As a smaller blogger, unsure of my niche and how to bill myself, branding was a big, intimidating obligation, kind of like meeting prospective in-laws for the first time. (Can we just get this over with?)
Much of the advice I read seemed to apply to people who could already define themselves and what they had to offer their readers in one tidy sentence—all that was left to do was hire someone to design a logo and header to match.
But what if you are too new to know what your main contribution to the blogosphere is will be? Or what if you’ve got your hands in a lot of different stuff, and don’t yet know which one you’ll end up focusing on?
The best branding advice I ever received came from Michelle at So I Married a Mennonite. Intrigued by her unique blog title, I asked her why she chose it. She said, “I picked something about myself that would never change.”
So, I ask you: what’s something about yourself that will never change?
Don’t think too hard here. It’s right in front of your nose.
Letting your name be your brand is simple, yet it works for you in so many ways:
- It allows people to connect with you personally. The online world is all about relationships–people want to connect with real people anymore, not a billboard or a slogan or a caricature.
- It allows for growth and change of direction in your online pursuits without losing your followers. No matter where your blogging journey takes you, they will know how to find you.
- It gives you a solid place to hang your hat today, even if you haven’t quite figured out what you’re about yet.
But what about protecting my identity? Michael Hyatt says hidden online identities are a thing of the past. People can now Google you and find anything they want about you. Why fight it with a nickname people can’t spell or remember?
“A real name communicates authenticity and accessibility. Don’t hide behind a made-up name that is only meaningful to you.” -Michael Hyatt, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World
We are here to build relationship. We need to introduce ourselves the same way we do in real life—by announcing our name.
How this works:
- On your blog: call it whatever you want, but make your blog address yourname.com. You’ll be easy to find no matter what you blog about.
- Your Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest handle: Use your name, or a close variation (see below).
- Your Email: YourName@gmail.com, or, better yet, email@example.com (ie. firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Facebook Fan Page: Name it after yourself. A personal fan page is simply the easiest way for people to connect with you on facebook—no friend request necessary, just one click of the ‘like’ button and you’re connected.
I know this can sound a bit egotistical, but really, it’s not. You’re simply removing barriers and making it easy for people to find you and talk to you. It’s a favor to your friends and anyone you meet online to be consistent in your online identities.
Having a solid brand is as simple as just being yourself wherever you go.
But what if your name is already taken? If you have a popular name, you will have to get creative with your handle. But don’t go too crazy. You still want people to recognize you.
- Use your first and middle name if your first and last aren’t available. This is also a good idea if your last name has the potential to change or is hard to spell.
- If that doesn’t work, try using a verb after your first name—something about you that won’t change, or something pertaining to the particular social media platform you’re on. (On facebook I’m TrinaHoldenWrites because TrinaHolden wasn’t available. On Twitter I could have been TrinaTweets if TrinaHolden wasn’t free. If your domain name isn’t available, try YourNameBlogs.com or YourNameWrites.com.)
- When trying a variation of your name on for size, imagine referring to it in a phone conversation to a friend—if it flows easy and you don’t have to spell it for them, it’s good.
- Keep in mind that a long handle will get in the way on Twitter. You want it as short and too-the-point as possible. Avoid numbers and too many initials in a row.
Use a site like KnowEm.com to help you check availability. When you find a handle that works all around, grab it!
Now all you have to do is BE yourself each place you visit, and people will begin to associate your writing voice, personality quirks, and actions with your name, and you will have created a brand for yourself. Are you fun and funky? Deep and articulate? Artistic and random? Embrace who God made you to be and let it shine through your online identity! (<– Tweet this!)
True Confessions Time: What’s one of the aliases you’ve gone by during your online journey? I started out with my dutch name, Trintje, in an effort to be unique. But my friends told me it was impossible to spell or say! What about you?
P.S. Have you already built a brand but feel the need for a change? There’s no better time than the present–you’re smaller now than you will be! Check out my friend Gretchen’s rebranding journey and all her awesome branding tips.