Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Marketing Your Blog: Post Three on Branding

PART THREE: This post is intended to give ideas to book bloggers who want to increase their readership using methods of marketing. I will be writing from my personal experience. Although I am not an expert, I figure I can pass along some things I wish I had known a while back. Much will be obvious but some maybe not so much. Use what helps you, forget what doesn’t! This is post three of three in my marketing series.

Branding: Making Your Mark: The look and feel of your blog can, in less than 5 seconds, decide if someone stays to read or clicks the X to exit.

My Name Is – Time Out by sheer default because I wasn’t feeling creative and wanted to get my blog going as soon as possible (because I was excited, ya know?). But I’m not crazy about the name. It’s OK. If you’re still a newbie blogger and don’t care for your blog’s name, change it before people consider you and your blog’s name to be one and the same. Think of your blog’s name as a name brand, like Starbucks. You thought of coffee didn’t you? Not stars and not bucks – coffee. The name and object are one and the same. That’s the power of a brand. You’re blog title is the same – a brand. Your brand. And it’s a difficult decision to change it late in the game. Sometimes, I visit a site just because their blog title is nifty. Brand power!

Color, Font and Layout Matter – big time! Your blog’s look (regardless of content) attracts or detracts certain readers. To gain readers, use a style that works, not necessarily what you may like best. This can be hard, I know. But a little sacrifice and effort can go a long way towards readership. And there’s usually a happy medium to be found.
  • Colors Send a Message: Be sure you are attracting the type of reader that matches the type of content you post. I want men and women readers so I have chosen a fairly gender neutral background color. Ladies: got a girly looking site? Then don’t be surprised if you never get many guy readers. Many just won’t stay if your web site is pink. Period. Food for thought. But maybe you read chick lit so gals are your target audience! Then pink might be right for you.
  • Let’s talk font. Simple is best. If it’s hard to read, they won’t stay. End of story. If a reader mentions difficulty reading your site, hurry and change the colors/font!
    • Keep in mind, if you use Internet Explorer but 30% of your readers use other browsers (check your analytics), it’s likely their browsers interpret fonts differently than yours. Also, older computers may have difficulty loading and reading a flashy or colorful website. 
  • Layout effects the way people process information on your blog. To be most effective:
    • Compartmentalize your side bar(s). Keep similar sidebar posts together for easy reader reference. 
    • The human eye likes symmetry. When applicable, do you best to make things line up and be sure text and graphics are not overlapping. A continuously sloppy layout sends the wrong message. It says disorganized, disinterested and unreliable. 
    • Many chose to pay someone to create a personalized blog with personalized buttons. Let your designer know not only what you like, but what kind of audience you want to attract with your look.
  • Keep your layout clean, tidy and with the most important information in prominent locations. Doing so creates an easy friendly reading environment and marks you as an author who cares about what you’re doing.
  • Your blog is personal. If you feel you’ve made too many sacrifices and lost the essence of “you” then by all means, make your blog look how you want. Blog design is a tricky tango between personal taste and reader needs.
About Me Page – a really good idea. Be honest (don’t exaggerate), be succinct (dispense with the “I don’t know what to say” stuff), be yourself (like you’re talking to a friend). This is not the place to talk to publishers. This is the place to talk to readers, to attract them into subscribing/following and to build community. Readers do not want to hear your sales pitch to the corporate world. Have a separate page or section for soliciting ARCs. I read so many “about me” sections that are THE SAME which is bizarre since we are all so unique and different. So, Info to Consider Including:
  • What you read – favorite books, genres, authors.
  • What your site is for - Blog because you love reading? For escape? Fun? Work? School? If you feel comfortable being personal let us know what type of school, what job or what reading club you read with.
  • Location makes you interesting. Where in the world are you?
  • What you do when you’re not blogging/reading.
  • How you heard about blogging and started your own.
Tone: Even Starbucks has a tone. And they try hard to set an appealing one (though lost on me – not a coffee drinker). A part of your blog’s brand is the way your blog feels. Your tone is comprised of everything visible on your site including: pictures, graphics, background, font, links, giveaways, blogroll, header, post titles and all text. Look at your blog homepage – the colors, the types of giveaways you advertise, post titles. Are they funny, serious, whimsical, pushy, gothic, academic, sexy, happy, forgetful? What word(s) comes to mind? This is your blog’s tone. Set a tone that reaches out to your target audience as well as one that reflects who you are.

Well, there you have it. My tips for marketing your blog: know your audience, actively pursue them and brand your blog. Remember, there’s no wrong way to eat a peanut butter cup write a blog. Just ok, good and (always) better. Be patient and attentive and you’ll gain the readers you’re looking for!

What ideas do you guys have about branding? What has worked/not worked for you? And if you actually read the entire post – wow, thanks! It got a bit long!


  1. Chelle, this post was really helpful. I started my book blog "for myself." Now I realize reader interaction is what motivates me to continue. Overall I think my blog reflects the tone I am trying to create, but I did recently change the look of my blog, and like it much better now. Thanks for an informative post.

  2. Yes, thanks! I don't consider myself solely a book blogger or necessarily looking for a larger audience, but I would like my blog to have a good look and to be readable. After reading this, I moved my sidebars around and did a little reorganizing. A few weeks ago I went to a much more simplified/less busy theme as well. I'm sure it's still a work in progress, but that's part of the fun, eh?

  3. Thanks! I'm glad this was helpful for you two. And yes, Buffy, any type of writing is a work in progress and it should totally be fun!

  4. All you need to do is to cooperate by being honest with your application and everything will go according to your plan and necessities!

  5. I suggest also making sure that your buttons and banners all match your blog.

    I recently wrote a post on how to make a "grab my button" badge.

  6. Excellent post. I need to go back to my blog now and add "What I do when not blogging/reading."


  7. Thanks for the post! I'm just starting out and this is exactly the kind of info I was looking for. You are so right about the constant tweaking. I can't stop!!