In this post Daniel Scocco examines personal branding vs blog branding.
When creating a blog, you need to decide if you want to build the brand around the blog itself or around your person.
While doing both things at the same time is possible, it will make achieving either of the goals a harder task.
Additionally, if you want to maximize the traffic and growth potential of the blog (for making money directly with it), I think that you should opt for building a brand around the website itself, and putting your personal brand as the second priority.
There are two main factors that come into play in this decision: the domain name and the layout of the homepage.
The Brand Around The Author
Blogs that have the goal of promoting the personal brand of the author (not exclusively, but to a large extent) will usually have a domain name that is equal to the name of the author, and will feature a section on the homepage with a small bio and picture of the author.
Such blogs can grow and become popular too, but usually this happens when the author was already a known figure on his industry before he started blogging. Examples include Guy Kawasaki and Seth Godin.
Notice that most of those bloggers also have another profession, and they don’t need to earn money directly from their blogs.
The Brand Around The Blog
Blogs that have a brand around themselves, on the other hand, usually have generic domains and don’t display personal information about the authors on the homepage.
Examples include Mashable and Gizmodo.
Now the founders of those two blogs (Pete Cashmore and Peter Rojas) also have strong personal brands, but that is a consequence of the huge popularity of the blogs they founded in the first place.
Should they have started their blogs on petecashmore.com and peterrojas.com, publishing the same content, I doubt that they would have had the same success.
Why Personal Branded Blogs Are A Tough Sell?
So why do I think that it is harder to make a personal branded blog popular (excluded the case where you already have a celebrity status on a certain niche)?
For two main reasons. First of all because when people visit a personal branded blog, they will inevitably face both the content and your person, and both of those factors will need to convince the visitor if he is to return a second time.
In other words, he will need to like both the content AND the person. The inevitable reaction some people will have is the following: “Hmm, who is this guy anyway?”
The second reason is connected with how we are used to consume our information. Mainstream media used to be the source of all credible and reliable content until some time ago, and those sites were never branded around their authors.
Having a blog that mimics that style, therefore, can lend you credibility.
Facts and Figures
Want some evidence?
Take a look at the 30 most popular blogs in the world according to Technorati. Out of 30, only 2 use the name of the author on their domains and display a picture of the author on the homepage (Seth Godin and Perez Hilton).
All the other blogs have a brand around the website itself and not around the authors.
Some of those bloggers have a strong personal brand nonetheless (e.g., Michael Arrington), but as I mentioned before, this is a result of the huge popularity of the blogs they created.
Other authors are not as popular on a personal level, but their blogs fly high all the same. For instance, could you name the founders of Smashing Magazine or Ars Technica from the top of your head? I bet most of you couldn’t, and those are among the 10 largest blogs in the world.
Now there is nothing wrong with using your name as the domain for your blog or placing your picture and bio on the sidebar. Perhaps you are a web designer or an affiliate marketer, and the purpose of your blog will not be to generate direct revenues but rather to strengthen your personal brand. This is a sound strategy.
If you want to create a blog for web publishing purposes (i.e., to generate a lot of traffic and revenues from advertising or from selling products), however, I would focus on branding the blog itself and not you as the author of it.
Daniel Scocco is the founder of Online Profits, an Internet Marketing and Online Business training program.