Building a blog and getting noticed is challenging work. When you first start, you’re unknown, irrelevant and insignificant. It might be that the bulk of your readership is related to you by blood. We all started there, and it’s hard work to claw your way up to a successful career. You can speed up the process by creating and building a blogging brand: a distinct voice that readers and clients will seek out and respect. These tips for building your blogging brand from the ground up apply both to writers trying to start their own blog and copywriters working for other outlets.
1. Build a Personal Brand
“Personal brand” has been a buzz word for the last several years. In fact, it’s a term that might soon become empty of all meaning from overuse by MBAs and “though leaders,” so we’ll excuse you if it turns your stomach slightly with the scent of BS. It’s so widely used, however, because it’s effective at expressing this core idea: who you are matters to what you sell.
For bloggers, a personal brand is all about creating a clear, distinct identity online that separates you from the rabble. It’s expressed in ways large and small, whether or not you intend to express it. Whether you like it or not, everything that you produce will, in some way, contribute to refining and expressing the essence of your brand. You might as well make a conscious effort to shape a specific, positive image.
As a blogger, the most important elements of your personal brand are the posts you write and the beat you cover, as well as your artistic style and authorial voice. It’s also created by smaller things like your social media posts, author headshot and bio page. These branding impressions come from your personal website as well as sites that publish your writing. Your brand is everything that helps a potential client understand who “you” are. And that “you” need to be distinct from the millions of other wannabe bloggers out there. It’s not enough to simply be a decent writer. You must also be memorable and likable, appealing to your target audience successfully.
A strong personal brand will draw the right kind of clients to you. It should appeal to the type of client you want to work for, inspiring confidence in your ability. Key aspects of salesmanship like friendliness and approachability need to be present, but bloggers also need to express subject matter expertise and social proof of their ability as a writer in the form of published articles.
The right personal brand will vary depending on who you’re hoping to reach. If you hope to write science journalism, for example, you’re blog should reflect that, with science-focused articles written in a journalistic style. If you want to write quirky, personal product reviews, you’ll want to use a headshot that expresses some personality and offer personal insights throughout your post. When you’re first starting out, you’ll need to create and publish this content on your own until someone will pay you to make it. This free work is essential to establishing who you are as a writer.
Building a brand isn’t easy, and it can take some soul searching. Many successful entrepreneurs like Sam Ovens fail at their first few ventures, or completely change tacks after a misadventure. Don’t be afraid to adapt to the world around you as you build your brand.
2. Be Memorable
Your best content should be memorable and sticky. It’s that kind of content that drives frequent visitors to your blog and helps grow your readership. But you want to be memorable for the right reasons. After all, the best-known people on earth are likely some of the most villainous.
It’s easy to remember good content because it makes an impact on you. It might be that the author’s voice was compelling, that the research exceptionally rigorous, or the topic inventive. Maybe there was a particular turn of phrase that stuck with you, or perhaps the post answered a long-held question you’d never thought to research. But something stuck with you.
Your personal brand should be like this too. It might be slightly frightening, but don’t be afraid to be yourself. If you have a consistent vision for your blog, express it. An authentic position is more memorable and valuable to readers than a generic persona. With a strong style and voice, you can draw clients and readers to your unique style.
3. Fill a Niche
As a blogger building your brand, you don’t want to just write about whatever comes in to your head. You need some kind of theme or niche. Your articles should fill a need in the marketplace, providing valuable content that otherwise wouldn’t exist. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways.
Take BuzzFeed, for example: the site is best known for producing click-bait listicles. The content might be crucial to the advancement of humankind, but it’s insanely popular because it fills a desire. In this case, it’s the public’s desire to be entertained with lightweight, easily-digestible content that doesn’t require their entire focus. Site like The Wirecutter fill a more practical need, with in-depth product reviews that cater to the obsessive. Neither of these sites were the first of their kind—BuzzFeed was preceded by sites like College Humor, the Wirecutter by Consumer Reports—but they fill a need, providing desired content alongside an appealing brand that readers connect with.
You don’t have to be the first of your kind to fill a niche, and you don’t even need to be especially unique. But you do need to create content that connects with what readers want.
Building a strong brand is all about establishing who you are and what you’re about quickly and effectively. Ask yourself what kind of content you want to publish, and build a brand that supports that type of writing. If you’re not sure what your brand should express, figure out what you want to write and go from there. If you have a clear brand, clients and readers should be able to describe your identity as an author concisely.