People blog for a variety of reasons. Many start out simply wanting to share their thoughts and words and, hopefully, make a difference in other people’s lives. Others are more enterprising, aiming to turn blogging into a source of livelihood and a money-making venture while others aim to use their blogs to expand their professional or business networks.
Blogging has become an excellent way to earn more exposure, whether you seek exposure for yourself personally, or for your business. Thus, blogging has come to be seen as a great way to improve one’s brand.
This article dives deep into 1) how blogging and branding are related and 2) best-practices for building your personal brand while blogging.
BLOGGING AND BRANDING
Blogs are seen as effective platforms for individuals and businesses to build their online presence and expand it further. Forget about sending bulk email to your fans and leaving it at that, blogs are just as effective (even more so) in creating connections and strengthening them.
Branding, in a strictly marketing concept, is that strategy that involves the creation of a unique and differentiated name and image. The unique name and image is primarily for the purpose of establishing a presence in the minds and consciousness of customers, so you can attract new ones and keep the existing ones. It takes a slightly different turn when we are talking of the online context. Branding becomes a technique that makes use of the internet and various available online tools in order to build your presence online.
As blogging has become more widespread in the recent decade, so did its power to enable an individual or a business to build an online presence. Granted, it is not the only tool or strategy that can be adopted in order to get one’s brand known and thrive. They include having a logo with a unique design, being active in social media and online communities, and connecting or networking with other businesses or individuals within the same industry. It wasn’t until recently that many individuals and companies have recognized the power of blogging in branding.
How does branding through blogging benefit you?
- It drives traffic to your site. Blogging improves your site’s rank on search engines and in the process it increases the amount of traffic to your blog or site.
- It strengthens relationships, specifically your relationship with your customer base or target audience. Blogging promotes interaction since it comes in a more personalized form, with an easy-to-approach vibe.
- It positions you as an authority figure in your industry. Have you ever fancied yourself to be a brand leader? Then you can accomplish that with the help of blogging if you post useful and informative content. It gives you authority in your chosen field, and will give your business and brand a boost in recognition, trust, and revenue generation.
BEST BLOGGING PRACTICES FOR BUILDING YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
No doubt, you will find a lot of tips and suggestions on how you can go about maximizing your blog in order to build your personal brand.
Unfortunately, there are simply too many of them to wade through, so we have sifted through them to come up with the best, tried-and-tested, practices that you, too, can put into practice in building your own brand through blogging.
Register Own Name as a Domain
With so many blogs now dotting the internet, it is so easy for one blog to drown in a sea of other blogs. Getting noticed certainly becomes more difficult if there are thousands of other blogs in the same niche that are also trying their best to get their brand off the ground.
The key here is to be authentic, or to have an identity that is distinctly yours. This is under the presumption that, even before starting your blog, you already know what subject matter you will focus on, or what industry you will try to enter.Know thyself, so to speak, because that will be your foundation.
You can start by owning your own name, through registering your own name as a domain. You want to promote your personal brand. It should bear your name and identity.
Once you have registered your own name, make sure you use the same name in a way that is easily identifiable when you create accounts in social media platforms and communities for purposes of promoting your blog. Be consistent.
Design a Branding-Friendly Blog
This takes a lot of work, since we are talking about the overall look and feel of your blog.
- Choose a hosting service provider and a blogging platform. For this, there are a variety of service providers and platforms to choose from, depending on the type of blog you want to set up, the industry or niche you want to enter, and how you plan to manage your blog. The most popular hosting providers include Bluehost, Siteground and HostGator, among others, while blogging platforms include WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr. Again, depending on your needs and preferences, you can make an informed decision on which to go for.
- Apply a unique yet user-friendly blog design. Put yourself in the shoes of your readers. If you visit a blog and you have a hard time navigating, would you want to go through the pain of returning and groping your way around it in the future? Of course not. Also, a design that is too generic also implies that the blog owner does not put a lot of effort or does not have much commitment in managing the blog. Why should a reader put commitment in reading the content that is on it? That is why you have to pick a layout or design that will make your blog stand out and be easily noticeable. First impressions last, and that also applies in this case.
- Choose your logo and tagline properly. Just as you have given a lot of thought in picking a unique name and blog design, you should also be just as circumspect when designing a logo or creating a tagline. Remember that these logos and taglines will be associated with your personal brand, so you have to make sure that they will count.
- Make your blog functional. There should be widgets or plugins that link to your social media accounts. Give your readers the opportunity to interact with you by providing options to contact you. “Online presence” should not only mean being present online. You also have to make yourself accessible to your readers, so they will feel they are dealing with an actual human being and an individual, and not just a robot working behind a computer publishing content.
One thing you have to remember is that you must be willing to spend money on your blog. Sure, there are a lot of platforms that are free, but they have limited features.
If you want to have full control on how your blog will look like and how it will operate, then you have to shell out some cash. Customization comes at a price; you just have to weigh how much you are willing (and are able) to pay.
Embrace Social Media
Social media has certainly become a game-changer, playing a very important role when it comes to branding. In the past, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter were designed to connect and reconnect people. Today, their roles have become far more encompassing. Other social media platforms worth noting include Google+, Reddit, Pinterest, Digg, and Instagram.
Social media presence gives you a human personality online. Your audience will be able to identify your blog with an individual, someone with a personality.
- Join social media and be active in your circles. So you signed up for an account in this or that platform; that is not the end of it. Be social in every sense of the word. You have to be active in those circles, because that is one way to ensure that you have a consistent online presence. Post regular updates in the social media platforms that you are a member of, actively promoting your blog and, in turn, your brand.
- Display your social following statistics. There are several widgets or plugins that you can install on your blog so that it will display your social following statistics. Visitors that arrive at your blog for the first time are likely to see the number of followers you have on your social media accounts. High numbers indicate that your brand is likable and will, in turn, convince these new visitors to follow you. Social proof should not miss on your blog.
Manage blog content
The biggest difference between successful and unsuccessful blogs is the content. This principle also applies to branding through blogging. What separates bloggers that have successfully created their own brand is the value that they offer to their audience.
We can use a simple analogy for this. A clothing brand, for example. Buyers will not give a clothing brand the time of day, much less their money, if the quality – the fabric, the workmanship, the design – is poor or sub-par. It’s the same thing with blogging. Readers will not visit a blog that does not provide valuable information, so that blog can just say goodbye to any hopes of its brand going anywhere.
- Make sure your blog offers value. Your blog should provide useful information, or information that will actually mean something for anyone who reads or sees it. With so many blogs to go through, visitors won’t hesitate to click away from your blog to another, more relevant, blog if you offer nothing of value. At the end of the day, the most important aspect of your blog is the value of the content. It won’t do your personal brand any good if you have a great-looking blog that is filled with poor quality content.
- Keep blog content consistent. You want to establish yourself as an authority when it comes to travel. Unless you find a good reason and an interconnection, you won’t be doing your online branding any favors if you start throwing in content related to fashion somewhere in there. Early on, you have chosen a specific subject matter or topic. Stick to it, if you also want your brand to stick.
- Keep the updates regular. To establish your brand, you have to remain visible at all times. You are not doing it right if you put up content one day, then disappear for a week, then coming back for another update, and disappear for another spell. Update your blog regularly or, if you create a timeline or schedule, stick to it. If you decide to put up content every two weeks, then do so, but make sure you do it regularly. Long silences are bound to give the impression that you are not as committed to your blogging (and branding), and it will also make your readers remember you less.
- Include a portfolio. You might think that portfolios are only for artists, photographers and models. You’d be wrong. All the projects that you have worked on can comprise your personal portfolio, which you should include in your blog. This will give your audience a deeper look on who you are and what your brand has to offer. Seeing the contents of your portfolio will also help you gain their trust a bit faster. For example, a food blog that features recipes for cakes should include successful original and personal recipes. This will certainly add to the blogger’s credibility in that specific area.
- Have good visual elements. Never forget that humans are, by nature, visual beings. 65% of the population is comprised of visual learners. People will certainly not enjoy visiting a blog that is purely text and does not have images or videos. Those who do will definitely not stay long on that blog. Most of them will certainly not want to go back to it. You have to strike a balance between text and multimedia in order to engage your readers to pay attention to your blog. And, making compelling and unique blog visuals doesn’t have to be as hard as you might think.
Do some “auditing”
In other words, you will have to monitor your online presence. Be on your guard and stay vigilant at all times. This will allow you to be more flexible, and take the appropriate action if and when necessary.
You may think that it is embarrassing to “Google yourself” but, hey, there is nothing wrong with that. It’s a good way to assess how your online presence is faring. In fact, we recommend that you set up alerts for your blog’s name so you can watch it more closely.
You should also watch what you share on your social media channels. Just as you manage the content you put up on your blog, you should also be just as careful when it comes to your social networks. You may be active on social media and have amassed a huge following, but you should keep an eye on those numbers, and the reactions of your followers. Keep in mind that every single thing you share on your social networks, be it an image, a status update, a tweet, or even a link or URL, will have an impact on your personal brand.
Network, network, network
Being active on social media is one good way of networking, but do not stop there. Building your own network will also work wonders for your personal brand. But, aside from social media promotions, how else can you expand your network?
- Build online communities through your blog. You will find other successful blogs that have email lists, where readers can sign up for regular updates. Take this opportunity to reach out to your readers in an avenue other than content published on your blog. For example, a travel blogger can send tips via email other than those regularly appearing on the blog. This will give readers a sense of importance, because they are personally receiving updates and communication from the blogger. Thus, the brand name is strengthened.
- Associate with other strong brands. It is not a strange sight to see bloggers with other bloggers, especially those that are in the same niche or industry. In fact, they also often collaborate on certain projects which, in turn, boost both of their personal brands. When choosing a brand to associate your own brand with, make sure you choose wisely. Pick a strong brand or, if not an established brand, at least one that has potential of growing. The brand should also be relevant, or have a connection with you and the brand that you want to promote. For example, you want to promote your brand as a wildlife photographer, then you might want to associate with established wildlife photography groups and photography clubs. Join their communities and contribute content to their websites or blogs. Nowadays, submitting guest posts is another way of widening your network and getting more attention for your brand.
Believe it or not, humility still goes a long way, even in the blogosphere. Promote your blog on all the appropriate channels that you can, but do it tastefully and avoid coming on too strong. Readers are bound to be turned off by excessive self-promotion, so make sure you do not do it so blatantly or be too forward about it.
Blatant self-promotion can damage your brand. Aside from turning away your target audience, it will also put a wedge between you and the other bloggers in your industry. That is not a position you would want to find yourself in. It will not bode well for your networking efforts, and building your brand will become more difficult.
Building a personal brand may seem like a monumental task, especially if you are thinking of using a blog to do so. But it should not be like that. After all, the blog is, in itself, a powerful tool for marketing your brand. All that is left is for you to utilize the tools that you are given in order to build your brand and make it flourish.
And finally, your blog will help you create a personal brand that enables you to earn thousands of dollars per month additionally.