This is a guest post by Caz Makepeace of yTravelBlog.
“I can’t keep up with you guys. Everywhere I turn you’re there.” A couple of people within the travel blogging community have said this recently to Craig and I.
Our response: “Perfect. That means our plan is working.”
We started our travel blog eight months ago with a whole lot of determination and passion. Before we launched our blog, we had spent a fair amount of time learning from some very successful bloggers, so we had an idea of what we needed to do to enable such quick success.
The most important of these lessons for us was to build our brand. We had to build it big, and with that building we had to get ourselves out there in as many places as possible. We needed people to recognize us as authority figures and to not forget us.
This doesn’t seem nearly as hard as it sounds. All you need is a consistent plan of attack and an authentic and likeable brand.
Who are you and what makes you special? Yes it’s true. You are special. There is something unique about you that you can offer to others. Really the greatest advice I can give in building your brand is to be yourself. Let what is unique about you shine through.
Being yourself means that whatever you do will carry authenticity, which is what attracts people to you. When you are yourself, it makes all your online marketing, communication and networking so much easier and a lot more fun.
You have to be your brand in everything you say and do, online and even off.
Not paying attention to what you are writing in every tweet, post, comment, facebook status update, and email can really kill your brand. Just think about how easily celebrities can fall from grace from an incident that was not in keeping with their brand. Michael Phelps got busted smoking bongs at a party and lost millions in sponsorship deals- not quite the squeaky athlete superhero image we were all used to.
Someone is always watching you and if you carelessly reply to an email, or tweet a couple of 140 characters that is not in keeping with your brand you could be in serious trouble. There have been several people in the online world that I have stopped following because of several tweets or emails that came out that made me say, “Ooo, I didn’t think they were like that. And I’m not sure I can relate anymore.”
If you are being yourself with your brand then you really shouldn’t have to worry about this. People will stop following you only if they think you aren’t who they thought you were.
Your brand in images
Have a clear photo of yourself, that shows you in your best light, prominently displayed on your blog. Use this photo for all of your activity on the web. This immediately brands you. As a potential reader moves from place to place they instantly recognize your friendly, happy face yet again.
Skip the sunglasses, hats that block your face, and forget using animals for your avatar. It is cute, I know, but it makes it very difficult for someone to connect with a faceless person. They are constantly left asking, “Who are you really? If I could just get a look at your face, I may learn more.” Cartoon avatars can work really well, if you can nail your brand with it at the same time. I think Where is Jenny does this really effectively.
We’ve had the opportunity to connect with and network with people in the offline world, because they have recognized us immediately from our photo. If you don’t have that, you could be missing out on some incredible opportunities.
Guest post and interviews
Take every opportunity that comes your way to guest post on other sites, or to be interviewed. Bloggers are always looking to interview those with interesting stories (and yes of course you have one) or for someone to write content for their site.
Make sure that you are maintaining your brand within your guest post and interviews. I always make sure I somehow interweave our tagline “It’s all about the memories, make your life a story to tell,” in our post. This is our message; I must remain true to it.
I always put my hand up to do these sorts of posts and I track people down to ask if I can. I’m not really interested in page rank or subscriber numbers, or posting on the most popular blogs (although this is a great strategy to employ). What I am interested is spreading myself wide and deep.
Each new website I appear on gets pushed out to a new bunch of RSS subscribers, twitter followers, facebook fans and commenters. If I write good content, I am likely to get new followers. Not only that, if someone is browsing around websites and they see me on one site, and then see me on another, they start thinking “Hey this person is everywhere they must be important.”
Sidenote: I also like posting on other sites so I can perhaps bring some of my readers over to the new blog and help them out. Your interactions should always be win-win.
Promote the heck out of your work on other sites.
My mentor always said, “Whenever anything about you appears on another site, you need to promote it. I don’t care if it’s good or bad, you want to stumble it, tweet it, like it, link back to it, comment on it and say thank you.”
Don’t be afraid of losing your followers to the new site you promote. This won’t happen. You are verifying your brand and providing more social proof that you are an authority figure. And you are increasing the power of the links that are coming back to your site, which in turn grows the authority ranking of your brand.
Comment on other blogs
Commenting on other blogs is such a great way to build your brand and authoritative voice. Always leave a positive and thought provoking comment, that follows your brand’s message.
There are many strangers reading blogs who might read a comment from you and be intrigued to learn more about you. Sometimes I leave comments that could be a whole blog post by itself. This is not a strategic move on my behalf, it just turns out that way because I have had a passionate response to what I have read.
Andi Puerillo from My Beautiful Adventures and Ayngelina from Bacon is Magic, do a fantastic job of commenting on other blogs. Every article I turn to read, they have already been there and left a comment. “Oh my God, there they are there again! How do they find the time?”
After seeing their bright happy faces for a while, I decided I liked them and needed to check them out more. I now follow them both keenly. And every time I have seen their comments, they have stuck to their brand–positive, supportive, encouraging, and thoughtful. Who doesn’t want to follow that?
Much of your success will be determined by how you build your brand. Be yourself and be everywhere.
Caz and Craig Makepeace have been living and travelling the globe since 97, both solo and as a couple and now with a three year old. They believe life is all about the memories and their travel tips and stories at yTravel blog and their fanpage aim to inspire and teach others how to make their life a story to tell.