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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. I think it differs from blog to blog, but I would really like to know the aggregated correlation of the two types of blogs and their search engine optimization. It would seem like a blog with the same name as the author, would have a much less likely probability of getting hits out of random; then again that personalized blog would have fewer results that a searcher would have to sift through.

  2. Interesting topic. My blog is built around it’s brand, however on my about page there is some information about me. My thought was that as my blogs brand was built, so to would my own brand grow.

    Perhaps I should change my thinking on this. As I think of other popular and successful blogs I read I think I can say that there is about a 50/50 split between this.

  3. I use blogger. I make all my layouts the same though to give it sort of my own style.

  4. Interesting topic, for sure. But, I tend to think it doesn’t matter that much. With proper marketing, ANY blog can do well. It doesn’t matter whether it is named after the author, some made up word (i.e. Yahoo), or my dog. It is about delivering value and backing it up.

    I have one blog with a made up title and the other being my name. Not for a minute would I agree that my name-branded blog is at a disadvantage simply because the domain name is my name.

    Just doesn’t fly with me.

    – David Risley

  5. Branding the website first would pay off in the very long run. Although if your website domain is your name, it would only be obvious to brand your name :)


  6. I have personally built by blog around my name however the name of the blog isn’t my name…

    I probably an exception to what you have mentioned. In just 12 months I have gone from not knowing 1 thing about blogging, social media or having 1 contact to having over 9500+ subscribers and a good following… I am not trying to brag so to speak but I am saying that it is possible to do it.

  7. I have planned to make a brandable wordpress.org site, but made a new “personal test site” on instead. Ha!

    –Mark Grejaldo

  8. I will agree with Jacob Cass , i didn’t build the blog after my name as well. And it has grown wonderfully!
    yet still i would like to know how to extend its growth :)

  9. I registered my name and my kids names as domain names because I am certain one day personal branding will be very important to ones career options.

  10. i had this dilemma when i first start my personal blog, but now it is clear enough for me stay branding my own blog as i am just a newbie blogger. good info thanks


  11. While I’m sure there are people who may have the ability to defy the odds, I think this makes a lot of sense. My original blog used my name and now I’m moving forward with a more “brand” oriented blog.

  12. I think this is absolutely right. Especially if you’re looking to go beyond a small corner of the web. A brand, that is not personal, does so much more for the “business” side of blogging. Great insights!

  13. When I first started my blog, I was extremely confused with how to style it. I think the author and his/her picture can add a lot of credibility to a site but can easily detract from it. I couldn’t put my finger on when this worked and when it didn’t, but this blog post certainly clarified things. There are always outliers to every theory but I think this is a good one to follow for new bloggers like myself!

  14. @Daniel great post and I’m a fan of your blog for much the same reason as I’m Darren’s. Strange to see Seth comment here and the dude doesn’t have comments on his blog.
    I recently did a little test on all my backlinks and you can see the bloggers that delete comments,try to sculpt page rank, say their do follow and their not. When it’s all said and done the bloggers that help people will be here the others will not. It’s going to be a tough year on all the selfish hotshots :)
    here’s the tool I used it as a way to see what bloggers I’m going to deal with and ones I stay away from ;) My brand is my word ;)
    Happy Holidays to all :)

  15. i think it is not a matter of ego . for me . it is a matter of savoir-faire . know how to do it .

  16. Grant Northsby says: 11/28/2008 at 10:10 am

    Nice of Seth Godin to leave a comment here but I wonder why he didn’t link to this post in his recent one – http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/11/death-of-the-pe.html – when it seems like it was inspired by this one.

  17. As my opinion, the brand is doesn’t matter.Did a lot of people knew your blog before.do you think about your blog brand before you begin blog.
    There is not road without more poeple walk.

  18. Brand is “King” out there. I’ve been working on it but still a long way to go yet.

  19. Can’t agree more!!! “The Brand Around The Author” blogs generally succeed if you are a influential figure in that particular niche. For a newbie, putting up your name in the domain for a blog will portray it more of a personal blog rather than a niche related one. And I guess nobody wants to read about Mr. X who has just got internet connected at home and took his first step in the blogging area.

  20. Very Interesting Topic, I love the 118 Guy xD, and putting the ego aside is 100% great advice.

  21. Thank you for sharing information about brand blog. I had removed my bio from the blog. I hope it will works this time. I struggled with lack of traffic.

    I am looking forward to learn more from your contents.

  22. all about baranding strategy, thanks……very funny picture….!

  23. I have a business blog where the domain name is a keyword to the blog but no way would I ever consider putting up a picture of myself. I just don’t think it looks professional.

  24. That’s an interesting idea…focusing on one or the other. Would it make sense to have two separate blogs for the separate purposes, I wonder? That’s what I currently do…

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