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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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    Last Updated on March 14, 2019

    7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

    7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

    Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

    For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

    Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

    1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

    A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

    It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

    It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

    How it helps you:

    If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

    Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

    2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

    Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

    Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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    How it helps you:

    Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

    Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

    If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

    Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

    3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

    Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

    Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

    How it helps you:

    This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

    For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

    Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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    A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

    4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

    To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

    A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

    How it helps you:

    One word: hierarchy.

    All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

    In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

    If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

    5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

    Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

    Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

    How it helps you:

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    Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

    If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

    This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

    6. What do you like about working here?

    This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

    Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

    How it helps you:

    You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

    Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

    Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

    7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

    What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

    As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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    How it helps you:

    What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

    First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

    Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

    Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

    Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

    Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

    Making Your Interview Work for You

    Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

    Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

    More Resources About Job Interviews

    Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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