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Building Your Personal Brand – One ‘Straw’ at a Time

“Customers build an image of a brand as birds build nests. From the scraps and straws they chance upon.” – Jeremy Bullmore

I heard the above quote from Bullmore a couple of months ago and since then have continued to mull it over as I think it applies to bloggers pretty well.

I received the following email from a reader last week (slightly modified for anonymity):

Hi Darren, I’ve just subscribed to your ProBlogger blog after a strange line of coincidences that I thought you might like to know about.

I first heard of you via a family member who lives in Melbourne (I live in Sydney). They suggested I check out your church blog as we’re thinking about similar issues to you.

Three weeks later I saw an article in the Sydney Morning Herald that was a profile of your photography site.

A few days later I was searching Google as I was researching the purchase of a new camera and your site came up as the number 1 result.

About a month ago I stumbled upon your facebook profile as you are one of my friends friends. I added you as a friend.

Two weeks ago I saw one of your photography articles on the front page of Digg. I decided to subscribe to that blog that day as I thought it was a bit of a coincidence.

Last week I was chatting to a friend about my blog and he was telling me about some Aussie guy who was making a full time living from blogging. He gave me the URL of the site to check out. Imagine my surprise when I saw your photo on the site. Up until this I didn’t realize that you wrote about blogging.

After finding you in six different ways already I decided I should probably subscribe to your blog.

PS: Is there anywhere else that I’m likely to bump into you? You seem to be everywhere! For example I just discovered your Flickr account and Myspace page. Where else are you?

It strikes me that Jeremy Bullmore’s quote has a lot of truth to it and in this case it’s pretty well illustrated.

Every online interaction you have, every social networking or bookmarking site that you participate in, every comment that you leave on other blogs, every interview that you do, every decision you make about your own blog, every comment that you leave on a forum, every guest post that you write on another blog – all of these things (and more) add to your own personal brand.

Combined these ‘straws’ build an overall brand that people assemble in their own time, order and way.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Wow.
    It seems like you’re well promoted.
    How many blogs do you own?

  2. So often we hear that someone’s internet profiles or online information about them cost them a job or a promotion because the employer found information that the person should’ve been more careful about placing on the internet. It’s neat to think that multiple streams of information about a blogger can actually work to improve their career.

  3. This is exactly what I am trying to do. Building my personal brand is my #1 goal. I comment on a lot of different blogs and write as much as I can. I just try to get my name out there as much as possible. I recently began to write for another blog as well. I try to work when most people are at rest. I don’t sleep. lol


  4. That’s funny, but true. Sometime people hope around and end up seeing the same things over and over again. As a web developer you want that for your website.

  5. Hey Darren,

    Thanks for such an interesting and fresh perspective on Branding. I’ve never thought about the ‘straws’ that I leave around for others to pick up on. I have left comments on other blogs, like this one, which have nothing in common with my blog’s niche because I really enjoy reading them.

    As always, thank you for your insight.

  6. Providing a identity to your company, shop or a blog is very useful to attract more readers to your blog. People remember your blog name and keep visiting your blog. By chance they forget your blog url. Your brand name help them to find your blog easily.

  7. Hey great post! I’ve been taking my own “personal brand” more seriously lately, and being really conscious of what I put out there in cyberspace. I’m trying to build credibility in my field – by not only writing quality posts, but also trying to network with others who share the same interests as me. One day I hope to have a blog as popular as yours is. But that’s a pretty lofty goal! :-)

  8. Wow, this post illustrates a great example of how good social networking is suppose to work. Another great article, props… though I thought you were British :o

  9. The next step Darren will be designing your own products and having them manufactured on demand for customers at http://www.ponoko.com. Bit of a shameless plug, but real world scraps and straws should be the logical progression to the online presence. It’s almost backwards to traditional companies who have a product and are learning to use an online marketing method. Bloggers build a following and use that following to sell products online, which has up until now been advertising for companies that sell the real products. But in the future even more Bloggers will be able to physically sell into the real world themselves no matter what the product.

  10. I like this minimalistic sort of view that can add up to the big picture. I have a new blog, and I’ve been all over the blogsphere commenting and what not. It’s been around for a month and I’ve made probably around 10 new friends/acquaintences. I’ve also met people in marketing and blogging forums and at StumbleUpon. As of now I have marketed myself to probably .00000000000000000000000000001% of the internet and it feels darn good.

  11. It must be amazing that you have so much exposure for people to find you :) I can be found in some places but I doubt people will actually get to my site in as many ways as to yours :) I should work on that.

  12. Wow, you’re everywhere! No wonder you are so good at what you do! You are definitely an inspiration for one looking to brand themselves in the most efficient way possible.

  13. Yes, I remember posting a comment and about a year later i got a response the comment was on problogger.

  14. Great entry. Goes to show you how well Darren has placed himself throughout the online communities. Great job. Definately got my daily dose of “go get em tiger”. Inspiration at its finest. THANKS

  15. There’s an old advertising thumb-rule: “It takes 6 to 7 impressions or touch points…” to effectively trigger a response. Clients don’t like to hear it.. we all want short cuts… when we get them we’re too elated to disregard its serendipity (not strategy).

    So here it is again: A 6-impression-trigger anecdote. Thumb-rules work on-line too!

    ~ Vikram

  16. I find that article very interesting as I too am trying to build a brand. My friend and I first found out about blogging a month ago and have since been full force towards it’s development. We have started mindsofwealth.com. Since you have a blog for several different topics I find it a good idea to do the same. As of now we are going to work on it one site at a time but in time we will be where you are. Thanks for the information.

  17. Great post. I never really looked at it from that perspective before. I really need to focus on what I want me as a brand to be. Thanks again for quality information.

  18. Great post Darren! I’m working on trying to establish a brand for myself and for my blog and I’ve been reading your site religiously searching for tips just like this.

    I’ve just got to work a bit more work to do trying to find the right places to seek out my audience.

  19. I’m the most “online” guy at my job, (an irony as I work for a web-based company) writing in 3 blogs, owning multiple sites, and being on every social media site I’ve found, usually all under the same moniker. I have to say, that branding yourself and plugging that brand is extremely helpful.

    Internally I am placed in charge of looking up potential employees to see what face they present to the world, and (as mentioned by Jeremy Killian above) I have found some stuff that would make an applicant unacceptable. I’m glad that there are those that are going the other way.

  20. I can’t with you more, Darren. Every appearance, every word, every encourter counts and every one of them builds your image/brand/impression left – therefore, be true, be nice, be original (and try to do something on a bad hair day…).

  21. I just have to say that I was initially motivated to create my first blog because of your impact on the blogging community. I definitely agree that you have BRANDED yourself very well.

    I have been following you for about six months now and seem to see you everywhere on the internet. I agree that BRANDING is the most important thing you can do for yourself outside of creating a great blog such as this one.

    Thank you for your inspiration!!!

  22. Brilliant post Darren, and I couldn’t agree more. The building of all of these straws does seem time consuming and fruitless at first, but if you’re patient – it will work. This happened for me in a business I sold last year. I built a heap of straws, and kept wondering whether my efforts where really working.

    Well, I’m a firm believer in making sure I know how all my customers have heard of us. So I was over the moon when I did this one day, and the customer told me our business was well known and told me six different places he’d first heard of us.

    It may feel as though you’re getting nowhere at first, and it does take time, but all the straw building is definitely worth it.

  23. good blogger is a brand.. brand that can sell and earn money.. but it’s hard to be everywhere, if you have to do something else for living..

  24. Darren,

    You know you’re doing a great job in marketing your online presence when you get some wonderful feedback from your readers.

    On a personal note, its not all that surprising. You’re actually present everywhere in the blogosphere :-)

    The Online Presence Blog

  25. In fact, a blog is like a business… You need a great idea, work on it and use your talent to try to promote it (and creating customer loyalty: enough to make a spanish dude has introduced you into his blog’s favorites tab :-)).

    At the end it’s a Marketing plan… You need a good product, a reasonable price to pay (let’s say time in this case), placement (Google, Blogger, Technorati, other links…) and promotion (ear-to-mouth is the best :-))

    Nice story anyway :-)

    Regards from Spain,


  26. The best thing is lot of this brand building will create itself, by just being your usual self online you’ll leave helpful breadcrumbs to help people find your site/blog

  27. Wow this is exactly what I have been telling my blogging friends. A brand is of vital importance. I use my initials as my brand and I have started to notice keywords from google searches where people are using my initials in their searches to try and filter through to my page.
    I started branding my site with the URL and initials very early on and one of the little branding things I do is always sign my posts and comments with…

    I am JMR from JMRPub.com

  28. This is so true! I was thinking about it just today as I browsed through my reader and probably for the 15th time saw ‘5minutesformom’ mentioned. As a full-time mother and part-time blogger I have no time to look at every link I see, I hadn’t gone to this one before because I thought it would be one more thing that I don’t have time for. THIS TIME, I clicked. And now I like it.

    Also, congrats no having so much press. Your blog deserves it!

  29. I’ve been blogging for two years now and I have to say Darren that your post is truer than true. I’m beginning to think about my own brand and how to market my blogs smartly and I’ve been paying very close attention to how I come off, my attitude when posting to other blogs and forums and what sort of online activities will reflect well or poorly on me. As always I find your posts very helpful!

  30. I have come to the same conclusion and have started participating in various social networks in order to increase my public exposure. But what I have come to realize with respect to personal branding is that I also have to jump on new sites to cybersquat my own name and link that back to my blog.

    It is interesting to me how you can be considered by your readers as an authority in all the various topics on which you write.

  31. After reading your post, a “brand” sounds more to me like your personal reputation rather than a “logo”, which is what I’d been thinking a blog’s brand to be.

    I haven’t felt that I’ve done much with “branding” my site, however when I consider it now, I actually have been working on it with all of the breadcrumbs (comments) I’ve been leaving around. ;)

  32. Good thoughts. I spend a lot of time building these straws.

  33. I have to say, I’ve been blogging for nearly 2 months now and the first page I came to when searching for blogging advise was yourself, and then the second third and fourth pages I still found some presence/trace of you that was distinctive.

    Excellent post, great advise, written from a good prospective.

  34. As you say – straws – today I received some advice that I should concentrate as much on my name as branding as I am trying to do on my site as branding, and now I read this.

    I was also invited to join work friends on facebook and found so many people there that I know its quite amazing. Personal branding is then I guess the next step. I read about the linking you can do to join the bits together, my head spins, but I guess it will sort itself out – straw by straw!

  35. I’m looking at issues of personal branding and online identity for visual artists as a part of my major project for uni. Thanks for the great little article and indeed, for the site. You have some wonderful content which I have no doubt that I’ll be referring to again a few more times before this project is ‘complete’.

  36. I feel some people expect to explode immediately by using social media. They look at social media outlets like Twitter or Vimeo as places to get famous quick. What people need to understand is that it takes A LOT of hard work to get your name out there.

    I am working my ass off to try and build my personal brand. I have developed Future Delivery TV to brand my company as a thought leader in productive and fun topics; I have developed Living the Startup Life to show a more human side of my company.

    I use my blog as effectively as I can, and am working hard on developing a Vlog. I feel video will be the NEXT medium where people can truly shine.

    Jun Loayza

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