Liveblog | Branding: Not Just For the Big Dogs

You don’t BRAND yourself once and call it done – you refine, revamp and return to your brand with every post. Think, “if this were the day that The New York Times/Oprah Winfrey/my grandmother saw my blog, would it fulfill my mission statement?”

Branding: Not Just For the Big Dogs, presented by Katy Widrick and Jess Milcetich, covered these topics and left attendees with a to-do list of easy, yet effective changes you can make immediately to build your brand, increase your readership, make yourself more accessible to media and better connect with your community.

Click here for a webinar and the slide of the presentation

Katy: Collaborate, brand, improve and grow your blogging. We want to give you a list of action items for when you go home, how to implement them. This is auditing your own blog – looking for the things you can do better and more efficient.

Video is played, a compilation of highlights from the SurveyMonkey Survey:

http://youtu.be/00YCUVrnQMQ

Katy: The survey had 62 questions about basic statistics, blogging history (how long have you blogged) and future desires for growing your blog. There were 394 responses. Take a look at the PDF compiled with all of the results (courtesy of SurveyMonkey) and see where you fit in… and where you can stand out. What makes YOU unique? How can you be a leader in your niche?

We’re going to cover: Stop, Collaborate, Quantitate and Listen.

Jess: STOP: What is your brand? You don’t have to brand yourself all at once. You don’t wake up and say you’re a healthy living blogger. You have to monitor it, revamp it, and continue with it regularly. What I like to do is think about if this: If Oprah Winfrey or the New York Times saw my blog today without warning, would they be able to tell who I am and what I’m about?

Katy: Make yourself a mission statement: what is your blog all about? You can create a long and a short version. Why do you do what you do? Have a clear About page including mission statement and a current photo. This is where people need to know who you are and so they can remember you after one visit so they’ll come back.

Contact: make sure it’s easy for people to contact you. Care about your readers and give them an outlet to connect – don’t make them work to try to guess about how to contact you because they won’t.

Jess: Mission statement for Kristen of The Concrete Runner, social media makeover winner. It’s okay to have your mission statement more than once – on your home page and on your About page.

A Healthy JD Sample: Jamie. She had incredibly inspirational, interesting content, but that wasn’t represented at all on the site.

Katy: Use Categories- break your content into groups and let them know what they’re getting in the posts. List your categories so people can easily navigate through the topics you cover. Next, go one-step forward: different RSS feeds for different topics: Category-Specific RSS. You can usually burn seperate category feeds in Feedburner, or you can force it by going to a URL set up like: http://example.com/category/categoryname/feed. Everyone in the room should be using Feedburner to get analytics and information to see what people are clicking through in their feeds. Examples of categories could be: Workouts, Recipes, Photography, etc.

Consider a plugin or custom graphic to highlight those categories in your navigation.

Are there any tater tots fans in the room? When I started my blog, it was called SillyTaterTot.com. No one knew who I was or what my blog was about because of the name. Your name is your brand – make sure you like it and are happy with what it represents. If not, change it! I changed my site to katywidrick.com because I didn’t think Silly Tater Tot wasn’t representative of what I wanted my brand to be. Change is okay! If you don’t think what you have now will work, don’t be afraid to change.

Your name is your brand. Grab it across social networks, and grab domains of versions of your name because you are banking on your name to making you a superstar. NameCheck, KnowEm, NameChk.

Do you own your own domain? Self host? Don’t lose credibility by having wordpress.com or blogger.com in the URL. You want to present a strong brand image, and having your own domain is an easy way to do that.

Jess: Do you recognize these images? Princess Beatrice and the Old Spice Guy. What did they do right? How did they do it? They make you want to go back for more, and share them with your friends. They weren’t afraid to be laughed at, and people wanted to share their photos or stories with friends in order to go viral.

How many of you have a 1-page resume for a job? What about a 1 page blog resume? How about a media kit? You should have these available. They don’t have to be public, but you should have them available so you can distribute when needed.

Katy: Mine is private to ensure that I can make sure the data is up to date before the brand, media outlet, etc. gets it. Here is a resource from the Mom Bloggers Club and one from Deal Seeking Mom.

Remember your credentials, set goals and inspire confidence in readers, journalists and advertisers. Key points: years in business, testimonials (ask your fellow bloggers or readers), areas of expertise, statistics/ad rates, press coverage, contact information, screen grabs.

Jess: Stop, Collaborate, Quantitate and Listen. This is the Collaborate part. Reach out to others to do guest posts. When you pitch a blogger, tell them what you want to write about, outline what you’ll provide. Make it easy to understand what you’re asking for. You can also moderate a live chat (#fitblog) to help get your name known within a community and to gain followers.

You can also work with reporters. HARO (Help A Reporter Out): everyone should get on this email list – it’s free. Subscribe and you will receive emails 3 times a day- morning, afternoon and night. The email is a list of journalists and writers looking for people to connect with on a particular topic. You can also look at ProfNet Connect: list yourself and put yourself up as a source PR people and journalists who are searching for certain keywords. Creating a profile for yourself is free.

Katy: Another great way to collaborate is by having blogging buddies: Reach out to 5 or so bloggers that you read every day, and vice versa. The buddies help support and spread the word about your blog, and you do the same for them. You all can comment on each others blogs, help discussion, spread the word about new posts. Make sure your page is sticky before setting up your group! To help with organizing the communication between the buddies, you can use Google Groups, Facebook Groups and old-fashioned email chains.

The next step? Quantitate. You need to know what people are reading, how many are subscribing, and what they do when they get there. You can do this through built in WordPress or Blogger stats, Google Analytics, Feedburner and more. You don’t have to use the data and do something DIFFERENT from what you are, but you can see patterns to make things BETTER. You can use the information from the analytics information to discover the best time to post, which content gets more comments, and more.

Jess: Set up a regular blogging schedule also, so readers know when to expect your posts. Let readers get into a pattern and know what to expect, and keeps you in a flow. If you write on different topics, you can designate certain days for each topic. Use Google Calendar to lay out your blogging schedule. It can send you reminders and keep you organized. The schedule can be flexible, but having it roughly laid out is helpful for organization and for readers.

Next, you want to make sure you have clear calls to action: Make sure you know what YOU want your readers to do. Make calls to action very clear and visible. Use strong call to action words: follow me, subscribe, etc.

Katy: The last step is Listen. There are so many ways to listen to what your readers are saying. Tracker, PostRank, Google Analytics. Respond to comments. Use a comment plugin that lets you respond by email: Disqus, Intense Debate, CommentLuv and other WordPress plugins. Don’t make people work to leave a comment. Make sure it’s easy to leave a comment and doesn’t require a very specific login or lots of information to leave a comment. If it’s too hard, they won’t leave one.

Jess: After all the steps of Stop, Collaborate, Quantitate and Listen, you must Manage: Publish your content in more than once place. Do you have your posts publish to Twitter, Facebook and other social networks? Did you know that the lifespan on Twitter is less than 1 hour. Visibility on Facebook, less than 1%. You can repost multiple days. Tweetwhen.com– when is the most efficient time to pubish your content, Hubspot.com has good tools as well under their Grader tools

Do you have a Facebook Page for your blog? You need to do more than just re-post your blog posts. Make it interactive and make it more than what they would get by looking at your blog. Be more fun, be more “you.” Make it a richer experience than those just coming to the blog.

Katy: When to publish your blog: The specific time of day you publish matters less than publishing on a consistent schedule. Pick mornings, afternoons, evenings and stick with it so your readers know when to expect your posts. In general, publishing early is good. People tend to read blogs in the morning before their day starts. Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s are typically the most popular days. Make sure to tweet your links multiple times to hit the different periods of the day.

Measure success. This is critical in learning if the things you’re doing have an effect on your readers actions. Examine your analytics: pageviews, visits. Measure any changes you’ve made and see if they’re worth the change or if you need to re-tool and try something else. Number of coments, Facebook Insights, feedburner stats and email subscribers.

Jess: It’s important to remember: you have a good blog… but you can always improve something! Don’t feel like you have to make changes all at once. It takes time for changes to start to make an impact, so make one or two so you aren’t overwhelmed, and monitor those changes to see how they impact your numbers. It will take time for these changes to show a difference.

Remember to take the bad with the good. Is any press bad press? Look at the Marie Claire and Focus Rally examples. For bad comments or press: react quickly, transparently and definitively. Provide all sides and provide a place for safe discussion. Keep it on your site if you can. Have a basic crisis management plan at the ready. Have something just in case it happens – know how you’re going to repond, even if it’s just in your head. It doesn’t have to be formal.

Katy: All of the information from this presentation is now online: slides, downloadable PDF results of the SurveyMonkey survey results, and the video from the beginning of the presentation. You can find the content on Katy or Jess’ blogs, and the liveblog will be on fitbloggin.com.

This liveblog session was captured by Emmie of Skinny Emmie.

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