Dinner Speaker Series Recap: WritersTalk, February 2016

Blog and Brand: Here’s How

By Linda Judd

In January, savvy speaker on “Blogging and Branding: Why Aren’t You?” Kymberlie Ingalls delivered good information about blogging and points to keep in mind for branding your presence on the web. Speaking to an audience who were up to 92% non-bloggers, Kymberlie shared her “why.”

As a pioneer in blogging since 1997, only a few years after the World Wide Web was born, Kymberlie has pushed the limits. She found the best use of blogging is to have your blog focused and branded. She introduced to us her network of blogs. Each one serves a different type of connection with her audience: personal essay, news source, opinion, music, and one for her writings, both memoir and fiction. For a brand to truly thrive, it’s become somewhat of a necessity to have a presence across multiple channels.

She uses the same photo from site to site with her brand verbiage: 008-KymberlieIngalls“Kymberlie Ingalls is native to the Bay Area in California. She is a pioneer in blogging, having self-published online since 1997. Her style is loose, experimental, and a journey in stream of consciousness. Works include personal essay, prose, short fictional stories, and a memoir in progress. Thank you for taking a moment of your time to visit. Beware of the occasional falling opinions. For editing services: http://www.kymberlieingalls.com/p/editingservices.html.”

Her brand verbiage becomes a familiar mantra, introducing new visitors and branding each web location as a “Kymberlie Ingalls” site.

In the early days, AOL offered Personal Pages for journaling online. As websites proliferated, those types of pages became known as weblogs, then blogs. Early on, everyone wrote whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Using blogs for self promotion developed later as the Internet flourished into a viable market place.

Kymberlie shared statistics, useful guidelines to measure your audience, and the social “shares” we garner on the web with our blogs. How do we know when we are making progress? Statistics are shared on just about every type of social media site today.

Numbers to know: 63% of people believe blogs with multiple authors to be more credible, and 80% of all daily traffic is first time visitors. The majority of your visitors don’t land on the home page, so make sure each page is at its best. Blog math: 50 blog posts = 30% more traffic; at 100+ blog posts, traffic jumps by 3x. Blog posts of 1500+ words receive 68% more tweets and 22% more Facebook likes. Blog posts with images get 94% more views, a serious jump in visits to your blog. YouTube has become the second largest search engine—more than Bing, Yahoo, Ask and AOL combined. Smartphones and tablets now account for 60% of time spent online.

On social media sites in 2016, visual content is a big plus—94% more views. Facebook and Twitter aren’t enough to reach your audience. Social “shares” are important feedback.

Also social shares equate with credibility. The social influence of a blog derives from the number of shares it gets. Create interesting content, and make it easy to share. When sharing with others, put your own spin on it. Don’t just click “share.” Know your social media. Keep up on what’s trending, and find the sites that work best for you.

Design your brand to identify your skills and differentiate yourself. Be consistent; be a good source; know—but don’t limit your audience; focus on trends; and follow a theme.

Blogs create a community. The collective experience is one of the best parts of reading a story, seeing a movie, hearing a song, cheering on a team. On your blog, you are offering that experience. Empower your followers to become loyal brand ambassadors by engaging people and connecting with them.

One of the most phenomenal successes to date, fostered by blogging, is the movie, The Martian, written by Andy Weir. In 2009, Weir started posting the story chapter by chapter on his personal blog where anyone could read it for free. The early version of his self-published book attracted a lot of science-minded readers. Word of the book spread, and readers started asking for an e-reader copy. So Weir put it on Amazon for 99¢. In just a few months, it skyrocketed to the top of Amazon’s best-selling science fiction list. And the movie is history.

If you’re a writer who stands for something, you’ll also elicit passion from both sides of the fence. It’s a package deal that you should gladly accept. Don’t let the critics stop you. Instead, focus on your fans, and your writing will reach and delight the right people.

Do you understand why you write? It’s not selfish to want results from what you do—you have to earn a living after all. But ego-driven rewards can overshadow some of the more fulfilling aspects of your work. Marketing, like writing, works really well when you create value for others. When you make someone’s life significantly better, that’s an experience that ends up getting shared with others. There’s no better marketing than that.

“Blogging is not for everyone,” Ingalls says. “Like anything else, there needs to be purpose before commitment. And readers want to know the author behind their favorite stories. Authors are as important as any character they create.”

Contact Kymberlie Ingalls, kymberlie@rainfallpress.com.
—WT

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