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Personal Branding and Blogging

One blogger that I think has done a good job of positioning himself as an expert on social media is Neil Patel. I’ve previously linked to quite a bit of Neil’s blogging at Pronet Advertising but in the last few days he’s also started a new blog called QuickSprout – a blog on personal branding.

In his latest post Neil writes about using blogs (both starting your own and commenting on others) as a tool for branding yourself (something most of us as bloggers are familiar with to some extent). I’m looking forward to seeing more and more of Neil’s posts as personal branding is a topic is continues to grow.

My Personal Branding Tip

My own philosophy on personal branding is that it needs to be approached on two fronts – a big picture and a little picture one.

On a big picture front one needs to think about the larger ‘picture’ that you’re wanting to paint of yourself. You might do this by thinking about the words that you want associated with your name for example. So someone like Guy Kawasaki you might associate the word ‘entrepreneur’ or Michael Arrington it might be ‘Web 2.0′. Most bloggers attempting to build their personal brand think about this and generally do a reasonable job at it.

On a smaller picture/micro level I think bloggers need to consider that every action that they take has the ability to add to or subtract from their personal brand.

  • Every Blog Post
  • Every Comment
  • Every Instant Message
  • Every Email

Particularly the public actions (posting and commenting) can have a profound impact upon how you are perceived – particularly when viewed cumulatively over time.

Don’t just think about ‘what’ you write either – it’s about ‘how’ you do it also. Your style, tone, language as well as they way in which you interact with others all have an impact upon how people will perceive you and the words that they’ll associate with you.

It’s on this micro level that I see some bloggers break down and prove to be inconsistent in their branding by having a big picture branding that says one thing but a small picture branding that is quite different from their overall goal. These mixed messages can confuse and even aggravate readers.

This inconsistency can come in any number of ways – for example:

  • presenting as an expert but proving to have little knowledge of the topic at hand
  • presenting as a relational person but with an unwillingness to interact on a one on one level
  • presenting as a reasonable, diplomatic person but with a history of personal attack
  • presenting as an honest person but being found to consistently attempting to pull the wool over other people’s eyes
  • presenting as an aggressive blogger but in personal interactions being gentle, meek and mild

The list could go on (and you’re welcome to suggest others). The problem with such inconsistencies is that over time they become quite obvious (particularly in a medium like blogging) and they can eventually lead to the creation of anything but a positive personal brand.

So as useful as thinking about the big picture that you want to portray is – a more useful question to continually be asking is – ‘do my actions back up the brand that I’m attempting to portray?’

This is a question to be pondering in the daily grind of blogging, commenting and interacting with others.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Neil Patel says:

    Darren, thanks for the mention.

  2. Eli James says:

    Neil’s blog QuickSprout should be interesting to read. But there’s only a coupla of posts at the moment. I wonder how he’s going to tackle issue like credibility and building trust over the internet.

    Hrmm, hrmm. *bookmarks his blog*

  3. Branding is essential for every business. But it is a bit difficult for small publishers like me. Darren rowse is other name for ‘professional blogger’.

  4. Interesting discussion about branding Darren. I think your blog for example has one sort of obvious big picture that is endorsed by your own subtitle ‘helping bloggers earn money’ yet your smaller picture is much more versatile and has a broader dynamic ‘helping bloggers network’ which can have nothing to do with the larger picture you yourself have painted of your blog. For example, I have almost zero interest in earning money from my blog, yet I read your blog all the time because your articles are relevant for those interested in social networking, learning how to blog, using the internet effectively, and has a high ethical quality. All of these things bring me here and keep me returning, yet I still have no interest in your main objective ‘helping bloggers earn money’. Somehow you’ve branded yourself as an ethical, knowledgeable and reliable source for the smaller picture themes I’ve described above.

  5. Joanna Young says:

    Hi, I agree that the message needs to be carried all the way through – content, responding to comments, tone, and style. All of that adds up to personal branding and the beauty of blogging as a medium is that people can ‘see through it’ to what you’re really saying, or who you’re really being. I wonder if people go wrong by trying too hard to establish a brand though, rather than recognising that the brand = them. If you keep asking yourself questions like ‘does this sound like me?’, or ‘does this reflect my values?’ it will help you to write and sound authentic – the most powerful personal brand there is!

  6. Very useful post. Many thanks.

  7. Neena says:

    As a relatively new blogger, I have been very careful about my posts but especially about my comments. Once you hit that submit button, there is usually no option for edit.

    I guess “branding” is the internet’s name for “reputation”. And on the internet everything is somewhat permanent.

    I will be reading Neil’s new blog with great interest.

    Thanks!

  8. tanya says:

    That is the main reason why I ‘blog.’ I have no interest in leaving my chosen career and I blog as a way to set myself apart from others in my area (having spent most of my time in grad school and not having too much work experience also necessitates the need for more creative approches). Some ways that your blog can help in having your name be your brand;

    * Make it have both a personal and a professional tone.
    * Have your name attached to every post.
    * Have your blog be related to what your ‘area of expertise’ is (or what you would like it to be). For example I am a food scientist and I produce healthy food reviews
    * Have a spiel for how you are better than your competition because you have a blog (website). For example, it shows that successfully develop a ‘project’ from the ground up … because you started a ‘website’ with no readers and it has grown to xxx per day. Also, anything you write about can be found in the top 10 on google when you search for that topic – within a few days of writing about it … etc.

  9. The reason email is dangerous is that all you need to do is click send and it is gone. When people had to write letters by hand, the writing was done much more carefully I believe. That said, since it is so easy to send an email or comment on a blog, people often just write and send without proofreading or considering the implicatoins of their words.

    Great post . . . I’m glad you’ve pointed this important issue out to everyone out there.

  10. daniel says:

    hi, Darren, how are you?

    Fantastic topic & very important where blogging is concerned. There’s a great deal of confusion about branding/blogging. Many bloggers speak of branding as ‘logos’, ‘images’, ‘taglines’, etc, without realising that the largest factor in their personal brand is what they say & do. The style/content of their posts/comments can hugely affect the way they are perceived – both personally & professionally.

    I look forward to reading Neil’s new blog.

    daniel

  11. Hi Darren, I was just thinking about personal branding the other day, one of the reasons I killed off some of my more superfluous blogs – I felt I was diluting the brand a little.

    I’ve also started to comment a little more on blogs I like, which leads me to this question:

    You must be a pretty busy guy these days – do you spend much time commenting on other people’s blogs and what topics are likely to draw a comment?

  12. Tina says:

    Hi Darren

    Thank you for another thought provoking post.

    Do you think its reasonable to say that if you follow these guidelines your branding will remain strong and clear by default:

    1. Blog about something you feel passionate about
    2. Have another purpose for blogging other than making money – i.e the need to share your wisdom with like minded people…
    3. Remain true to yourself and your values

    In my experience of publishing (which to date has been offline), if there are real motives behind something, and if you throw yourself into it, your branding becomes strong, because you are reliable, consistent and passionate….

    I also think that one of the attractions of blogging is that allows people to build up their alter ego… people can allow another side of themselves to take on a form, and an identity, which is quite different to the person they present to the non virtual world….

    What does anyone think about this subject of alter ego over blogging…. ???

  13. Focus is important. As upstart bloogers , we must realise it takes time, dedication, focus and tenacity

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