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Blogging to Brand Yourself

By May 12, 2015Blogging, Branding
Blogging to Brand Yourself. How to use your blog to support your small business on Whiskey and Red.

I have dedicated May to brand expansion; strategizing ways to better engage our brands and bring more attention back to our sites where we share all our creative genius content. But what if we’re still a newer business or just getting started in the online business world, how do we successfully bring traffic to our sites and expand our brand’s engagement? The answer is Blogging.

If you are a blogger already then this post’s subject might seem like a no-brainer to you. Of course blogging is important! But if you aren’t a blogger and you’re on the fence on whether or not you should start one, or even if you are a blogger looking to branch out and pivot your brand into a full out online business, this post is for you.

While blogging is by no means a new practice, having existed since pretty much the beginning of the invention of the written word but just in different formats (journalism, reporting, fiction and nonfiction writing) any form of free content meant to either entertain, educate, or empower others.

As a business, especially an online business, and existing in an era of tech-savvy entrepreneurs, it can seem like a blog might be a waste of time for your brand.

How many of you have ever had any of these thoughts cross your mind:

  • “Who would read this?”
  • “What will blogging do for me?” 
  • “I don’t know what to write about?” 
  • “I don’t have time to write a blog.” 
  • “I’m not a writer.” 
  • “Blogging isn’t a serious practice.” 

If so, I could totally understand where you’re coming from when you’d ask “why should you blog?”

But blogging is by far the best way to brand your business. You have the ability to address your audience directly, on your turf (aka your website) surrounded by all your resources, products, services, and contact information, creating opportunities for personal engagement, conversation, and even potential sales just through sharing your expertise.

BLOGGING TO BRAND YOURSELF

Why blogging is by far the best way to build your brand.

WHY BLOG

Why start a blog? Hmmmm… let me list the reasons my friends:

  1. Thought Leadership
  2. Creditability
  3. Product/Service Promotion
  4. Client + Community Education
  5. Entertainment
  6. Thought Provoking + Conversation Sparking
  7. Community Engagement
  8. Community Building
  9. It’s Fun
  10. Collaboration
  11. Networking
  12. Artistic Outlet

I bet together we could easily think of 1 million more reasons why a blog is an incredible brand asset to any business, but you get where I’m going with this. It gives us a creative space to utilize in any way that most supports our brands.

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Let’s think about our business for a moment. What is it we do? Who is it we serve? Why is this important? 

Next up think about the different products, services, or value we have to offer through our business.

Are you a teacher, doctor, cook, coach, artist, student, freelancer… {insert your profession here}. No matter who you are, a blog opens up the chance to share your credibility as an expert professional in your industry.

It’s a great way to show that not only are we knowledgeable in our trade, but we also know how to teach it and pass on our knowledge to others. It helps provide a form of social proof, validating our role as a thought leader within our industry.

WHAT SHOULD YOU BLOG ABOUT

Going back to that little question I asked earlier, what do we provide? What specific areas within our industry do we address through our business?

Break down the various focuses within your brand, for example:

Erika Madden of Olyvia Media is a communications and reputation expert and digital marketing strategist who provides products and services that support building and maintaining a delightful presence online. So it makes sense that her blog content directly relates to just that, being delightful online.

With categories including: tools for business and blogging, interviews with sparkling biz women, delightful business advice and posts ranging from discussing social media, customer service, offline branding, and reputation management. Everything Erika shares supports her unique perspective and expertise on how to stay consistently delightful online and offline despite what you are doing and where you are doing.

Check out some of these cornerstone pieces of Erika’s that so exemplify her role as an expert in brand management and customer service:

Olyvia Media
Olyvia.co Customer Service Quotes
Olyvia.co Delight Guide
Olyvia.co Expert Customer Experience Tips

Razwana Wahid of Relentless Movement is a professional copywriter who provides copywriting and content development services to professionals seeking a powerful and focused content structure for their brand and business.

In order to not only showcase her expert skills as a professional wordsmith, but to address the common questions and concerns of modern business owners, she write regularly in her blog providing tips, tools, resources, and opportunities to utilize her knowledge on how to make words work for you. You can’t read Raz’s content without wanting to get personally engaged, and then fly to France and meet up with her and enjoy a glass of French wine. She just has such a way of connecting with her readers through her content, all her clients know that they are going to get great, quality, professional content from her that will help expand and elevate their brands.

I was so thankful when Raz agreed to share her creative genius here on my blog last month when she discussed Branding With Words and how to find your brand keywords and terms to help brand your business. She also recently publishes another fantastic post discussing How To Find Your Writing Voice Fast that is HUGELY helpful for anyone struggling with developing their own brand voice.

YOUR TURN: Action steps to success!

Take out a sheet of paper and start listing out all the various areas of expertise you have within your industry. For example, if you are a designer what areas of design are you most knowledgeable in and how could you potentially break those focuses down into segmented blog topics?

List out as many as you can and then evaluate which ones are similar to others and could be categorized together. Eliminate any duplicate sections and try to come up with at least 3-5 core categories of topics that your blog content could be broken down into.

Now, with your 3-5 core categories of topics in hand, brain storm a number of post topics that could be filed under each of those categories. These could be post titles, examples, portfolio pieces, case studies, DIY, instructional pieces, recipes, anything that directly relates to your business, audience and will support the creditability of your brand.

I shared a post a little while back sharing my editorial calendar system and how I organize my blog content including my own editorial calendar and free post planning worksheets.

(RESOURCE TIP! : Check out Lemon Thistle’s “Never Run Out of Ideas Again” mini course to help get the jump start on brainstorming ideas for your blog and business.)

 


GUEST POSTING

I read a quote somewhere about how “experts become experts by sharing expert resources”. Your blog is a fantastic place to attract not only clients and followers, but other professional (experts) within your market or “neighboring market” who could be excellent networking and collaborative opportunities for your to expand your audience.

I am still in the new business category having only officially launched in January of this year, so understandably my reach will still be quite small compared to a number of other bigger brands. But by reaching out to other professionals, bloggers, and publications, I’ve created opportunities to reach beyond my own site’s limitations and engage with a much larger amount of people, drawing attention to myself, my brand, and my credibility.

My professional emphasis is in brand development so I share a lot of content directly related to building our brands. But I am also a brand and web designer so while my site is more targeted to brand and business development, I had the opportunity to reach out to a design focused community over on Design Your Own Lovely Blog where I shared my personal experience and resources for developing a brand insurance policy aka style guide. It gave me the ability to share another area of my expertise in a way that directly related to that audience and promoted my brand and business.

Allowing guest bloggers on your own site is another an excellent opportunity to bring in new engagement and strengthen your own blog’s credibility by providing more expert opinions and resources. This also alleviates some of the stress of having to constantly create new fresh exciting content. I know I am personally inspired by the creative professionals I’ve welcomed into my community through my blog. The subjects they present and the questions they ask are a huge source of inspiration for me.

Everyone thinks differently and digests content differently, so by collaborating with other individuals who complement our own brand and skillsets only makes the content we create together that much more valuable and engaging. Win-win if you ask me!

 


HOW TO PITCH YOUR GUEST POST

One of the scariest things about guest posting is often the “big pitch” especially while we are smaller brands that don’t yet have the major traffic and attention that other bigger brands generally search out in their guest bloggers.

But they were once our size too and remember what  it was like to have a bigger brand welcome them to their creative space and open up the chance to show the world wide web the creative genius you have to offer.

When deciding what brands to pitch to, a little pre-research goes a LONG way.

  1. First, make a list of all the brands with blogs that you admire most and directly relate to your target audience. What is it about those brands that would benefit you by contributing your content there and what would they gain by bringing you on as a featured guest?
  2. Next, go through their past posts and see if they even allow guest authors to contribute content to their sites. Not everyone does, but also don’t let that stop you from trying. If you have a piece you’ve written that would be PERFECT for a specific brand, but they rarely let guest authors on their site, I say go forth and ask! The worst thing they could say is no, but the best thing they could say is YES! Plus, even if they say no, you’ve shown your cards and introduced yourself personally acknowledging your recognition of their content and they’ll remember that. They might even hop on over to your site to check out your content further. And now, if in the future they ever decide to potentially welcome guest authors to their blog, chances are you’re name will be on their mind.
  3. While you are pursuing through their old posts, take note of what content they’ve already shared and what content they haven’t. What new idea can you present that hasn’t been covered already by that brand that could open up a chance for you to spark a new conversation for their community?
  4. If they clearly allow guest posters, check their site for any rules or guidelines for how they want guest posts submitted. Some sites have this and some don’t but showing that you looked just in case demonstrates how serious you are about collaborating with that brand.
  5. Personally engage the brand. Directly address the main brand owner (or specific designated individual if that is established). I recommend emailing them directly v.s. an open post on social media calling them out on wether or not they’ll let you post to their blog. Keep it private and keep it professional. Introduce yourself, give a little background to who you are, how you found them, maybe a past post that resonated with you, why you want to collaborate and what you’re ideas are. Remember that this post should be valuable for both parties so outlining what this collaboration will do not only for you, but for them and their creative community will really enhance the sincerity and seriousness of your post proposal.

Free Blog Post Pitch Worksheet

For myself, when an interested brand approaches me to collaborate on a guest post and they’ve done a little research into my audience and what content I generally address, that speaks volumes to me! I’m like yes, this person is serious, and chances are I’ll be totally open to the collaboration.

I never recommend just throwing out there into the interwebs that you want to guest post. Have some post topics in mind and be ready to outline a potential post option for someone if they reach out in return. Never show up empty handed and expect the other blogger to provide the content for you. If they have to do that then they mine as well just write the post themselves.

vYOUR TURN: Action steps to success!

Have no idea where to begin looking for guest posting opportunities? Check out this list of professional publications and excellent blogs to submit your guest post pitches to:

Design Your Own {Lovely} Blog 

  • Blog Founder: Marianne Manthay
  • Audience: DIY bloggers and online designers.
  • Guest Posting Rules: Must subscribe to her monthly newsletter and be a member of her DYOB: Blog Beautiful FB Community.
  • How To Submit Your Post: Head over to her guest posting page on her site, read her rules and regulations, and submit your post idea.

Think Enriched 

  • Blog Founder: Amy Robles
  • Audience: Entrepreneurs, bloggers, and families looking for financial stability, management, and empowerment.
  • Guest Posting Rules: Amy happily welcomes guest posts on money strategies. Especially, creative business people are always looking for better ways for money management. Topics include: saving money, earning more, creating additional income streams, budgeting strategies for business/family, organizing the bills and finances, one way you discipline yourself to manage money.
  • How To Submit Your Post: Send a Google Drive Doc not previously used on another site containing between 500-1500 words. Submit a post on one money strategy, explaining why you use that strategy and why her friends, or readers, should try that. All guest post pitches are to be sent via email directly to Amy.

Experiencing Parenthood

  • Blog Founder: Leila
  • Audience: Mothers, parents, and guardians of children from newborns to young adults.
  • Guest Posting Rules: Post pitches must relate to experiencing parenthood (ie: parenting niche so pregnancy, parenting, recipes, crafts, activities, etc.) and are family friendly. The post must be a minimum of 300 words, include images, and include a picture of themselves and a short bio to include.
  • How To Submit Your Post: Submit your guest post pitch to Leila via her contact form on her site following the instructions listed above.

Sweet Tea & Saving Grace 

  • Blog Founder: Kirsten Thompson
  • Audience: DIY home + craft lovers and creatives who love a hands on approach to their creative endeavors.
  • Guest Posting Rules: Potential post categories include DIY & crafts, home decor, and now, she’ll be accepting guest posts for blogging topics and online business topics.
  • How To Submit Your Post: Submit your post via the contact form on Kirsten’s site and include a brief intro, your blog URL, and an outline of your post with the relevance of how it will flow with her brand.

Bliss and Faith 

  • Blog Founder: Tenns Reid
  • Audience: Bloggers, creatives, and small business owners with an emphasis on business development and design.
  • Guest Posting Rules: She’s mostly looking for fellow creative entrepreneurs and bloggers, those in the same or similar niche of branding and design.  She’s open to other niches, as long as its still relevant in someway to blogging, business, branding, or design.
  • How To Submit Your Post: Submit your post idea via her contact form on her website introducing yourself and what your post idea covers and why it’s relevant to her audience.

Clear The Way

  • Blog Founder: Kate Amunrud
  • Audience: Women who emphasize healthy simple living, feminism, living inspired, blogging and environmental appreciation.
  • Guest Posting Rules: Kate accepts a wide range of post topics ranging from being human, spaces and decor, fashion, feminism, travel, inspiration and more. Check out her series on One World Inspiration for example of guest post opportunities.
  • How To Submit Your Post: Go to Kate’s guest posting guidelines page on her site and submit your post pitch via the contact form on that page.

Savouring Simplicity 

  • Blog Founder: Elizabeth Kelsey Bradley
  • Audience: Mothers, creatives, bloggers, and ambitious adventurers.
  • Guest Posting Rules: Must submit post idea via email.
  • How To Submit Your Post: Contact Elizabeth via email with your post idea. She’s always looking for guest posts that uplift women -especially Mamas- and encourage us to live life outside the box. Topics can include holistic living/family life, travel, photography, and writing/blogging tips.

Blog Ambitions 

  • Blog Founder: Kristie Hill
  • Audience: Bloggers, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and digital designers.
  • Guest Posting Rules: Kristie accepts posts that relate to blogging success stories, blogging how-to’s, blog design, traffic techniques, and social media tips.
  • How To Submit Your Post: Head over to her guest posting page and review the Blog Ambitions Guest posting rules and guidelines, and submit your post idea through the contact from on her page.

 


Have you ever guest blogged anywhere? I’d love to check out some of your guest posts, so please share some of your favorite features in the comments below.

Anyone else have an special tips or resources for how to best make blogging work for your brand? Share your thoughts in the comments.

If you know anyone who would benefit from today’s post, please share the knowledge!

Blogging has ben an invaluable resource for me as I’ve grown my brand and I genuinely believe that it could do wonders for you too.

See you in the comments.

Sincerely,

Julie & Steve signature.

SO, HOW CAN WE HELP YOU BUILD YOUR BRAND?

WEBSITE DESIGN       BRANDING & LOGO DESIGN              CONTACT


PHOTO CREDIT: © Dollar Photo Club

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Julie Harris

About Julie Harris

Julie Harris is the founder and lead designer of Whiskey & Red. Based out of Woodland Park, Colorado, Whiskey & Red specializes in small business branding and WordPress website design. They collaborate with small business owners, at all levels of industry, helping them translate their offline business into an online digital experience.

21 Comments

  • Sadaf F K. says:

    Its just WOWW Julie! The way you bundle up the information regarding blogging and its kind. So very helpful!! 100% recommended!

    • Julie Harris says:

      Sadaf! Thank you so much for stopping by 🙂 I am so happy you enjoyed this post. Blogging is such a powerful platform, and I hope this post helps others take advantage of some of the blogging opportunities that are out there to help us grow and expand our brands.

  • Marianne says:

    Ha, I love your reasons for blogging! Such a great list Julie. And yes, guest blogging is super important, was just listening to a webinar by Mariah of Femtrepreneur on how she’s used guest blogging to get a ton of new subscribers. I really need to up my ante on that front! As always, thanks for including me in your post 🙂

    • Julie Harris says:

      Collaborating with you and guest posting on your site has helped me tremendously! Especially when it came to getting my name out there into the DIY and creative community. I am so thankful for those experiences. I learned so much and met so many new great creatives just from those 2 posts. I can’t wait to get you on here! I know I’ve been hinting at a design guest post but I’m gonna get more aggressive with you and get you to join me in a guest post soon. Thank you for being so amazing and opening up your blog to other creatives of all levels as we each grow and expand our brands. I hope others take advantage of collaborating with you too and check out all the amazing things that go on over at DYOB.

  • Julie – so much useful stuff here, I don’t know where to begin!

    I love that you wrote blogging is an artistic outlet. I didn’t even think it would be when i first started. I know that when I want to experiment with different formatting ideas, weird stories, or a new way of teaching something, my blog’s the place I do it.

    Guest blogging has been huge for me – especially with building a community. There are those people who engage with sites I’ve guest posted on who have joined my community, and some have even become clients. Having your brand connected to another elevates both by association.

    I’m SO looking forward to chatting over a glass of wine in Paris when you’re here, Julie 🙂

    • Julie Harris says:

      Ohhh man, Raz! Done and DONE! (to the wine in Paris) 🙂 The moment I know when I’ll be in France you’ll be the first person I tell. I seriously can’t wait to meet you and all your awesomeness in person!

      I so agree with you! “Having your brand connect to another elevates both by association.” I genuinely believe that we become experts by bringing experts into our own life and not only learning but collaborating with them. The social proof that comes from engaging with other professionals in your industry does nothing but great things for both brands. You have been the guest post master! We need to maybe do a post about how to pitch your content to other brands and publishing platforms. I did a simple intro here, but I think providing more action here would be an excellent resource.

      Your post on “Branding With Words” has been one of my most popular posts. You just have such a way with your content that really connects personally with your audiences, no matter where you’re writing 🙂

  • Guest posting is one of my business goals for June! And I love all the valuable information in this post so much that I’m bookmarking it.

    • Julie Harris says:

      Thank you so much Andrea! This is an awesome goal. Where are you thinking about submitting some guest posts? And what kind of content are you looking to share? I’ve listed out only a few great guest post opportunities in this post, but never be afraid of just approaching a brand you’ve always admired and wanted to work with. The worst thing they can say is no, bbbuuuuttttttt they might just say yes!

  • I love this! Such valuable information and even now as I am a blogger (still newer) this information is a great help, I’ve always wondered about guest posts and how to even go about it. So thank you!

    Lauren Baxter | LB Designs
    xx

    • Julie Harris says:

      Thank you so much Lauren! I always appreciate and value your feedback. I know, for myself, guest posting was a scary big step but even with the few I’ve done, they’ve made the world of difference for my brand. Your content is wonderful Lauren, I know lots of bloggers would love to feature your work. Definitely take advantage of some of these blogs that welcome guest authors (myself included 😉 ) We get by with a little help from our friends!

  • Karen says:

    I’m so glad I found your blog. There is so much great info in this post. Being a newbie, I’m trying to read as much as possible to learn all the in’s and out’s of blogging. It is never ending.

    I’m in the process of launching a new blog and would LOVE to know the name of the font you used for the subtitle “Why blogging is important for you and how it make it work for you” Nice, clean, simple font. Send me an email if you don’t want to share publicly.

    • Julie Harris says:

      Awww thank you so much Karen! I’m so happy you found your way here. I promise, no matter how much you read and learn about blogging, it’s an ever growing platform, with endless opportunities and there will always be something new to learn. That’s why I love it so much. I don’t mind sharing at all 🙂 My fonts are Raleway and Helvetica Neue. All my headings are Raleway I wish you the best of luck with your own blog. Never hesitate to reach out with any questions. I’m always here to help!

  • Anna Oates says:

    This is so helpful, I’ve always wondered the details of guest posting but never built up the nerve to pursue it. I guess it’s time to jump in.

    • Julie Harris says:

      Thank you so much Anna! I’m so glad you found this post so helpful. YES! Jump in with both feet! Guest blogging is by far one of the best ways to get your brand’s name out there and establish yourself in your industry. Plus the networking and relationship building that comes from guest blogging is so powerful. Definitely check out some of the blogs on the list. All of those ladies are truly professional and genuinely believe in helping other bloggers grow. Let me know if you end up guest posting on one of them! I’d love to read the post.

  • Wow! I must say these tips are by far very good and very streamline too which is great for newbies. Thanks for all you do!

    • Julie Harris says:

      Thank you so much Anastacia! I’m so glad you found this post so helpful. Good luck with your new site! And once you live, definitely take advantage of some of those guest post sites to help get your brand name out there 🙂

  • Sam Reynolds says:

    Hi Julie

    Thank you so much for compiling and sharing this list. What I like most is that you genuinely want to help people and post things that are not just self serving or self promotional, so thank you for being so genuine.

    As a creative entrepreneur moving into creating authentic brand identities, your posts are so helpful and have pointed me to other, wonderful women doing the same thing.

    Sitting on the tip of Africa in Cape Town, can feel so isolating, so connecting with other women creatives via guest blogging is a wonderful way to reach out and bridge the gap 🙂

    Warm wishes
    Sam

  • I love the tips for finding places to do guest posts. And the list of lovely examples of blogs that are open to guest bloggers. How fantastic! Very professional and very practical. Thanks!

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