wonder if this strategy should change. While many of my blog posts pertain to writing, storytelling and my career as an author, I also frequently write about my day-to-day life, my impressions on current events, my family, my teaching and random thoughts and ideas that strike me as odd or interesting.
My intent is to present myself not only as an author but also as a teacher, a father, a husband, a reader, a golfer, a sports fan, a wedding DJ, a oddly secular minister, a music and film fan, and more. I have always felt that the best way to engage an audience and sell a book is to sell myself. At an author appearance, I prefer to tell the stories behind my books rather than reading from or discussing the books themselves. Makes readers laugh. Show them something new. Make them wonder. If the reader likes me as a person, he or she is likely to give one of my books a try.
But this may be the wrong approach.
While it might be the most satisfying way for me to write, it might not be the best way to generate traffic, garner a sizeable audience and establish a loyal reader base. It might not be enough to keep audience members returning again and again. Even though the post about my daughter’s recent act of cuteness might be well received, does this mean that the reader will return tomorrow and be equally satisfied reading about my hatred for background television or my progress on my yearly goals or my secret to early retirement?
I’m not sure.
I saw this video recently and hoped that it would answer this question for me. It did not. Dan Blank seems to lean toward the first school of thought but is not definitive.
So I ask you, reader: What are your thoughts on the subject? Do tell.