You have setup your WordPress blog. You may be thinking that you are all ready to go live, publish content and create your own empire, but installing WordPress is just the first step in your blogging career. To make your launch successful there are several branding elements you need to keep in mind. Branding is a concept from the marketing world and refers to features that distinctly identify your site from the others.
Each blogger projects her brand through everything she does, from the way she writes, the way she presents herself and the way she interacts in the social media. The author is the brand of the site, but there is so much more to branding. You can look at branding as your visitor’s gut feeling about your site. It’s your reputation. It’s not necessary always what you say, it’s what your visitor’s say about you. This is something you cannot control, but you can influence it in the way that you present your site. Presenting yourself well helps with how others will value you. This is a list of branding must-haves you need to take care of before publishing your first article to make your new blog awesome.
To help figure out your branding consider these things first:
Know your target audience
Anyone can publish a post but without an audience it is only text. You need to figure out your target audience. Your site cannot appeal to everyone. You need to identify groups of people that are interested in your topic. Look for something people are already trying to do, then help them do it. Who is your audience? Who are you serving? Where do they spend their time online? What are they looking for? What do they need and want? When do they need you? Why do they need you? How would they interact with your site? What will your site help them with? What are they ready to buy? How can I reach them and persuade them? How can I sell it to them?
Your job as a content creator is to know as much as possible about your audience in order to provide them with the content they want to consume and share. Answering these questions tells you everything you need to know. It tells you what type of content you need to create. It tells you where you need to have a presence in order for people to come in contact with your site. It tells you what type of product paying customers already want.
Know your positioning
Positioning gives you a heading and a direction towards the future. It acts as the creative filter for everything that you do. It helps you define what content to publish, it decides your tone of voice and your unique selling proposition. If the article or the tweet you’re about to post doesn’t tick off your proposition, you shouldn’t be posting it.
You need to let people know what your site is about, you need to give them a reason to click on your link and not on one of the many other websites and distractions that are trying to get their attention. You do this by being specific and descriptive and letting them know what problems you will solve for them. Think about who you are, what you want to do with your site and why you want to do it.
Why are you special, why are you different and why should people listen to you and not to someone else. What can you say about your site that your competitors cannot claim? You must have your personal point of view, something original. It must be something that your visitors find valuable and credible. It must show why your site should matter to your visitors, what value it contributes with. What makes you the only site? What makes you different in your category?
What is the core purpose of your site? Beyond making money, what’s the reason your site should exist? Imagine you only have few seconds to tell a potential visitor why they should visit your site. Find out what is unique and compelling about you and your idea, and put it into a short sentences. Describe your vision. Make it interesting and short. The vision must be strong enough to be summed up quickly.
Know your competitors
Figure out what other bloggers are doing related to your chosen topic. Do not try and copy the other bloggers as that will not lead you anywhere. Figure out what they do well and what their audience responds to. Learn from them, but find spaces in between the competitors and do something different. Greatest thing you can do to stand out is to find your own voice rather than try and copy someone else. You can’t be the leader by following the leader.
Decide your branding
- Your site name
Think of potential names for your site. Many bloggers think of a domain name as the brand name as it is the easiest way to identify the site. A good brand name can be as simple as your full name. Many are fine with branding their sites with their personal names. Some go by a pseudonym. Some have descriptive brand names. Some get creative and think of memorable and unique names. Take your time to decide your name as it will be hard and confusing to change it later on. Here is my 3-step approach to naming your site.
- Your design
Graphics enhance and define the overall style, look and feel of the site. Your design is integral part of your branding. This is my full guide to finding the perfect design.
- Your tone of voice
Your tone of voice is all about how you say things. Consider how you want to portray yourself. Think about what kind of content format you will be producing and other technical aspects like the length or the way you present the content. Pick a voice that suits you, and keep a consistent voice across your content. I prefer to write in authentic and conversational voice. I find that when the writing feels like people speaking, the visitors are listening more carefully. This voice also helps me get to the point as it is very straightforward, personal and easy to understand.
Writing conversationally is an art form that you should embrace. When you write conversationally, you implement many of the same aspects of formal writing in a less formal manner. You want to focus on keeping your grammar, spelling and punctuation professional while making the overall tone light. Writing conversationally includes adding in extra details to paint a visual picture for your reader in a straightforward manner. When you speak to others you probably don’t use elaborate words to describe things, so don’t use them in your writing either. There’s no need to have your readers bust out a dictionary to discern what you’re saying. Read it out loud. This is one of the best ways to ensure that your writing is fluid and conversational. Hearing what you’ve written clues you in on mistakes you may not have caught otherwise and allows you to interpret what you’re writing in the same manner that your reader will.
7 must-haves to make your new site awesome
- About Page. Make an introductory page where you explain about your project, about yourself and what your site helps people with.
- Contact Page. Make a page where people can get in touch with you. Contact Form 7 is the plugin I usually use to add a contact form to a page like this. It is very simple and effective.
- Create a Sitemap. Your sitemap lists all the posts and pages that are accessible for search engines to crawl and index. Basically having a sitemap helps Google and other search engines learn more about your content and hopefully also send you more traffic. I usually use Google XML Sitemaps plugin to create a sitemap.
- Install Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a useful tool to track and analyse your visitors. It provides you a lot of data to see where they find your content, a lot of geographical data, how visitors like your content and much more.
- Add the URL to Google Webmaster Tools. Webmaster Tools is useful tool to track the progress of your site in search engines and also for Google to provide you with feedback on what you can improve. One of the first things I do there is to verify my URL and submit the sitemap. Then I regularly keep an eye on this.
- Create Social Media Profiles. Create profiles on Twitter, Facebook and/or any other social media platform where your target audience is. Make sure to link back to your URL from the profiles and vice versa. Don’t just create profiles at every social media site, be focused on sites with most potential. Introduce consistent branding elements to these profiles from your own site. This will help you promote your site better.
- Write your first post. Then write the second one. Then the third one. The content is everything so you must start building lots of content that attracts visitors. Beware that your first post might suck, but keep doing it. You will learn from your initial mistakes. You will become better at knowing what people want and you will become better at creating content that satisfies the needs of your audience.
Take also a look at things to do after starting a new WordPress site.
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That’s it. You are on the roll and ready to conquer a piece of the online world. I hope that these tips give you a good head start. After you write the first few articles is where all the fun (read: hard work) starts. You need to promote your content, you need to continue writing new posts regularly and optimise everything as you go along and learn. It is a fun ride though. So do enjoy it. Good luck!