I often find myself recommending other moms to start a blog, or to start blogging on their website. It makes sense to them that I endorse blogging, because, after all, I am a blogger. But that’s not the only reason I believe in the power of blogging. I’ve also been a web designer and a marketing Master Trainer for over a decade, and I know that blogging is a profitable practice, whether you monetize your blog content or use your blog to monetize other offerings.
And I love WordPress! I often speak at WordCamp, which is a gathering of WordPress lovers, WordPress users, and WordPress developers (AKA WordPress heaven!). It was at a WordCamp in San Francisco that Matt Cutts (the public face of Google himself) declared that “WordPress takes care of 80-90% of SEO.” In other words, using WordPress gives you over an 80% chance to be found on Google.
According to my research, about 96% of bloggers take about three years to monetize their blogs (if at all), and about 98% of small business entrepreneurs don’t achieve any significant results from their business blog. Using a hosted WordPress theme with your own domain name is a great start, to set your web presence up for success and get found, but you must make sure you’re not Just Another WordPress Blog or Just Another WordPress Site.
Whether you are a mom blogger, a solopreneur, or run a blog for business or media purposes, the key to gaining credibility, visibility, and profitability with your blog and make your blogging efforts pay off (literally!) is to step out of the cookie-cutter template and brand yourself as an expert voice, an authority in the main subject matters related to your transformational message or very useful products or services. As Paul Rand put it: “design is the silent ambassador of your brand.“
In order to monetize your blog content, you must have a thorough branding strategy – based on your WHY– that builds the overall image of how you want to show up on the web. Your branding tells the world who you are and communicates a promise that tells your visitors and digital friends what to expect from you (and from your products and services). And do keep in mind that lack of branding is branding – yikes!
As I write this, I realize branding may not be your thing. As Napoleon Hill says in Think and Grow Rich (aff), the secret to success is often to “know enough to seek expert counsel before giving up.”
So I’m sharing my expert counsel with you, so you can know the essential things you need to brand your blog like the titans of the marketplace, to get considerable returns with a conservative branding budget.
12 Step Guide To Branding Your Blog
Your Own Brand Identity:
Your brand identity is the cornerstone all you do. You want to make sure your brand name is sending out the right message, and that you have chosen the right domain name (URL) to go along with it. Having a custom domain (i.e. thepositivemom.com) vs.a sub-domain at WordPress (i.e. thepositivemom.WordPress.com) name is the first step to stand out from the crowd.
My team can create a FREE WordPress blog for you or export your current WordPress.com or Blogger blog to a hosted WordPress blog for a minimal fee.
Your email address must match your domain name. I use Google Suite (aff) because it also gives me access to wonderful tools that help me work more effectively. Some other items that go with your identity is figuring out your core values, your branding statement, and your tag line!
Clean Up and Customize Your WordPress Blog
I think you saw this one coming: get rid of the “Just Another WordPress Blog” tagline or replace it with your own. While you’re at it, remove the “Howdy” on the top right of your WordPress Dashboard, and the “Hello Dolly” plugin.
One of the most important steps you can take while setting up your blog, is to customize your permalinks (permanent static hyperlink to a particular web page or entry in a blog). If you are WordPress savvy or team up with a developer, be especially intentional color palette, typeface, and page structure.
Customize Your Website Footer
Add an Original Logo
An original, meaningful logo will definitely add to your brand power. DIY branding and $5 dollar logos often look unprofessional. I recommend learning what makes a logo effective, and investing in your brand so your brand promise and unique brand identity is clear and consistent.
Your logo will require fonts and colors that you want to use as foundation for all your branding. I suggest you limit your color palette of choice to two or three colors, and choose a typeface (font and size) that is legible, easy to scan and read. Your typography and colors will then be sprinkled throughout your headlines, accents, and body of content.
Custom Branded WordPress Header:
The WordPress header can make or break a website. This banner gets instant attention and must immediately communicate your brand promise, your core message, and what your website is all about. A carefully designed custom header will give a great impression within milliseconds, so your visitor knows they are on the right place, in the right company, as soon as they land.
Your header should contain: an intentional picture or headshot of yourself, your brand name, your logo, and your tagline, as well as anything that qualifies your visitors, so they can quickly determine if they want to learn more or leave.
Brand Your Blog Sidebar:
Your sidebar is precious real estate on your website. Psychology teaches us that your web visitors’ eyes will be highly attracted to the right side of the screen. You definitely want to clean up your blog from useless widgets (like the default “meta information”) and avoid badges that don’t contribute to your business goals.
For example, you may want to add a subscription button, an optin area to build your email list, your blog categories, and latest posts. If you sell any products, services, or subscriptions or sell ad space, this is a great place to promote what will help you monetize your blogging efforts.
Brand Your Favicon:
A favicon (short for favorite icon) is a small, 16×16-pixel image displayed to the left of a URL in most modern web browsers. Depending on the browser, a favicon may also appear next to the website name in a list of web bookmarks.
My team and I always add a favicon to the sites we develop, using the logo we design or an image that is consistent with the influencer’s branding. Your website will look more professional with a Favicon, making your blog more memorable, increasing your brand awareness, and even get better SEO ranking!
Branded Social Icons
An effective online influencer always cross promotes! It takes several exposures for someone to know, like, and trust you and your brand, so even if they don’t sign up to your list or subscribe to your blog on the first visit, if they connect to and engage with you on social media, it can accelerate that process. Having custom-designed social icons in your branded color palette or branded pattern, creates consistency and links all your social network profiles from your header, sidebar, and/or footer.
Consistent Social Media Branding
When your blog visitor or reader wants to connect with you on the social platform of their choice and preference, you want to make sure they see the same branding elements they saw on your WordPress site.
Your social handle must either be the same or have the same brand promise, and your bio space updated with relevant information. This also helps make your profiles search engine friendly: if I type in your name + Twitter on a Google search you should be on the results!
Below are some examples of social branding designs my team and I have worked on to take them from Blog to Brand:
Branded Facebook timeline cover
Branded Twitter header image
Branded YouTube channel art
Branded Google Plus header image
Branded LinkedIN background image
And speaking of social platforms, it is imperative to have a uniform profile picture or headshot that looks professional and helps people identify you as an influencer and your brand.
Using a branded profile picture and signing up for Gravatar will help you stand out when you comment on other blog posts, as part of your visibility strategy.
Branded Buttons and Graphics:
You must also consider having some custom decorative visual elements designed:
- Branded buttons or banners to move your visitors to action
- Branded bullet points, icons, and symbols to highlight key content
- Branded lines, frames, or separators to break up important sections of a page
- Your own post signature (which you can also use on your e-mail newsletter).
- Branded arrows, check marks, and images with titles
You will also want to complement your custom branded WordPress website with offline such as a business card, printable flyers or posters, a downloadable one-sheet, and even your own deck design for speaking presentations and webinars. All your marketing collateral must look and feel the same so your audience has the same user experience throughout the marketing process.
Crafting a strategically designed image is what will take you from blog to brand; however, all the branding in the world won’t be effective unless you deliver on the brand promise with meaningful, helpful, useful content, delivered in your voice, tone, and style.
The secret to blogging success lies in being authentic to who you are, being deliberate in how you present your compelling content (including length, titles, keywords, and media used), and being consistent in your publishing schedule.
Make investing your time, energy, and money in building your brand a priority and reap the results! If you’re not an expert marketer, web or graphic designer, or copywriter, it’s always wise to seek someone else’s expertise.
Have blog branding questions or tips of your own? Share those with us and if you need branding help, my team and I can help with all the tools and training you will need, for a reasonable price. xOxO