5 Ways to Go from Blog to Online Brand in 2018
When I look back at the past two decades, a lot of websites, blogs, and social media platforms play through my mind — especially those that I personally created and worked with.
From the most simple days of basic HTML and static websites, to the now advanced days of mobile usage and social media, it’s all above adapting with the times and providing value to an audience.
In my past 22 years of making money online, one of the most pivotal moments would have to be when I launched my blog at ZacJohnson.com back in 2007.
Not only was this a huge business and brand shift for myself, but it was also the first time I started using WordPress and didn’t need to rely on design software and HTML to create my sites.
WordPress has changed everything and made the process of creating an online content-focused business or brand a whole lot easier. Since there are no technical skills required, and being that the software is free, everyone may soon have a blog. However, just because it’s easy, it doesn’t mean you are going to find success.
Every day I get emails from readers of my sites, asking me why they aren’t making money with their blogs.
To answer all of these questions and more, today I wanted to cover some of the most effective and important ways to actually turn a blog into a real brand and business.
1. Building Your Blog, Brand and Business from the Ground Up
Before you even get started with a website or blog of your own, you need to know why you are doing this in the first place. For the sake of example, throughout this guide, we are going to focus on creating a blog to make money.
In most cases, a blog should be very niche specific, provide a need or information to an audience, and also have some form of monetization as well. Getting a ton of traffic to your site is great, but without a clear focus or calls to action (for monetization) in place… it’s just another blog taking up space on the already saturated internet.
While there are many ways to make money with a website or blog, many of them are by sending visitors away from a site or making a quick commission or sale for someone else. This is fine, but turning your blog into a brand and respectable source for information is even better.
To invest in your online business and brand, you should have a professional logo design and a way to resonate with your audience even after they leave your site. This doesn’t mean you are going to need to spend a lot of time and money.
Thanks to online design tools like Tailor Brands, it’s easy for anyone to create a professional looking logo, without the need to hire an expensive design agency or go through hundreds of freelancers to find the best design work. Below you can see a quick example of a few brand designs created in just a few seconds.
Once you have a brand identity and image in place, you can build a great first impression and brand following online. This means posting the image not just on your site and blog, but also within all your social media profiles and email signatures if possible. Keep in mind that these same best practices can be used by freelancers and sole entrepreneurs as well.
The long term value in your logo branding and online following can greatly influence the amount your site can charge for reviews, content contributions, display traffic, and affiliate marketing campaigns, and as well as how much you might be able to charge for consulting or related services.
If you don’t think a professional logo identity and brand makes a big difference, go see how much it costs to buy banner ad places on a site like ESPN, versus that of another high-traffic sports blog that no one has really heard of. This is also why someone might pay more for a pair of Nike shoes or a Starbucks cup of coffee — it’s all about the brand association!
2. SEO is Dying, but the Long Tail Value is Here to Stay
As much as I hate to say it, SEO is kind of making its way out the window. This is always going to be an argued debate, but we can clearly see that more people are moving away desktop usage and focusing more on mobile usage, social media, and online video to get their information.
There will likely always be a place for searching websites and content online, but it likely won’t be through the traditional Google search and SEO methods that we are familiar with today.
However, even with this in mind, the value in long-tail keywords is still extremely effective and profitable. When someone searches for something very specific on Google, they are likely ready to take action and buy something. The deciding factor in what site is going to get the sale is who is ranking at the top of Google for these terms.
So what does this mean? In short, stop focusing on creating a lot of content, and instead focus on bigger, better, and longer content.
At the same time, keep an eye on the latest case studies and trends from other top SEO blogs, as these are the sites that are often already ranking well and know what it takes to move up on Google with all of these latest algorithm and user changes in motion.
Not only will this allow you to get more focused with your content and who your target audience is, but it will also help with the content promotion and your link building process as well. Keep a close eye on your competition and research not only what keywords and search phrases they are ranking for, but also the different types of content and length they are publishing as well.
3. Target Your Best Audience through Social Media
Everyone talks about social media and the massive two-billion plus users across the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. However, not many are actually mastering the art of social media and converting these followers into customers and visits on their site.
At the same time, every social platform is different in the way not just content needs to be created, but also how you can reach and promote to such audiences as well.
For example, simply by continually using any of the top hashtags on Instagram, you can instantly improve your impressions and exposure to millions of new users. The tricky thing about Instagram is that you aren’t going to be allowed to link back to your site, but it’s amazing for visual content creation, branding, and building a following.
If you ever needed an example to follow, Kylie Jenner is the one to keep an eye on right now. With a net worth of over $900 billion, Kylie has built her massive make up empire through the use of social media and getting new attention, followers, and sales at all times.
More often than not, if you take the time to examine your competition and see where most of their traffic is coming from, it’s usually from one social platform over a wide spread across all of them. With this in mind, it’s important to know not only which social network is best for attracting your target audience, but also which methods (visual, text content, paid ads) will work best as well.
4. Manual Outreach is Still King in the World of Blogging
Like it or not, but in some cases, throwing money at your website or blog will only get it so far. It’s the time-consuming and annoying manual research and outreach that really helps content sites move ahead of the competition.
There are many ways to get manual outreach working for your blog and brand. Instead of listing all of them within this article, I recommend you take a look at this detailed outreach resource guide.
Whether your outreach is for an infographic, broken link building, or guest blogging… it’s all about the tone and conversation you start with. Here are some of the most notable and effective ways to start using manual outreach and promotion to grow your blog, brand or online business:
- Sending out emails to other websites and seeing if they would like to cross-promote your content on social media, through mailings, or even mentions in articles. These emails should be more personable and not an obvious template.
- Guest blogging still works extremely well, but it should only be focused on legitimate websites that have traffic and are relevant to your niche. Contributing to other websites and blogs is great for link building, but also for reaching new audiences and growing your brand.
- Broken link building is a huge opportunity, but again… this can be very time consuming (and rewarding). Analyze other sites within your niche, find where their broken links are, and then reach out through email and see if they will replace their broken link with a working one to your site.
Depending on how you approach each of these methods, your personal outreach and research methods might vary. The good news is that many of these processes can be outsourced to freelancers who will do all of the manual work for you, or if you want to work on this yourself, be sure to consider your options with SEO analysis tools and software automation.
No matter what route you go, the more ‘realistic’ your outreach and content emails look, the better they are going to work. At the same time, don’t just ask for backlinks, promotions, and favors — try to offer something in return.
5. Treat Your Blog Like a Business, Not a Content Distribution Center
Last but not least, it’s time to talk about blogging as a whole and why there are now more than 300 million blogs in the world today… yet only a very few only get traffic and make money with their sites.
We’ve all heard the saying ‘content is king’. While this may be true in theory, it’s actually misleading many would-be bloggers and entrepreneurs in their journey to online profitable. Gary Vaynerchuk also makes a good point, in saying “Content is King, but Context is God!”
Content is great, but there is simply way too much of it. With more than a billion active sites on the internet today, I think we have a pretty good amount of content already out there. However, anything that can be improved, and anything we can use more of, is great content!
If you want to rank at the top of Google, be a trusted resource for information online – and also get free quality backlinks, mentions, and references everyday – you need to be creating better content than what is already out there. As mentioned earlier, people are less interested in text content, and now they want visuals and online video more than anything.
To make all of this work for you and your brand, keep the following in mind.
- Create less content, but better and more resourceful content.
- Longer content performs better in Google. Stay above 2,000-words in each post.
- Go after the longtail keyword and cover every topic in full detail.
- Have an exact form of monetization in place, and calls to action in each article.
With all of these elements and factors in play, your blog is no longer just a blog. It’s a traffic generating revenue lead magnet that is also providing value to an audience in the process.
This isn’t rocket science. Take a look at any of these blogging success stories, and you will find that each of them has their own unique target audience, topic they specialize in, and awareness of exactly why and how they are monetizing their traffic and turning new readers into revenue daily.
Your Blog Is Your Business
“Blogging” has a lot of different meanings depending on who you ask. I’ve already looked at blogging as a way to create content and build your own online platform. Others look at it as a way to get started with a website and having their own voice online.
In short, blogging can be anything you want.
However, if you want blogging to be a business — you need to have a business model!
Run through each of the ideas above and make sure you have all of these methods implemented into your blog. It’s time to turn your blog into a blog business and potentially change your life and brand for the better.