Saturday, October 31, 2015

Be U.N.I.Q.U.E.

What is it about us as individuals that other people like? Our similarities? Perhaps. But I believe our differences are definitely key, and it's that key, I believe, that can open doors for God to use us in the way He desires.

Here's your braids to stare at.
That's me at the TX Ranger
museum putting together
a Colt Peacemaker.
Howdy, y'all. Crystal Barnes here. This is my first time ever on the Writers On The Storm blog. (Don't look at my knees knocking. Look at my face or the red hair, which is probably in two braids since I'm gonna be looking like Farmer Jones' wife tonight.) Anyway, when Linda asked me to share with y'all, I got to thinking "What on earth do I know about Marketing or Branding that's worth sharing?" This is what this country-bumpkin came up with, and I hope it helps save someone some time and effort.

I spent a number of years in college earning a degree in Computing Science. (And before you ask, no computers do not rank as my favoritest thing in the world. I'm just not afraid to use them. ;) ) One thing I learned is consistency counts, especially when it comes to designing stuff for users. Oh, and making stuff idiot-proof, but that's whole 'nother lesson all on its own. :)

I figured I'd take a few key things I've learned to make an acronym that might help y'all in Branding, especially when it comes to web design (or blogging if that is your cup of tea--or coffee if you're Linda Yezak. :) )

  • U - YoU

    • Be you! When someone lands on your home page, they should automatically know what your site is about and what you write at just a glance. Don't be afraid to show that part of you that makes you different/unique.

  • N - Nice

    • Be nice to your users/followers. Make links, tabs, and newsletter sign-ups easy to find. Be consistent on where you place items from page to page. The more time someone has to take to search for something, the more likely they are to give up and move on to something else. (Sorry, but such is the state of our microwave society.) Make the page easy on the eyes---in other words, don't be afraid of white space. :)

  • I - Interface

    • This is another place where consistency really counts! This is how you build your brand. Use the same banner images on your website and newsletter and blog and even Facebook. Give them a feel that transcends wherever they find you online. And let it reflect what you write! Me, I write Inspirational Western Romances. You'll notice a lot of my stuff has a country feel or wood background (yep, even my book covers now have this). I've got a Wanted poster design (with my picture) that stays at the top of my website and has taken up residence on my newsletter. Extract you and put it in everything you do. :)

  • Q - Quiet

    • This is more a trend of the past, but I'll say it just in case the thought crosses your mind. Don't add music or sound that starts the moment your page loads. This girl will mute or close your page quicker than you can blink, and I doubt I'm the only one. Videos are great, but let us decide when to play them. :)

  • U - User-focused

    • Remember this site might be about you, but it's not about you! LOL. Yes, I know that's the biggest contrapositive statement ever. Nevertheless, it's about your user (follower). Ask yourself, "Why would someone visit my site? What do I offer?" Books? Great! But, honey, they can find that on Amazon. Do you blog tidbits, offer recipes, bonus features, behind the scenes looks at your stories? Be creative in what you offer. Me, I love taking pictures on my research trips, so I've opted to share those and I'm only getting started. Karen Witemeyer has a great website and makes an awesome example of a reader-focused author page. 

  • E - Engaging

    • Be engaging. Keep your site fresh with new content so folks will keep wanting to come back and hang around your porch.

Well, that about covers my two-cents worth for the day. When it comes to your websites be---UNIQUE---U (yoU) N (Nice) I (Interface) Q (Quiet) U (User-focused) E (Engaging)

Y'all have questions I didn't cover? (Now, I ain't guaranteeing I have the answers, but I'm willing to give it a shot.)

Do you have any tips or tricks  you've found helpful that you could share?

Crystal L Barnes is an award-winning author, who also happens to be a born-n-raised Texan. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), her local ACFW chapter, 19th Century Writers, and her local church. She has a degree in Computing Science because she loves putting things into their proper place, and she enjoys writing because she gets to share her love of old-fashioned things and the Lord. When she's not writing or reading, Crystal enjoys knitting, sewing, or crocheting while watching old movies/sitcoms. Find out more about Crystal at or connect with her on Facebook, Google+, or Pinterest.

Her debut novel Win, Love, or Draw releases Nov. 14, 2015

Catherine McGarrett is a strong woman. Life in Texas demands such. For five years, she has built a growing horse ranch while praying for the return of the one man who stole her heart and shattered it in a million pieces when he left. 

Now he’s back.
Samuel McGarrett rides into Cater Springs, Texas toting two six-shooters and too many scars. The trouble and pain from the past erupts around the couple. And not just in their marriage. Can Sam win Catherine’s trust? Will their love survive? Or will his final draw be his last? 

Order Win, Love, or Draw


  1. Great post Crystal! I enjoyed reading your input on U.N.I.Q.U.E!

  2. Love this, Crystal! No need for knee-knocking. You nailed it!

  3. This is so awesome. Terrific advice, girl. And you tell those knees to stop knocking!