This is a guest post by Krista Rae
Branding is everywhere. The only way to escape it is to live in a sad little box. Actually, never mind, that box has branding too.
Think about your very favorite blogs. What do you love about them? The content? Probably. The blogger? Oh yeah. The brand? Subconsciously, I bet you love that too!
There are a lot of different things we enjoy about brands: their logo, their voice, their colors, their topic, the solutions they offer, and on I could go.
But the thing that all parts of a brand come together to create is an experience.
The brands we remember best are the ones that leave us with a positive feeling and give us something memorable we can relate to. Let’s start by going over a few benefits you’ll receive if you create a killer brand experience for your blog and business.
Benefits of a Killer Brand Experience
You’ll draw in the audience you really want
You don’t put in all that hard work to attract some random, scattered audience, right?
Luckily a consistent and focused brand is a great way to narrow in on the audience you want. If someone is attracted to your brand it’s likely that they’ll come back for more.
You’ll increase reader engagement, loyalty, and trust
A complete brand experience is going to help you build relationships with your readers. On a similar note, if everyone is getting the same vibe once they find you, it’s likely that your readers will hit it off well too!
If your readers relate to your brand’s personality, color scheme, and topic you’re likely to get a higher number of comments, shares, and people coming back for more.
For example, the second I landed on Rekita Nicole’s blog I knew we’d get along. I instantly got a similar feeling to what I get when I’m looking at my own blog. Turns out she had the same thoughts when she discovered my website for the first time and now we lovingly refer to ourselves as “brand sisters”.
You’ll create clarity and focus for yourself
I know this one is a struggle for almost everyone first starting out and even a lot of experienced bloggers and business owners. Finding that clarity for the first time is a struggle and sometimes keeping it can be even more difficult.
However, if you’ve figured out your brand and have created a solid brand experience you’ll become clearer about both what you want your blog to accomplish and look like, as well as the type of content you’d like to create.
And hey, we all like to feel like we know what we’re doing, right?
You’ll be more excited about what you do
I can tell you about this one firsthand. I’ve had two blogs in the past with absolutely zero brand experience. Looking at those babies was like eating dry toast. Yes, it was that bad. Sure, they had logos and color schemes, but nothing fit together like it was supposed to. I didn’t infuse my personality into it and I certainly didn’t think about what my readers would enjoy.
But then I moved to my current website. Let me tell you, it’s a completely different experience. I never realized how exciting it can be to build a brand that you love.
So remember, all of this work isn’t just for your audience!
Alrighty, so now that you know why it’s important to have a memorable brand experience, I bet you’re wondering how to go about creating one for your readers.
That’s where your blog strategy comes in.
What the heck is a blog strategy?
If you want a straight definition, a blog strategy is a detailed outline and plan of action for your blog and business success.
As an overview, your blog strategy should include the main goal of your blog or business as well as three supporting goals. Each goal should have a purpose behind it and a plan to implement it. Guidelines like these will define your focus, increase your blog’s effectiveness, and eventually lead your business to success.
In creating a blog strategy you’ll create a larger potential to:
1. Attract your ideal customers
2. Turn interested blog readers into fans and friends, and
3. Eventually bring in paying customers
Sounds a lot like the benefits of a good brand experience, huh?
Well, that’s because the two are closely related. In creating your blog strategy you’re eventually going to create that brand experience you’ve been looking for without even realizing it. As you focus in on your goals and make changes on your website to support those goals your brand will begin to show itself more, almost by accident. (That’s a good thing!)
So let’s go over the steps to get a quick start on creating your blog strategy. Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds and I’ll walk you through step-by-step.
SET SOME HIGH-VALUE GOALS
First, you want to make sure you have the right goals in place. Even if you’ve already got some goals set I encourage you to grab this workbook and go through the exercises. You don’t want to set just any goals because none of your hard work should go to waste. It’s important that they’re of the highest value they can possibly be.
Here are three traits of a high-value goal:
1. It keeps your audience engaged: Audience engagement is a key factor in building a successful blog and business. Look at the small businesses you buy from. I bet you’re tweeting those people, commenting on their blog, and sharing their content on social media. You want your audience to feel just as excited about you as you feel about your favorites.
2. It builds trust between you and your audience: Building trust and proving your knowledge is an important part of turning readers into customers. You can accomplish this by writing value-packed blog posts while showing that you’re a real person and taking the time to communicate with your readers.
3. It moves you toward your biggest business goal: And last, you of course want each goal you’re putting energy into to move you closer to your ultimate goal in some way. Setting a random goal that doesn’t move you closer to your dreams is simply wasted time and energy.
Let’s go over a quick example.
Let’s assume that your main goal is to generate enough income through your services to match a specific amount of income from your full-time job so you can quit and run your own business.
An example of a goal that isn’t high value would be something like, “Get my readers to view my Work With Me page”.
Now yes, your audience needs to know how they can work with you in order for them to eventually do it. But only those who are actually ready to buy will have any sort of engagement with that goal.
Instead, your goal could be to make readers more familiar with your services. You could create a free email course, eBook, or workbook that would introduce them to your content, show them why your topic is important, build trust, and then present them with your services. That way a good portion of the trust they’ll need before making a purchase is already there!
Someone who does a great job of this is Kaitlyn from The Crown Fox. You’ll notice that her homepage mentions her services, but there is more effort put towards encouraging audience members to join her free course or her amazing community.
DITCH THE DISTRACTIONS
Now that you’ve got your goals set it might be easier for you to look around your blog and see things that are working against these goals.
Having a clean and focused blog is beneficial to both you and your readers. As a reader, it’s confusing to land on a website and see plugins, widgets, and clickable items everywhere. How do I know where to focus? Where will I find the most value?
Take a look at Kory Woodard’s blog, for example. Everything on her blog is focused. It’s easy to tell that she’d like people to view her blog, sign up to her email list in exchange for some incredible value, and maybe check her out on social media. There’s no distractions and I don’t feel like I’m being run all over the place to see every single thing she has to offer.
Narrowing in on what’s included on your website will also help you with those high-value goals you just set. You’re likely to find yourself asking questions like, “Do I want that ad there or should I ditch it to bring more attention to my email opt-in?”
Being intentional about what you include on your blog will give your readers a clear direction and help them discover the content you want them to.
To get started with the cleanup, make a list of all the places on your website that you want to consider (or keep working through this workbook).
Some areas you might want to look at are your:
- About page
- Products/Services page
- Contact page
- Blog posts
Go through each item in those places and ask yourself the following three questions:
1. Does this relate back to one of my three supporting goals?
2. Do I want my readers to be distracted by this?
3. Do I want this to shape my readers’ image of me?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions you’ve probably discovered an item that should be removed from your blog.
GET OFF TO A QUICK START
Next it’s time to see some benefits of the goal definition and cleanup work you just did. To do that it’s important to start out by making easy and effective changes to your website.
Start out by making a list of the actions you can take for each supporting goal. You’ll want to end up with the top 3 actions you’d like to take for each, but I find it helpful to begin with a full brainstorm session.
Here’s an example of what you could end up with:
Supporting goal: Grow my email list through a free course
Action 1: Create a new blog header with an eye-catching image and opt-in button
Action 2: Add an opt-in opportunity to my sidebar
Action 3: Add some information about the course and opt-in opportunity on my Start Here page
After you’ve got your top 3 actions per goal, rate each change on a scale from 1-10 based on how effective it would be. 1 being the least effective and 10 being the most effective.
In the example above, my ratings in order would be: 10, 6, 5
Then it’s time to look at the investments you’d have to make for each change, both in terms of time and money.
Are you able to make the change yourself? If so, take note of the amount of time each change would take you. Would you need to hire someone? Take a stab at guessing how much it would cost.
Finally, it’s time to compare the top three changes you’ve identified for each goal by comparing the effectiveness to the time and cost. Choose one change for each goal to get started on right away (and do it!).
Remember, sometimes small changes can have the largest effect!
Phew, that was a long one with a lot of actions for you to take. But I know if you put in a little work that you’ll see the results.
What goals did you come up with? How do you see a blog strategy helping you and your overall brand experience? Let Dre and I know in the comments!
Krista is a blog strategist and WordPress developer who helps female creatives elevate their business, increase conversions, and boost engagement through crafting strategic blogs. She uses personalized, goal-driven strategies to set her clients apart from the competition and highlight their unique offerings. Learn more over on her blog!