On Blogging: Building your brand

So you’ve built a blog, you’re getting some traffic but you want to take things to the next level. That’s a great goal and I am here to share some tips on how you can grow your blog and your brand.

I may write about silent films but my day job is in graphic design and marketing. I am going to share a few tips to help you understand the blogging process with the goal of increasing your readership.

(This post is aimed primarily at film bloggers but it can apply to other topics as well, for example if you’ve just started up your own small business and you’re looking to get branding out by the means of promotional pens or the likes.)

Wait, isn’t branding for big corporations?

Earlier, I mentioned building your brand. It can all be summed up in these questions: Out of all the blogs on the internet, why should people read yours? What’s your angle? What makes you special and sets you apart from the crowd?

The answer is your brand.

Furthermore, to really get ahead, you should also make sure you regularly update your social media sites to really establish your image and voice. Facebook for example provides lots of opportunities to continue the feel of your brand in an online space. This goes for business blogs as well as personal ones. A good place to start is with an attention grabbing header – just make sure the facebook cover photo size guidelines don’t hold you back!

So let’s start. What is your blog about? If your answer is that you write about classic movies or science fiction or musicals, then we have some work to do. It’s not enough to simply write about a particular topic. To repeat: what is your angle?

We all want to be the cat's bow-wow.
We all want to be the cat’s bow-wow.

No angle: I write about science fiction.

Great angle: I write about science fiction from a scientist’s point of view, pointing out how the technology of science fiction reflected the culture of its day.

No angle: I write about classic movies.

Great angle: I write about classic movies with an eye to how they influenced (and continue to influence) modern cinema.

Or your angle can be in the way you write. Maybe you are a newcomer to a genre or time period of film and want to write from a beginner’s perspective. Perhaps you feel that your topic is dry and stodgy and your goal is to make reading about it lively and fun. That is my goal in writing about silent films, a topic that is utterly crawling with fuddy-duddies and pedants. After hearing the twentieth person complain about a frame jitter in 1:34:56, I was going quite mad. (On a side note, silent movie writing is also overrun with people completely obsessed with the sex lives of the stars. Um, no. Shoo. Scram. Skedaddle.)

If you feel there is a shortage, there probably is

I started my site because I felt that silent movie writing was in dire need of silliness, goofiness, irreverence and general mischief. There are some great sites out there but there are also some idols and myths that are in dire need of smashing. And we need to have fun with these movies! Why so serious?

trail-of-98-fun

Maybe you feel the same way and that is why you started your blog. Own it! Perhaps you feel that a certain performer or genre is not getting their proper due. Bring in a bit of that revolutionary spirit. Obviously, you don’t want to be a devil’s advocate or disagree for the sake of shock but if you think there needs to be an alternate opinion, maybe it’s up to you to put it forward. (Garbo is overrated! There! I said it!)

Put simply, if you look around and notice that there is shortage of the type of stuff you like to read, be prepared to step up and be the one to write it.

godless-girl-if-its-a-fight

You do the work

Understanding your blog’s brand is one of the keys to popularity. If you can’t explain what you are trying to say, how can you expect your readers to understand?

Let’s take orange juice as an example. If you’ve always bought Tropicana, you will need a reason to change brands. Maybe the store brand is cheaper. That’s their angle. Maybe that new organic brand promises no pesticides ever. That’s their angle. And maybe you just want to stick with Tropicana because you’ve always liked their juice. They market themselves as a classic and established brand. That’s their angle.

Products don’t wait for consumers to guess what their angle is, they tell you. “In business for 150 years!” “Always natural and organic!” “Save money!” We know immediately what they are trying to sell and what they want their brand identity to be. If we don’t, that product will likely not be on the shelves for long.

It’s up to you to choose your angle (or angles) and then communicate that branding to your readers. If you’ve never done anything like this, give it a try. If you’re already doing it, congratulations. If you think this is hooey, hey, you have the right to your opinion and thanks for reading!

25 Replies to “On Blogging: Building your brand”

  1. Very interesting article. I’ve enjoyed reading your reviews, and I’ve been impressed with your blog overall. I feel motivated to do more with my simple little blog.

  2. What you say may seem obvious, but it’s clearly not. You are 100% right on the money. As I am re-starting a blog and putting it in WordPress, it’s a good time for me to rethink what I hope to do.

  3. When I was a young-un, I published a zine (sort of like blogging in the 80s). I had a few readers, I got my voice out, but I never really did nail myself down to a particular focus. I like my zine, nostalgically, but it really didn’t have much of a brand. When I started my current project, it was clear just from my closest friends’ comments that I had a much better sense of focus and mission. Years of writing about stuff I cared about had trained me to look for a niche. I don’t claim my “brand” is brilliant, but it is clear to anyone what they will get when they go to the Century Film Project: reviews of 100-year-old movies. I guess I learned something as I got older, after all!

    1. Yeah, branding is one of those things that should be obvious but a lot of people overlook. I like this! I will blog about it! Which is fine but having a focus will allow them to find an audience much, much faster.

  4. My blog is about Twenties life and how it relates to our own life today. And of course, about my Twenties stories with a speculative twist.
    How is that? πŸ™‚

    You know? I’ve been discovering my brand. My readers showed me what my brand should be. It’s kind of strange.
    I’d never thought I’d write about Twenties social history, because I’m not a scholar, and I’m not an expert and I felt I didn’t have… well, the right to write about these things. But when I tried it once, I discovered readrs liked to read about it and so now I’m trying to make my brand stronger.

    It’s a journey. And it’s good πŸ™‚

  5. When I started my blog, I wasn’t that happy with it — I still cringe when I look at my first few months’ output. Once I got into blogathons and found many other blogs, I realized I needed to step up my game. It was a huge kick in the pants, and it inspired me to try and better my blog with every post. I’m still not entirely satisfied, but it’s a work in progress.

  6. Thanks for this great post. You’ve given me a lot to think about and I’m finally making the move to reforge my blog into something specific, so I appreciate it.

    On the downside, I won’t be able to participate afterall in the Swashathon, so you can take my blog, Musings of an Introvert, off the list.

  7. Fritzi–So true–the silent movie sites on the Web are, for the most part, private clubs populated by curmudgeons. I’ve been a silent film enthusiast since childhood, but when I tried posting on a couple, I gave up after I was repeatedly ignored. (These sites are also, sadly, quite male-centric in the worst “He-Man Woman Hater’s Club” tradition.) Your site is a breath of fresh air–sassy and fun and authoritative, all at the same time. Keep up the great work!

  8. *Raises hand excitedly* Fellow female silent fan here! Oh boy is it true that without a specific goal, a blog will go nowhere. (I would’ve failed long ago. Failed.) On my part, my goal is to provide informative, entertaining posts for silent “newbies” while still having enough detail to hopefully satisfy the fuddy-duddies (yes, they are LEGION.) I also wanted to indulge my obsession with researching the era, and scour newspaper/magazine archives as much as I can instead of just relying on certain books. The “whys” are super interesting to me: why did German Expressionism evolve the way it did? Why was Chaplin the #1 comedian in such a short time? I’ve found that I lean toward silent comedy, the “big classics,” and artsy-fartsy stuff.

    Plus, there are comparatively few silent-related blogs to begin with (the most prominent being yours, of course!). Readers, more silent film blogs are always welcome! There are so many topics that deserve more love and so little time!!

    1. Oh yes, definitely, you need to have a plan to be a success. πŸ™‚

      It has been my personal experience that the people who know the most, I mean have the most genuine silent film knowledge, are absolute dreams to deal with. They know their stuff and have nothing to prove. The fuddy-duddies, on the other hand, are in a constant state of proving who has the bigger brain. Sigh… (Puts on Peter Falk glasses) “Yes, you’re very smart. Shut up.” Alas, I think they may have driven away more than a few eager beginners with their nonsense.

      1. Most likely. A sense of humor is the ultimate weapon against such nonsense–because let’s get real here, silent film is incredibly niche, arguing over itty-bitty details like “this film company wasn’t producing this film in this specific time frame, imbecile” or “my school of thought proclaims that this film is technically Constructivist not Expressionist, you twit” is pretty hilarious.

      2. I think squabbling is pretty standard for most fandoms with “normal” (in other words “just let me watch the movie!”) in the majority. Silent film’s problem is that there seems to be far more of the nitpickers and pretentious asses in the mainstream. We desperately need more of the passionate-but-not-crazy type of fans. πŸ˜‰

  9. I have a blog which should be attracting help for a biography about my father’s work on the first sound movies: The Sound of Silents. (stanwatkins.wordpress.com) But I keep getting side tracked and am currently doing the NoBloPoMo challenge.
    Do you ever bridge that evolution between silent and sound, Fritzi? Can we talk?

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