Branding As Applied to Blogging

Karen Lewis can be found daily at her personal blog, Simply A Musing Blog, and her design blog, Simply Amusing Designs. Recently she and I have been working together on an online radio show called Behind the Blog. Please welcome Karen and her expertise in design and branding!

What is a “brand”? Applied to the world of blogging, a brand is what determines the volume of subscribers and traffic. But what makes a reader want to subscribe to a blog, you ask? Simply put, they get what your blog is about, your brand, and they are attracted to it. If a reader doesn’t understand what you are dishing out at your blog, then they won’t know if they will like your future content. By having a clear brand, readers will know what to expect from you in the future. If they like that then they will subscribe.

A stronger, clearer brand will yield more subscribers.

Most bloggers are social creatures. We crave interaction with our own readers and when we discover the euphoria that comes with our first comment, we are almost instantly connected with a new breed of community in the virtual world. People are either drawn to us or repelled by us based on what they experience on our blogs, both visually and mentally. Of course, the most highly desirable option would be that people are attracted to us from what they bring away from our blogs.

I have compiled a list of things you really need to consider in order to establish a brand for your blog:

Your Blog’s Name – If you’re just about to start a blog, then pick an original name for your blog.  You should also consider registering the .com version of your blog name, if it’s available. The name of your blog should be short and sweet, but still convey what your blog and its topics will be about.

If you already have a blog, does your URL match your blog name? It’s very confusing for a reader who is looking for “Simply A Musing Blog” to have to remember that the URL is actually “theadventuresofourfamily.blogspot.com”. So try to make them match if at all possible.

Design – This is without a doubt the easiest and most common way to distinguish yourself from others. An original design can do wonders for branding purposes. How many other blogs are out there running the same default theme as you are? Even if you don’t want to pay for an original design, there are some things you can do to set yourself apart – change the header image, play with the fonts and colors – but do something.

Focus on consistency with your design. Use your blog’s colors or graphics in your emails and feedburner subscriptions, (see Mamablogga’s post on Seven ways to Master Feedburner) and on other social platforms you use, such as MyBlogLog.com and Twitter. Do you have a “logo” – something you are known for? Have that turned into a favicon for your blog – include it where ever you can. The key is being consistent so when your readers come across something, they immediately recognize it as being you. When you think of Coca Cola…what do you see? What about McDonalds? You had a visual of the golden arches, right? That’s design branding at its best.

I’m known for my little blue birdy – I have incorporated it into both my personal blog as well as my business blog and even if I wanted to, there’s no way I can get rid of it now – because it’s an integral part of my brand.

Write Well and with a Purpose – A catchy name and beautiful design are not enough to keep readers coming back, especially since many people use feed aggregators such as Bloglines and Google Reader to read your posts. Spend a little extra time polishing that post before you send it out into the webosphere for everyone to read.

In addition, consider having a clearly-defined purpose for your blog. You might need to sit down and brainstorm this on a pad and paper – ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who do I want to reach with my blog?
  • What do I want to accomplish with my blog?
  • How much time am I willing to invest in writing for my blog?

Defining your blog’s purpose will accomplish several branding goals:

  • you’ll have a focused topic,
  • you’ll narrow what keywords to target for SEO purposes, and
  • you’ll have ideads about what to post that will (hopefully) set you apart from other blogs in your genre.

With over 80 million blogs out there, it’s important to find your niche. You might consider addressing your mission statement on your “About” page – Darren from ProBlogger has done a fantastic job of this. See also ProBlogger’s post about creating a blog mission statement.

Being Social – Advertising yourself through commenting, emailing and using social media like Technorati, Twitter and StumbleUpon are great ways to bring new visitors to your site. Another way that I’m using right now is guest blogging, which not only gains links to you, but it also raises awareness about your blog and highlights your writing for an audience you might not otherwise have.

When you comment, remember to leave your blog’s name in the name field. I usually sign off as “Karen {simply a musing blog} on everything I do, because it helps garner attention to my blog. ProBlogger has compiled a list of 10 things that will hurt your blog’s brand when commenting – which I highly suggest you read to avoid making those mistakes, at all costs.

Finally, remember that all of the above components work together to create a well-rounded before, during and after experience – otherwise known as your brand. And just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will your brand be. I encourage you to take time to create a memorable experience for your readers that will leave them hungry for more and keep them coming back to visit and comment – because as we discussed in the very beginning of this entry, once you’ve had one comment as a blogger, you want more, right?