In this post I’m going to talk about having a consistent author brand and I’ll also outline how to carry out certain techy tasks in relation to that, which I hope will help others!
After making the decision to self-publish my first novel this year, I realised this would also be a good opportunity to spruce up my online presence. I’ve talked about this before in 2015 and at the time carried out a revamp across all my social media platforms, but the passage of three years left me no longer satisfied with the changes I had made. Time for a reappraisal!
In 2015, my revised online platforms looked like this:
Em, not that consistent really. After some pondering, I chose to make ‘Susie Murphy Writes’ the established brand and aimed to match everything to that. Which meant that at least my Gmail address could remain the same (thankfully, considering the amount of blogs and newsletters I’m subscribed to).
Changing brand on Facebook
Updating Facebook turned out to be straightforward. When I tried to change it last time, I made an error – I have both an author profile and an author page on Facebook and I originally set the username for the profile as susiemurphywrites. Then I realised it would be better for my page, removed it from the profile and attempted to add it to my page – at which point Facebook said I couldn’t because that username had already been used. And then it wouldn’t let me put it back on my profile either! But I guess enough time has passed since then because when I tried to update it this time it wasn’t a problem. So my Facebook page is finally facebook.com/susiemurphywrites.
Changing brand on Twitter
Twitter didn’t prove to be too much of a challenge either. The problem with a Twitter handle is that you’re confined to 15 characters, which means @susiemurphywrites is 2 characters too long. And @susiemurphy wasn’t available. What could I add onto @susiemurphy to make it tie in with the brand I was trying to establish? I couldn’t think of anything that would fit into just 4 characters, so I switched direction and changed it to @susiemwrites instead. With this handle attached to the name Susie Murphy Writes, I think it works quite well.
Changing brand on my website
Lastly, I needed to change my website domain name. I didn’t like the .net extension and really wanted to return to .com. Happily, susiemurphywrites.com was available so I snapped it up!
This was where I had some technical challenges to tackle. This section will be of particular interest to anyone who started their blog/website with one URL and now really wants to change it to another.
My website is hosted on WordPress under the URL susiegmurphy.wordpress.com, whereas I purchased my new custom domain name from GoDaddy. I needed to link up the two and make sure the WordPress URL was hidden beneath my chosen susiemurphywrites.com.
There is an option on GoDaddy called ‘Forward and Masking’. This forwards my domain name to the WordPress URL and masks it so that the link in the address bar remains susiemurphywrites.com. But it’s the same for every page so it doesn’t allow for any extensions like susiemurphywrites.com/about or susiemurphywrites.com/contact. Which is no good at all for sharing any specific links from my website.
I found the way to solve this on WordPress. What I needed to do was map my custom domain onto my WordPress site – this would ensure that the domain susiemurphywrites.com would show up and so would the individual extensions identifying each page. I was obliged to upgrade my WordPress plan to avail of this but I was happy enough to do that as it removed the compulsory advertising at the end of my blog posts. Another step towards professionalism!
Here’s how to go about mapping a domain:
- On your domains page on WordPress, click on the Add Domain button
- If you’ve already purchased your new domain, click on the link ‘Use a domain I own’
- For those of you, like me, whose domain is managed by another provider (in my case, GoDaddy), choose the option to ‘manually connect it’
- Enter your new domain name in the box provided
- Then you need to go to your other provider and update the DNS settings supplied by WordPress (I won’t claim to understand everything about this but DNS stands for Domain Name System and it involves syncing up domain names correctly on the internet!)
- At this point, make sure you go back to your domains page and set your new domain as your primary domain (I forgot to do this and spent at least 24 hours wondering why it wasn’t working before I realised the step I’d missed…)
- Now comes the waiting as it takes a little while for the DNS servers to update fully – you should get a ‘website coming soon’ notice in the meantime
- If it doesn’t seem to be working, clear your browser’s cache and that should do the trick
It worked (eventually!) for me and I’m pleased to say that all my page links now look exactly how I want them to: susiemurphywrites.com/specificpagenameherewoohoo.
I thought my online presence was fully sorted until I came across a little hiccup with my link previews. These are the boxes of information that show up when you share a link on Facebook or Twitter. The problem here was that the link previews were displaying outdated information; they still showed an old tagline for my website – ‘And wants you to fall in love’ – which I had already removed, and Twitter even had the old WordPress URL.
It appeared that these details were tied into the metadata of my website which I couldn’t change without installing an SEO plugin on WordPress – which in turn would require a further upgrade to my WordPress plan (too expensive). No amount of googling could produce an alternative solution so I put the dilemma to my family and friends online. I just want to say thanks so much to everyone who replied to help – I was very grateful for your suggestions!
In the end, Facebook seemed to fix itself. It’s possible that it just needed time for the servers to refresh and the new data to update. However, at the time of writing, Twitter is still not right. Apparently, it stores a website’s information in its cache and returns to that every time instead of linking to the most recent version. Using the Twitter Card Validator to update it didn’t work and when I contacted Twitter Support I met with only silence. So I think I’ll have to leave it as it is. In any case, it’s only an issue when linking to my site’s home page, while specific links all seem to be displaying correctly.
So there you go! I’ve done a little bit of housekeeping with my author brand and I hope this post has been helpful to anyone looking to map their own domain name too. It’s perhaps the less glamorous side of being a writer but essential nonetheless!