Here’s the deal: you are your own brand, and your blog is the product you produce. The way people think about you will change the way they think about your blog.
If your readers perceive you as an authoritative source, they will see your advice as authoritative, and take it over the advice of others.
If readers see your opinions as worth respecting, what you say will influence the way they act, or even the way they think.
It’s much easier to talk about a blogger than it is to talk about a blog. Blogs are hard to describe. They contain thousands of words and dozens of ideas. People, on the other hand, are much easier to talk about. We have a lot of practice. We know how to put them into words.
In this post, I want you to forget about your blog for a moment, and start thinking about you. Influential bloggers are talked about, debated, respected, and recommended. Here are 15 ways you can begin building an influential profile, right now.
- Play to your strengths. Influential bloggers are usually synonymous with a single core strength: Seth Godin and ideas, Merlin Mann and productivity, etc. Every word they write on that topic contributes to their profile in that sphere. The saying “Jack-of-all-trades, master of none” rings true when it comes to blogging: the thinner you spread yourself, the less likely you are to achieve prominence in any one area. Pick your core strength and stick with it.
- Develop a consistent style. Leo Babauta is renowned for his lists, Seth Godin — to pluck an example from above — is known for pithy, thought-provoking posts, while Jason Kottke is famous for interesting links and insightful commentary. What kinds of posts do you do best? Developing a consistent approach, voice, and formatting style will help to develop a style of blogging with your trademark on it. When readers see a similar style, they will think of you. They’ll start to recognize your posts wherever they appear.
- Build consistent imagery. Like brands, bloggers need logos. People retain visuals much more strongly than they retain names. Pick a distinctive image to represent you — whether it be a photo, cartoon or other design — and stick with it.
- Be everywhere. To extend the brand analogy, the best brands are everywhere: they communicate their message through different mediums, and they make sure that message is a good one. Guest-post prolifically, write thought-provoking comments, participate in group blogging projects, and leave your mark on social media. Sooner or later people will start to recognize your name and take an interest in what you have to say.
- Be open about your mistakes. People take notice of people who are like them, only more remarkable. Your mistakes will make you like them. Your talents make you remarkable.
- Write a free eBook, spread it around. If it’s easy to get, valuable, easy to share and worth sharing, there’s a good chance your eBook will reach more people than you ever imagined. Take your best idea (because it’s the one most likely to spread), write an eBook about it, and make it available to as many people as possible. A number of bloggers have built their profile on the back of a great eBook. It’s easy, and it doesn’t cost a thing. What have you got to lose?
- Become a power-user on a forum. If you’re already involved in a forum, consider taking that involvement to the next level. Becoming a household name in your forum community will establish yourself as an authority figure in your niche and drive targeted traffic back to your blog.
- Coin words or phrases. Every time the word ‘Ideavirus’ is used, it’s free advertising for Seth Godin. When you invent words or phrases for something people have wanted to say, but didn’t know how, there’s a good chance it will spread. Another bonus: people will be naturally compelled to credit the source of the term when using it.
- Make friends in high (and low) places. Bloggers who like you are more likely to link to you, co-operate with you, or let you guest-post for them. The bigger your blogger friend’s profile, the better this will be for you. On the other hand, many low-profile friends can be just as powerful as one high-profile blogger. I can’t write a step-by-step guide to befriending someone, but I can give some advice on where to start: offer to help them in a way that utilizes your core strength, and expect nothing in return.
- Respond to criticism with dignity. Every blogger with a readership will be criticized at some point. I’m not talking about constructive criticism (hopefully you’ll get that too), but the pure, unadulterated, irrational kind. The way you deal with such criticism will leave a distinct mark on your profile, so make sure that mark is a positive one. Getting involved in a tit-for-tat may cause your credibility to spring a leak.
- Become a social media power-user — for the sake of it. There are a lot of articles written on becoming a ‘power-user’. To save you some reading, here is a one-sentence guide: vote up lots of great content in the area of your core strength. If you’re a tech expert, focus on building your social media profile as a quality tech-connoisseur. Other wannabe tech buffs will track your profile, and you’ll gain the respect of a lot of people you never would have encountered through blogging alone.
- Do something worth talking about. Break the mold, create a spectacle, innovate, experiment. Commit yourself to doing something no-one in your niche has seen before. If it doesn’t work, no loss, except maybe a bit of time. When it does work, it will be worth it.
- Use an authoritative voice. And no, that doesn’t mean talk like a police officer. There’s a common trait amongst most influential bloggers: they write well, they write fluently, they care about things like spelling, grammar and expression. They write with clarity. The more people who can understand you and ‘get’ what you’re trying to say, the further your ideas will spread.
- Social network with your online identity. Create a Facebook, MySpace or Twitter account dedicated to your blogger profile. Allow fans and readers to add you as a friend (or follow you), send you comments, and so on. Readers who connect with you in a multifaceted way are more likely to become evangelists for you and what you do.
- Get interviewed. If you don’t think anyone would ask you yet, team-up with a blogger friend and interview each-other. Why? Because we associate interviewees with people worth listening to. Being interviewed will lend you some of that aura. It will allow those who read it to get to know something of your story. This is important, because every influential blogger has a strong story behind them.
- Walk the talk. Ask yourself, would anyone read John Chow if he wasn’t making five-figures a month online? Sure, some would, but nowhere near as many as now. Many influential bloggers have built their profiles on remarkable real-life credentials. Sit down and write a list of reasons why you’re qualified to be influential in your niche. If you blog about photography, for example, ask yourself: how many years have I been doing it? How many photos have I taken? How many cameras have I been through? What kinds of interesting things/people have I photographed? Believe it or not, these things are all part of your story. They show that you’re walking the talk.
- Give something of yourself. You can’t form a meaningful connection with information alone. We’re human, and we connect with other humans. I know Darren Rowse lives in the same city as me — Melbourne, Australia. I also know he has a wife and a son. Though his blog is about making money online, I’ve managed to learn something about him as a person by reading his posts. Think about your favorite bloggers and the things you learn about them along the way. Often, it’s the little things that make them human which also make them memorable.
This guest post is by Skellie. She gives away big and little ideas like these to bloggers, webmasters and web workers at Skelliewag.org.