Facebook Pixel
Join our Facebook Community

Want a Popular Blog? Put Your Ego Aside

Posted By Daniel Scocco 24th of November 2008 Blog Promotion 0 Comments

ego bloggerIn this post Daniel Scocco examines personal branding vs blog branding.

When creating a blog, you need to decide if you want to build the brand around the blog itself or around your person.

While doing both things at the same time is possible, it will make achieving either of the goals a harder task.

Additionally, if you want to maximize the traffic and growth potential of the blog (for making money directly with it), I think that you should opt for building a brand around the website itself, and putting your personal brand as the second priority.

There are two main factors that come into play in this decision: the domain name and the layout of the homepage.

The Brand Around The Author

Blogs that have the goal of promoting the personal brand of the author (not exclusively, but to a large extent) will usually have a domain name that is equal to the name of the author, and will feature a section on the homepage with a small bio and picture of the author.

Such blogs can grow and become popular too, but usually this happens when the author was already a known figure on his industry before he started blogging. Examples include Guy Kawasaki and Seth Godin.

Notice that most of those bloggers also have another profession, and they don’t need to earn money directly from their blogs.

The Brand Around The Blog

Blogs that have a brand around themselves, on the other hand, usually have generic domains and don’t display personal information about the authors on the homepage.

Examples include Mashable and Gizmodo.

Now the founders of those two blogs (Pete Cashmore and Peter Rojas) also have strong personal brands, but that is a consequence of the huge popularity of the blogs they founded in the first place.

Should they have started their blogs on petecashmore.com and peterrojas.com, publishing the same content, I doubt that they would have had the same success.

Why Personal Branded Blogs Are A Tough Sell?

So why do I think that it is harder to make a personal branded blog popular (excluded the case where you already have a celebrity status on a certain niche)?

For two main reasons. First of all because when people visit a personal branded blog, they will inevitably face both the content and your person, and both of those factors will need to convince the visitor if he is to return a second time.

In other words, he will need to like both the content AND the person. The inevitable reaction some people will have is the following: “Hmm, who is this guy anyway?”

The second reason is connected with how we are used to consume our information. Mainstream media used to be the source of all credible and reliable content until some time ago, and those sites were never branded around their authors.

Having a blog that mimics that style, therefore, can lend you credibility.

Facts and Figures

Want some evidence?

Take a look at the 30 most popular blogs in the world according to Technorati. Out of 30, only 2 use the name of the author on their domains and display a picture of the author on the homepage (Seth Godin and Perez Hilton).

All the other blogs have a brand around the website itself and not around the authors.

Some of those bloggers have a strong personal brand nonetheless (e.g., Michael Arrington), but as I mentioned before, this is a result of the huge popularity of the blogs they created.

Other authors are not as popular on a personal level, but their blogs fly high all the same. For instance, could you name the founders of Smashing Magazine or Ars Technica from the top of your head? I bet most of you couldn’t, and those are among the 10 largest blogs in the world.


Now there is nothing wrong with using your name as the domain for your blog or placing your picture and bio on the sidebar. Perhaps you are a web designer or an affiliate marketer, and the purpose of your blog will not be to generate direct revenues but rather to strengthen your personal brand. This is a sound strategy.

If you want to create a blog for web publishing purposes (i.e., to generate a lot of traffic and revenues from advertising or from selling products), however, I would focus on branding the blog itself and not you as the author of it.

Daniel Scocco is the founder of Online Profits, an Internet Marketing and Online Business training program.

  1. So I guess it depends on which one you want to build – your personal brand or your blog brand. I would opt for the blog brand.

  2. What about people like John Chow? He started blogging with absolutely no connections in the blogosphere and used hisname.com .

    Would you consider his success a perfect storm?

  3. I agree and I like how the stats have backed you up. But then the problem is that most people today are so much into building it for blog brand and I see this as a problem. Specifically about the blogging/mmo/internet marketing niche wherein everyone seems to make themselves look like experts with the posts and everything. I believe a personal touch or a brand about author is much more easier to read and its more spontaneous I believe…

  4. Give me the blog brand since most of my personal brand has alot to be desired.

  5. This is exactly why I adopted Remarkablogger and use that instead of Michael Martine (remarkablogger.com resolves to michaelmartine.com).

    Right now, that name is synonymous with me, but over time I can introduce other bloggers under the Remarkablogger brand if I wish. That way, I have an exit strategy should I ever decide to move on.

  6. And to think, I was just thinking to ask you how I can better improve the traffic to my site. Now I see the difference. My site is really more about developing the personal brand. Thanks for the blog; I needed it.

  7. This point of view doesn’t scale. In the Alexa 150,000 to 900,000 crowd this is different.

  8. You do make a valid point, I think, Daniel. Yes, if someone wants to build a blog that’s directly monetized – intended to sell ads or for eventual resale – then too strongly attaching a personality to the blog can work against that. As you suggest, then you’ve got the double task to “sell” readers on both the author and the information.

    On the other hand, I’d say that for *indirect monetization* of a blog – using a blog to support your own products or services, for example – it is almost impossible to succeed without personal branding. The blog author is, in that case, the product.

    I wonder, too, how the general move away from generalization to specialization (not just in blogs; in the world at large) will play into this equation. Will readers continue to be fully satisfied with large-scale anonymity in their news/info sources? If we look at the print mass market, after all, the newspapers and magazines seem to be a balance of ‘canned’ news from the wire services and highly individual pieces from named columnists. Perhaps we need both, for different purposes?

  9. After reading this post, I think I should change my name from ‘Shafar’ to ‘Tips Blogger dot Com’ in all social media or online communities and also during commenting. Because I don’t like to be famous, but I want my blog to be famous..!! (Confused?) :)

  10. My domain is my nickname. Guess it’s slanted towards personal branding but since I am not making many from it (I wonder – for now or forever) I am fine with it.

  11. I’m in the process of working on my brand, actually, which sounds funny because that always makes me think of Campbell’s soup, and I don’t especially look good in red and white.

    As a writer, I’ve been determined to brand my name so that it grows in familiarity — name recognition is my goal. I’m a published writer working on a novel, and right now my blog is about writing.

    This is the first time I’ve realized that maybe my name isn’t the best title for the blog. A lot to think about.

    I’ve also considered a blog based on the “brand” of writing I do, which is usually family oriented. Again, a lot to digest along with my Sunday morning coffee.

    Great stuff.

  12. Bai Zijian says: 11/24/2008 at 1:14 am

    Great post on blog popularity. Personal branded blogs do have a lot of difficulty given that the theme of the site is focused on the person and Technorati does show some good stats on it.

    Maybe there is also a case where it happens that the personal branding of the person just so coincides with popular demand? Besides Technorati, there are a couple of other great blogs like JohnChow which although built around the author, the author himself has built his own branding around a popular theme which does connect with a lot of people.

    Difficult? Yes. Impossible? Maybe not, but it’s almost like long and impossible shots and it’s much better to go with Technorati and build a site around the theme and blog.

  13. This was something I struggled with at first. I chose to brand my blog and now everyone knows it as “A Cowboy’s Wife”. What’s funny though, half the people that know me as that, don’t realize that I am the founder/publisher of my food blog which is WAY more popular than my personal blog.

    What do you suggest on branding 2 blogs like that? p.s. my food blog is mywoodenspoon.com.

  14. in a case of The Brand Around The Blog – one is doing it more just for money than for anything else. in other case – money – is not main idea. for me – The Brand Around The Author – – better focusfor sure

  15. A great guest post from Daniel. I am among his tons of subscribers for quite some time, and he never ruins my day. He even answered my questions in his Q & A.

    Anyway, I was tempted to use my name when I got my own domain but I am glad I didn’t. So I thought of a name that would fit my blog content – family and blogging, and come up with Father Blogger.

    I guess that if one chooses to use his name as his domain name, he must already a known expert on his field. This can even more help your blog to grow.

  16. This is great information. I should have known this. I teaching marketing and design to college instructor and I talk to them about developing a personal brand for themselves. But never thought about branding me or just my blog.

    Your advice got my thinking about my purpose for my blog. I am going still have to think about it a little more.

    Thanks for the great insight.!

    Alease Michelle

  17. @Robert MacEwan, the idea is not meant to scale. Web publishing success is when you are below Alexa 150,000. Not that I think Alexa is a reliable traffic metric, but just to make reference to your point.

    The guys over 300,000, for example, are probably not making a solid monthly revenue, so they are not what I think you should take into consideration if you want to find recipes for success.

  18. I think ego does tend to lead to many personal branded blogs. But are brains remember the unusual. Different/weird names will have a better time being remembered. Just like you can easily recall the odd named people you have met in your journeys though life, far more easily than the “standard” names.

  19. Unless you’re a celebrity almost nobody really wants to read about your daily shenanigans, unless your offering the reader something that might be beneficial to them. Market and focus it the right way and you’ll be successful.

  20. Hmmm. Since I am pretty awesome, clearly my blog is about me. Too bad I’m just about the only one who thinks of me that way :)

  21. You raise excellent points as do other commenters. I would add it is important to be clear about your objectives and implement a strategy accordingly. If you are a service professional your personal brand is an essential component. Consumers want to know “who” is behind the brand and are looking for a more personal connection. Know your audience and objectives and pick a strategy that fits.

  22. I am currently selling a blog that I have a personal brand upon and I have to agree that it is much harder to sell then a blog that is build upon itself.

    That personal element sometimes allows you to connect better with your readers but it doesn’t always allow your blog to grow as effectively.

    A good example of a personal blog built around somebody and a blog that it built upob itself is johnchow and johncow. Both of these blogs are very popular but you can see right from the beginning the difference of these two.

    Do you have any tips on some trying to sell a blog, because I do have a blog thats up for sale but I don’t know who to contact or where to start. Oh and BTW it is not IronBlogger! :)

  23. I think there are a few false assumptions here.

    First: the best way to increase your ranking as a blogger is to post very often and to have teams of people doing the work. If that’s your strategy, of course you can’t have it be a solo blog. So, I’d argue that the tactic (generic name) follows the strategy (lots of newsie posts).

    Second: There’s a difference between a blog about YOU (I call this a cat blog) and a blog about the reader. Guy’s blog, and my blog for that matter, are not about us, about what we ate yesterday or how great we are. They are about the reader.

    I guess the easy analogy:
    Your blog could be a newspaper (written by a staff)
    or it could be a book (written by an author)

    9 times out of 10, newspapers outsell books. No surprise. But they’re different.

  24. Anonymity can sometimes be a good thing. It can lend a certain mystery to the content and the arthur.

  25. @Seth Godin:

    I totally agree with your comment, and it also explains the answer to my question in comment 2 about John Chow.

    Now, do you think it’s easier to make a blog about the reader if you have a branded blog name as opposed to your personal name?

  26. I agree. We have put constant efforts on our blog that one individual does not dominates the blog. We can not build a Joelcom or John Chow blogs that require a strong personal branding and once its there, it cannot be sold, transferred or taken down. It has its own limitations. Blogs with a broad appeal like Problogger etc will have greater success, even though they have an authors brand too.

  27. Personally, I think it comes down to what the blog is about.

    If it is about one person (for example, Problogger), then it only makes sense that Darren would want to build his branding strategy around the Problogger “name” which would also affect his Problogger blog, his books, conference appearances, etc.

    However, if the blog is a collection of stories / articles such as TechCrunch or Mashable, then the branding would focus on the “idea” of what the blog is about.

    Don’t know if that all made sense. It does in my head :D

    The Geek Entrepreneur

  28. I think it all resolves around the blog’s purpose, of course.

    If you want to make money, use a name like techcrunch.

    If you want to create valuable content that you’ll never get bored of, meet some new people and use it as a platform to point people to your other companies, a personal blog is for you. And, I feel, in the end, it’s more fulfilling. You won’t have to put on a front ;-)

  29. I want to build a blog/company brand with a strong personal voice, with the first focus on the brand name. The ‘feeling’ of the brand, what people get from it, will be inside the container of the brand name.

    good food for thought, tks!

  30. What would you say shoemoney.com is? A brand around the author or blog, or both?

  31. Somewhat agree – but if you have a strong, compelling persona (think Michael Arrington) your ego can be a part of the attraction.

  32. You can actually have both?

    You can have your ‘business’ blog and your ‘personal blog’ with the relevant domains.

    Or, in my case – my blog http://www.thechiefbrandofficer.com is written mostly by me Luke Harvey-Palmer…my blog still develops my personal brand. A domain name is just that…a domain name – it is a small element of your personal brand, not an essential element.

    Besides…great content always wins over domain every time!

  33. I agree, but I should also point out that having some biographical information may be useful even if the blog isn’t about the blogger. For example, I’m more likely to accept the original content in a technical blog if the author is somehow qualified to write about the blog’s focus, through his or her academic background or collected experience.

    Since my blog is about food safety, its main focus is on food safety issues, and not about myself and my life. However, I have some information on my main page describing my own background in food safety, in order to assure my readers that I really do know what I’m talking about!

  34. thanks a lot Seth for clarifying. I integrated a more personal touch to my website and it has created a better sense of community and readership.

    I run a how to site on dating and relationships. This is just a thought (would like to hear what others have to say) but my subject is an emotionally charged subject and people want content as well as connecting.

    If my website theme was a how to on home repairs (less emotional charge than relationships) then a more personal touch isn’t as important.

  35. Good post. Darren, I’ve beem seeing guest posts for over a week. Why don’t you write?!

  36. While the more popular blogs such as mashable, engadget, and lifehacker are all non-personal, I find that I enjoy reading the personal blogs way more. The added personality and vibe that the connection with the author ads is awesome.

  37. I already read the similiar topic in shoe blog…..and very great explanation……thanks

  38. what is the huffington post considered?

  39. I don’t know, but my blog (just a few months old) has a generic domain name but it has got a little info about me in the sidebar. When I write posts on it it is always first person, like I am talking to the reader.

  40. Since the competition is so tough, why not try a dual approach?

    Try a “name brand” blog and try a “blog brand” blog.

    See which one offers the best results after some time, say about a year. Then work on the better one for the rest of your life.

  41. Hi Daniel,

    I usually agree with your points but not this one:

    “Take a look at the 30 most popular blogs in the world according to Technorati. Out of 30, only 2 use the name of the author on their domains and display a picture of the author on the homepage (Seth Godin and Perez Hilton).”

    This can (and has) been explained for different reasons. Mainly: single bloggers (without the profile of Darren, as an example), cannot compete in terms of content generation, networking, and resources.

    Remember: Arianna Huffington is a rich, well connected individual for example. If a blogger had her connections / resources, I’d bet money they would be as successful as her project.

    I don’t doubt focusing on a topic over a personality carries some weight in terms of popularity, but I wouldn’t stand by that if it was the only reason.

  42. hi all..i’m new here
    i’d delighted i can write comment in one of the most valuable blog. i’m new in blogging, so reading articles here make me passionate to learn and learn

  43. @Seth Godin,

    I haven’t made the assumptions you highlighted in your comment.

    First, I am not considering the posting frequency or number of authors on the article. Suppose you have two blogs about technology, with the same posting frequency and 1 author only.

    The first blog is called techworld.com, and just has content on the front page. The second is johndoe.com, and a has a big picture of the author on the homepage as well as his bio.

    After 1 year, all things being equal (i.e. content quality and promotion), I am sure the former would be far more popular.

    Don’t you agree?

    Also, I didn’t mention personal blogs, or cat blogs as you call them. I know those are irrelevant for the current discussion.

  44. Interesting. I never thought about adding my name as my url for my blog. I think the purpose if the blog is the READER, not the Owner.


  45. I didn’t know anything about blogging when i registered my domain name, maybe less thought is better sometimes. If i’d thought about it my blog would have Japan or Tokyo in it’s title …. good as long as i live in Japan. At the moment, atleast my name will always be my name so the blog will always be OK no matter where i live.

  46. A blog should be focused on a specific niche and always contain helpful and useful content that is relevant.I vote for branding the blog, not the blogger.

  47. I agree with this, often I see new bloggers in the MMO field theming their whole blogs around their name and I think this is a bad strategy, if you are not known it is better to build around a popular subject and keywords.

  48. This is so true. Building a brand around the blog is the most important thing to do when we are able to pursue our niche in a well synced manner.

  49. Daniel is some guy like Maki from DoshDosh, who nearly do not mention themselve on their blogs, maybe that’s why they are successful.

    Speciality and focus makes them successful.

    So, just put your ego aside if you want to have a famous blog!

A Practical Podcast… to Help You Build a Better Blog

The ProBlogger Podcast

A Practical Podcast…