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Branding Your Blog for Success

Branding Your Blog for Success
Branding

    Why Brand Your Blog?

    Do you get frustrated when visitors to your site don’t convert into subscribers? For many bloggers, not all, success equals an engaged and high volume readership, and/or making money from their blog. If you fall into either of those categories then you can benefit from improving the brand of your blog. This post will show you how.

    Gaining a High Volume Readership

    What makes a reader want to subscribe to a blog? Simply put, they understand what your blog is about, your brand, and they are attracted to it. If a reader doesn’t understand what you are serving at your blog, then they won’t know if they will like your future content. By having a clear brand, readers will know what to expect from you in the future. If they like that then they will subscribe. A stronger, more clear brand will yield more subscribers.

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    Bookmarking vs. RSS

    What makes a person bookmark vs subscribe? A bookmark says “I like what’s on this site and I want to be able to return to it later.” Subscribing says “I don’t want to miss a single future post of this blog!” Subscribing only happens if the blog is very interesting or very valuable to the reader. Bookmarking is great, but subscribers are better because you will have a more involved community which will drive more traffic. When your site is a happening place, people will link to you, return to see what’s going on and to socialize. This is what you want.

    How You Can Use Branding to Increase Your Blog Traffic and Make More Money

    Branding your blog will make clear to your readers what your blog is about. You want them to be able to put into words what your blog is all about. Otherwise how could they ever want to share your site with others or subscribe if they can’t describe what your blog is about.

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    How to Brand Your Blog

    You will need to sit down with a pen and paper and brainstorm the following questions. For each question write down your answers and then write down ideas about how you can communicate this or put it into action on your blog. Think in terms of your layout, colors, logo, content, ads you use, images, and all other elements of your blog.

    BLOG BRANDING QUESTIONS:

    Who are You?
    Readers like to know about the author. It makes your writing more interesting because it adds context. How much you reveal is up to you. Some blog authors choose to reveal themselves only between the lines of their posts. Others spill their souls completely and let us know everything on their “About” page. How much you reveal is a part of who you are.

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    What is Your Blog About?
    What is the theme of your blog? What is your message? Do you have a mission statement or a manifesto? What can people expect to see there? What are your major categories? Is your focus broad or narrow? What medium do you use: words, music, video, images, all of the above? What is the culture, style, and feeling you want on your blog? Does your blog clearly communicate this or is your site confusing to your readers? See if you can tighten up your message to be more explicit.

    Why Does Your Blog Exist?
    Why did you bring your blog into existence? What was the impetus? What drives you to bring such information to others? What is your passion and why? Is your source of motivation a constant or has it evolved over time? Do you expect it to remain static or change, and if so how?

    How Does Your Blog Work?
    How often do you publish posts? Does your blog have a schedule for it’s categories like ZenHabits? Do you run regular “specials” such as contests, memes, a series on a particular subject? What is your comment policy? Is it anything goes or do you want to encourage a certain atmosphere of civility?

    Who Is Your Audience?
    Who do you want reading your blog? How do find those people and bring them to your site? What do they like? How age are they? Male, female, both? What kind of work do they do? What are their hobbies? Do they have children, pets? What are they passionate about? Where do they hang out physically and online? Who are you linking to?

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    What Makes Your Blog Unique?
    Surely there are other blogs that cover information similar to yours, yes? What makes your presentation special? What makes your blog remarkable versus mundane? Maybe your subject matter isn’t intrinsically flashy. How is it that a mundane topic like recipes can be a major hit for one blog, and a complete bomb for another? It’s your combination of all these elements listed above, but how will you communicate it? What is your elevator speech about your blog? This is your 30 second description of your blog. Will it win someone over with such force as to compel that person to subscribe? It needs to!

    Why Should I Subscribe to Your Blog?
    Otherwise known as “What’s In It For Me?” What real value will your reader gain by subscribing to your blog? Subscribing does have a cost even though it is free. The cost is time, and as we all know, this is our most valuable resource. Why should I spend some of that valuable currency reading your site? Tell me how I will benefit and I just might sign up!

    Conclusion
    There is a lot of creative heavy lifting to do in terms of branding your blog. Each of these answers needs to be translated into the physical elements of your blog. But isn’t that part of the fun?! I think so. Good luck and happy branding.

    K. Stone is author of Life Learning Today, a blog about daily life improvements. A few of her most popular articles are 7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Financial Life, Make Money with Your Blog: The Ultimate Resource List, 5 Keys to Happiness, and How to Keep Your Child from Ever Smoking.

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    K. Stone

    The founder of Life Learning Today, a blog that's dedicated to life improvement tips.

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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