From Blog into a Brand: How to Take Your Blog to the Next Level
In most cases, a blog is little more than a website people can visit where they consume content. But if you’re serious enough about your blog to desire to transform it into a revenue-producing operation, you’ll eventually have to treat it as a full-fledged brand. You want to turn your blog into a brand.
Here are 9 Tips for Transforming Your Blog Into a Brand
Once you stop looking at your blog as the end game and start to view it as a tool to achieve larger goals, you can make the transition from blogger to business owner.
Here are a few tips that will help you transform that blog into a brand:
Carefully Define Your Brand
If you’ve been a blogger for a while, you’ve already developed some sort of brand — good or bad, intentional or not. Now’s the time to put some thought into your nascent brand and establish a more purposeful image.
“Continue with your unique style and voice, but clean up your interactions to create a positive or attractive perception of your brand for your ideal audience,” blogger Gina Badalaty suggests. “This will mean stepping back and even enlisting help to establish what your reputation looks like now and how you should change it.”
Identify a Target Audience
A brand isn’t able to thrive without an audience. You need people to be receptive to your brand, and it all starts with targeting the right folks.
If your blog has been around for a while, you should already have a pretty good idea what your audience looks like. Now you need to sharpen your focus and pursue the types of individuals who are most likely to offer the highest return.
Build a Community
Once you have an audience in front of you, the goal should be to build a community. You want to transform people from followers into active participants – rabid fans who depend on your brand to fill a void or provide some sort of satisfaction.
The thing about a community is it’s a two-way street. You can’t just push content out to your audience and expect that to constitute a thriving community. A community requires some back and forth – between you and your audience, as well as between different members of your audience.
While it’s possible to build a community that’s entirely based online, a lot of bloggers have found that it’s helpful to crossover into the real world. Having regular meetups in places where you have lots of readers can take things to another level. It gives you the opportunity to get in front of people in a face-to-face manner and engage them. This strengthens your brand.
Develop a Monetizable Product
Your blog is definitely a product, but it’s not necessarily a highly monetizable one (unless you have already secured some serious advertisers). In order to develop a profitable brand that consistently generates revenue, you need a monetizable product that customers can enjoy.
There are plenty of ways you can go, but most bloggers transition into virtual products, such as ebooks, online courses, and premium content. If you have the time, patience, and resources, it’s also possible to get involved in selling physical products.
For example, a popular cooking blog might find success selling kitchen utensils or other supplies. Be on the lookout for easy and convenient crossover points where you can dip into related markets.
Invest in Multichannel Marketing
If you’re building a brand, you have to extend your reach beyond just one channel and invest in multichannel marketing. This will grow your reach and help you engage a wider audience.
Offline marketing is particularly useful. When people are exposed to your branding online and offline, it suddenly becomes part of their daily experience.
There are various strategies and techniques you can use, but signage can be highly effective. Physical signage — including cost-effective cloth banners — helps to foster a recognizable brand and, depending on placement, can garner a lot of visibility.
Make Consistency Your Biggest Priority
Few qualities matter more than consistency. It’s impossible to build a brand without adhering to consistent principles and styles.
Naturally, this happens to be one of the most challenging tasks of brand building. It’s you’ll have to focus a lot of your energy on it. Inconsistencies in your brand messaging will so easily erode the trust and familiarity you’ve worked so hard to earn to that point.
Have a Recognizable Visual Style
Does your blog have a visual brand identity? In other words, can people look at a piece of your content and automatically associate it with your blog? Big brands are really good at this. When an Apple commercial comes on, you can usually guess the brand before the closing frame where the logo comes into play. You want your target audience to be able to do the same with your blog/brand.
Your blog’s visual brand identity is expressed in a variety of ways. Through the use of logos, colors, typography, imagery, and even composition styles. Not only do you need to identify specific color palettes, fonts, image filter styles on Instagram, and content guidelines for your blog, but you need to maintain consistency. Whether it’s on your blog or a social media platform, your style has to remain consistent from one medium to the next.
“Using strong, consistent, on-brand imagery produces higher ROI for your marketing efforts, more deeply resonates with customers, and creates a cohesive and memorable brand experience that makes clients come back for more,” explains Spectrio, a leader in the video marketing space. “So, if you’re working with a hodgepodge of confusing and inconsistent visuals, it’s time to make a change and clearly set your visual brand identity.”
Be Fresh and Unique
The entire premise of a brand is that you do something unique. There’s something special and recognizable about the product you produce, as well as how you present it. The problem a lot of bloggers encounter when trying to transition from being just another blog to a brand is that they don’t do anything unique.
If you want to know what it looks like to go from blog to successful brand, it’s helpful to study the rise of Bleacher Report. What was once a small sports blog is now a nationally recognized brand that drives monthly traffic in excess of 60 million visitors. It has sponsorship deals with major sporting events, and is worth tens of millions of dollars.
When Bleacher Report president Rory Brown looks at the past and present success of the company, he believes much of it is rooted in the team’s scrappiness and willingness to do things differently.
“We’re always trying to find the white space – new, different and compelling things that will appeal to a generation of sports fans that didn’t watch SportsCenter waiting for highlights every night; people who consume everything on mobile and might be interested in the intersection between sports and music as opposed to purely what happens on the field,” Brown tells Forbes.
While you might not be in the sports niche, there are powerful lessons to be learned from Bleacher Report. You need to develop a unique flavor and have a penchant for bucking the trends. It’s the only way to stand out.
Spend Time With the Right People
You’ve heard the idea that you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with, right? It’s a concept that can’t be proven, but it sounds about right. The people you spend time with start to rub off on you. They shape you into the person you are, as well as the individual you’ll become.
Well, who are you spending the most time with? If you want to become a successful blogger and business owner, you need to be spending time with people who are also successful in these areas. It’s fine to hang out with people who work in other fields, but there’s something to be said for connecting with individuals who have common goals. Their wins, losses, and experiences will teach you something.
If you don’t already know other bloggers in your personal life, find a meetup in your area. These groups will get you connected. They may ultimately help you in your pursuit of becoming more than just a hobby blogger.
It’s also smart to spend time with branding experts – even if they know nothing about blogging. The same concepts that they use with their businesses and clients should work for you. Regularly pick their brain and try to identify different ways you can keep your brand moving forward.
Treat Your Blog Like a Business
There’s a major distinction between being a blogger and being a business owner. If you want to transition from the former to the latter, start looking at how you can build a brand.