How To Brand Yourself And Your Blog
This is NOT a step by step guide for how to become the next Make Money Online guru. I don’t want to be known as the guy who suggested our industry needs a hundred more self-proclaimed experts of the “make money by talking about making money” skillset.
Instead I want to talk about blog branding in general. And this applies to every blog owner, whether you’re a scumbag pick-up artist, a music journalist or just some crazed motherfucker with access to a WordPress.
You see, blogging as a means of making money is a lot more complicated than simply spunking random thoughts in to a journal and hoping your friends click the Facebook link. To make it a viable business, you have to brand yourself effectively.
Step 1: Understand what makes a trend setter in your niche.
Before you can brand your blog, you have to understand the very unique perception of what makes a trendsetter in your niche. For those of us in the “Make Money Online” market, that’s pretty straightforward. You want to portray yourself as a Made Man. A big trousered, fine dining, sunbed lounging, rich, son of a bitch. But in other markets, especially if you’re blogging about topics you’re not experienced with, it can be a little tougher to pinpoint the trendsetter gene.
For example, if you’re a music blogger, how can you create an illusion of importance? You could be exploiting the leaked albums market for a start. Getting to reviews before any of the mainstream sites and then claiming you were sent advance copies. Is it bullshit? Absolutely. But to your readers, you appear one step ahead.
If you can muster photos where you’re posing with the stars after a gig, get them featured in your header banner. To you, it’s a cheesy fan picture where you’re blushing bright red. To your readers, it’s the evidence you get invited to the hottest after-parties in town.
It doesn’t take long studying a Pick-Up Artist blog to establish where the trendsetter gene is at. You need to show as many drop dead gorgeous bombshells hanging off your arm as your page load time can handle. For most of us, this means creating a false blogger identity. Or, you know, going to a Playboy Mansion party.
The point remains the same. Whatever market you’re blogging to, a good brand is one that should be viewed with importance, jealousy or just plain admiration. You win nothing by sounding ordinary.
Step 2: Say what other people can’t put in to words.
Some of the best bloggers in the business, in my opinion, are those who find ways to phrase what their readers simply can’t put in to words. They convey general sentiment as if they’re voices of the people. This is an insanely effective technique that can propel your readership through the roof by viral power alone.
To do it well, you need to become the ear to the ground of public sentiment. It’s necessary to be exploring the very heart of your niche, in the trenches, so that you can write in such a way that appears genuine and honest.
The most successful posts I’ve ever written for my affiliate marketing blog, are those where I don’t give away a single tip that can be used to make money. But rather they’re the posts where I dig down and really get to the bottom of the stresses that come with being an affiliate. It’s effective because everybody can relate to them. If you can have somebody nodding their head while they read, you’re already halfway to branding your blog. Exploit unspoken public sentiment, and your blog will become relevant.
Step 3: Invite readers in to your world.
One of the easiest ways to build trust in a product is to whack your face on the Sales Letter. It’s bullshit logic, but it’s tried and tested. By the same virtue, including your face on a blog can give identity to your work. I personally can’t stand this craze of including cartoonized avatars as blog photos. Are you really that self-conscious?
You’re fighting for individuality in an ocean of rival bloggers. It might not change your fortunes, admittedly. But including a photo – whether it’s the real you or not – can help readers establish an image of your personality.
You’ve probably noticed how I love to flood my blogs with endless invitations to get in touch, to follow me on Twitter, to add me to Facebook. You’re probably thinking, Christ, it won’t be long ’til he’s asking me out for dinner and riding his hand up my leg. This isn’t some cybersleazey attempt of mine to find a BFF. It all boils down to being open with your readers and instilling a sense of trust.
How many of the acai berry floggers took the time to create fake Facebook profiles for their superhero “Before and After” characters? You should have tried it if you didn’t. Just one subtle illusion of openness that completely skyrocketed conversion rates, both for myself and the few other urchins I tipped off about it.
An open accessible brand is much more likely to leave a reader with positive thoughts, especially if you’re in the business of selling something.
Step 4: Remind your readers how important you are.
Listen, there are ways to show that you are a voice of authority without coming out and saying “Hey, you better listen to me, bitch. I’ve got a thousand subscribers.”
It’s always good to refer to emails you’ve received, tweets you’ve been sent and questions you’ve been asked. Instead of writing a huge “How To” post for no apparent reason, explain in the introduction how a highly valuable client recently asked you to offer your thoughts, and now you’re ready to share them for any other listeners. Same content, but conveying a completely different image of your importance.
Through this technique alone, you wouldn’t believe how many actual high value clients have subsequently contacted me. Portray yourself as Mr. Big enough times and shit, people actually start treating you like one. Such is the power of the Internet where people can’t see you scratching your nuts, eating cheesy wotsits, and pretending to be a big deal on your Acer laptop.
Branding yourself and your blog is about more than finding the right Blogger colour scheme. It has to be something you consider with every sentence, every opinion and every post you publish. People are going to judge you by whatever you give them, so give them something good.
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7 CommentsLeave a comment
Tips 3 & 4 are particularly subtle and interesting.
I have a friend who I think is a particularly potent case study of this article. Ironically, he does it for fun, but I’ve noticed for a long time that people gravitate towards him because of it.
The reality: my friends works harder than 98% of people I know. On top of 70-80 hour weeks, in any given week he probably has to be on 3-6 flights. Most people, in his position, would break down into a wreck within 6 weeks tops. He has pretty good taste & likes nice stuff and has a tendency to share it online.
The illusions: My friend uses services like Doplr, which broadcasts to the world every time he has a trip. This begins to create the illusion of a complete jet setting playboy. Next, since my friend has a pretty decent palette, he finds pretty good places to eat in all the cities he’s in. I’m positive that he eats plenty of stuff that’s not particularly noteworthy, but the pictures he posts to facebook every couple of days would make you think he’s slated to become the next travel channel food show host. If you’re ever bored and flick through his pictures, you would be convinced that this man eats 5-star meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lastly, attending trade shows and the like, my friend regularly posts photos (i.e. 20 uncorked Moet bottles in a row) that make you think that he is a Sultan (or has robbed one anyway). To top it off, he has a tumblr, which naturally also feeds into his facebook, where he documents all kinds of “cool shit” he finds online (i.e. high end modeling shoots, futuristic gadgets, shit having to do with boats & planes, etc.).
The result is an image of carefree opulence that people, often after an initial disgust, can’t help but falling in love with.
He doesn’t really have a “niche” per se, but if he did, I suppose you could say “professionals” – people who aspire to a remotely similar life to the one they think he has.
Just thought I’d share this so that some of the readers can see an applied version of what you’re talking about.
Shame you couldn’t find a piccie of a good looking Dude for your own site Finch!
Seriously, enjoying the new blog, lots of good stuff and this is one of the best. Interesting read.
@Alex – I think I know a few people who fall in to that same category. It’s quite a common trait when you start befriending half the affiliate world on Facebook! There’s definitely a way to use social networks to “game” your image, and how people perceive you – intentionally or not.
@Dave – Haha, my face has been split tested and verified as a top performing dating ad for the “Would You Date A Hunkasaurus?” niche. The CTR never lies!
But unfortunately, I do… 🙁
Hey Finch, kicker article man, gave some good points which most time the obvious are seriously overlooked, don’t you agree?
Glad I went cruising through the Pool over at affiliates4u.com where this article was featured. I’ll be granting you a bookmark mate! Get used to seeing me around 😉
[…] wrote an entire post dedicated to the art of branding yourself and your blog, but let me boil it down to the basics. Your readers will love to follow you if they feel like […]
Thanks for the great article…I even finally uploaded my picture, not sure what people think of me now,lol !!