Okay, so now you have the basics. You've figured out the form your web presence will take (e-newsletter, blog, etc.), and you've picked your brand keywords and have started to design your graphics with those in mind.
What is next?
The hard part. So far, it's been a lot of fun, but now is when we must make some judgment calls. And those aren't always easy.
We've talked some this week about how to avoid pissing people off online. That's such a fundamental, basic, no-brainer starting point that it sometimes surprises me we have to remind people of this at all. Except maybe it's not such a surprise. People are diverse and moody creatures. Even the best of us have bad days. If you're having a bad day, take a deep breath, eat some chocolate, and remind yourself that your mood will pass but your internet writings will linger indefinitely. It's the nature of the beast.
What if you're having a great day, but someone attacks you? Or says something stupid? Or somehow punches your buttons?
Step back from it. They're the ones having the bad day. Not you. It says more about them than about you. Always take the high road -- not just because the view is better from up there, but because it's a better defensive position. If you are always gracious, charming, thoughtful, and kind, then people will be shocked (and rightly so) that anyone would want to come after you. In the end, the mean people will only look meaner, and the mud they sling at you will miss by a wide margin.
If you slip up and get into a public argument or post something you regret -- and it happens to all of us at one time or another -- get out of it as graciously and as quickly as you can.
So. Where are we on our guidelines? Don't insult people. Don't pick fights. If someone picks a fight with you, be gracious and forgiving. If you slip up, be a bigger person and admit to it. Remember that there's more at stake than winning a point against an opponent. Your public image is on the line.
But these are easy things, right? What about decisions that don't hinge on ugly behavior?
This is where your keywords can help you. Let's say, for example, that you write crime novels and your keywords are chilling, taut, and emotional. You've designed a blog and website with lots of icy colors (silver, white, ice blue, a bit of black or blood red) and sharp-edged graphics. You're going to do monthly articles on forensics, including interviews with people who work in criminal investigations. You might also post some true crime files.
In this case, should you ever post pictures of your kids on your blog?
Your quickest response might be a firm no. But pause and consider. Do your children's activities ever fit in with your theme? Halloween costumes. Science projects. Book reports on mystery novels. Any of these things might support your theme and allow you to incorporate material that might not otherwise fit your plans. The point is to be selective, and to select material that works.
Let's try another example. Actually, we'll do two again because that seems to spark some good discussion in the comments and helps you really pull the taffy.
You write warm, sunny women's fiction with mostly happy families and low-conflict plots. Your keywords are supportive, warm, and nurturing. In real life, your next-door neighbor's house was broken into in the middle of the day. Your neighbor was raped and slaughtered. It's a sensational crime, and it leaves you terrified. Can you write about this in your monthly newsletter? If so, how do you approach it?
You write young adult and middle grade novels. Your keywords are funky, playful, and giggly. Your website has lots of games and puzzles and riddles. You're taking an extended vacation at a nudist colony for swingers. Can you post information about this on your website? If so, how?