In the third of a series of posts from my Blog On MSI session on personal branding, I’m outlining my techniques for evaluating your brand and understanding your audience.
This forms the first two elements of my SAVAGE process for honing your personal blogging brand.
S is for … Self-Appraisal
The starting point for refining your personal brand is first of all to define it.
Do you truly know what your blogging style and voice are? Is it focussed, consistent and unique? Can you describe it in a few simple words or phrases?
Try it. Spend two minutes with pen and paper and write down a selection of words that describe who and what you are as a blogger. Not what you aspire to be – what you are. Don’t over-think. Hold a mirror up to yourself and be brutally honest. There’s no point pretending you’re the funniest thing since Sarah Millican when deep down you know that even you don’t laugh at your own jokes.
As an example, here’s mine.
Now take a closer look at your list and start whittling it down.
Step one is to strike out any generic words that don’t differentiate you from anyone else. ‘Honest’ is a good example of a generic term – how many bloggers do you know who don’t try to write honestly?
Now focus on the words that really make you unique. What are your values that describe who you are at your core? What are the passions that drive you? What are your strengths?
There is no one right answer, of course. Don’t allow yourself to think about how you would want others to see you. Focus only on what makes you you and distil your list down to five or six words that describe your unique style.
So, here is me in five words – the essence of my personal brand.
Think about what your own words really mean to you. In my case, they describe not only my writing style and voice but also the way I work and the types of content I prefer to produce. Since doing the exercise about a year ago my content has become even more focussed along these lines.
My analytical side comes out in a lot of my posts but also in the kind of structured blogging tips posts I write. The Meet the Parents podcast is a collaborative effort. I’ve always had a natural tendency to tell stories – and one of my more recent ventures is to start a regular ‘Saturday Songs’ series about the stories behind some of my favourite tracks (music being one of my passions). And my natural writing voice is self-deprecating and quirky – I’m a fairly serious writer on the whole, but I love looking at things from unusual angles, not least in the form of my parody songs.
My brand hasn’t fundamentally changed by doing this exercise. But as a result of being more conscious of what makes me stand out from the crowd, it has brought a new focus to my writing and my content which allows me to define my brand even more sharply.
I know who and what I am. You should ensure you do too.
A is for … Audience
Almost as important as knowing yourself is knowing who your audience is.
In this day and age, there’s no excuse for not doing so. Google or WordPress analytics give you access to a huge amount of insight into your audience that can help hone your approach to blogging. Here are a few things to consider:
- What are your audience’s demographics? Do they come from a particular age group or geographical location? (If you have a lot of local readers, should you produce more local content?) At what times of the day are they most likely to be reading your content – do you schedule your content for those times?
- What types of content do they like to read? Do particular types of post have a lower bounce rate? (Bounce rate is a measure of how many people leave your site after reading only one page.)
- Is your appeal broad or niche? (In some cases, you may appeal to a number of specific niches, which can help you structure and categorise your content.)
- Are you doing everything you can to encourage followers and build your audience? Do you follow like-minded people? Do you encourage people who have liked a post on your Facebook page to also like the page itself?
If you don’t already know this little trick, try it. If you have your own Facebook page – this doesn’t work on ordinary profiles – if you click on the line at the bottom of an update that shows you how many people liked your post, it will open a pop-up box which allows you to invite likers to also subscribe to your page, which vastly increases the chances of them seeing and interacting with future updates.
If you understand your audience, you will build a better picture of how they perceive you and how best to interact with them. Ultimately, you want to give your audience something they want that no one else can.
After all, blogging – and reading blogs – is an intimate experience. Regular readers are entering into a relationship with you. Why should they do that? If you know your audience’s needs, you’re in a better position to answer that and ensure that they keep coming back for more.
In the next post in this series, I’ll show you how to identify and make the changes to refine your brand.
Creating a personal brand