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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.
Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:
1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically
According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.
“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor
Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:
If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.
If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.
Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:
Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.
Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.
To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.
Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.
Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.
Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.
Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.
Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:
2. Focus on your goal
One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.
Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’
Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.
Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.
If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.
3. Convert negativity to positivity
There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?
‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’
It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.
Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”
Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.
Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:
4. Understand your content
Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.
However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.
“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor
Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.
Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.
One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.
5. Practice makes perfect
Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.
In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.
Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!
6. Be authentic
There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.
Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.
Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.
To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.
With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.
Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:
7. Post speech evaluation
Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.
Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation
We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.
You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.
Improve your next speech
As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:
How did I do?
Are there any areas for improvement?
Did I sound or look stressed?
Did I stumble on my words? Why?
Was I saying “um” too often?
How was the flow of the speech?
Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.
If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too: