I asked members of my Facebook community to submit questions they had on blogging, branding, and site design and today I’m answering one of those questions submitted by member & food blogger, Jamie from A Sassy Spoon. I’ll be answering more of the questions in the coming week, so stay tuned if you don’t see your answer here! Have a specific question you’d like to ask me? Click here to join my FREE private Facebook group where you can submit your own questions for these personalized Q&A posts!
Jamie asked, “Aside from logo/site design, how else can you work on developing your brand in the meantime?”
This is a great question, as I know many bloggers feel stuck when trying to figure out what they can do (outside of design) to further their brand. If you’re one of those bloggers who has already moved passed the basics of branding (defining your target audience & brand mission) – this post talks about 6 actionable things you can do to further develop your brand apart from logo or site site design. The items below are reasonable & achievable methods on specific things I have done over the years that I strongly feel have helped propel my brand forward. Whether that be ways to streamline your daily blogging processes or tips to create a more personable brand, these tips are straight-forward and attainable if you’re ready to take action!
1. Create & Organize Graphic and Image Templates
Most bloggers are one-woman shows, which means you have to fill the shoes of photographer, graphic designer, writer, videographer and marketer. Think about the tasks you do daily and write down the time involved for each of those tasks. Chances are you are spending time finnicking over things like the font for your Pinterest graphic and thinking to yourself, “GAH, this shouldn’t be so hard.” Decide on the fonts, colors, and graphic elements (patterns, icons, etc.) you will use and then create a folder on your computer that contains ALL your templates and brand elements. In my case, I have a folder that contains everything from my vector logo, brand color palette with Hex codes, fonts (I have a Illustrator file that has all my fonts layed out), blog type templates, video type templates, and my photo watermarks. Now instead of digging in folders that are 2 years old, I can find them in seconds (and technically anyone jumping in to help me create any of these items could locate exactly where they are).
Actionable Items to Work On: Pinterest Collage Graphics, “Hero” Images for your blog post, Text Overlays, Watermarks
2. Create and Post A “Personal” Social Media Post
As bloggers, it’s easy for us to get into “content cranking mode” and churn out new posts as fast as we can. In the midst of us telling our audience to, “go get my recipe for chocolate cake”, “check out my blog for 5 easy salads”, and “go go go buy my new recipe e-book” – we have to remember to slow down and show our readers that we are REAL people. And although we may appear as those we are mega-magazine content machines at times, our advantage is that we have the opportunity to connect with our audience in a more personal way. A way that mega brands and magazines can’t compete with.
Actionable Items to Work On: Go back and think about the types of comments people make on your Instagram photos. Perhaps they’re always swooning over your food photography, so you could take the opportunity to write a “Behind The Scenes” post showing your photo setup to show that you’re just a normal person with a small photo space (still achieving beautiful images). Another idea could be to post a light-hearted photo/caption of your latest Recipe/DIY fail to add humor and spark conversations with your audience on what their greatest kitchen fail was. Or you could even create a deeper post explaining WHY you started your blog. Were you stuck at a 9-5 you hated and needed a creative outlet? Were you a stay-at-home mom who needed to do something other than clean up messes all day? In the sea of all the other accounts, these personal touches can make your audience feel more connected to you. Bottom line: people crave realness and we need to take time to hit pause on pushing traffic to our site and think about how to connect with the people on the other side of the screen.
3. Update Your Media Kit & Create A Brand Email Template
When I first started blogging, I had no idea how to approach a brand who had reached out to me. I would sit on responding to the email for DAYS because I wasn’t proud of how my media kit looked and I felt like I didn’t have a solid presentation to show who I really was or what I could offer. Take some time to spruce up that “resume”, update it with your latest social numbers, and think about adding things you have recently started doing. For example, if you’ve started posting videos be sure to state that in your media kit and include some links to videos you’ve done. Another thing you can do to streamline your process for working with brands is to create a brand email template that you can quickly send out when approached by a brand. Now instead of waiting a week to respond, you will have a plan in place to get that email responded to right away.
Actionable Items to Work On: Update your media kit and create a template email for when brands reach out to you. Of course, be sure to customize it to each brand but keep it structured so it doesn’t take you more than 5 minutes to compose and send. I’ll be posting my brand email script on Wednesday so stay tuned!
4. Create A Themed Series or Challenge To Create Buzz
If you’re at a roadblock and feel like your posts are becoming stagnant, maybe it’s time to switch things up a bit and challenge yourself with creative new takes on your niche. For example, a few years ago I was feeling a little bored with my blog and needed something to liven things up. I decided to challenge myself to create 30 cookie recipes in 30 days and not only did it increase traffic, but readers were excited to follow along and see what was coming up the next day. Now, hear me out: I’m not saying you need to go to this extreme (30 posts in 30 days was crazy exhausting!), but you could do it on a smaller scale. Examples of themes could be, “5 Days of Summer Salads”, “$20 Patio DIY’s” or “7 Days of Birthday Cookies”.
Actionable Items to Work On: The great thing about these series or challenges is that when you’re done you can (and should!) create a roundup post like, “5 Easy Summer Salad recipes” and link to all your posts. Some of my highest traffic posts are roundups created from a series.
5. Plan A Collaboration
Do you follow another blogger with a similar interest as you? Would your audiences be interested in learning about each other? One way to expand your brand is to get new eyes on it and when done smart & correctly, collaborating can help both parties grow.
Actionable Items to Work On: Find someone you admire (typically with a similar audience size to yours) and ask if they would be interested in a collaboration. The big thing with this is to give them an idea of what you’re thinking…approach it with a plan and explain how it will be mutually beneficial. For example, I might approach another DIY blogger who makes ice cream treats and ask if they’d want to collaborate on a summer printable where they share a new ice cream recipe and shoot it with my printable ice cream cone wrapper. That way, I can post the image on my account telling MY audience to go to her account for the recipe and she can direct her audience to my account to get the printable. Whatever you do, make sure it’s not a one-sided collaboration and that you are both up to speed on post dates so expectations are met.
6. Increase Your Video Content with the Basics
I know, I know. Video is a TON of work. Not only is it time consuming to shoot but editing is a chore in itself. But the truth is, video isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. We all know that the Tasty style recipe videos are all the craze lately, but is there something other than a quick recipe that your audience might like to learn more about? For example: If you post a lot of recipes with shrimp, maybe you could do a quick video on “How to Clean Shrimp”. Or if you’re a cookie blogger, a video on “How to tell if your royal icing is the right consistency?” These videos will not only help your audience solve simple problems but they will also show your expertise and position you as the expert. They’ll be more likely to engage in your posts if they know they can go to you with questions.
Actionable Items to Work On: Write a list of “basic tutorials” of your niche that your audience might want to learn more about (and if you’re not sure, ASK them!). Once narrowed down, choose one you’re most excited about and create a storyboard of the video. Write down what materials or ingredients you would need to make it happen. Don’t let the pressure for it to be PERFECT prevent you from creating it. Do it with the camera you have, in the best light you have, and then after you post it make adjustments to make your next one even better!
So there you have it! 6 actionable tasks you can do to develop your brand…outside of logo and site design! I hope these tips sparked some ideas and make you see how seemingly small tasks like these are the very things that make up your brand. Thanks to Jamie for submitting this great question!
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