Day 17 - Blogging Essentials
Welcome to Day #17 of the 31 Days to Better Branding series! To learn more about this series, click here and find links to the other days so you'll be able to follow along or catch up if you happen to miss anything. I am by no means an expert but after hearing a lot of the same questions, I figured others could benefit from a few lessons in branding. Hopefully it will give you a place to begin or even just a few tips to improve your business and bring you more clients. Feel free to add in your thoughts and what has worked for you in the comments!
"I'm not sure if I should start a blog. Do people really care what I have to say?"
You don't have to have a blog to be successful in your business, but I would definitely recommend it. Your blog is different than your website because it gives clients a window to the person/team behind it all. It builds trust. If your clients can connect with you and understand where you're coming from, they are a lot more likely to trust you and want to work with you. People love to see what is happening behind the scenes. So show those things. Share what you're doing and teach what you're learning.
Another "pro" for having a blog is that it creates traffic. Not only do search engines love it, but having a blog gives your followers a reason to keep coming back. You don't have to spend time advertising every time you do something new because your followers can see what you've been up to. We've also seen how word of mouth marketing is a lot more powerful than an ad. So if you're blogging, you are essentially giving your clients something that they can talk about and share with someone else. All they have to do is send a friend a link to an article you wrote and suddenly all of those links are sending traffic to you.
"What basic designs/elements does my blog need to have?"
This answer might change for every person and their branding goals, but just so we can make sure the basic areas are covered, I listed out some essentials. You can use these as a checklist or maybe just a starting point for you to add in other things and make it your own...
O Top Header - Include your logo, business name, and maybe tagline. Should give viewers an immediate response - "I'm in the right place."
O Main Navigation - People usually expect the following pages...Home, About, Portfolio, Blog, & Contact. Sometimes you can use categories for your main topics as well. Try to keep these simple so that people see what is most important and get there quickly.
O Post Content + Comments Section - Try to include some kind of image or text graphic in every post. Keep in mind Breathing Room like dividers and spacing for longer posts. And of course you need comments so that you can get feedback from your readers.
O Sidebar Bio - Most people include a small picture and a few sentences to welcome and introduce readers to the page. Remember to use your voice so that your target followers are drawn in immediately.
O Sidebar Links - These are usually in the form of Social Media Buttons, Category Links, Archives and Sponsors.
O Sidebar/Footer Widgets - I sometimes feel like a lot of widgets can be overwhelming, but at the very least include a Search Widget and a Subscribe Widget.
If you have all of the above you should be pretty set to go. (Hopefully I didn't forget anything too major!)
You can get creative with these things so that they all have the look of your brand. Whether that is by coordinating colors, fonts, repeated imagery, etc. And don't worry about your content just yet. We'll talk about what to write about in tomorrow's post!
Homework: If you don't have a blog, seriously consider getting started with one. It doesn't have to be perfect. Just get it published and tweak it as you go along. If you do have a blog and it just needs some updating, go through each of the elements in the checklist. Ask yourself if these items could be changed to better enhance your brand.