Yesterday I shared a little exercise to help bloggers gain clarity around the branding of their blogs. The idea was to simply list what you want your readers to think and say about your blog.
Today I thought I’d share a followup exercise—one that I also do on my own blogs from time to time.
The idea of yesterday’s exercise was really to crystallize in your mind the type of brand you want to build. Doing this exercise can be powerful in framing how you move forward as a blogger, however the reality is that in most cases what you want your brand to be, and what it actually is, can be quite different.
So what is the reality, and how do you find out how people actually see your brand?
The simplest way to find out is to ask people—and that’s what we’re going to do today.
There are a variety of ways to do this. Let me suggest a few:
- Start a survey: One simple way to do this if your blog has regular readers already is to set up a simple survey using a tool like SurveyMonkey, and invite readers to fill it out. Design the survey to test the brand that you’re trying to build. Surveys can be particularly good because they offer participants anonymity, which can increase the likelihood of real and raw responses (just be ready for some honest and sometimes confronting answers).
- Email trusted readers: If your blog is smaller and you’re not confident of getting many survey responses, perhaps another method would be to email a few trusted readers—those that you do know read your blog. Even just a handful of responses from readers could give you valuable insights.
- Run a focus group: One blogger that I know recently held a small focus group with a group of local readers. She had them all meet at a cafe here in Melbourne and shouted the group morning tea in return for their insights into how she could improve her blog. The face-to-face interactions were not only great for getting feedback, but also building relationships with a few readers.
- Ask a friend: If your blog is really new, or you don’t know any of your readers to ask for feedback, why not ask a real-life friend to test your blog for you? Ask them to sit down at your blog, read over it for 15 minutes, and then give you feedback on what they think about it. Another thing you can do in this situation is actually watch your friend surf over your blog—don’t interrupt them, just watch how they use it. What navigation links do they click? What problems do they have leaving comments? This can be an illuminating experience.
However you do it, the key with this research is to try to get inside your readers heads, and learn about how they see your blog—particularly what lasting impressions they have of it.
Also keep in mind that brands have a lot to do with the feelings and emotions people have about your blog. So make sure you ask about those, too.