From Blog to Brand: 7 Steps to Success Online In Business
The rise of bloggers and influencers has been an exciting shift in the online environment. More and more, people want to connect with the person behind the brand which opens up exciting opportunities for bloggers. With this shift in the online landscape, your blog has the potential to become a lot more than just a hobby. By making a few strategic changes, it can move from being one of the thousands of other blogs to a powerful online asset.
We’ve outlined the seven most important steps to take from changing your attitude to defining your brand’s identity and using your learning from those two steps to produce quality content. From there, it’s time to focus on the technical aspects of your site – locking in great hosting, sharpening your SEO skills and sharing your content on relevant social platforms. The last step in the process is focusing on monetisation strategies that fit well with your brand and will help you move your site from a blog to a brand.
#1. Change Your Attitude
If you don’t take your blog seriously, nobody else is going to. You need to view your hobby as a business that could be successful and, in time, even become a viable alternative to a full-time job. Until you do this, you will find it very difficult to make the changes you need and consistently put in the hard work that it takes to move from being a blog to becoming an online brand.
#2. Define Your Brand’s Identity
Your brand identity is the way that you present yourself to the public. This includes your website, your social media channels and any other way that you interact with other people as an ambassador of your brand.
Find Your Voice
Most people’s blogs are personal and are therefore a reflection of themselves. It usually takes the form of an aspect of their lives that is interesting and important to them in an area where they have specialist knowledge. This paves the way for almost unlimited niches to choose from; such as beauty, book reviews, travel, motherhood and events. You may need to find a sub-niche such as a parenting blog for moms with twins, or a travel blog that showcases local destinations. Think about what you want to communicate and what kind of consistent image you would like to project.
Define Your Audience
Understanding your target demographic is important when you are defining your brand’s identity. You want them to see your brand and identify with it. It’s more than the type of content that you produce. Before they even read a word on your site, there are subtle cues that tell them that they’re in the right place to find the content that they’re looking for.
You need to know who you’re targeting when you:
- Create your branding – your logo, color palette and social media graphics.
- Design your website including the colors, style and layout.
- The type of content that you create such as product reviews, how to articles, event write-ups.
- The style of writing that you use; for example, quirky and casual or formal and factual and the social media platforms that you use to engage them and bring them back to your website.
#3. Focus on Quality Rather Than Quantity
The best way to grow your audience is organically, and the most foolproof way to do this is to consistently be putting out great, original content that engages your reader.
Three things to remember:
- Longer form content performs better: Google prefers it, and users view you as having more authority (around 2000 words is a good place to start)
- Seek to solve pain points that your readers might be having – they’re looking for answers to their questions.
- Have a content plan (and stick to it). You don’t need to be putting out content every day but plan to publish a piece of quality content once a week or once every two weeks and do it consistently.
#4. Invest in Fast Reliable Hosting and a Mobile Optimized Theme
It is vital to have a site that loads fast, is always up and available for visitors and looks good on mobile. The majority of web traffic now comes from mobile users who want to be able to view your site on their phone quickly and easily. Even micro delays in site load may mean that a user navigates away from your website.
Web hosting doesn’t have to be complicated and difficult to understand. There are hosting solutions that offer specialised packages for bloggers and influences. They know that bloggers don’t want to get involved with the technical details, they want a service that gives them great up-time and individual support for any issues that might come up.
Many hosting providers can also help with the set-up of a new site from purchasing the domain, to setting up WordPress and advice on themes and plugins to use.
#5. SEO Is Important
Many will say that SEO is dead, but they’re wrong. SEO is more important than ever, and by having a clear plan on how you execute your SEO makes it a powerful way to grow your follower base. Many bloggers don’t bother with SEO because they think it’s too technical, so you will have an advantage if you consistently focus on your on-page and off-page SEO.
- Install a Good SEO Plugin: Install an SEO plugin such as Yoast, All in One SEO or SEOPress – they’re all freemium plugins (ie free with a paid option if you upgrade) and start using it. Get the basics right by adding a good SEO title, and description for your article and follow the suggestions that the tool offers.
This is a lot more time consuming and is, simply put, the process of getting other great sites to link to your content. There are many ways to go about this including setting up your social profiles correctly, partnering with other bloggers and doing cold outreach.
- Social Profiles: When you’re setting up your social profiles, make sure that they link back to your website. This is your base layer of links (and also makes it easier for your readers to find you).
- Partnering with Other Bloggers: Chances are you know quite a few other blogs, either in your niche or in other niches that are related to your niche. Get in touch with them! Think of creative ways to collaborate such as interviews, joint videos and get them to include a link to your site from theirs.
- Reaching Out to Sites within Your Niche: This is cold outreach. If you’re producing great content and proving that what you offers value to your audience, reaching out to other relevant publications, blogs and sites is easy. Offer to write a great article for their site, find work that they’ve done in the past and suggest ways that it can be improved. Get creative (and then get a backlink!)
#6. Harness the Power of Social
Between YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other social media channels you have access to over 2.5 billion users around the world.
Each channel requires a specific strategy, what works on one platform will not necessarily perform well on another. But building up your presence on each platform can be time-consuming; that’s where it’s important to know your audience. YouTube is the go-to channel for beauty reviews and how-to videos, if that’s something that fits well with your blog, then you need to focus on it.
Instagram is the perfect medium for fashion and travel bloggers and requires a completely different skill-set including the strategic use of hashtags, and a lot of time interacting with your followers and other influencers in your niche.
#7. Start Thinking of Monetisation Strategies
This is the last step, and not the first. Once you have a clear idea of the business that you are trying to create with your blog as well as how you are going to grow and engage your audience; you can start to think about how to earn money from it.
There are a number of monetisation options available. The most popular across many is Adsense and affiliate programs such as Amazon. But there are other channels which typically take a bit more work and thinking, but can be much more lucrative including partnering with brands, and creating an online shop to sell products related to your brand and useful to your audience.
Moving your blog from a hobby site to an online brand in 2018 is a process. It won’t happen overnight and a lot of the hard work has to be put in up-front to set the platform for long-term success. The steps we’ve outlined will help you set goals in 6 important areas that focus on growing your audience and authority. An online brand starts with changing your mindset towards your blog and defining how you want to come across to your audience. Then focusing on a strong content plan along with excellent hosting, SEO and social media to complement the time that you spend crafting your content. After that it’s time to focus on monetising your asset. By approaching your blog as a business, you can change your blog into a powerful online asset.