Building a brand. Those words can sound super intimidating, I know, but they are the most important words you need to consider when starting your blog. Today’s post is the first themed entry in Roxanne and I’s That’s Money, Honey Blogging 101 Series - Building Your Brand.
Roxanne and I both have built our brands over time, but I still remember when we met and our blogs were younger and much less complex. We had our visions set, but were still finding our way. Now, years later we have brands that are apparent as soon as you land on our websites or social media pages, and we're telling you how we built them in our posts today. I've also included side-by-side examples of content we've created either as part of the same or similar campaigns, so you can see how our brands carry over visually, as well.
Rox and I, both on brand with our authentic & fun sides at a sponsored stay at the Why Hotel DC.
Photos by Arielle Lewis Studios.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say “I want to start a blog, but I don’t know where to start.” Having a concept for your brand in mind is the very first thing you need to have in place when starting a blog. It gives you purpose and reason, and also establishes your place within whatever community you align with.
When I started BITD, I was in a tough place having recently left a high paying job that left me broken and without much self esteem. I turned to fashion, a true passion of mine, to pick me back up. I dressed as a way to express myself and in turn, it boosted my self esteem and confidence. I wanted to encourage other women to also look at style as a tool to help boost your confidence, and so BITD was started- a small vision, turned to life by something that had made me feel good.
Step 1: Identify Your Authentic Brand
If you are an aspiring blogger or still nailing down your brand, I recommend you look inward- What makes you feel good?; What makes you tick?; What do you want to share with the world? I encourage looking within, as when you are passionate about something, it shows. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to a bloggers website or Instagram page and thought “who is she/he?” Perhaps it’s that their vision isn’t clear or their content is all over the place, or maybe their content looks forced and not authentic. When you create a brand that’s authentic to you and who you are, it is noticed and you’ll be successful. Don’t just go with the crowd or go with what’s trending- go with what feels right to you.
Chadwicks Fall Campaign
Step 2: Find Your Voice
I’m not saying you need to have all your ducks lined up in a row to start (sometimes just starting your blog can be a huge step), but maybe start with a few topics you love, and go from there. I started BITD around DC events and fashion, and over time I evolved to include beauty, travel, and lifestyle. Once you nail down your overall brand topics and vision, you have to stand out. What sets you aside from every other person blogging about what you are going to blog about? Think of ways to be different and don’t just copy what others are doing- that also shows! Definitely do research to see what other bloggers are doing that align with your brand, but don’t copy. Instead look for a way to showcase your own brand by doing something different and making your name heard.
Also consider your photography and all visual aspects of your blog in this step. Are you bold or are you moody? Do you want to focus on visuals or do you want to focus on writing for your blog? Or do you want to opt for both? Roxanne and I both focus on visuals, but you can see how different our colors are. I tend to go for brighter, vibrant tones, while Roxanne opts for moodier, cool tones. Again, this is all about what feels best to you.
Examples of Roxanne and I's different use of colors/moods in similar content.
Step 3: Build and Evolve
Something I always think of as I try to expand my brand and social presence, is “why would someone want to follow me?” For this part you have to sometimes realize it’s not just you- it’s a bigger picture based around an online community sharing a same vision. For me, it’s body positivity. I want to create a positive space for women (or men) to get inspired to wear something fabulous, go to a cool place, or just feel good about themselves, period. Think of your community and where there may be a void, and go after it! Make your presence known not only on social media, but locally too by attending events and meeting people in the industry. Don't be afraid to try new things and ideas to evolve your brand and go with what sticks or what works for you. And remember, what works for someone else isn’t necessarily going to also work for you. You must find you own path, which can take time. Don't get discouraged if your brand doesn't grow huge over night- I'm telling you, it takes time! It takes a ton of trial and error and tons of time to shape your brand into a successful blog. Keep at it, be open to new and creative ideas, and truly go for it!
Peets Coffee Campaign
Sharing this last example below, as this was totally UNPLANNED and Roxanne and I laughed about it for hours! Although we chose the same dress for a recent MODCLOTH Holiday campaign, and happened to pose similarly, our accessories are different and our color schemes are true to our brands!