Note: you can listen to this episode above or load it up in iTunes.

How to Work Out How to Brand Your Blog

Today’s episode is all about how to build your blog’s brand. Many bloggers don’t think about branding, they let their brand happen to them, instead of building it. Your blog brand sets the scene for the relationship you will have with your readers and how they will perceive you. If you have a clear brand, it also has a flow on effect of making it easier to make the right decisions about your design, your content, and the way you build community. I share my tips and some exclusive advice shared by Clare Hillier (from Checks and Spots) recently at the 2015 ProBlogger Event.

In This Episode

clare-hillier-checks-and-spots-about-me-smlYou can listen to today’s episode above or in iTunes or Stitcher (where we’d also LOVE to get your reviews on those platforms if you have a moment). In today’s episode:

  • What is a brand? What is a blog brand?
  • Why does having a brand for your blog matter?
  • Exclusive excerpt of blog branding tips from Clare Hillier’s presentation at the 2015 ProBlogger Event
  • How to define your blog brand

Further Reading and Resources for How to Work Out How to Brand Your Blog

Clare’s Questions about Building Your Brand

Questions to ask about your Brand Essence

  • Who are my readers?
  • Why do people visit my blog?
  • How do people feel when they read my blog?
  • How do my readers benefit from my blog?
  • What do I do that makes me stand out from everyone else?
  • What would people miss if my blog was no longer there?
  • What do I want to be known for?

Questions to ask about your Brand Values

  • What values do you express?
  • What values do you want your blog to live by?
  • What values do you think resonate deeply with your audience?

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Darren: Hi there. This is Darren from ProBlogger and welcome to the ProBlogger podcast episode 49 where today, I want to talk to you a little bit about building your blog’s brand. This is such an important topic. It really determines so many things and really sets the same for the relationship that you have with your readers and how they will perceive you. It has a flowing effect from many aspects of your blog, the content, your design, the way you build community. It’s something you really do need to think through and it’s something I see many bloggers not thinking through at all. They let their brand happen to them rather than building their own. 

This is a really practical episode. I got a special guest who’s going to give you practical things you can do to build that brand and to set that scene. You can find today’s show notes at 

Today, I want to talk about building a brand for your blog. Jeff Bezos says, “Your brand is what people talk about you when you are not in the room,” which I think it’s a really interesting quote. It’s how people perceive you in many ways and that’s a quote that many of us know, use, and understand to at least some level. But if that’s the case, what do you want people to say about you when you are not in the room? How do you want to be perceived?

Many of us have an idea about how we want to be perceived, but we are not as intentional as we could be in actually setting the scene for what that brand might be. We don’t have complete control over how people will perceive us, but we can certainly do things to build that brand. 

Today, what I want to do is share with you a five-minute recording from the ProBlogger event that just happened six or seven weeks ago here in Australia. Those of you who are in Australia probably know of our event. We have an annual event, this was our sixth year this year and we had about 714 (give or take a few) people come to the Gold Coast in Queensland for two days of teaching on blogging. One of the sessions that we ran was a blogging for beginner session which Clare Hillier spoke at.

Clare is an Australian blogger. She runs a blog called Checks and Spots and I’ll give you the link in today’s show notes. She ran this great session for beginners, but she talked about building a brand in the middle of her talk, and I think it’s incredibly relevant for bloggers of all levels. It’s certainly relevant if you’re just starting out because you do want to be intentional about your brand.

But as I said before, I think many bloggers haven’t thought of these stuff through for themselves, even intermediate bloggers and even more advanced bloggers. So, I wanted to share this five-minute snippet from her talk with you to get you thinking about your brand, even if you have thought it through. This is something that you do need to revisit over time.

Clare gives you some really great questions to ask, so this is a practical session and you probably need to get a notebook out to jot down these questions. We’ll put them in the show notes as well. Stop the podcast along the way and answer the questions and you might just find that your brand is impacted by what she’s got to say.

Again, this is Clare Hillier from the ProBlogger event in Queensland Australia just a few weeks ago. I hope you enjoy what she’s got to say and at the end of this talk, I will come back and give you a few more thoughts. 

Clare: The single most important thing that you can do to set yourself up to work with brands is to think about your own brand because your brand is the heart and soul of your blog. Even if you don’t want to work with brands, you just want to be blogging as a hobby, this is the single most important thing that you can do to have consistency about your blog, so don’t tune out if you only want to blog as a hobby.

Before we jump into what brand is, let’s talk about what it isn’t. It’s not a logo, it’s not a mission statement, and it’s not a tagline. These are the shadows of the brand. Just the way a hat doesn’t make a cowboy. Instead, a brand is a story. It’s a set of expectations, it’s the relationship, it’s the connections, and the emotions that people feel that come in together of all of those elements, that means people will choose your blog and keep coming back to your blog over others.

There are two really simple things that you can do to find your brand. The first is to think about your brand essence. Your brand essence is one thought that underpins your promise to your readers. It’s what sets you apart from other blogs. It should be simple, easy to communicate, and you should feel really inspired by it.

Some of the questions that you can ask yourself when you are writing your brand essence are: Who are my readers? Why do people visit my blog? Why do they spend some time coming to see you? How did people feel when they read your blog? Because the emotional connection is so important to a successful brand. 

How do my readers benefit from my blog? Again, that’s just tapping back into saying something helpful. What do I do that makes me stand out from everyone else? Another way of asking is what would people miss if your blog is no longer there? Also, what do I want my blog to be known for?

I’ll share with you my brand essence. My brand essence is life by design. It’s just three words and it’s very hard getting it down to three. I think it’s easy to have a long sentence but to will it down to three words and to be able to feel it with multiple meanings is what a good brand essence is. 

On the one layer, life by design means that my blog has a strong visual aesthetic. The content I run has a strong design focus. I talk about interiors, creative artist design. The second meaning that life by design has—this is how I try to be helpful and serve my readers—is I share tips and tricks that will help my readers design the life that they want. They can be proactive about creating the life they are after. 

Once you have your brand essence, you then need to have your brand values. They are what underpins and determine what you do all day and every day. That code by which your blog lives by. I think because blogs are extensions of ourselves, you probably find that your brand values are an extension of your personal values.

The three questions I’d like you to think about are: What values do you express? What values do you want your blog to live by? And what values do you think resonate deeply with your audience? 

I’ll give you another example from my brand values. One of my brand values is nature is the way of life and that’s an extension of my personal values. I don’t use products that have lots of chemicals or nasties in them. Recently a gel or a nail polish brand contacted me, wanted me to create sponsored content, and they offered me a really nice fee to do that, but I politely declined because it doesn’t fit with my brand values. 

By being clear on your brand essence and your brand value, you are able to create a strong and consistent brand. By having a strong and consistent brand, you will be authentic. That authenticity is what brands will be drawn to and it’s what your readers will be drawn to. Having a strong, consistent brand means that it becomes this guiding light. You know what you will do and what you won’t do.

You know what content you will run, what content you won’t run. You know which brand you work with and which brand you won’t work with. Even if you don’t want to go out and work with a brand, that strong and consistent personal brand or blogging brand is such an important thing to have. 

When I was looking at the questions that people were posting on the Facebook community about this session, a couple of people were saying, “How do I know what content to run and what not to run?” When you have a clear brand, it becomes very, very clear what you should and shouldn’t be doing.

Darren: I hope you found that of value. I certainly did just listen to it again then. While Clare was certainly talking there in the context of how to work with brands, as she said, this is really applicable even if you don’t want to work with brands. I think it has flowing effects into many areas of your blog. 

Once you understand what your brand is, that can then flow into the design of your blog. It will flow into the content that you create. It will flow into the way that you engage on social media. It will flow into the way that you build community with your audience, how you speak to them, the way that you do customer service with them, and the way that you promote your blog as well. 

I think it also really plays into the way that you find readers for your blog. You certainly want to inject your brand, your brand essence, and your brand values into the promotion that you do because if you do that, you’ll start to attract the right readers to your blog. People who resonate with those values particularly.

I just want to recap over some of the questions that Clare mentioned because I think this is a great, very practical exercise that you can do. Firstly, you want to think about your brand essence and the questions that Clare said there that you need to think through are: Who are your readers? Why do people visit my blog? How do people feel when they read my blog? How do my readers benefit from my blog? What do I do that makes me stand out from everyone else? What would people miss if my blog was no longer there? What do I want to be known for?” 

Those questions (I think) are really powerful questions. There are seven of them there and I would encourage you to stop the podcast right now, go back over those questions, and just jot down some notes on those things. 

The other thing that I think might be useful to do here is to actually do a survey around these things or to do a focus group. Actually ask some of your readers to answer those questions, particularly things like how do people feel when they read my blog? What do they benefit from when they read your blog? What will they miss about your blog if it wasn’t there? What do they know you for?

You can actually begin to test some of these questions with a survey, with a poll, or even with a discussion on Facebook. Take one of those questions and ask your readers. You’ll begin to get in touch with not only what you want to have, but how people actually do perceive you. This is something that I think will be useful if you do have a brand essence already to test that.

Do they actually see that brand essence themselves? Brand essence is part of it, then your brand values and the three questions Clare had for you on brand values are: What values do you personally express? What values do you want your blog to live by? And what values do you think resonate deeply with your audience? Again, these are things that need to come from you. You need to set this agenda, but again you can test this and you can actually ask your readers questions around their values as well. 

I hope you found today’s podcast useful. I love to hear your feedback on whether you found this format useful. We’ve got a whole heap of recordings from our event and while we can’t share the full sessions with you because our attendees paid to come to our conference, I’m more than happy to share some of these little snippets and then speak to them myself. 

If you found this format useful, I love to hear that feedback. I also love to hear what your brand essence is and what your brand values are. You can share those with us and any feedback that you have on today’s show notes at You can also connect with me and let me know on Twitter at @ProBlogger or over on my Facebook page at

I look forward to chatting with you in the next episode, which is our milestone 50th episode. Still not sure what I’m going to do in it, but it’s going to be a bit of a celebration I’m sure because I never quite realized that I was going to get to 50. I knew that I was going to get to the first 31 episodes so it’s kind of special to have got to 50 as well. If you got any ideas on what we should be doing to celebrate the 50th, do let me know on Twitter or on the show notes as well and I’ll talk to you then.

How did you go with today’s episode?

What did you learn from today’s episode? Do you already know what you want your blog to be known for? If you’re still developing your blog brand statement, what brand essence or values are you planning to include?

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Don’t forget to share a link to your blog.

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