In my last post, I mentioned the importance of having a strong online presence as part of personal branding. One great way to do so is to have a website with a blog. Now I will admit blogging is not for everyone, but it can be particularly effective for building your personal brand online. If you decide to take the plunge, it’s critical to do it well – a blog can build or diminish credibility very quickly.
A good blog can help establish your online “personal voice”. It gives you more creative control over your online image, and allows you to shine a spotlight on your unique brand attributes, such as your passions, vision, purpose, values, strengths and interests.
- Use your name. A good first step is to buy a domain with your name in it. After all, what better way to “get your name out there” than have it in a web address?
- Invest in your site. Remember that you are making an online impression (and often the first and only impression), so if you can afford to, it’s worth spending a bit to put your best foot forward. Ask around for recommendations for a professional with branding expertise to design your site, or contact bloggers of sites you like and ask them who they used. If the blog will be a DIY job, start with doing some careful research. Which blog sites do you respond to and why? What layout and colours do you gravitate to? Remember your site will make a strong statement about you.
- Design a logo (or ideally, invest in having one professionally designed), or use a distinct image or font for the site in lieu of a logo. Logos create strong emotional associations with corporate brands (think Nike, Apple, etc.), and they can for people too. The logo should also be consistently used across other materials such as business cards and stationary.
- Be interactive. Provide “share buttons” to Facebook and Twitter as a minimum. Also add a “comments” section and invite readers to comment on specific topics to start a dialogue (comments should first be sent to you as the administrator for approval, and not just get posted automatically).
- Have “brand consistent content”. Brainstorm content reflective of your personal brand. Ask yourself the following: What topics are uniquely you? What core themes best represent your brand? How can you convey your passion, vision, purpose, values, strengths, interests and inspirations? What is your niche? Who is your target audience? What image are you trying to convey to them?
- Have a hook. Your personal branding efforts may be wasted if you don’t get noticed. Hook your readers by writing strong headlines. Check out “How to Write Headlines that Work” by Brian Clark for ideas.
- Keep it real. Write in an authentic voice…consistently and often. Consistent content should cling together and contain elements of your personal brand. In other words, it should give a true impression of you. This of course means finding the time to commit to creating frequent quality content (a challenge, I know!). The real trick is balancing quality with quantity.
- Be eye-catching. Use images to make your posts more engaging and interesting. If you search Google Images for specific topics, you will find that many images can be saved and uploaded onto your blog for free. Uploading your own photos could be a nice personal touch, but just make sure they are of good quality at the very least. Also be mindful of your background and any interfering “visual debris” in photos (E.g., what would it say about your personal brand if you captured a messy bedroom in the background?).
- Say it loud and proud. Promote blog posts on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and be sure to indicate that the post is from your own blog. When posting on Facebook, be sure a picture from your post is captured when uploading your site in order to attract attention.
- Be relevant. You can’t be everything to everyone, but try to offer something relevant and useful to your target audience. You can also recycle archived posts on social media sites, and if possible, tie them into current events to reestablish their relevance. For example, if it’s tax time, it might be a good time to share that old post on stress reduction tips. Remember that a strong personal brand is a relevant one!