Are you creating a new blog for your business?
You're not alone.
Whether you're an entrepreneur that writes, or a writer with a side-hustle, there's a method to building a blog that will build your brand.
Let's talk about 10 tips to help you build your brand with a blog.
Your Blog is Important
Your blog solves the hardest problem any brand can have. Obscurity.
People can't like your brand or buy what you offer until they know it exists.
A well-written blog helps people who care about what you offer, discover that you care about them.
It provides a platform for empathy, and empathy fosters trust.
The trust of people that know you is the most valuable asset you can have.
Trust grows slowly and dies quickly.
Through your blog, readers can develop trust not only for you, but also with each other through discussions in comments, product reviews, etc.
And lastly, a blog is a bridge that allows people with problems to become delighted advocates by informing others about the value you offer.
Now let's talk about how this all happens.
How to Build the Blog You Want
1. Define a Voice for Your Brand
People need to know who you are. And you have to show them.
If you haven't taken the time to do this yet, start soon.
Make two lists:
- What does your brand want to see more of in the world?
- What does your brand want to see less of in the world?
What does your brand stand for? And what does it stand against?
You get to choose.
Rephrase what you wrote in terms of mission and values if it helps.
Your audience will trust you when your actions align with your values.
Create content for your blog that lets your readers see your actions align with your values.
Lastly, align your social media profiles. If one profile says you're one thing and another profile says something different, you'll find it difficult to build trust with your readers.
2. Define Your Target Audience
Content written for everybody connects with nobody.
If you want your brand to grow, you'll need to focus on specific people with specific problems that you understand and can solve.
People who don't know you will find you through search. In the beginning, this will be just about everyone.
People with problems they don't know how to solve typically search for symptoms, not solutions.
People with broken arms search for "arm pain" until they know it's a broken arm. People with arm pain take Advil. People with a broken arm take a trip to the hospital.
Here are three questions that will help you resonate in the hearts of your readers:
- What problems do they have right now?
- How do those problems make them feel?
- How do they want to feel instead?
Write about what people know.
Show you understand how they feel, and they'll care.
3. Define Your Offers
An offer is anything that gives your reader an opportunity to show you they want more. It can be a related post they can read, a newsletter they can subscribe to, a free download, or a product or service they can purchase.
Readers will invoke your offers through a call to action.
It's usually a button that clearly stands out on a page.
Why is it effective?
A call to action offers the reader what they want, when they want it, so they can feel how they want to feel instead.
As you create content for your blog, think about what you can offer to provide value for your reader. If you don't already have an offer like that, create one.
4. Build Your Brand Through Stories
Stories are like magical airplanes that defy the gravity of reality.
Most of the stories you've heard, and many of the ones you remember, follow the same template. This template is called the "monomyth".
Joseph Campbell wrote a book called The Hero with a Thousand Faces back in 1949.
He outlined the monomyth structure as having 3 basic stages:
- The departure. The hero leaves the familiar world behind.
- The initiation. The hero learns to navigate the unfamiliar world.
- The return. The hero returns to the familiar world.
These 3 stages are composed of 17 steps.
Writer Dan Harmon simplified the model into 8 steps.
Within the monomyth structure there are several personas. In the context of the stories that will build your brand, 4 personas stand out.
Here are the Star Wars characters that represent these 4 personas.
- The Hero: Luke Skywalker
- The Guide: Obi-Wan Kenobi
- The Supernatural Artifact: Lightsaber
- The Goal: The Force
Position your brand like this to create a relatable and compelling feel:
- The Hero: Your reader
- The Guide: You
- The Supernatural Artifact: Your offer
- The Goal: The reader becomes a better version of themself
5. Make Yourself Easy to Discover
Readers discover your blog through search.
It might take days, weeks, or even months for a new blog to appear on Google. But it will take longer for it to rank on the first page where people will find it regularly.
Here are 3 things you can do right now to promote your blog.
- Comment on other people's content. The Internet is a big soup of conversations. Your blog is your place to curate the conversations you want to have. Join conversations other people are having on blogs that you like and let them know you're there. Some of them will find your blog.
- Reach out and introduce yourself. Contact people that you would like in your social circle through email or social media. Say something nice and let them know you appreciate their work. Some of them will reciprocate.
- Offer to guest post for others. As people get to know you, and as you start to publish more on your own blog, look for opportunities to guest post for other blogs as well. This is a fantastic way to introduce yourself to an already thriving community. Again, some people will find their way to your blog.
Over the long term, making yourself easy to discover through search will come down to SEO among other factors. But don't wait. Start connecting now.
A pro-active approach to getting known will really accelerate your growth.
6. Create a Content Strategy
A content strategy is a vision. It's like railroad tracks that guide your creative locomotive forward toward something specific.
It's more than a goal. It's more like a string of goals, one after the other, with bigger goals like stations or checkpoints along the way.
Execution in service of a strategy creates momentum.
Showing up consistently for your readers cultivates the trust that builds a tribe.
Publish consistently. Decide on a schedule and stick to it. Don't worry if some of the content isn't great. Bad posts here and there are easy to ignore. But broken trust is ... well, just don't do it. Publish consistently.
Here are some helpful resources:
- How to Create a Content Publishing Strategy that Gets Results
- When Can You Expect Your Content Marketing Efforts to Bear Fruit
- How Often Do You Need to Blog? 5 Simple Steps That'll Help You Know
Publish content about the symptoms of the problem you solve. People who don't know you will find you while researching a problem they have right now.
Don't be The Hero in your content. This turns readers away.
As I said above re: building your brand through stories:
- You are The Guide
- Your Reader is The Hero
- Your Offer is The Supernatural Artifact
Meet readers where they are. Talk about what they know.
Before people will join you on their own Hero's Journey they need you to meet them where they are.
When they discover you for the first time they won't understand most of what you know. If they already knew what you know they wouldn't have Googled what they Googled to find you.
Conversation is a two-way experience. Readers don't want to endure a monologue. And they don't want to be lectured. Talk with them.
- Encourage readers to leave comments.
- Encourage readers to follow your social media accounts.
- And encourage them to share your content with their friends.
And now, a big one ...
7. Cultivate Community
What you're doing has to be bigger than just content.
- Have a mission. The reader should be able to answer the question "So what?". Create content that's relevant to them and what they need right now.
- Be polarizing. Readers can't remember something they didn't see. Readers need to know what you stand for and what you're against. They will not remember you without this. Make an effort to differentiate between people and ideas. Some good people have some bad ideas and vice versa. If you show people what you're made of and do so consistently, some people that don't even agree with you will still feel good about your brand.
- Use some data. Use enough facts to scratch the reader's itch for evidence. What you're really doing is letting the reader off the hook. You're giving them a way to justify trusting you, just in case what you tell them is wrong. But don't turn your content into a debate. Avoid trying to "prove" or "win" against doubt. This creates a sense of conflict between you and the reader. And for Pete's sake, be honest and use verified/reputable sources when possible.
- Make people feel more than they think. Feelings drive behavior. Thinking creates friction.
Encourage readers to follow you on social media. Your blog is one channel. Seeing you in various places helps people remember you by associating you with more and more other things that they regularly see. Your first priority is relevance. So make yourself relevant by encouraging readers to follow you on social media.
Collect email addresses in exchange for value. Your email list will be the heart and soul of your business. Even if you don't know what to do with an email list, start collecting them.
If you want your readers to feel good about sharing their email address with you (and you most definitely do) give them something valuable in exchange. It can be a sequence of 5 informative emails that inform them, entertain them, or both. It can be a PDF they can download. It can be a link to a video or recorded webinar. It can be anything of value to them.
Exchanging value instead of just asking for a favor by sharing their email address cultivates trust and appreciation. It's absolutely a win, win, win, win, win!
Help fans connect with each other. You can't make readers connect. But you can make it possible.
- Enable comments on your posts so readers can discover and connect with each other.
- Create a group on Facebook or LinkedIn. This gives your readers another forum to connect with each other, possibly in different ways than they would through your blog.
- If it makes sense to you, host in-person Meetups. Real-life connections are powerful.
- Host regular webinars and live sessions on your favorite social media platform. Invite your audience to ask questions. Encourage participation. People feel validated and seen when someone else asks the question they were too shy to ask themself.
At a certain point your community will become too large to moderate on your own.
Cultivate moderators within your community and delegate specific responsibilities to them.
If delegation and/or management is new to you, I recommend reading The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It, by Michael Gerber.
8. Extinguish Friction
The web is a uniquely low-friction environment. Use this to your advantage.
Make yourself available for your readers. Be responsive to questions. Invite feedback and engagement from your readers. Schedule live sessions on social media and show up on time.
In general, tell people what you're going to do and follow through. Give readers opportunities to trust you and show up with integrity, authenticity and empathy.
Make it easy for your readers to find what they're looking for.
Having to hunt for information feels like looking for lost keys. Don't make readers do that work.
- Start with an outline.
- Make your posts easy to scan. Use headings, bold, underline, etc. to focus attention on key points throughout your post.
- Use categories and/or tags to group related posts.
- Reference and link directly to related posts on your blog.
Lastly ... and this goes back to delegation vs. abdication ... moderate your community.
Create a safe space for people to show up and be themselves. The safer people feel the less friction there will be.
9. As You Grow, Allow Your Focus to Shift to Your Email List
New beginnings are as much about ending what was there before as they are about starting something new. Letting go of old habits and expectations goes hand in hand with establishing new ones.
Similarly, things that seem like "the whole point" are often just stepping stones to what's next.
A new blog needs new readers. But over time new readers become regular readers.
Nurture existing readers while you continue to attract new ones. This will involve new types of content on your blog as existing readers have been informed by what they've read on your blog in the past. But the reality is much bigger than that.
Readers that know, like and trust you want more. They want an offer.
In some ways this is like two people that like each other, just waiting for the other to ask them out on a date.
They would say "yes" if you ask. But you can't know until you do.
Share offers through your email list. These can be paid or free offers.
Offer value to your reader. This will build your community and turn your blog into a business.
Here are a five resources to help you start building your list:
- List building 101: How to rapidly build an email list
- How to Build an Email List on Your Blog
- How to Build an Email List: 5 Pro Tips That Will Catapult Your Blog
- How to Build Your Email List Using Quizzes
- How to Build an Email List from Zero
10. Track and Measure Behavior
Peter Drucker famously said:
If you can't measure it, you can't improve it.
If you're serious about building your brand, then what you're doing is attracting a community of people who care about you because you care about them. This is what a brand is.
People often don't communicate honestly through their words.
Some people believe that actions speak louder than words. In other words, they believe what a person does is a more accurate reflection of how they feel than what they say.
But I don't believe that.
People often do what they believe they're supposed to do, even when they don't believe in it.
Here's what I believe to be true:
When a person's words and actions align, what they say is likely true. When words and actions don't align, the truth is somewhere in between. In this latter case, the actor may or may not be aware of the truth themself. And as the observer, the real truth can't be known.
The only way to have a chance at knowing what your readers really believe is to observe both what they say and what they do.
Here are 6 services that will enable you to measure behavior on your blog:
These services are all slightly different.
If analytics is a new topic for you, I would encourage you to poke around and maybe watch some YouTube videos to get a sense of how they work.
Empowered by the truth about what your readers really want, you will be able to give them what they really want.
Not only will you attract a community of true fans more quickly. You will feel more confident about what you write because you won't be guessing.
You will know what your readers care about and how you can offer the value they're looking for.
I want to say one more thing about analytics.
Looking at data and knowing what to do with it are two completely different things.
If analytics is new to you, you will not know what to do with the data you collect when you decide to start collecting it. This is normal.
In fact, this is the whole point. You're not supposed to know before hand. Thinking you are is your ego looking for security as you embark on something unfamiliar.
The data will show you very clearly what you need to know. It will show up visually and it will be obvious.
You will see patterns that will lead you to questions. You will discover more and more over time. But it will only truly work for you when you let go of trying to control it and allow the data to show you the truth about the behavior of your readers.
Start collecting data.
Be patient and allow the patterns to reveal themselves. They will.
A blog is a platform that helps people ...
- discover you
- feel that you care about them
- learn about their problem
- buy a solution you offer
- and belong to an empathetic community of people just like them
It enables you to build a list of email subscribers that is an effective, low-cost way to consistently generate revenue.
It creates a low-friction environment where people with problems you solve can easily find the courses, coaching, training, apps, etc. that you offer.
Have a clear sense of who you are, who your reader is, the problems they have and the solutions you offer. Connect with readers through stories.
Set clear expectations, and consistently deliver what you promise. You will soon discover the community of true fans you were looking for.
Listen to what your readers say. Observe and measure what they do. Look for patterns that reveal or confirm the truth. Empowered by insight, you will confidently create content that consistently builds connection.
So what do you think?
Have you tried some of these? What was that like for you?
Please share a comment below.
For more on marketing, branding, writing and more you can follow me @laran on Twitter.