I’m telling you that the only way to find success long term is to focus on building a brand.
I was browsing through Performancing’s archives and I came upon the above quote mixed into and lost among a bunch of comments. Not only do I stand by this comment, but I think it applies even more now than when I wrote it.
Though this has been my working principle now for about nine months, I was surprised to find that I hadn’t really written an article on what I see as the number one strategy for blogging success: building out a brand.
That’s going to change. Because I believe that developing a brand is critical to success, I’m going to write several articles on the idea, with the hope of giving some concrete tips for doing so.
Text content just doesn’t cut it anymore
Yes, your base of content needs to be text. And yes, if you are bootstrapping, you should probably start out with a text-only approach. But if you’re serious about building out your brand, and capturing an audience, then text should not be your final goal.
The fact of the matter is that you face your fiercest competition in textual content. Text is the easiest form of content to produce and in most niches, the supply far exceeds the demand. This fact is even more pronounced with Google’s recent emphasis on authority sites in the SERPS. Exact key-phrase matching is no longer the holy grail of the long tail. Goog has given the long-tail back to the rich and trustworthy.
Develop your brand with audio and video
Podcasting and video shows are a great way to start differentiating your brand from most of the rest, and to build a dedicated, demographically predictable audience (what advertisers value most).
While neither format directly monetizes as easily as textual content at this point, we can probably expect that to change as Google looks to turn YouTube into a Cash Cow rather than Cash Pig. Plus, the value of podcasting and video shows aren’t necessarily in immediate monetization. Brand building isn’t about immediate gratification. It’s about building long term equity and a large, growing audience community.
So how do you start?
The answer to that varies, but my best advice is to just jump into the deep end and try it until it works.
My friend David from Xfep not only has a great radio voice, but he also runs an entertaining weekly podcast that focuses on blogging. I’m willing to bet that David didn’t know how good his voice would sound on podcast before he tried it. But now his podcast is paying dividends as hundreds of people come back to listen each week. The Xfep podcast does wonders for setting David’s blog apart from all the “make money online” and “problogger wannabe” sites out there.
Similarly, I’ve been trying to think of ways to build the PopCrunch brand. While PopCrunch does very well with traffic and monetization, my ultimate goal is to build the PopCrunch brand into a household name (and as some friends would mockingly tell you, I’m aiming for triple digit Alexa). So what am I going to do to get there?
Well, my goal for 2008 is to launch a weekly TV Show (The PopCrunch Show) that’s similar in theme to The E! Network’s Soup. Additionally, I’d like to launch a monthly TV Show for Style Crunch, a weekly show for TV Crunch and a weekly show for HipHop Crunch.
Wait. I almost forgot;-) Just today PopCrunch launched a weekly show for HipHop Crunch, affectionately called “The HipHop Crunch Show” – and while the first episode isn’t perfect, it’s certainly damn good. And things can only get better, right? That’s what you call jumping into the deep end and coming out on the other end a pretty good swimmer. I even had my own theme song produced! This gig just gets more fun every day.
So now what?
Ah, now for the tough part. I’m already having video produced for the HipHop Crunch show (3 months earlier than I had planned). But what good is video if no one knows about it? Ah, this is where I long for the good old days of textual content and exact phrase matching. But, alas, it’s time to look for new and unique distribution channels. iTunes. YouTube. and… well, it’s time to go on an adventure;-)