If you’re blogging, you’re branding an image and building a following. You might not be marketing a product or service. If not today, maybe someday. Maybe never. And it doesn’t have to be product or service to be marketed. Anyone can market an idea. It doesn’t have to be an idea to sell—it could be a cause to support or an awareness to spread.
My point is that everyone is branding an image, and everyone has something of value to market.
Is it working?
- I recognize many bloggers just by their Gravatars. That’s a visual brand that you’ve created, which other people recognize.
- Sometimes, I also remember what your header, photo, or product looks like. Your visual branding efforts have gone a step further.
- I also recognize many bloggers by name. In this case, your name (or pseudonym or user id) has been branded.
- For some, I know what to expect in the way of content when I visit your site. You’ve branded more than just your image and name.
- For others, I know there is something special that I will find at your site. Your branding is distinguished in some way.
- There are some sites that I really look forward to visiting when I see a new post (and sometimes, when I see you’ve left a comment). You have me hooked.
I’m not in everyone’s target audience, yet I have experienced the branding that occurs here at WordPress.
WordPress is an amazing community:
- There is much supportive interaction available here.
- In some ways, it’s better than a magazine, yet it’s FREE and isn’t packed with all those obtrusive advertisements.
- The ambiance has been, in my experience, very positive.
- Blogging has many wonderful benefits, like creative expression, trying something out, finding your voice, meeting and interacting with fascinating people, sharing your passion with others, getting your mind off your problems, developing confidence, and so on.
- You get your very own personal space in the blogging universe, and a lot of freedom with what you choose to do with it.
- You are branding an image through your blogging.
- There are many wonderful benefits of blogging.
This gives you a golden opportunity.
If your branding is working here at WordPress, then what you want is more traffic on your blog from your target audience. You want more than a one-time visitor.
Spread the word about the many benefits of blogging to others. This will help increase the blogging traffic (and those people will enjoy the positive benefits of blogging). If they start blogging because of you, chances are they will follow your blog and interact with you here, too.
Include a link to your blog at the back of your book, on your other sites, and on your marketing materials. More than just a link, include a line that might attract visitors to your blog. When you interact with people, mention what a wonderful place your blog is. Market the benefits of blogging. Encourage others to read blogs, even if they don’t want to start their own blogs.
You don’t have to be a writer, artist, businessman, salesman, photographer, or celebrity to enjoy the benefits of blogging. Anyone can do this. Everyone has something that he or she enjoys—like a hobby, special skill, or sport—that he or she can share.
You don’t even have to make your own posts to benefit from blogging. Reading posts right on my Reader is, in some ways, better than a magazine. When I read a magazine, I loathe having to sort through all the advertisements to find and read an article. And the magazine costs money, whereas a blog is free. (Imagine if we tried to publish books that were so loaded with advertisements.)
I must also say that I enjoy several blogs which are amazingly well-written. Very often, the blogs that I read are edited better than books. The words and ideas tend to flow very well, too. Many bloggers also excel at making their blogs visually quite appealing.
And there is good reason for this. It’s easier to edit one post than it is to edit an entire book (even if you post several times per week). If you are marketing something, you want your blog to be impressive.
The WordPress community isn’t just awesome in terms of interaction and support, there is a good deal of wonderful content here, too.
Not all of the content will suit everyone. But the beauty of the Follow button is that you can easily find content that appeals to you in your Reader.
I contend that, for me anyway, WordPress is better than a magazine. Here is yet another reason why. Imagine that you’re sitting in an office, waiting to be called. You could pick up a magazine that many other hands have touched recently. Or you could get out your e-reader, iPhone, tablet, or laptop, and check out posts from your favorite bloggers.
Market the many wonderful benefits of reading blogs and/or starting a blog. Many people may appreciate this once they really get started. Remember, there is much to gain even for people who don’t make their own posts. It might just help you get a little more out of your own branding efforts.
Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)
Have you heard about Read Tuesday? It’s a Black Friday type of event, but specifically for books.
Funny that you should post this today. I have just been to the library and picked up the ‘Dummies Guide to Blogging’ – purely to pick up further tips and ideas, more specifically on how to gain more traffic. My blog is growing slowly but I know that there are areas that could use some more work and you have highlighted some of them here – so thank you for that! I am also considering doing a podcast of my book – perhaps the first couple of chapters. Have to work out how to do that now but I am thinking that may be a useful marketing tool both for my blog and for the book. Have you any experience in that area at all?
Thank you as ever for a great post. 🙂
I guess they do have a guide for everything. 🙂 I would expect a podcast to be most effective when it has content that is likely to attract your target audience. I haven’t tried podcasting yet, but I have run across another author who, if I recall directly, did build up a following through podcasts prior to publishing. He had a unique story to tell, and this probably helped him attract his audience. I’m not sure where to find his podcasts, but here is his book: http://amzn.com/1480280577.
A blog following tends to start out slowly, even if the content is excellent in the beginning. Blogging and branding both require time and patience (I guess, unless you get lucky and something goes viral). Good luck. 🙂
Thank you Chris. I shall see how it goes! 🙂
As usual a thought provoking post. I wonder how can one evaluate the effectiveness of the effort. Is it followers, comments, likes, or Views? Thanks for this.
That’s a tough question. Any view works toward branding; but it takes repeated views from the same people for branding to take effect, and the views need to be from your target audience to be most effective. It’s hard to measure this from the number of views, but definitely an increase in views over time helps. The comments section shows that your blog is interactive and you have succeeded in drawing out interaction from others. Follows include people who really enjoy your blog, but also include others who are just hoping for a return follow (or may view returning a follow as a courtesy). Staring at the numbers can be discouraging, especially as blogging tends to start out slowly and takes time to grow. If you feel that you, personally, are benefiting from your posts, see that the numbers are growing (even if slowly), and are confident that you have content that will attract your target audience (otherwise, it’s something to work on in the future), then I would focus on this more than the numbers. Patience is a challenge, but it’s also key. 🙂
Thanks for the reply. Makes sense.
[ Smiles ] Great article about branding.
I believe that my own style of blogging has worked out well for me.
Blogging style. That’s a good point. Ideally, we all want to have blogging styles that attract our target audiences. I’m glad to hear that yours is working out well. 🙂
[ Smiles ] Thank you, Chris. And, best of luck to you in regards to your blog!
I certainly agree with all of the wonderful things about WordPress (I’ve never liked magazines, anyway) 🙂 Since I’m not trying to market any product or service through my blog, I hasn’t considered that I am still, in a way, branding it… This post really got me thinking!
You are branding, even if unintentionally. And if nothing else, your ideas, opinions, expressions, style, and such carry influence, and so you may very well be marketing things that aren’t products or services. 🙂 I’m always glad when I can get people thinking.
Your responses to readers’ questions are often as interesting as your posts, Chris. Nice work
Thank you. 🙂 The posts themselves actually come quite easily, but I often find the comments to be a challenge. I didn’t comment much when I first started blogging; it’s taken me a while to find my commenting style.
Branding is something that has troubled me since the get go with my blog. Hence the name of my blog and my about page. I like that my blog has become engaging to readers and I know that has resulted from putting effort into engaging readers . I would like to engage more followers. Any ideas on that? When I follow new blogs, i like to keep returning to build relationships through comments, but that is sometimes not reciprocated. Also, on another subject, I changed my theme a while back. I like that it is better organized than my old one, but I noticed this weekend, while working from my iPad, the iPad view only shows the top white page with header categories and you actually have to scroll down to see the header image and the blog. Not cool. That is probably theme related, huh?
Even if you see a slow measure of growth, time and patience can lead to something significant. Blogs tend to start out slowly at first. Time and patience, along with posting content that will be of interest to your target audience, are more likely to lead to meaningful follows than some get-follows-quickly scheme. Creating one super post may have little effect in itself, so it’s important not to wear yourself out on any one post (but don’t save time by skipping a proofread). Your creativity, personality, and style help you with branding, but over a lengthy period of time.
Commenting isn’t easy. Some bloggers are inherently shy, even online. Some know that commenting on reviews is taboo, and haven’t realized that blogging is supposed to be interactive. Most bloggers are very busy, and commenting might be something they just don’t fit in. Some people aren’t looking for interaction. People also have different personalities, and sometimes two personalities don’t fit well. Despite all this, there still is a great deal of wonderful interaction and exchange of ideas here at WordPress.
It’s a challenge to design a website that looks great on any device, especially when you add a tiny cell phone screen to the mix. 🙂
Yeah. It is a vast world of different personalities. I don’t know how the folks with 10,000 plus followers stay engaged. Not sure how I would manage that!
We’re naturally think, “More! More!” But then as we get more, we realize that “more” presents its own challenges. 🙂
It was my one year blogging anniversary yesterday! It’s been a wonderful year of connecting with inspiring people, learning a lot, and having the opportunity to express my own ideas! Yay for being a liberated and empowered blogger! 🙂
Happy “blog-iversary”! 🙂
Thanks Chris! 😀