Have you ever read Shakespeare? The defining trait of every tragic Shakespearean hero is that their reach exceeded their grasp. It’s great to reach for the stars, but if your dreams outpace your capabilities, you’re going to wind up in over your head. When it comes to building your brand, you don’t want to overstep your skills. Confidence is absolutely important, but don’t cross the line into hubris. If you do, you’re more than likely going to crash and burn rather than flourish.

Starting small may not seem like an attractive business plan at first. You may have dreams of massive sales and throngs of dedicated readers, but those things take time for virtually every author. When you craft a focused message and target it to a niche audience, you’re answering specific problems. Do this well, and your audience will grow itself. If you try to force your reader base to grow by branching into new territory without being properly prepared, you may wind up falling out of alignment with the values you’ve cemented in readers’ minds, and they’ll start questioning your authenticity. Stay on message and don’t convey an image that conflicts with the persona your audience has grown to adore.

This doesn’t mean rest on your laurels and count your money—you need to be constantly providing your readers with new content, events, and more material. Your message needs to be sharpened constantly. When people see your brand, they need to immediately associate it with the problem you can solve for them. Once you accomplish this, you can start considering new ways to reach more readers. This doesn’t have to entail new subject matter right off the bat—you can take the carefully crafted work you’ve built and turn it into something completely new.

Let’s say you write a book and the reception is better than you expected. Sales are steady, people are talking about you, and more new readers are growing interested. This may at first seem like a good time to broach new subjects, but don’t write off the success of your core work. Don’t jump at everything that seems like an opportunity. Instead, think of ways you can take the work you’ve already done and push it further. You could turn your book into a teaching course or video series.

Biting off more than you can chew doesn’t only apply to your work itself—it also applies to your branding and marketing. Social media marketing is a crucial element of any marketing campaign, but that doesn’t mean you need to create a profile and build a following on every platform. Twitter and Instagram caters to primarily younger users under the age of 35, while Facebook has millions of regular users ranging from high school students to senior citizens. LinkedIn is primarily for making business connections rather than socializing. Depending on the type of work you do and what problems you solve, you’re probably going to find success in one or two platforms at most.

When it comes to the books you write, the events you host and the marketing campaigns you create, if you spread yourself too thin, you won’t have as many meaningful connections with your audience.

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