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Saturday, 10 September 2011

Branding Your Blog

Branding Your Blog – Developing a Name and Image That Will Stick With People, A Name That Can Be Remember Easily.

Every empire has a name.  It may be regal enough that “Rome” says everything there is to say.  It may try to ride off the success of others, as the “Holy Roman Empire” attempted in the Ninth Century.  Whatever name you choose, however, will establish your brand.  It will be the name that people remember, and it will be with you forever.  Think it’s not important?  Just imagine what would happen to Coca-Cola if its name was changed tomorrow to Sparkie’s Soda.  Would you still buy it even if it tasted the same?  Would they still be the most popular cola in the world?  Their name, built carefully for more than a century, is the most valuable asset they own.  Your brand will do the same for your Blog Empire.

Is There A Need For A Brand Name To Be Relevant to Content?

The question immediately arises whether your name needs to be descriptive of your content, and the answer is, unfortunately, “maybe.”  Sometimes it helps, as no one going to Red State would expect anything other than GOP-friendly commentary.  The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler is descriptive of both commentary and style.  Post Secret says everything there is to say about the blog.

On the other hand, many successful blogs have names that are simply memorable.  Little Green Footballs, with more than 100,000 visitors a day, is a political blog concerned with the War on Terror. BoingBoing describes itself as “a directory of wonderful things.”  Both have memorable names; neither has a meaningful one.

Branding Idea Generator

In order to come up with a few brand ideas to choose from, we’re going to perform a little brainstorming session.  It will involve picking words that relate to you and your content or your interests, and matching them with other words.  As an idea generator it will be worthwhile even if you have a name and image picked out.  After all, almost any idea can be improved, but if yours is already the best, this little exercise should prove that, too.

Repeat your theme here:
Blog Theme: My blog is known and respected as the best place on the internet to find: ____________ ___________________ _______________ _______________

Now, take a look at your key, content-related words and write them here:

Write your personal nicknames (if applicable) or a couple words that describe you here:

Write five words or the names of particular objects or subjects you enjoy writing, researching, or talking about here (they need not be related to your theme):

Now, go online to and look each up in the thesaurus, picking out unique synonyms or words you like the sound of.  Write them on a separate sheet of paper (you should end up with at least 30 words).

For each of those words, write two words that are related, like “captain – ship, quarters” or “car – hot rod, spinning wheels.”  Try not to be too obvious.

That’s a lot of words, some of which will be related to your content, and some not.  Now, just play with them and combine them however you like, noting those combinations which sound powerful or – even better – interesting. Change a few words to interesting but similar words (e.g. “pillar” to “pillage”).  Write down a few phrases (even clich├ęs) that the words appear in.  Just have fun with them!

Then grab a half dozen of your favorites and just let them stew in your mind.  By the time you’re through with this book, you’ll know which one you like best or whether you need to start the exercise over, and you may even have dreamed up matching artwork for a few of them.

Assess Your Blogging Skills And Knowledge

Assess your skills and knowledge before you delve in
Next, we’re going to examine some skills that are necessary in order to create certain types of blogs. Be as honest (even as harsh) as you can in your self-appraisal.  Remember, if you really can’t write well, your readers are going to know. If you can create first-rate artwork, now is not the time to sell yourself short.

I can write: very well / pretty well / are you kidding?
My writing has been published by others: Y / N
My sense of humor can be described as: dry / sarcastic / ironic / witty / are you kidding?
I can write well in the following languages: _________________________________
I can program computers using the following languages: ______________________
I have written computer programs that are in use by others Y / N
I can create professional quality artwork: Y / N
I have used the following graphics packages: ______________________________
I have taken the following arts or graphics classes: __________________________
My artwork is currently being used by others Y / N

Extra Credit:
I’m consistently surprised that people ask my opinion about: __________________
I have a million stories about: ___________________________________________
I know more than anyone else about: _____________________________________
People would pay for my knowledge about: ________________________________

Now, look over all your answers and pick the category where most of them fit best: __Artistic __Business __Hobby __News __Political __Rant __Reference
__Society/Culture __Spiritual __Other:______________

For example, if you are passionate about technology and know more than anyone else about RS-232 serial interfaces, then a technology blog may be the beginning of your Blog Empire.  If you are fanatical about gun rights or racism or personal privacy, but can’t write, then a news or reference blog may be right up your alley. 

If your skills overlap multiple categories, that’s ok as well.  You may be able to create a category that no one else has tried!  But pick your category carefully: the success of your blog empire is going to depend on whether you can consistently offer your readers the content that they will return again and again for.  Your mental health will depend upon whether you love it enough to stay the course.

Develop a Blog Theme

Every successful blog has a theme - the idea or subject your blog is about more than anything else - that makes it a go-to site in the minds of readers. In order to make your blog a success you must be able to contribute something unique, and that something is going to make up the theme of your blog.  It might be a comical take on the news.  It might be in-depth tutorials for a certain software package.  It might even be rumors you hear in your daily job as a top-level political analyst. It may be short stories or fascinating photographs.  But you have to find that certain something that only you can contribute and that people want to read or see. 

Your blog’s theme can be summed up by what you want you blog to be famous for, the one unique thing your blog presents or contributes. Pick three or four key words that describe your content and your presentation of it, based on your skills, abilities, and knowledge (e.g. “satirical partisan political commentary” or “sentimental love poetry”).  Then complete your theme:

Blog Theme: My blog is known and respected as the best place on the internet to find: ______________ ___________________ ________________ ____________

Building Your Profit Blog Empire With Ease


Deciding What Type of Money Making Blog Empire To Build

So you want to build an empire.  Unlike historical empires that relied on unique military tactics, advanced technology, and slave labor, your empire will rely on a single person: you.  You’ll design it, you’ll build it, and you’ll people it with readers who return to it day after day, becoming in a small sense virtual citizens of your Blog Empire and eventually your happy customers. You’ll use the same tactics as others, but you’ll use them more efficiently.  You’ll use the same infrastructure as others, but you’ll use it more effectively.  You’ll compete with other empires for your readers’ time, and you’ll do so successfully.  A Blog Empire is an empire of customer service and you will not only be its ruler, you will be the servant of all who enter it.  Sound like fun?  It can be, if you design your empire with one person in mind: you.

It seems a dichotomy to say that a Blog Empire should be built around the provider rather than the customer, but there’s a simple reason for it: it will be you who updates it day after day.  You will be the editor, the designer, and the main focus of the site.  Your expertise, your hobby, or your insight will provide the service that the citizens of your Blog Empire want.  You can’t sell from an empty cart and you’ve got to be in it for the long haul.  That means you’ve got to provide content that features what you know and what you love.  You will be the key, and every part of your Blog Empire will be designed with that in mind.

However, before you can lay the foundations, we need to review a few options.  Let’s take a look at a few successful blogs and generate some ideas.  Then we’ll come back for a good look at the one who can make it all work: you. 

The Makings of a Blog Empire: Choosing Content That Provides Value

Unless you are a successful newspaper columnist or a famous actress who is able to draw hordes of readers by your reputation alone, your blog is going to need a theme.  It may be a narrow one, like “Libertarian politics in the Massachusetts Governor’s race.”  It may be a broad one, like, “art focusing on life and love.” But whatever your theme, your blog is going to keep readers by presenting them with the valuable content they expect.  Not coincidentally, it’s also going to be a theme you love and will not be tempted to stray far from.

Because there are literally millions of blogs available, successful blogs reach one kind of reader, and they do it well.  The reason is obvious: a reader who might share your interest in model trains may not share your love of fine wines.  He may not care about your vacation in Paris.  Unless he’s a personal friend, he may not care about your new car. That means you’re going to have to pick a subject and stick with it.  A good starting place is the following list of popular blog categories: political, spiritual, society/culture, rant, business, hobby, technology, art, news, reference.

Of the most popular blogs, measured by, a popular blog search engine, a significant percentage are political blogs.  This should not be surprising: with the exception of religious opinions, opinions on politics are some of the most fiercely held and vociferously debated.  Political opinions make great blog fodder.  But there’s a catch: everyone has an opinion, but not everyone has one that millions of readers will take time to read. Successful political blogs, whether the liberal Daily Kos, the conservative Red State, or the law-oriented Volokh Conspiracy, all have one thing in common: they have important and timely information (not just opinions) that can be relied upon by serious political junkies. They have high-level political connections, access to rumors, or expertise to share.  If you are connected in politics or law and have serious light to shed on the issues of the day, a political blog may be your Blog Empire. The same case holds for spiritual blogs, hobby blogs, and technology blogs: the successful blogs are those run by experts (that is, of course, why we’re going to build your empire on your own expertise) who can tell readers what they don’t know and want to know.

There are, however, successful blogs that are not run by experts; they are run, in fact, by someone who had a brilliant idea.  As of this writing, the third most popular blog on Technorati, linked by more than 25,000 other blogs, is Post Secret. On Post Secret, the readers do all the work, creating a picture that represents a secret the contributor wants to anonymously reveal to the world.  The secrets may be “I once made a student repeat a grade so I could flirt with his father for another year,” or it may be “I find it amusing when my blind dog crashes into furniture.”  In every case, the entries chosen are skillfully presented (the blogger IS an expert in picking interesting content) and readers laugh, they cry, and they relate.  But most importantly, they return again and again.  Post Secret illustrates that all you need is a well-presented good idea to build a blog empire.

News, link, and reference blogs require an abiding interest in one subject and the tenacity to find relevant, timely information.  Successful ones cover their subject so well that they are considered valuable references by serious news hounds.  A good example of this type of blog is Zero Intelligence. Zero Intelligence gathers every relevant story about “zero tolerance” drug and weapons policies in public and private schools and presents them with commentary.  It follows stories through the press cycle to resolution or disappearance and serves as a trusted clearing house for relevant information. Another reference blog is “Literally, a Weblog,” which documents the popular press’ misuse of the word “literally.”  If a writer needs an example to make a point about the use or misuse of “literally” in the arts or media, “Literally, a Weblog” can provide a fitting example for any story.

No idea is too small, too silly, or too pretentious so long as you present your content in a manner that makes your blog a valuable reference.  If you have an abiding interest in a specific subject more than any other, then a news, link, or reference blog may be may be the place to start.

The final category is, alas, the largest category of blogs and the one that makes up the smallest percentage of professional blogs: the rant blog.  Rant blogs are generally “brain dump” blogs, where the blogger simply writes what’s on her mind, tells about her day, or whines about her boss.  It is a cathartic project, designed for the blogger’s mental health, and while it may be interesting – at least to the author - it will seldom draw much of a crowd.  Unless your life is interesting enough to write a book about, the rant blog is to be avoided.  If your life IS interesting enough to write a book about, it’s probably best to write the book.