To those of you who are still wary of allowing your ideas and stories to traverse the web, this one’s especially for you.
Today I’ll let you in on a story of a visionary-procrastinator who finally decided to breathe life to his dreams of getting his thoughts and ideas out on the web—welcome to my story.
In this article I will run you through three aspects that both hindered and helped me start with writing and creating my online identity, namely branding, blogging, and link ponds—all of which when understood and utilized properly can help you build and optimize your brand literally from the ground up.
Mind you that the primary goal of this article is to call on to those of you blogcrastinators out there to stand up and be creative beasts, to move out from the shadows and scare us with your great ideas! :)
On Branding: “Should it be about MEH!?”
Branding can be a problematic aspect as sometimes you can end up branding for the sake of branding, and honestly that can’t lead to anything but wasted time and effort. Instead of just thinking outside of the box, why not consider creating something people didn’t know was missing? In that manner, you can shift your mindset from creating something that didn’t exist to creating something that needs to exist, hence a practical motivation to get you going.
This was my first stumbling block; I didn’t know exactly what to write about. Coming from the above mindset of creating a need, I knew I had to dig deeper. Aside from listing down all of my interests such as SEO, social media, experience design, and philosophy, I had to find a way to formulate an equation that can give me a proper brand—a thesis statement with a solid research domain that I was very much interested in. After a lot of introspection and research I came up with a brand that would talk about finding meaning and happiness amidst the intricacies of SEO, the chattering within social media, and the lack of common sense behind design and usability.
If you’re to dissect that statement, it’s actually about my frustrations in Internet marketing and how we can find inspiration to get back up and accomplish the job. Here, my research domains would be my personal experience (sort of inexhaustible), the Internet industry (SEO, Social Media, etc.), and Taoism (a philosophy that I got well acquainted with back in the days).
Tying in your personality with your brand in this manner not only provides you with a unique identity people ought to remember but also gives you focused information streams you can easily tap into to guide you with content production.
- Do a little bit of market/niche research as this will greatly help with your brand and content development. Potentially, business development?
- Don’t forget keyword research, this will outline the course of your SEO groundwork for your brand and content.
- Carefully study and design your visual brand identity—this should clearly represent your thesis (call a designer friend if you need help).
- Make sure that your site’s visual interface elicits the right emotions and are in tune with your brand (consult an experience designer if possible).
- Don’t forget site performance and usability—this greatly affects your image online.
- Utilize your personal tone and character when expressing your brand—it pays to humanize your brand (well you’re human after all right?). Check out Dan Schawbel’s blog to learn more about personal branding.
On Blogging: “I’m too lazy to write!”
By establishing your own personal brand and knowing your direction, I’m assuming that moving on to writing would be a less daunting task, though talking from experience, it can still be quite dreadful.
There are two common things that comprise the fear of writing, one would be “Would I be able to publish content regularly?” and “I don’t think my writing style is good enough!”—so much for the hassle of establishing your would be brand eh? A thing that I learned along the way that you should take note of: “If not now, when!?”
First off, take baby steps, don’t promise anything you can’t deliver for yourself and to your would be readers. When I started, I explicitly mentioned (on my site) that I would be publishing content at least once a week, which was manageable. Don’t worry about publishing more than what you’ve promised, in fact you might just find yourself increasing your publishing rate as you go along.
Secondly, nothing will start happening if you wouldn’t even dare write that opening post of yours. Just get your foot inside that door and from there use your brand identity as a guide to help you prepare your content roadmap. Are you scared of your writing style? Don’t be, as you write more and more you’ll find yourself producing better content.
Besides, take note that content production isn’t limited to writing articles, if you’re a good speaker utilize it by mixing in video posts, or if you’re good with visuals, go develop that killer info-graphic!
- Aside from maximizing personal experience for your topics, make sure to utilize topic research in social media (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and forums)—talking about relevant content is important.
- Prepare a content plan. Sometimes it pays to write articles ahead of time to create a buffer and at the same time manage constant publication of content.
- Copyblogger, Problogger, and Men with Pens, are great copywriting resources.
- Explore guest blogging not for self-promotion but for relationship and readership building.
- Don’t tell me you’re not considering SEO when writing content? Consider SEO copywriting (as in writing-not-for-robots).
- Allow your content to travel. Optimize your site to make it easy for readers to share your hard work.
- Share your experiences. Be a storyteller. People recall stories better than hard facts. Perhaps this is a good way to get readers well acquainted with your brand and writing style.
On Link Ponds: “Allow link juice to flow to your brand.”
Never heard of Link Ponds? Well, you do now. Link ponds are basically content pages on a site that are often linked to internally and externally for the priceless information that they provide. In contrast to link bait or link hook content, link ponds are permanent sections on a site, David Mihm’s local search ranking factors and SEOmoz’s search ranking factors are good examples of link ponds.
Moving forward, in light of brand building and content creation, I needed to find a way to kick start my content optimization and at the same time find an effective way to let people in the science and philosophy behind my insights and ideas—a branding and linking opportunity at the same time. This is when I came up with the concept of link ponds.
Creating theoretical frameworks or manifestos that depict your brand and thinking process can greatly help you with your branding efforts and content development strategies, not to mention your SEO initiatives.
- Craft a robust link pond that aligns with your brand and perspective towards your niche.
- Make sure to update your link pond whenever necessary. Don’t forget to update your readers about it as well—a short update post might just do the trick.
- Check out David Armano’s Manifesto. He’s done a great job utilizing this to shape the persona of his blog.
- Check out Karim Rashid’s Karimanifesto.
- Check out the SEO Taoist Philosophy.
As always, I’m looking forward to start discussion. Questions, comments, suggestions, and experiences are most welcome to further expand my article especially on the topic of branding and blogging.