A lot of new bloggers believe that you have to personally brand your blog. That is, you have to use your name and face in order to gain trust and popularity. This advice comes from a lot of marketing experts, but it’s actually not the right approach for every blog.
What’s personal branding?
What we are talking about here is the difference between Amy Lynn Andrews branding herself as AmyLynnAndrews.com and me writing as (on one of my other sites) MixThatDrink.com. Here’s a screenshot of Amy’s website:
Amy has done it right – for her. She’s selling her services and her expertise. So her domain matches her name, and her friendly intro tells you about her, and she includes a headshot to reassure you she’s a real person. The focus is on Amy as an expert.
Conversely, if you go to the front page of MixThatDrink, you get no clue who is behind that site. The domain name tells you it’s a site about mixed drinks. And immediately you see articles about mixed drinks. It could be a single blogger or, as many people assume, it could be a small company. It doesn’t matter. The focus is on drink recipes.
When personally branding your blog works
Amy’s personal branding made sense for her at the beginning because she was selling her services as a consultant. Now that she’s no longer taking on new clients, the personal branding is less useful, but she’s still making it work. She’s selling herself as an expert on blogging.
When personally branding your blog doesn’t work
When I started blogging, I knew I wanted to post about several connected topics. And who knew what other topics I’d want to write about in the future? I didn’t want to brand myself as any one thing. I didn’t want to limit myself.
Think of it this way. Imagine you visit a site about power tools and see a particular person’s name and face on it. Then you visit a site about fashion and there she is again. Next you go to a book review site – and, hey, it’s her again. You feel like this person is proudly branding herself as an expert on many topics, just because she’s attached a name and a face.
Unlike Amy, I had no desire to focus on one thing like a grown-up. But I also believed that building multiple unrelated blogs (Google has been known to frown on you linking from one of your sites to another) was the best guarantee I’d never lose all my income if Google or some other great traffic source suddenly dropped me.
And there are other advantages. Since I blog anonymously, I can:
- Compete with huge brands. Because my sites look like they might belong to companies, I get opportunities small personal bloggers don’t.
- Sell a site. There are limits to what a new owner can do with a personally branded blog, but someone could buy one of my sites and just continue building it.
- Start a new site without worrying what fans of my existing sites will think of it.
- Take long breaks without anyone noticing, while the passive income keeps rolling in. I never want to apologize for not updating my sites as often as I used to.
Why do marketers recommend personal branding?
My guess is that they believe the personal approach better enables you to sell their products to a trusting audience. And that could work for you if you want to write sponsored posts for the rest of your life. I prefer passive income. Marketers are advising you on what’s best for them, not what’s best for you.
What should you do?
My advice to a new blogger is: make it about a topic and treat it like a business. Unless you’re selling yourself as an expert in something, the cons of personal branding are going to outweigh the pros.