- You cant blog unless you already have a personal brand. I joke about this – but I really believe that you cant blog sustainably unless you find your voice, have an opinion, and have something valuable to say. Having a brand is like being in the groove – and when you are in a groove – things roll along.
- Start with an attention getting title. If you dont capture an audience in the first sentence – you have lost them. The title is going to show up in a list of your blogs and that is all that will be visible. It has to stand out.
- Make your first sentence powerful – if not controversial. I often cross post my blogs to writerspan.com in order to get more visibility and let them monetize it for me. WriterSpan.com takes its content and shoves the title and the first sentence or two out to 30,000 community websites. So the whole post isnt visible – but the first sentence is.
- Make your Blog Readable. Nobody has the time nor inclination to read something that is so dense your brain hurts. So one technique is to judiciously use bolding. Making a keyword or concept bold draws the reader into the story. You probably already know that bullet lists are easy to read – so I wont mention it (ha).
- Feel free to add some multimedia. Just text can be boring. If you have a image that you have rights to publish – add it to the page – it adds visual variety. Here is a picture of young jeffrey conteplating his future as a writer.
- Help your blog get Google Mojo. We all know that google pays attention to blogs and catalogs them regularly. You must ensure that your blog is tagged sufficiently. Tags are one way content gets classified and found on the net. So I always at least tag my articles with the word “Brand”. You can also sprinkle keywords here and there in your text to help getting found. Keyword analysis is both a science and an art but its worth knowing a little bit about it. If you use words in your title and your text that google users enter into the search field – then your article has a greater chance of rising to the top of the search engine results page (SERP). Another thing to pay attention to is the link (anchor) text. This is the underlined text as in this blog that opens another location. The best text is a keyword loaded phrase. So I might tell you that I am a forward thinking and charismatic software architect and social media evangelist to call attention to my domain or company. Having good keywords and well articulated link text is essential to be found.
- Develop your Writing Style. I think style comes from practice. You cant belabor everything you write. So the key is to let out some of your personality in the writing. Let some of it flow. I learned a lot from reading Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. One thing I learned was to mix up the length of my sentences and paragraphs. Small is good. It adds variety and keeps the reader engaged. There is a billion other tricks – I suggest that you try some out in your writing.
- Blogs can be Short. Dont be afraid to write a short blog. I myself have little paragraph ideas. I have friends that write essays. But I think I have been more successful at getting something written and published with the small pieces.
- Be Personal and Tell a Story. Don’t fear revealing a bit about yourself in everything you write. Writing is not just expressing intellectual ideas – its about expressing your “full” idea – its thoughts AND emotions. Develop your ability to tell a story. Chip and Dan Heath remind us that stories are a key element to making things stick in other people’s minds – which is an essential element to personal branding.
- Always Promote Yourself. There is always a chance to promote yourself in your blog – beyond being read or being syndicated using RSS. I always add my tagline at the bottom of the page with a link to one of my web pages. Its a simple reminder to others of my brand but also accumulates inbound links to my target site.
So what do you see when you google your name. Is it a listing for a convicted felon or porn star? If you have an unusual name (like a well differentiated keyword) you will rise to the top automatically. But if you have an ordinary name you might not even show up. What you don’t want to happen is to have a search result that doesn’t represent you.
- Your name is your brand so use it consistently. Dont dilute it by using different variations – pick one version of your name and stick with it.
- If you share a name with a famous person you might consider adding an initial to your online name. You need to be consistent with this however – also using the initial on your business cards and other correspondence.
- Capture your “branded” name in as many places as you can so that when someone else types it in – information about you appears. Be sure to customize your profile name using your “branded” name. For example, your Linkedin profile can be customized using your name – making it easy to remember and share. Its better to do this earlier than later – particularly on the fast growing social sites. I always lamented turning down the opportunity to have a gmail account when “email@example.com” was actually available. I would have preferred to own it as opposed to someone else.
- You should periodically check what other people are seeing on google about you. If you are a job hunter – rest assured that recruiters are checking you out online. So you will need to see what they see and take action if the results are unflattering. You will need to devise a campaign to add visibility.
- Another good thing to check in the google search is if good keywords are associated with your name. So you could try “Jeffrey Blake Architect” for example to find out about me. Try searching on your name a keyword associated with your profession. If nothing come up then you will need to do some work.
- You can easily automate your monitoring of your brand by setting up Google Alerts which can send you periodic reports on what is showing up on the web about your brand. I found that you need to experiment what you monitor to get the right mix of results.
- If you are invisible online there is a number of things you can do to increase your visibility and off the top of my head is to join some professional networks as Linkedin that show up well in searches. Contribute to online conversations using your well branded name.
- This should have been mentioned earlier – but go out and get a domain name using your brand name. Its OK to use something other than your name – but a using your name is most effective. Capture a .com domain if you can – because that is the most prestigious right now. Frankly I don’t get “.biz” for an individual or a company.
- You can capture a custom profile URL at a zillion sites. I like to control my name before someone else. For example you can get custom profiles at Delicious, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Twitter, HubPages, Facebook, Plaxo, and Reddit just to name a few. Follow your interests and signup can customize your profile.
“Give me a place to stand,” said Archimedes, “and I will move the world.”
As you probably know, a fulcrum is the pivot point for a lever. And we know that Archimedes was planning to use a lever to move the world. But a lever by itself is worthless. It needs the fulcrum to actually do the leveraging. You are that fulcrum.
Part of a good brand is being focused on a dream that you want to come true. It is the thing that drives a personal brand. While branding is about creating impressions – it is also about the process of being who we want to become. It is not about what we are. We achieve our goals by being the fulcrum. And to lift the goal we need to place some things on our lever. We leverage ourselves my relying on several things.
- Get a Mentor – someone who has been there before. They can help you make good career choices and avoid misteps.
- Build a Team around you – these are a close set of confidants who can help you and you can help them. You are stronger when you have a team.
- Build a network. Have a big rolodex. I like to use Linkedin. We all know about the six degrees of separation and there are really very few steps between you and anyone on the planet.
- Use the internet and social networks to communicate your message and to stay in touch.
- Pay Attention to synchronicity. Carl Jung referred to synchronicity as “meaningful coincidences” Recently I have been cataloguing the meaningful coincidences that happen to me. As I begin to focus my brand I have found that more “coincidences” happen to me. Maybe its a spiritual thing – I don’t know – I just know to follow the lead.
- Keep a focus on your goal. For some reason when you align your skills, your dreams, your ego, your energy, your everything – you become a magnet for opportunity.
We are all told that we need to differentiate ourselves in the market so that we can stand apart from the competition and get noticed. This is all well and good – but sometimes I dont always understand what it means. My friend Rosalind (The Brand Whisperer) has told me on several occasions that I must find my true self and the personality that goes with it to really make a mark and be truly and effectively branded. I think I just now realized what she is talking about. In the past I reflected on my “unique” skills and imagined that my combination of efforts would be enough to make me stand out. I was wrong about just referring to my skills. I read today that a brand is the one thing that you own that nobody can take away from you. Most everything can be taken from you including physical items, trade secrets, patents, and especially technical skills. Technology changes and then you have nothing. Our brand is based not so much on “what” we do but on our personalities and what we aspire to become.
I have been reflecting on how to be most effective on Twitter – and to use Twitter to convey my brand. Since my primary trade is a software architect – I immediately recognize what I think are best practices – in fact are probably patterns for success on Twitter. So here they are:
- First start with an interesting design. You can customize the Twitter page using what Twitter gives you. Or you can upload a custom background. I uploaded a simple image of the ocean – an image large enough to cover the entire background even when the browser is enlarged. Many others seem to upload images that have a lot of personal information about themself. See Chris Brogan’s page for example. Try viewing the background image to see what he is uploading. Im not entirely certain how these images are actually created. I have to report back later.
- Include a concise (Ha Ha Ha) profile that describes your brand. Make these words count. Sometimes, I use these words to make entire judgments about fellow Twitterers. Expressions like “Having Fun, Hanging Out” do not promote your brand. Say something significant so that others can follow you easily.
- Customize your Twitter ID. Mine is http://twitter.com/jeffrey_blake. I recommend that you use your own name – but without the underscore. (There seems to be some other jeffreyblake out there who grabbed it before me). So it behooves you to capture your name sooner than later. This is good advice for all the social networking sites. You are the brand – use your name or at least your tagline.
- Enter your real name so that when you are listed people don’t have difficulty identifying you.
- Upload a clear professional image of yourself. As a rule I don’t follow people who have goofy avatars or don’t wear shirts in their image – In fact, just like on linkedin I have a habit of removing those connections to protect my brand.
- Dont protect your updates. I think its important to share your ideas and fully take credit for them.
- As for Tweets – say something pertinent. Have a conversation. Add value when you can. Have a hundred relevant comments before you tell me what you are having for dinner.
- Follow everyone relevant to you. I started twittering because of Guy Kawasaki after hearing him talk about his new company alltop.com. Ideally, have real conversations with these people. In time these connections can expand to Linkedin or Facebook and beyond.
- Learn the Twitter Etiquette whatever that is. I enjoyed this one which had some relevant points.
- Cross advertise yourself in your blog, your website or in your social net profiles. Add your twitter address into your emails.
Go forth and converse!
Living at the Nexus of Technology, Service, Marketing and Evangelism @ JeffreyBlake.com
Many people around me seem to be interested in blogging. Its almost as if they feel they are missing something if they don’t blog. Beyond selecting which blogger to use to create the posts – most people I know have difficulty figuring out what to write about sustainably. The primary reason people dont know what to blog about is that they don’t know what their personal brand is. If you have a clearly defined personal brand (especially for your career) – then blogging is easy. The reason is because a personal brand is about proactively pursuing ways to find meaning and providing value to the marketplace. It is about some amount of curiousity for new material. Blogging is a way for the personal brander to clarify thoughts that occur to them during a week, satisfies the need to share ideas, and establishes the brander as a person who has opinions and ideas. They establish themselves as a thought leader.
Ok, I understand its hard to clarify what your brand is. But if you have a personal tagline – you might start just writing about that. Sometimes we come up with these taglines for ourselves without really understanding them – they just ring true – thats a good sign. If you dont have a tagline to write about you might think about getting one – to help you clarify your brand. Im still working on mine – but I received a lot of insight after writing a personal marketing plan. I heard recently from Eric Rosen that one way to discover your tagline is to take a look at the recent parts of your resume. Either way – once you are clear about where you are going – writing about it becomes a lot easier.
Living at the Nexus of Technology, Service, Marketing and Evangelism @ JeffreyBlake.com
I remember a comment Neil Young had about Live Aid and other similar events. He said “save yourself”. I have always thought about that and realized that after I find my true self and act upon that fact – the world will change around me.