Long time no see! At least in the “blog school” sense. Hope you enjoyed your holiday vacation and are ready to be back at school.
Today we’ll be focusing on your brand. How your blog looks and how you market your blog is your brand. Think about brands you see everyday. You can see the “golden arches” and immediately recognize McDonald’s or the red target and know it’s Target. When it comes to personal blogs, it may not be as simple as a logo to identify your blog. There are ways to maintain consistency between the sites where you interact and promote yourself, making yourself recognizable.
Consider the following areas when developing and marketing your brand.
1. The name of your blog
Most likely if you’re reading this, your blog already has a name. If not, then try to come up with something unique and memorable.
Just in case you haven’t named your blog, there are several things to consider when deciding upon a name.
Google the name to be sure nobody else has the same or a too similar blog name.
There are already 45, 334, 291 blogs that have the word “Mommy” in them. That’s not a bad thing! But, do you want your blog to be confused with somebody elses? Unfortunately many blogs have similar names. Diva, domestic, ANY alcoholic beverage, children, life, baby, diaper, housewife, diary, suburban, slacker, and queen are all words that have been used, and used again by many bloggers (including myself). This certainly poses a problem if you have your heart set on the blog name, “The Life of a Suburban Diapering Domestic Queen Mommy Who Drinks Martinis.”
Mommy/parenting/personal bloggers DO NOT have to have anything even remotely child-related in their blog title. Look at Sweetney, Amalah, Finslippy, and Metalia! The disadvantage of names such as those is that without knowing them, you may not know what their blog is about. Considering the popularity of these blogs, I *think* their writing abilities helped them overcome the “disadvantage.”
Try to think in terms of “will I like this blog name in two years? five years?…”
When I began this blog, I had a baby and was pregnant (not surprisingly, with another baby). The name “Playgroups are no place for children” was very fitting, as I was an active playgroup participant. The name reflected my those current interests. It’s now three years later and I haven’t been in a playgroup in several years. My children are growing up and eventually I foresee not talking about them as often. My blog name will be really ridiculous when my kids are in middle school.
Since most of you already have your blog name set, you may want to claim your name on all the free blogging platforms like Blogger and WordPress.com. I’d recommend setting up a blog with your blog name with those sites so that no one else can. I have blogs set up at playgroupsarenoplaceforchildren.blogspot.com, playgroups…forchildren.wordpress.com, AND I own this url. In Blogger and WordPress, there is a way to make it so that it’s not found easily by search engines so that people are not accidentally redirected to those dummy sites.
2. The name you use to identify yourself in the blogosphere
I use the name “Playgroupie” because 1) it’s easily derived from my blog name and 2) it’s unique. With a very common name like Jennifer, I use “playgroupie” as my email address, twitter name, etc…
Also whenever I leave comments, I say “Jennifer, Playgroups are no place for children” to distinguish me from the 2,000,000 other mommybloggers named Jennifer. I recommend that if your name is Jennifer, Heather, Deb, Amanda, or something equally as common, you choose a nickname derived from your blog name and/or use your name followed by your blog name.
You should also consider how relevant the name you choose will be in the future. The name “Playgroupie” is seriously like NAILS ON A CHALKBOARD to me. I really despise it with every fiber of my being. However, it was a good choice in the beginning and it would take way too much effort in this stage of the game to change it. With that said, the name you choose doesn’t HAVE to be a nickname. It can be your real name or a pen name. More and more bloggers are starting to use their first and last names (even me!)
Whatever name you choose, be sure to use the same one across sites you frequent. It makes you easier to find and identify if you have the same name on your email address, Twitter, StumbleUpon, etc.
Speaking of Twitter, the name you use there should be as short as humanly possible. With only 140 characters to send messages, long Twitter names get in the way. This consideration isn’t meant to contradict the above advice, but it’s something to consider.
3. A visual association to your blog
This is tricky. As I already mentioned, a logo is typically not something you see associated with a personal blog. If you are a niche blogger and plan to somehow turn your blog into a money making venture (good luck with THAT!), then you probably want to hire someone to design a logo to represent your brand.
There is more than one way to visually represent your blog. For example, you can have buttons, avatars, favicons, and iPhone/iTouch icons made to be miniature representations of your blog header. In the past, my visual branding was a picture of my son wearing a bucket on his head. That picture is still my favicon, but ONLY because I can’t for the life of me get it to change.
Visual representations of your blog don’t necessarily need to be static or based on your blog’s header. As long as the same picture is used across the different sites you frequent, I think it’s perfectly fine to change it occasionally. The trend in avatars seems to be moving away from cartoon representations to personal photos. I know that on Twitter, I prefer to see a picture of the person I’m replying to!
4. The way you interact and present yourself in the blogosphere
Bloggers are often known by how they interact, particularly in their writing and on Twitter. Some are known for being helpful, or controversial, information providing, humorous, or political. There are bloggers known as babywearers, as green, fashionistas, or fitness buffs.
Think about what you want to be “known” for in our community and interact with others in a way that reflects that. Since I’m not an expert at any one thing, my aim is truly to just be known as being an all around nice gal. I try to reply to lots of different people on Twitter, keep an open mind and watch my tendency to be judgmental in my posts, be willing to lend a hand to fellow bloggers, and promote others.
I feel certain I’ve left out some important information. Please ask any questions you may have in the comments section or add any additional thoughts on branding.