Monday, September 24, 2012

Bloggers Need Personal Branding for Online Business

Bloggers need personal branding for their online businesses. For an example of how personal branding can work to boost visibility in a variety of careers, take blues singer Alexis P. Suter, whose show I happened to catch last weekend at Blast Furnace Blues here in the beautiful Lehigh Valley.
At the Arts Quest Center at Steel Stacks Sept. 14, Suter and her band took the stage in the second floor Musikfest Cafe to deliver some sweat drenched blues including renditions of "Knocking on Heaven's Door", which she dedicated to late music legend Levon Helm, and the old Howling Wolf classic, "Built for Comfort."

It was a great live performance and shows why Suter and her band have attained such a huge reputation in the industry. But more importantly, it demonstrates how a unique approach can result in the kind of personal branding that will make fans and followers flock to live events, hungrily devour everything associated with that brand, and still keep coming back for more.

Imagine your blog was a blues band and you were its lead singer. Would your followers clamor for your autograph, travel distances, and pay money to see your live performances, or buy albums and T-shirts emblazoned with the name of your brand?

Check out the video of Suter performing at an outdoor event some years ago to give you a taste of what you've missed and to encourage you to see her live if you get the chance.

Here are some personal branding lessons bloggers can take from performers like Suter: 
  • Wear it on your sleeve. On stage, as well as off I suspect, Suter is an open book, belting out her blues with great passion in a deep resonant voice and sounding as if she is feeling every note and reliving every emotion in her songs. Similarly, good bloggers must be honest with their audience, sharing their passionate interests and the things they love...and even hate.
  • Build trust and empathy. Suter builds a rapport with her audience that makes you believe in her authenticity instantly. You don't need to know her whole story. It's there in her songs. Bloggers should take a similar tack in the posts they write. Speak with authority about what you know and let your audience see you understand where they are coming from too. 
  • Be the linchpin. In his book by the same title, Seth Godin describes this as the indispensable person. Suter's band features an incredible lineup including drummer Ray Grappone, guitarist Jimmy Bennett, keyboardist Benny Harrison, bassist Peter Bennett, and backing vocalist Vicki Bell. But it is impossible to imagine the group without Suter, just as it should be impossible for readers to imagine your blog without your opinions, thought leadership, and commentary.
 So how about you? Have you stepped up to the mic? Be the powerhouse behind your blog and bring personal brand into the equation for your audience and for the success of your online business!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What To Do When Your Blog Hosting Goes Down

Earlier this week, plenty of people (yours truly included) experienced when a problem at GoDaddy, the Web's biggest registrar of domain names and host to, like, 5 million Websites, caused many of said sites, or Websites with domains purchased through GoDaddy, to be unreachable.
Photo by Noah Hessinger of

Though there was plenty of speculation at the time that hactivists angered over some of GoDaddy's corporate actions might have been involved, the company claims the problem was internal and nobody's personal or business data was in danger.

That said, for those of us who put a certain amount of professional and personal importance on maintaining our Websites, building our readership, and growing our readership community, what are we to do when, through no fault of our own, a Website we are depending on goes down for several hours leaving us with no recourse but to sit and wait for things to be resolved?
Well, here at cool heads prevailed, of course (Ch-yeah, right! The above photo is an approximation of my reaction as I sat at my Toshiba Satellite that day.) but for those of you lacking our placid stoicism, here are some other suggestions from around the Web.

Get mad. This was understandably the first reaction by some when a couple of tweets by anonymous sources seemed to indicate some malicious deliberate action was behind the trouble. I mean, after all, this is our livelihood, in some cases, or a springboard hopefully to career advancement. Mike Daly, editor of Adotas, shot from the hip and asked questions later with an angry post directed at hackers and sharing some angry comments from other online businesses. His anger might have been directed at GoDaddy had he known it was their screw up.

Get creative. One company, Coupon Puppet, went to the trouble of creating a puppet show which it then shared on Twitter to get the message out about the plight of online businesses who were being affected by the outage. There was even a musical parody for Coupon Puppet's audience to enjoy while waiting for the main site to again be accessible.

Get strategic. Brian Saemann of Go Beyond SEO makes the suggestion that big outages like this are a good time to decide (if we haven't done so already) whether it might be time to make some changes in our hosting. Are we getting the service, quality, security, and customer support we are paying for. However, Peter M. Abraham, of Dynamic Net Inc. points out in this valuable exchange that price should not be your only consideration when locating a hosting company.

No matter what your reaction to this week's little emergency, be sure that researching good hosting for your online business is a major priority. Technical problems will always arise, but try to anticipate as many problems as possible when making your choice.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Great Social Media is Like a Pez Dispenser

Yes, a Pez dispenser! You know, those colorful little plastic pocket devices created in the likeness of an endless stream of cartoon, video game, movie, and other characters that serve up pieces of delicious candy simply by pushing down on the tops.

You know, of course, the importance of social media and for establishing a presence on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

The point on each site is to collect followers and connections for your brand and then use your new network to share content and information, and gather data and feedback from your audience or customers.

But in order to convince people to follow and network with you, it is important to create a social media presence that makes people want to connect with you and to come back again and again for the information you provide.

Like a pez dispenser, your social media presence must be a delight to the eye and a constant source of sweet and delicious content, so that your audience keeps coming back for more.

  • Appearance. The first thing that catches your eye about a Pez dispenser is it's design, in the form of a character or pop culture icon ranging from Spiderman to Captain America and from Yoshi of the Nintendo gaming universe to Bugs Bunny. You can add visual appeal to your Facebook account by posting additional photos, maybe a video, and more information about you or your business, or add custom backgrounds to your Twitter account plus a branding avatar. Try adding more details or use a few apps, like Behance's Creative Portfolio Display, to show a portfolio of your work and create a more captivating LinkedIn account. There are many ways to build this kind of immediate visual impact in social media.
  • Consistency. Pez dispensers are much more than cool collectible toys designed like favorite pop culture characters. These nifty little devices also pump out delicious tablet-sized candy for endless enjoyment (so long as you have an endless supply of candy for reload.) Your Facebook or Twitter account are kind of the same. Share interesting posts in your niche (including content from other people, not just from your blog or Websites!) in a tasty stream, encouraging people to like or follow you and eventually learn more about you and your online business.
  • Connection. Hey, this is a matter of individual preference. While my kid may want to collect every Marvel superhero Pez dispenser ever created, I may be hunting for a classic Star Trek or limited edition Elvis collection. In the same way, some people will connect with your social media presence while others may not. Don't sweat it! The most important thing to remember is that social media is not a numbers game. It's about connecting with the kinds of people interested in the things you want to talk about.

So, get out there, dive in, and start sharing your own delicious content! Pretty soon you'll be someone's favorite source of information in your niche and they will come back to you again and again.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Best Buy Machinations Aid Online Business

If you follow business and tech news at all, you've probably noticed in recent weeks the drama unfolding over at Best Buy. As the plot continues to thicken like some medieval palace intrigue, it seems clear the electronics retail giant will certainly be changing strategies in the very near future in an effort to compete with online sellers like Amazon. I've mentioned before how Amazon and other retailers already offer unprecedented opportunities to bloggers seeking to create an affiliate marketing business. Best Buy too could provide great opportunities to bloggers interested in affiliate marketing. According to the Best Buy affiliate marketing sign up page, the program offers:

  • Brand recognition by associating your Website with a well-known high volume seller of electronics, personal computers, and entertainment software and accessories,
  • Website tools that allow even beginners to easily add affiliate links and access online reports that give site operators up to date information on sales generated from those links, and
  • Monetization through commission on all applicable purchases made by your site visitors, meaning the more sales you drive with your blog or blogs, the more money your Websites will generate.

Learn more about Best Buy's affiliate marketing program here and also visit our previous post on Amazon affiliate marketing to learn more about how your blog can begin generating cash flow. Also consider sharing this post with your friends and followers to help them better build their online businesses.