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How to Build Your Personal Brand Through Your Blog

reader-questionsBob (no url provided) asks – “I want to know how blogging can be used in personal branding. I want to be considered an expert in a topic, how best can writing a blog get me there? I do not care about adsense or CJ.com, I want to know how to use a blog to get consulting and freelance work in my field.”

Glad to hear you’re wanting to use your blog in this way Bob, you’re not alone as more and more people are doing it too.

Really what you’re saying here is that you want to use your blog to ‘sell yourself’ instead of to sell a product or ad space.

Here are a few things to work hard at:

  • build trust - increasingly marketers are finding that people want to know and be in some sort of trusting relationship with those that they buy products or services from. This is particularly true for a personal service like consulting. Be open about your agenda and about what you do and don’t know. Talk both about your successes and failures. If all you do is use a blog for ‘spin’ you’ll present as too good to be true.
  • be personal – building on the last point – one way to make a deeper connection with potential clients is to show something of who you are. This doesn’t mean blogging about your personal life, but show you’re human injecting humor, a photo or two of yourself and showing your personality.
  • use story – I find readers respond very well to story on blogs. Stories of my own experience, stories of other clients (shared with permission as case studies) etc. Using relevant stories can help build credibility in your niche.
  • establish expertise – people won’t give you the ‘expert’ label without you earning it. Show what you know (without being arrogant), show how you apply it (it’s one thing to know a lot – but can you translate your knowledge into something constructive and useful) and be a thought leader in your niche (ie break some new ground and show people that you’re capable of original thought).
  • be generous – some consultants use their blogs to talk very abstractly about their field of expertise but don’t actually give their readers much in the way of practical and applicable content. My approach is to give away quite a bit of information and to be quite generous with what you share. If you help someone for free I find that the next time they need something they’ll quite often be willing to pay for it. You might not want to give everything away for free but free reports, ideas and tips should feature pretty heavily on these types of blogs.
  • establish relationships in your niche – while building relationships on your own blog with potential clients can be very effective – when another blogger recommends you it can be even more powerful. Get to know other bloggers in your niche and you’ll find they will add to your credibility with their links and mentions on their blogs.
  • be consistent – while there’s no problem with changing, growing and developing in your ideas over time you do need to present some consistent messages over time. If you’re constantly chopping and changing what you’re on about and focusing on you’ll find that readers find it hard to connect with you and build a ‘relationship’ over time. Remember that every time you post you have the opportunity to add to or take from your reputation and brand (I’ve written more about being consistent in your messages here).
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. This is a great point Darren. One of the blogs I run is on Selling To Small Business. Within a month of creating the blog I was flown down to Orlando to help Xerox determine their small business sales strategy by participating in a roundtable. They paid for the flight and hotel and it was a great experience.

    My other blog is on Mastermind Groups and because of it I rank at the top of Google for many of the Mastermind related keywords.

    The blogs have some ads on them but the main goal of them is to establish myself as an expert – and so far it has helped tremendously!

  2. I am always interested in reading someone’s personal story. Too many blogs just push content with no context. That’s interesting to some, but less interesting to me.

  3. Greg Butler says:

    Great tips, Darren.

    I find that by sharing my own experiences, overcoming illness, etc., that people get to know me, trust me, and seek advice from me. And that is a great feeling, making a difference in people’s lives.

    One thing that I learned from Ken Evoy is to over-deliver. Give more than is expected and people we see you in the most positive light.

  4. Adam Snider says:

    I agree with all of these points, Darren, especially “be personal.” Personally, I find the most interesting blogs to be the ones that provide some insight into who the person behind the blog is.

    If I am forced to choose between two very similar blogs, I will always choose the one that lets me know who the author is. It makes for a more interesting read, and I find that it makes the subject matter more engaging.

    I guess this is just further proof that blogging is all about building relationships and a sense of community.

  5. Leo says:

    “It’s not what you, It’s who you know” For some this might be true, but for most in the blogosphere, it’s both, you have to know your stuff, and know others in your field, “niche”. For some of us, if we develope a relationship with some of the elders in the niche, it will prove to be fruitful. And it is important to take advantage of this. This is most useful for those who are new to blogging such as myself, I find that making relationships with the veterans who are already successful, is most rewarding, they are that much more likely to recommend me, and link to me. Also, it is good to contribute to others in that niche, and vice versa as it leads to a combined success.

  6. I am in the same boat and I am glad that what you recommend, is exactly what I am doing.

  7. Rebecca says:

    Yes. And I would add, and maybe this is too elementary, to play by the generally accepted rules of blogging. Too many people who are new to blogging, or coming in from being well-known in some other circle, overlook basic courtesies: like linking to someone if you mention them.

  8. Jacqueline says:

    Great post!

    I’ve been pretty successful at using my blog to promote myself/my personal brand – in fact, I used a blog – http://www.fashionablekiffen.blogspot.com – to launch my freelance writing career!

    The “be generous” part is especially good – by sharing some of your knowledge/services/abilities, people remember you (because you helped them somehow) and will probably subscribe to your feed or bookmark your blog, so if they do need to contract someone with your expertise, you will be the first person they think of.

    Also, consistently maintaining a blog is one way for a freelancer to prove their reliablity.

  9. How interesting my husband & I were discussing this just last night. In the early years of our business he said he felt very proprietary about his expertise, not any longer. Both of us have realized that by sharing our knowledge with clients and the potential new clients that call for advice, we actually build more trust and have better customer relationships. Some of the worse IT guys I have ever met- act as though they are practicing some secret art, which baffles the masses. In my field of accounting, I respect and call the guys that are willing to share their expertise with me, not act arrogant and remind me they are light years ahead of me. You build an awesome brand and recognition for expertise by sharing knowledge, not by hoarding it away. Now that we have moved a lot of our content to a blog format, we realize that some customers are going to implement the information themselves instead of coming to us, but that’s ok. It’s not all about dollars; it’s about building long term relationships.

  10. Dan Schawbel says:

    It all begins with trust because trust creates the relationship and readership. After trust, the other characteristics you described are very relevant.

  11. ashok says:

    This is a really interesting topic. It doesn’t take a lot of prodding to get beneath the surface and realize the key question is “How can I network through my writing more than by trying to build a personal relationship with every single person that sees my stuff?”

    I think the toughest thing is getting people to see they might have needs. I’ll talk to high school students who think because they got straight A’s in secondary school that they are going to go to a top research university and study anything easily and be Stephen Hawking if they so choose or T.S. Eliot or, more than likely, some combination of both. They aren’t even aware of what they’re getting to in any field; their definition of success and failure is severely limited.

    And I don’t know that this is an egregious example I’m picking. I think we all operate like this to some degree.

    Maybe “establishing expertise” has to involve addressing specific problems that are not automatically covered – as it may seem to the untrained eye – by one’s general vision. At the same time, how particular does one want to get? Being personal and dealing with people one-on-one are good things, but I can safely tell you that a lot of one-on-one encounters can go awry. A lot of people aren’t up for honestly appraising their situation in any sense.

    The solution might be in your thought “use story.” Talking about the problems faced in particular cases and how they might apply generally shows the tension that one’s general principles always face when they have to be applied. I could imagine that an incredibly successful marketer might actually be terrible at marketing anything, but have a blog which is wholly composed of engaging, interesting stories that provoke thought, and make people want to give him a chance.

    - That sounds harsh, and it isn’t meant to be. There’s just something awfully peculiar about the logic behind marketing, something where the task is so contingent on building relationships that there is nothing even close to a magic solution, despite all the data we have about campaigns that work over time and positioning and fads, etc. -

  12. Dubber says:

    Hi Darren,

    Well, I’m taking your advice to the letter — and even though my blog is not how I make money, it’s good research for me to act as if it is, and then just leave out all the advertising.

    The latest initiative is the launch today of my free e-book, ‘The 20 Things You Must Know About Music Online’ which is aimed at music entrepreneurs and the independent music sector, but contains quite a bit that pertains to other creative industries working in the online environment.

    The e-book’s available from:
    http://newmusicstrategies.com/ebook

    And it’s designed not only to be personal, generous and consistent, it’s supposed to establish expertise and build trust too. In fact, even though it’s been online less than 24 hours, the feedback I’m getting suggests this might be the most successful thing I’ve done for my blog.

    Imagine if I was monetising!

    Again — thanks for the good advice.

  13. A few footnotes:

    1. Make your username count. I am speaking particularly of affiliate marketers here but my username was actually used before the Web emerged for an online chat forum about theology!

    2. Think up a brand name for your “niche” — a term I have trouble with but which seems to have weight here. I name my business for my username plus the brand name. I then cn tell people to look it up on Google if they wish to know more.

    3, Do not shy away from the whole you. You may have many sides so show them all — maybe in separate but related blogs.

    4. Podcast — it creates that personal link.

  14. Don’t be afriad to show your mistakes as well. It is great to be an expert, but people want to know how you got there too. People like to relate. If they can relate to you, they come back. If you give them useful tips, they come back. I am in the same boat, I use my blogs for my portfolios and so far it has worked out really well. I’d also say do the adsense stuff too, it doesn’t hurt! ;)

  15. Amanda says:

    I think that is definitely true what darren said. I mean really you have to put yourself out there ways to brand yourself is get respected people around you and talk to them word of mouth has always helped me.

  16. Suzie Cheel says:

    This is so important and made me realize how easy it is maybe to get distracted by something that is maybe of interest to you and you may even be passionate about, so asl the question soes this match the vision of mt blog? Good post, has made me think

  17. Couldn’t agree more.

    I think for most bloggers there is far more potential by positioning themselves as likable, generous, experts, i.e. building their brand, than making significant bucks from advertising/affiliate programs/etc. Of course a very few manage to do both, like you Darren.

  18. sai says:

    Thanks Darren. Your post helps me much.
    Many time that my friend asked me to consider how to expose ourselves to customers to build trust and reliable. What’s the suitable level to show personal? If deep in detail it seems not so good, today I got ideas to talk to my friends and lead them understand the important of blog to be personal brand ambassador.

    Now, I think not just have self confident, but blog confident as well.

  19. Douglas Karr says:

    I think putting a photo up does wonders. People like to feel like they are communicating with another person, not fonts on a page. Great post.

  20. Cutie says:

    I agree with those tips. However, until now I can’t do all tips on the list. I try to be personal but it will make me really subjective. It’s also hard to be consistent just now, because I blog write something I like, but sometimes it don’t fit my niche. But because I want to write, I just write it.. That’s because till now I only have one blog, Really want to another, but don’t have time to take care many blogs

  21. Jack Garcia says:

    Personal branding is just that about the person. Blogging is ideal for this because it is a journal of one’s thoughts, whether they be related to work or play. About you as a person and your thinking.

    Darren, you make some good points. I like the idea of giving stuff away for free. When stuff is given to someone without waiting for something in return, it usually does, with interest.

    More power to you.

  22. A great read Darren. Its always nice to hear other personal stories in perspective of not always applying the growth of actual income towards a blog. Personal branding is very important. I have my own personal and official blog at http://herdioflo.blogspot.com/ ,where I focus mainly on my music promotion as well as promoting my proffesional basketball career rather than trying to bring traffic to click on my adsense. I do have adsense on my blog, but as you can see, they are so irrelevant to the content of the blog that I don’t count on people clicking them. I just leave it there for decoration.

    Great read.

  23. Rob O. says:

    This was refreshing to see. Like Dubber and some others, my goal with my 2Dolphins blog isn’t to directly draw income, so I’ve steered away from any kind of advertising or monetization efforts. Instead, I use my blog as a communications venue for keeping in touch with scattered friends & family and as a learning tool.

    But by the same token, I’m interested in establishing a personal brand, improving my site traffic, & converting visitors to regulars. How much fun is it to blog if nobody ever reads what you’ve poured your heart into? One of the most disheartening things for me is that people I know halfway across the country are more on top of my blog than good friends just across town – or down the block.

    I agree with Doug – photos do lend a much-needed personal feel.

  24. Hmmm… I feel leary about posting photos of myself into my blog. I don’t want all the women to start sending me emails asking for dates and things. I’m married!

  25. dan says:

    One other thing to do, especially handy, is to write for someplace like ITToolbox or other community blog in the industry. Get a good following like become an ITToolbox superstar blog, and that really helps establish credability in a field. My 2 cents, I know it helped me out, my personal blog was 1 or 2 people a day before I joined a blogging community, and now I get 3000 readers a week on the pro blog and about 1000 readers a week on my personal blog. Big difference, and I get asked to speak now in public. Just sharing.

  26. I think it’s a good list, but is missing one key item: be clearly knowledgeable about your industry. When my prospective clients read my blog, they all tell me they’ve read it, and “like the way I think” about consumer tech marketing. The rest of the list you provide certainly flushes out the rest of the story, but as the story goes – do you want to hire the juggler with a great personality, or the one who juggles really well?

  27. Thanks for this advice. As a journalist who worked for twenty years in a newspaper which rightly made a virtue of separating news and opinion, I find it difficult to express my opinion on my blog – a ghostly editor with a blue pencil stands over me drawing a line through my opinions. In the light of your advice I will now try to consign said editor to the past where s/he belongs!

  28. Logo Design says:

    I’m new in the internet business field. I’m skilled in the graphics side, but I need info to learn about this business. I was going through your post and got a few pointers.

  29. Chris Perry says:

    Great post! I second everything mentioned here. Definitely be generous and expand your network by going the extra mile to help others in whatever ways you find appropriate for your industry or interest area. If you help others with your content, offerings, personal consultations etc., they may be willing to reciprocate down the road in ways you never expect.

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