I won't lie to you lot (do I ever?!) - I am probably one of the least business-minded people you'll ever come across, sooo I guess it's kind of funny that I'm even considering making this blog post at all. Stay with me for a minute though guys, because I assure you that - to make your blog into a brand - you don't actually have to be completely business savvy (I can practically hear you all cheering through your computer screens).
Now one thing I think is important to note about becoming a brand, is that - just because you are one - it doesn't mean you'll start raking in the cash like there's no tomorrow. But it definitely does help speed up the entire process a bit. Plus, branding is cool, right kids!? I'm not 100% being sarcastic there. Anyway, we all know this is going to be a long one, so I won't waste any more of your time. The first step to becoming a brand? Well, reading the next few lines helps..
Know what you're selling
Let's start with perhaps the trickier thing to get to grips with as a blogger. I mean, apart from the odd piece of clothing here and there, what is it that bloggers are actually selling? Well, it turns out it can be pretty much anything, just so long as you actually know what it is. Once upon a time I tried to get my pose on and be a super glamourous blogger, but that didn't work out because I'm neither super glamourous nor overly good at posing. But if there's one thing I am good at, it's talking (or typing, I suppose), so I decided to hone in on that. Now, you can pretty much count on 9/10 blog posts of mine being somewhat of an essay. I guess Im 'selling' a conversation, teamed with a few fancy pictures and some clothes you might want to buy. It sounds so boring on paper, but if you fully own whatever you decide to do (or 'sell') then you're set.
Know who your audience is
In my last blog post about advice on how to use Google Analytics I touched on this topic ever so slightly. Of course you can feel free to check that tip tuesdays out (hint hint) but in short, if you're going to sell to an audience you need to at least take the time to get to know who they are. This doesn't mean personally chatting to every single person that comes onto your website, but it does mean looking at your analytics every once in a while to see the type of people that click onto you blog. GA can tell you everything from your readers' gender, to where they live, and even to where they go on your website. It takes a while to get to grips with, but once you know what it is that your audience wants (and when, and how, and why...you catch my drift) you can start catering your posts more to your reader's preferences. Happy readers = more readers!
Accept help when you can
It was only until I actually started getting help from others that I really saw an improvement in my blog. Okay sure, I'm a walking blogger cliche in that I'm very lucky to have a photographer boyfriend (I promise I do actually like him quite a bit personally too), and I know not everyone has that luxury, but chances are you have friends, family or colleagues that can give you their honest opinions. They might know jack shit about blogging in general, but sometimes it's nice to have someone look at your blog with a completely fresh eye. Two (or more!) brains are always better than one.
Invest in your brand
Whether it's time or money, investing in your brand is an absolute must if you're looking to take it a step further. Personally, I've never actually spent a penny on my blog, purely because I feel like (most of the time) it's actually a waste unless you're spending it really wisely. So instead, I just work my ass off on it. My blog is definitely nothing to shout about, but it does okay for itself - and I didn't get to that 'okay' stage by spending half an hour writing a blog post every so once in a while. Hell, even before it became my job I would spend far too long just staring at a screen. Now I potentially spend around ten hours (at least) a day on the internet. And yes, that includes weekends too. Obviously I do it because I love it, but I also do it in the hope that - one day - it'll all run itself and maybe - just maybe - I'll actually get a full eight hours sleep again.
Fake it 'til you make it
'I don't have enough followers to become a brand!' is something I hear all the darn time. Stop undermining yourself! Every single 'big' blogger out there started with zero followers just like you did. It's called growth baby! I remember when I started out ages ago, all I had was a bit of HTML knowledge and a few too many pairs of shoes. I'd never really used a DSLR and I had no idea about Google Analytics of anything like that, but I knew I could make a website look pretty. At the time I was reading sites like The Blonde Salad back when she had the default blogger template. I saw it, knew I couldn't compete it anyway way regarding her blog, but I knew I could make my website look better. So that was where I started. Even now I like to make my blog look a lot more fancy and 'professional' that it actually is. People do judge books by their covers (or in this case, blogs by their templates) - so you may as well make a good first impression!
Know what you're talking about
No matter what your topic(s) is, it's important that you make sure you're fully clued up about what it is you're actually talking about. It can be as simple as knowing how to spell a brands name correctly, or as complex as writing and researching about how to create a website from scratch. When I started writing my Google Analytics blog post, I had to double check tons of information to make sure I wasn't telling people the wrong thing. Think of it as when you see one of those Kardashian articles on Buzzfeed, that entices you with some form of 'OMG you'll never guess what Kim did' title. You can't help but click on it, and then you find out Kim's just gone and taken another bumfie. What a waste of time that click was. It sounds silly because, hey, it's only one click, but that waste of a click may have cost Buzzfeed a future reader. Same goes for your blog. Give people what they want, and they'll keep coming back (and maybe tell their friends!) - trick them into coming onto your website and you can bet they won't be coming back again.
Expand your brand
It's all well and good having a kick-ass blog that's completely on brand, but what about all of your social media channels, your business cards, or your documents? I think it's so so important to make sure you maintain your brand throughout everything you do. Of course if you have to start somewhere, make it your blog, and perfect it like mad. But once you're done and you're happy with the final result start expanding that into your Facebook (and every other social site out there). Get some business cards printed in a similar manner. Add your logo to the bottom of every email you send out. Use the same fonts and colours for your invoices. Hell, go ahead and create stickers and shove them up all over your town. I'm kind of joking with that last one, but I'm also kind of not. If it gets the word out about what you're doing, do it!
Spread the world
Remember all those years ago when you were adamant you didn't want anyone to ever find your Tumblr? If you're still doing that, stop (unless you're not looking to brand yo blog, then keep at it!). I mean, how is your blog going to become a brand, let alone a business, if you never actually show anyone what you're working on? I get it, putting your hard work, thoughts, and sometimes even your face out there for the world to see is a scary, scary thing. Hell, I still get nervous butterflies whenever I post a personal story or talk about something a little controversial. But it's things like that that all come together and make blogging really worth it. Some people will like it, some people won't. Then again some people like Coca Cola, and some people despise it. But hey, it's still doing a pretty good job of staying afloat. AmIRight?
If you wanna know more about how to turn your blog into a brand then head on over to Twitter at 8pm GMT! I'm hosting another chat with FashBeautyLife (the last one we did started trending on Twitter!) using the hashtag #fblchat and it'd be grrrrreat to chat all things blogging - and all things completely unrelated - with you lovely lot. See you then!