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The Blog Critique #10: Developing Your Personal Brand

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Last week I totally lost track of time and by the time Thursday came around I was all like.. “It’s Thursday?! It’s Thursday.. Shit.” But this week I was on it.

It’s still quite awesome that you all are still submitting your blogs for the critique. I promise, no blog will go without a critique, it’s just going to take some time to get to everyone. I thought I would probably end this series by the Fall, but since starting this series I’ve gotten so much supportive feedback so long lives The Blog Critique! If you haven’t submitted your blog for a critique, you can do so now on the Contact page — simply fill out the form & hit send! So, let’s get into this week’s Blog Critique.
Lifestyle Blog

After wanting a blog for the longest, Tara finally took the leap and started her blog over a year ago. The excitement of just having a blog made her overlook important factors like who was her audience or what exactly was her blog about. She started blogging about what was popular at the time, whether it was about natural hair or personal style, but that wasn’t exactly her area of expertise. The more she blogged, the more she started listening to her audience and realized it was actually her inspirational or observation about life post that they enjoyed the most. Now, a year in, she’s found her niche. She’s looking to aim her blog towards a more inspirational lifestyle blog. She submitted her blog to the critique in hopes of getting some good advice on really creating her brand through design and content. As I always say, Tara, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve all been in your situation before, so hopefully I can help.

The Good

When I first arrive on your page you have a nicely sized banner with your name, your gorgeous face and your tagline ‘Life. Beauty. Laughs. Inspiration.’ immediately letting me know who you are and what you have to offer, all before I even have to scroll down. You haven’t done much to the theme you’re currently using which in this case is A-OK. Post are neatly organized, you have all your social links in your sidebar and how I could learn more about you or contact you within the navigation. So, kudos.

There’s nothing aesthetically unpleasing about your current site that would make me leave instantly but at the same time there’s nothing that really makes it pop. So let’s discuss further ways we can change that.

The Concerns

You didn’t really raise an specific concerns in regards to the aesthetics of the blog. Your concerns are more so concerning branding your blog.. or shall we say, branding you.

Very often we’ll jump into a project not really knowing how the outcome will turn out We tend to just go with the flow, get a feel out for things and see how that goes from there. Whereas that’s probably fine for most things, after starting two blogs, I realized that may not always be the best approach when starting a blog. With the over saturation of blogs on the Internet nowadays, if we’re starting one the first question we should ask ourselves is why? Are you trying to offer a service, sell a product, build traffic so you can eventually monetize?

Before starting a blog, you must ask yourself two things: why are you doing this and more importantly, why would people care.

So you started a blog over a year ago, and it’s taken some ‘post experimentation’ to see what really sticks with your core readers. And that’s perfectly okay. I’ve experimented with post and continue to experiment with post to see what my readers will value. Hell, that’s how this series got started! So congrats, by spending a few months with ‘post experimentation’ you’ve found something that clicks with your audience — inspiration and daily life observances. So how do you turn it up — how do you start to personally brand yourself?

Well to start, continue to give your readers what they want and don’t confine yourself to just using one medium to do so. You can recycle.. or better yet ‘upcycle’ some of your posts to reach other platforms, such as creating a vlog post where you explain more in-depth reasons on why you shouldn’t doubt yourself or creating a downloadable Powerpoint guide on the top points you’ve learned from the latest book your reading. Give your readers different types of content to engage with that will also make it easier for them to share. Find other bloggers within your niche and network — consider doing a few guest post to further get your name.. or your brand out there. You don’t have to be an expert as many blogs will tell you nowadays. I think it’s safe to say the Internet is probably tired of these so-called ‘experts.’ Just make it your business for the next year to start providing more inspiring insight to your ‘niche’ to keep your readers coming back. Consistency is key in this blogging world.

The Solutions

So I addressed some ways you can improve your content creation for the new year. Now let’s discuss a few aesthetic changes you can make to really make your blog pop!

+ Spice up that header. I would probably remove your image and use that as your bio pic and go with a simple text logo as it’s easier to market across all networks.

+ Develop a color scheme. As you’re working to build a brand, it’s vital to build an identity that is unique to fit you and consistent all across the board — from website to Facebook cover. I think a color scheme will definitely help make things a little more unified.

+ Sexy up that sidebar. I always feel like sidebars can really make or break the aesthetics of a blog. Sometimes people can do the most which can make the site feel cluttered and then sometimes people don’t even do anything which can result in it feeling like there’s something missing. Right now, there feels like there’s something missing. Use your sidebar to display your bio pic, your social networks and any blog features you may right that you’d like your readers to get to instantly.

+ Make sure your images are the same width as your post. This is a little reminder I tell all bloggers. By making sure your width on your pictures the same as the width on your content, it just makes for a much cleaner look.

The Overall Critique

First, congrats for making it a full year in the blogging world. It took a little experimenting to get you on the path to creating your brand, but girllllll.. you’re getting there. Overall, I’d use this next year to really focus more on the content that your readers most connect with the most. Provide them with different ways to engage and share your content. As far as the aesthetics, you can do some minor tweaks here and there. The most important things I would probably suggest starting with first are developing a color scheme that you can use across all networks and sprucing up that sidebar with a little more information to let readers access more of your content. Well, Tara.. I hope my suggestions helped with your concerns today. I’m excited to see what you’ll do in the future with your blog!

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