Blogging is an excellent way to help you position your brand and establish yourself as an expert in your field. People are information hungry and most will turn to the internet these days looking for the answers they need before going anywhere else, so it’s vital that you have a presence there.
Ideally a blog should be part of your business website. While there are many free blogging platforms out there, there are strings attached, most often in the form of annoying banner ads. They also have limited functionality, and don’t always allow for much customization, therefore not allowing you to fully display your brand that you’ve worked so hard for. For example, the URL will always include the platform you’re using, such as wordpress.com, or blogspot.com, which immediately signify to your visitor that you have a free blog and may be cutting corners in your business.
You are a business after all, RIGHT? Let your professionalism shine through, along with your brand, and pay the $70 a year (approximate price) to have a self hosted website and blog, along with your own domain name that you will be proud to drive traffic to.
When blogging, there are three steps to keep in mind, that will further help you position your brand and build credibility with your audience.
- Consistency. As with most things in life, consistency is key, and your blog is no exception. Everything you write must be consistent with your brand message, or you risk your visitors becoming confused and going somewhere else looking for the information they seek.Be consistent with the frequency of your posts, the content and the tone, AND be consistent with your content off your blog as well. For example, your social media posts, comments on other blogs, emails, newsletters, etc., should all consistently reflect your brand promise, so that your reader knows they can count on your for the same great information, all the time.
- Persistence. Brands aren’t built overnight, and neither is a following on your blog. It will take patience and perseverance on your part to build your brand, and in fact, you are never done building it. Brands will morph a bit over time as business owners fine tune their goals, so you will be constantly working to maintain your brand position. Commit to the long-haul and don’t give up. You need to be relentless in publishing new content to your blog, promoting that content everywhere you can think of and driving traffic back to your website or blog. Along the way, you will build relationships with your audience and other influencers across the web, and you will communicate your brand message again and again.Even the most powerful brands in the world like Apple, Disney, and McDonald’s continue to persistently (and consistently) communicate their brand messages. Brands grow in direct correlation with your persistence in communicating your brand messages, so keep that content coming!
- Restraint. The final step to building a brand is restraint. Powerful brands are capable of exercising brand restraint, and you need to exercise restraint as it relates to your blog’s brand, too. It might be tempting to promote or extend your brand into new activities, ventures, and pursuits, but be careful! Only extend your brand into areas that are relevant to your brand, match your brand promise, and meet consumers’ expectations for your brand. Contradiction in messages and actions confuses consumers.For example, you might be tempted to participate in every interview offered to you or to write guest blog posts on any blog or website that will publish them. However, only accept and pursue opportunities that consistently reflect your brand promise. Your weekly segment on 5-minute horse training tips won’t have much impact on your uncle’s DIY Home Improvement blog, so don’t publish it there. And the opposite is also true. Don’t publish your uncle’s post about patching a roof, but do publish his post about how to build a really sturdy tie rail that your horses can’t pull out of the ground.
Be consistent and true to your brand promise in everything you do.
As you follow these three key steps listed above and consistently and persistently communicate and live up to your blog’s brand promise, you’ll increase traffic to your blog organically. That’s not to say that suddenly you’ll get thousands and thousands of visitors to your blog each day, but in time, your visitors will grow naturally. The more you meet their expectations by living up to your brand promise, the more they’ll trust you and your blog, return to it, and tell their friends about it. Again, your traffic will grow, but it all starts by building brand trust.
That’s where the real advantages of building a brand for your blog comes into play. People talk about the brands they love. They become emotionally connected to brands they can trust, and they’ll advocate those brands and guard them against naysayers. Your blog’s loyal brand advocates are vocal sources of word-of-mouth marketing, and if those brand advocates are active in social media with their own audiences or have relationships with online influencers who have the eyes and ears of your target audience, your brand message can spread exponentially. As a result, traffic to your blog increases, too.
How to create content & other ideas to help you get going
There are literally thousands and thousands of topic ideas for any industry and you can put your own brand spin on just about all of them. Make a list of topic ideas as they come to you and refer to it regularly, crossing things off as you go. I love to use Siri on my iPhone to keep track of things for me when I don’t have a pen and paper handy.
To help you get started, here are a few tips & ideas, and you can check out this post for 50 creative blogging topic ideas to really get you going in the right direction.
- A great way to get ideas is to ask your customers! Get it right from the horse’s mouth and find out what they want to know, so you can help them find the solutions that they need.
- Be sure to write for yourself first. Try not to think about who will or won’t be reading it, and just get your thoughts about the topic down on paper and organized. If you’re passionate about your message, you will write more frequently and with more gusto.
- Allow people to subscribe to your blog posts. You can add a widget in the sidebar of your blog that will allow people to subscribe to the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) Feed and they can get your blog posts right in their inbox. For more information on this, visit www.feedburner.com. Feedburner can help you set up the syndication. You will need a google account to access this. The bonus here is that you’re building your email list, so you can eventually start email marketing to your readers.
- Don’t forget your calls to action! Every post should have a call to action for your reader. You’d like them to do something, even if it’s as simple as following you on Facebook or Twitter. Maybe you want to direct them to another post that’s related, or you want them to comment on this post. Don’t be afraid to ask, but don’t be a hard sell either. Stay away from actually promoting yourself or your products and services here.
- Don’t be afraid to showcase what you know. Too many bloggers hold back the good stuff out of fear of giving away the “secret sauce.” There is no secret sauce in a world where everyone has high speed Internet access at all times. Today, you want to give away information snacks to sell knowledge meals. They’re going to find the information they want anyway, you need to make sure they’re getting it from you, instead of your competitor.
- Remember that people will follow YOU, not your business. Be true to your own personal voice, because you are really selling yourself here, right?
- Don’t be afraid to get personal. It’s okay to share your personal stuff with your readers. They will eat it up. Think “Pioneer Woman”. She’s a genius. I mean what did she intend to sell? Nothing, she just started telling stories about life on an Oklahoma cattle ranch, and voila, now she’s selling cookbooks, doing segments on national TV and has millions of followers. While you may not get to the same level as she has, strive for it! She’ll have to retire at some point and maybe you can fill the void she leaves behind, right?
- Write catchy headlines. You’ve got to get some interest from the start and boring headlines just won’t cut it. It doesn’t matter how great your story is if you can’t get them there to read it. Research this on Google for great ideas.
More helpful blogging tips:
- Provide social share buttons
- Cross post to your social media pages
- Allow comments on your blog to encourage a discussion
- Respond to comments, thereby further building your community and letting people know you are available
- Comment on other relevant blogs to drive traffic back to your own site or blog