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Building your brand online can help you be one of the first people/businesses that comes to mind when someone is looking for your product or service. In the small town that I live in, there’s a woman who drives a truck around selling fresh produce. She’s known as the “fruit lady”. She is a walking/driving advertisement for her family owned business. Whenever conversation turns to where to buy the freshest fruits and vegetables, someone will mention her. She is a living example of someone who has done an excellent job of building their brand and creating top-of-mind awareness.

So, how do you build awareness of your brand online? I don’t know about you but there are definitely people online who I know, recognize and respect for being the go-to person in a particular niche. How did they do it? How do you do it? (I guarantee that several of you who read my blog and comment are some of the people who I immediately think of.)

#1 Make it Personal

I just took a quick look at my spam folder and about one out of every ten spam comments is from someone who has used keywords as their name (including “manufacturers of bed linen”, “mlm business software”, “fitness tips” and “how to talk dirty”). Seriously? People like to do business with people they like and trust. If you won’t even share your name with us, how am I supposed to get to know who you are? You are your brand. So, please let me get to know you. Keep it personal while keeping it professional.

#2 Be Your Brand

The user name that you choose (for Twitter and other social media sites) is a key part of your brand. Whether you choose to use your name, your business name or an acronym, it does send us a message. Finding a user name can be challenging. It should be easy to spell and memorable. Twitter only allows 15 characters, so, you may need to get a little creative. Go to KnowEm to see if the username you want to reserve is available on most of the common social networking sites.

While looking at the comments in my spam folder, I noticed that the person who called themselves “Logo design” had not even set up a Gravatar (a globally recognized avatar) confirming my suspicions that the comment was left by a spambot. A real graphic designer would either use their personal picture or a killer graphic to impress us. They certainly would not want to be associated with a generic icon (like the grey box with the white outline of a person that you sometimes see next to comments).

#3 Know Your Target Audience

Who are you writing your blog for? Are you using it to communicate with existing and potential customers or clients? Are you writing to build brand awareness and authority? Are you writing to engage with your peers in hopes of cultivating referrals and developing mutually beneficial business relationships? (I answer yes to all of these questions.)

Whatever your reasons are for blogging, it’s important to understand who you are writing for. Quality content is of upmost importance but if no one is interested in reading what you have to say, it will be a futile effort. Ask yourself, why do people read your blog? Ask your readers. What do they like or not like about your posts? By engaging in conversation in your comment section, you can find out whether or not you’re giving your readers what they want and expect from you.

#4 Promote Your Brand

One of the most important decisions that you can make when you’re building your online presence is choosing and registering your own domain name. Your domain name is part of your brand. Even if you’ve decided to blog using a free blogging site (such as WordPress.com or Blogger.com), you should consider using your own domain name to help build awareness of your own brand. Google and WordPress.com don’t need any help build awareness of their brand. (Personally, I strongly recommend self-hosting if you can possibly afford it but that’s a topic for another article.)

Your email address should also be part of your brand. Whenever I receive an email from a business person and I see that it has come from gmail, hotmail, Comcast, AOL or another big business, I silently sigh to myself and think “missed opportunity”. Why build awareness of another brand when you can be building awareness of your website? I certainly have other email accounts but whenever I’m acting on behalf of this blog, I use an email account associated with this domain name.

What are your thoughts and suggestions for building your brand online? As always, thanks for making my blog better by sharing your opinions and experiences in the comment section. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either. We can all learn something from each other.

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Published by Sherryl Perry

Welcome! If you're looking for help building an Internet presence that fits your needs and works for you, you're in the right place. I blog common sense articles about WordPress, social media and SEO. My goal is to help small business owners and entrepreneurs understand their core business. Together, we can develop and implement business strategies that make sense to you.

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122 Comments

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    1. All we need to do is look at really successful companies to see how important branding is. It’s not just the logo but also the tagline. When I hear “good to the last drop” or ‘just do it”, mental images of the brand instantly pop into my head. Now, that’s successful branding!

  1. @Sherryl, sorry for the late reply. I know, right. She looks adorable. Watch the movie. You’ll fall in love with her. 😉

  2. Thanks for following me and Liked my blog. I am sure that I’ll be a fan of your blog. As you said we are both on same niche. So we can make a strong relationship on each other to promote both blogs. I’ll share your blog with social networks which I used.

    Good luck.

  3. Absolutely Great article. Making a brand is one of the most important aspect of product promotion. Your brand should be unique.

    This post explained awesome tips to make your own brand.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Sajith,
      Thanks for letting me know that you liked my article. I just visited your site and read Claudia’s guest post on Panda proofing your site. We’re both on the “same page” when it comes to writing good content and building relationships. I shared it and am following you now. It’s great to meet other like minded business people online.

  4. Sherryl – This is some terrific information. I agree with personalizing all your communication tools. Your email should contain your website, etc. That is a real factor in brand recognition. Thanks!

    1. You’re welcome Sean. Thanks for letting me know that you appreciated my post. Sometimes, people are reluctant to create another email address but they usually come around if they understand the benefits of it.

      1. Sherryl-

        Thanks for your reply. When it comes to email addresses I always try to emphasize the site I am working with or company I am from. It just looks a lot more professional. Better to have
        sean [at] thecompany.com
        than
        sean12345 [at] yahoo.com

        thanks again.

        sean

  5. thanks Sherryl. That’s my fave character in Despicable Me. She’s so cute so I decided to make her my gravatar. Hope you don’t mind. 🙂

  6. Hey Sherryl,

    Awesome post 🙂

    Yes, there are some of the most important steps in building your brand, but many bloggers still tend to forget these steps. I would also add the importance of having a favicon to your blog (I just did that a few days back).

    I especially like the tip about using your blog’s email address when interacting with clients and fellow bloggers (I never thought about that). I guess I should start doing that for my own blog – Till now, I used Gmail for all my email communications – whether it is blog related or not.

    Anyways, thanks for the awesome tips,

    Jeevan Jacob John

    1. Hi Jeevan,
      Thanks for the tip on using a favicon. I’m sure there are readers here who may not be familiar with that. The favicon is a small graphic that represents your website and appears to the left of the tab of the window that you’re in. The favicon for my blog is a red circle with the letters KW in black. (Sometimes, favicons don’t show up. I believe that’s due to a caching issue.)

      I’m glad you liked my tip about using an email address from your domain. No sense advertising the big guys! 🙂 It’s a simple thing but it does help to build your brand.

      1. Hey Sherryl,

        No problem 🙂 Yeah, I couldn’t see the favicon in your blog. By the way, what caching plugin are you using?

        Never thought about that. Thanks anyways!

        1. I had recently cleared my cache. I use WP Super Cache. I had replaced it with W3 Total Cache but after using it for months, I ran into a problem where it totally blew away my Thesis design options. Restoring neither my SQL database nor my entire site fixed the problem. I had to recreate my entire design. If you’re interested in what happened, I wrote about it here: http://bit.ly/v0aQ81.

          1. Yeah, that’s why I asked you. I did have bad experiences with W3 cache. Right now, I am using Cloud flare for caching and content delivery.

  7. hey Sherryl perry
    Very nice post.I think this is a really cool topic I really enjoy to read this article.Your article is straight to the points.
    your theme is great This article is very inspiring and helpful.thnx for sharing with us Brilliant work

  8. I definitely agree with being and promoting your own brand. I think many companies go wrong there by trying to be something or someone that they are not. Thanks for sharing these tips!

  9. We often think that our brand is set in stone, but it’s actually quite flexible.
    It’s easy to think, “This is what I’ve always been. I can’t change now.” But that’s not true. Even large businesses — Apple, for example — reinvent themselves over and over again as time goes on.
    For building brand, one need to do the same to make sure to stay relevant. Improve skills by staying up to date on the necessary technology. Revise portfolio to ensure that you’re always highlighting your best work.
    Brands stay relevant by evolving over time.

    For making the brand more known among people , one needs to build the reputation in the market. And for building the reputation one needs to interact with people and to solve their problems,and maximum try to fulfil their requirements. And the thing in which needs to be careful is that accept the negative response same as or much than positive , and then start work out on the negativity. And try to do always something different not the better than other.

    1. John, Thanks so much for sharing your insight. Your comment “Brands stay relevant by evolving over time” really resonates with me. Accepting the negativity is a good reminder that we’re not our own audience and we need to listen to input from everyone.

  10. Hi Sherryl,

    Great article once again! I have never heard of knowem.com before, it is so usefull! Thanks for sharing all these tips.It’s really important to have someone with experience to point you in the right direction.

  11. Great! I realised that while I’m rushing ahead building lots of organic traffic, I haven’t taken time out to undo some of the mistakes that I made early on. Thanks for sharing!

  12. It’s funny you mention the hotmail/gmail thing. I was at a business mixer just this past week and someone was asking me about another web designer that they had spoken to who had offered to set up their “Tweeter Account”. We laughed about that and then they showed me their business card. Sure enough, it was a Gmail account. From a web designer. Holy smokes.

    I really enjoyed your post, many thanks!

    1. Charles,
      I cannot fathom hiring a graphic designer who doesn’t have a basic understanding of marketing online (any more than I would consider hiring an SEO “specialist” who used keywords as their name).

      Thanks for sharing your experience. Good luck cultivating your relationship with the person you were speaking with at the mixer. Those can be wonderful opportunities to meet potential clients as well as people who can refer you.

  13. Hi Dan,
    I’m glad you find my blog interesting. I visited your site but didn’t find your blog. Are you blogging to drive traffic to your real estate site? If so, you might want to try blogging about things of local interest. By building awareness of yourself as an authority in the area where you do business could be helpful. You could also blog articles of general interest to home owners and buyers. I’m sure you have a lot of knowledge that you can share.Just take a look at your ideal client/customer and ask yourself what value can you bring them. (You might find some tips in the post I link to below.)

  14. Thanks for the great post and a great site in general. I have only really just started with blog writing and brand promotion and really struggle with inspiration for blog topics, at the moment I feel like I could be writing things of a lot more interest. I sometimes wonder if I should blog about something that is way off topic but might generate more interest. Anyway thanks for such an informative site, its harder than you would think to find such good information on the internet.

  15. Great article! Branding is an important part of any business, and having a positive online presence is more important now than ever. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Here is one of my main views of building a brand. You need to associate yourself or your business to something to build a brand. Be it a name, a tag or a product. You are defined by that. And when people are able to refer to you or your business based on that expertise, then thats is your brand.

  17. Hi Sherryl,

    First off, where do you get those pictures?! That’s an amazing picture you got there for your article. 🙂

    Secondly, all very well-made points. Actually, you might have started that dream situation when you jump from a strong online brand to a trustworthy offline source! How someone from the press contacted you because of your expertise, that in itself already helps your brand cross the threshold and go from online to offline trust.

    Good stuff!

    1. Hi Rod,
      I use BigStockPhoto for graphics. When I search, I select illustrations only. There are some amazingly creative graphic designers sharing their work there. There’s great photography too. I tend to stick with the graphics.

      Thanks for pointing out that trust had a lot to do with the reporter contacting me. It’s one thing to show up in the search results but it’s the content and the engagement that builds authority and trust.

  18. Great Judy! Using an email address that includes your domain name is a subtle way of building awareness. I just left this link in my reply to Heidi http://bit.ly/wIWVsr . It’s an article on ProBlogger that outlines what’s involved. I can setup your email address for you in a couple of minutes. Shoot me an email when you’re ready.

  19. As always, great content, Sherryl! You mentioned once before (to me) about using a special e-mail and I didn’t really understand the need. But this brought the point into focus better. Guess it’s time!

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing

  20. Great tips. I have gone back and forth with this over the years. When I started I “was my brand” then later when my brand was more stable, I became my self “Dan Keller” online. I really like the site Knowem that you suggested, I will be checking that out for sure.

    1. Hi Dan, You’re not alone struggling with your brand. I chose to brand KeepUpWeb partly because my name is difficult to spell. As I’ve built up this brand, I’m thinking of branding my name too. I think I’ve built enough awareness that it would work. (It doesn’t hurt that the majority of the people I connect with can spell too. 🙂 ) It’s time consuming to manage multiple user IDs but lots of people are successful at it. Good luck and thanks for joining the conversation.

  21. More great food for thought, Sherryl! I suppose I should be using my “branded” email in comments, but my gravitar & everything else was originally set up on a personal yahoo acct (before I bought my domain name). Is it easy to change that??

    Heidi & Atticus

    1. Hi Heidi, I’ve honestly never changed my email address for my gravatar. It looks easy enough to do. (Maybe someone else here has experience with this.) When you logon to gravatar.com, there’s an “add a new email” link at the top of the page. I would try it. I’d keep my original email address and make my new address the primary one. After you add your new address, you’ll probably have to clear the cache on your computer to see the change.

  22. Sherryl,
    This is a great post. As a brand spanking new business owner, I realize that my background in marketing has me too close to do some of the things, I know that I need and want to do. Yes, there are some things that I didn’t do properly and I’ll need to clean it up as best I can. But that too, is the cost of business…lesson learned. 🙂

    1. Hi Coretta, Thanks for dropping by. There are lots of lessons to be learned for all of us. I’m constantly finding better ways to things and reasons for stopping what I’ve been doing as well. Your background in marketing should serve you well. Having a business background almost always seems to give bloggers a step up.

  23. Hi Sherryl,

    I think the toughest part (for me) was the target market. There isn’t much about that topic on the internet but I finally figured it out myself. Well, more with the help of many awesome people.. First I had to figure out who I am which thought was already difficult. And then I had to figure out if my target market is more likely to be like me or the complete opposite. Either one can apply depending what you offer and what problem you solve (what Harrison said).
    But luckily, I figured that one out for myself..

    Franziska San Pedro
    Flavor Designs

    1. That’s great Franziska. You have a very friendly blog where you make everyone feel comfortable. It’s very smart of you to recognize that your target market may be very different from you and that is who you are writing (and designing your site) for.

  24. Branding is very important in business especially online. I agree that your brand name should be easy to spell and memorable. Witty names are usually the ones that make an impact to the market.

  25. I think its also very important to carry your brand “off” line. If you’re blogging, tweeting, etc. online and branding your usernames, domain names, etc., You can get some really great business cards from Moo.com that you can put these things on. The more seeds you plant, the more buzz that happens for your brand.

    1. Exactly Rob! Thanks for mentioning that. Our brands should be consistent across multiple mediums and combining both traditional and online marketing strategies. For those of us who enjoy social media, we need to remind ourselves that some people are still receptive to traditional marketing campaigns.

  26. These are good tips Sherryl, I’m still working on developing and researching more on #3.

    I have some idea of who my target audience is for one of my apparel line blogs, but I’ve read from other business experiences that sometimes, the eventual target audience might be a totally different group than first imagined. So I’m going to continue to connect and understand why my audience would want in content.

  27. Online Brand building this social networking age is all about blogging and sharing through social networks. It’s more powerful than traditional brand building done through advertisements and other campaigns. Personal as well as corporate brand building happens with a consistent effort online.

    1. Hi George,
      I think I tend to depend on social marketing strategies a little too much and I should incorporating traditional strategies as well. Thanks for coming by and sharing your view. Recently, Daniela Baker wrote a guest post for me on this very topic:

  28. People are afraid to interact with a “ghost” brand because it looks very suspicious. That’s why it is very important to establish your brand and let people know that there are real human beings behind the brand’s logo working hard for solving their problems.
    Communication is key and, just like you stated, a simple gravatar image left default can send a wrong message.

    1. Dan, I have to admit that I find it a little funny that your comment is “People are afraid to interact with a “ghost” brand because it looks very suspicious. ” – Yet, you don’t have a gravatar yourself! Should I be suspicious that I’m replying to a spambot? (I’ve been known to do that before. 🙂 )

      1. Thank you for your reply.
        I was well aware of the irony of me commenting on how you shouldn’t trust people without gravatars without having one myself but if you are replying to a spambot then it must be one of the best user friendly comment spambots out there! Which is pretty cool.
        To stay on-topic I must admit that I do find it amazing when bloggers, even with a high number of replies, take their time and reply to every comment. It really shows that you are dedicated to what you do and that you take pleasure in engaging with your readers.
        And it also makes your blog cozier unlike those dull ones that have their comments turned off.
        Potentially spambot over and out.

        1. Dan, I honestly have replied to spambots before but I take care in not calling them by name (if it’s something like “gym sneakers”). One time, the comment just triggered a reply that I knew would be a helpful tip. Another blogger replied to my reply to let me know that she was pretty sure I answered a spambot. At the same time, she thanked me for the tip. 🙂

          Thanks for the compliment. I truly believe in everyone helping each other out. So, I try to foster that in the conversation. Please feel free to come back. I’m pretty sure I’ll remember you (with or without a gravatar.)

  29. Hello Sherryl,
    thanks for your tips on how to build our brand online. I agree that promoting the brand is the most important thing that we actually can do. It requires some certain knowledge and time to do this properly, but is a crucial thing when we want to promote our brand online.

  30. Hi Sherryl.
    It probably isn’t but it seems ages since I last came over. Been busy writing a big tutorial.
    I have to say that this post made me give my self a bit of a talking to. I realised that while I’m rushing ahead building lots of organic traffic, I haven’t taken time out to undo some of the mistakes that I made early on. Mainly Twiiter, which I held my hands up to in another post of yours recently.
    The search engine traffic is going up in leaps and bounds but most of these people don’t know or have a reason to trust me. This post was really thought provoking for me and once I get a few more crucial tutorial posts doen, I am going to make myself take time out to sort my social life out.

    1. Steve, Congratulations on increasing your traffic through SEO! I’ll follow your link over to your site and find out what I’m missing out. My traffic is growing but there’s always room for improvement. It’s good to hear that you find my posts interesting. You may be more active online socially than you give yourself credit for. I certainly recognize you profile pic and user ID. Someone you referred to my blog left a comment letting me know you referred her too. So, thank you and I’m off to your blog (as soon as I reply to the rest of the comments left so far).

      1. Well Sherryl, I think that you are giving me a bit more credit than I deserve. I’m no technical SEO expert, although I have surprised myself a bit with my own blog. I work mainly with SME’s and to be fair they are in an easier market.
        What I really do best is look at the whole picture and build an online business marketing strategy that will work for my clients. I think that sometimes the tekkies lack that quality.

        1. That’s always my approach too Steve. I strongly believe that online success starts with a solid business strategy and then the tools are used to implement that strategy to achieve the results that we are striving to attain.

  31. Hi Sherryl, I’m always promoting and building my brand. No matter where I’m commenting or what social media site I’m on. It’s nice however when we get blog owners like yourself that allows for marketing tools like comment luv when posting comments. This is a huge positive when promoting our brand.

    Some of the things I do are as follows, same brand image, same name and website, I also like to tweet and socially share after commenting. I know you’re watching and many other bloggers do too. It’s the small things in the end that will bring you all the way to the finish line.

    Thanks for the great advice!

  32. Great post Sherryl! You have to be and live your brand. And you have to try to be a bit different from people doing – or standing for – more or less the same thing. If not you become dull and fade into the background.

    The fruit lady you mention is an excellent example of a someone who has built a brand. Imagine if someone managed to be called the same online all over the world!

  33. You’d be surprised. Some designers will stick with no official avatar, because they still think like a designer and not a business owner. That’s why I say you should never refer to yourself as a freelancer. That word just sounds bad to me and if you want to be taken seriously you have to be a brand or design one that is fitting to your brand.

    1. I find it so odd Denis that some designers miss the opportunity to brand themselves. It leaves me with the impression that they’re somewhat behind the times and I question whether they understand how to market a business online.You get “it”! 🙂

  34. As always, you deliver a wealth of value. When I see a brand carried out through emails, blogs, websites, I feel a sense of safety about what is coming in to my inbox as well as an appreciation for someone’s professionalism.

    Your comments about knowing the audience got me thinking about my own blog. The “about” page is supposed to let people know my intentions but I really haven’t assessed my analytics to see how many people are really visting that page. So to the point you make, one’s message really has to come out in the post to the target.

    1. Thanks Keyuri. Have you checked out the “In-Page analytics” in Google Analytics? (It’s an option under “content”.) You can see the percentage of people who are clicking on pages and links there. That should provide you with some additional input along with viewing the data for visits to that page. (I desperately need the time to update my pages. You gave me some great input a while ago and I still haven’t implemented it.)

      1. Thanks Sherryl.
        Just tried to access that part of my analytics and the page isn’t working! It’ on the “to do” list but in the meanwhile thanks for directing me to that specific spot!

  35. Great tips about branding! Email is crucial! As well as owning a domain with your name if you can get it. Although mine is quite common I grabbed .info and .net which were both pretty cheap.

    1. Grabbing the .info and .net domains can be a good idea. I do the same thing. At the very least, you prevent someone else from buying them and either squatting on them or trying to capture some of your traffic. Thanks for the suggestion Susan.+

  36. Sherryl, all are great points, especially buying a domain name. So simple.

    I was shocked and pleased to read you still have a “fruit lady” – years ago (in the 1960’s?) my mother had a man who came with a fruit truck. What service. We can even sustain a bookstore, never mind a fruit truck.

    1. Hi Leora, Our “fruit lady” is a real character and that’s part of her charm. There are a lot of older people in our town who can’t get out much as well as some more affluent families who are feeling the time-crunch of juggling work and home. “Kathy” offers convenience and quality. Her husband and son drive larger trucks and they go to the produce market in Boston daily. Then, they make deliveries to grocery stores. “Kathy” carved out this small niche for herself and is doing quite well with it.

  37. Sherryl,

    Great points. I agree totally, nowadays online marketing and sales do more than 50% income! People should understand that brand: name and colors, social pages and online marketing is 80% of success.

  38. Hello Sheryl, I agree to your point about Branding. there are several benefits of branding. 1) By making Brand optimization, a sense of trust and reputation gets build! 2) The branding process helps in creating our own branded keywords and hence because of that the competition gets lowered down and the visitors come to know about the brand, in short it helps in brand awareness, 3) Before I finalize my comment, Branding helps in making more long tail keywords. Thanks Awesome post Sherryl!

    1. Thanks Adrian. Creating your own branded keywords is a great point. I often see people who include their twitter ID with a hash tag when they tweet. That’s something that I don’t do often (yet) but I should check that out and see if any of the “gurus” out there recommend doing it. Thanks for joining the conversation!

  39. the post is really good ..One is there is much more competition out there these days with more businesses going online so I think it is important to work out really hard with the content path ….Branding is important but at same time must have patience to win the race

    1. Thanks for bringing up content Linda. No matter how much awareness we build, if our content isn’t good, no one will read our blogs. Even more importantly (as Susan mentioned above), our content needs to lead to conversion.

  40. Quite simple but not easy when your in there. I know it’s tough with the competition and all. I’ve been reading post about building your brand and how to market it, and I thought social media really plays a big part with a good content and reputation. What can you say Sherryl?

    Thanks for the article it’s very interesting!

    1. Joey, You’re absolutely right. Social media plays a huge role in building your brand. That’s one of the reasons that I recommend blogging. It’s a way to engage in conversation and it provides content that can be shared.

  41. Very well written post Sherryl. There are a lot of ways to build your brand online and this 4 steps are useful. Thanks for sharing.

  42. I think one of the tragedies today is that people fail to realize that the small business brand is often them. And the trend with on-line business is growing. I remember the names of people follow but struggle to remember their website or company name. I identify with the person.

    1. Great point Roberta. There is so much competition online that it’s easy to fade into the background. If a small business owner can create a presence around themselves and connect with people on an individual basis, they can stand out. People like to do business with people they know. (It’s great to “see” you here. Thanks for dropping by!)

  43. All great reminders Sherryl. I scratch my head when I see people in business using gmail to communicate as I can never understand why they do it. I would add a couple of things. One is there is much more competition out there these days with more businesses going online so I think it is important to work out a path with your content so it actually leads to conversion. Otherwise have a high brand awareness may be nice but will not grow your business.

    The other thing is make it simple and be single minded especially when starting out. As per your example the woman sells fresh produce only and she is known to have the freshest fruit and vegetables. By keeping focused and having a regular and consistent approach will do a lot for building your brand.

    1. Susan, Thank you so much for adding to my post! (For anyone who may not already follow her, Susan is the “guru”/”go-to person” who I think of for marketing strategies.)

      Your point about content that leads to conversion is excellent. What I’ve done here is lay out some of the very basic steps to get started but we’ve both talked before about having goals, measurements and business strategies. Recently, you’ve been writing posts about “specializing”. I wonder if I had that in the back of my mind when I thought of the “fruit lady”. She’s a great example of someone who identified a niche and built her reputation around meeting the needs of her customers.

  44. Hi Sherryl I have missed your great posts – I need to get out of my cave more often! You are so right in everything you say – as you always are. I love those comments on our blogs from “bed linens” etc! I am not sure whether I should delete them or respond but I feel kind of silly writing “dear bed linens” LOL Some of the comments seem valid though and not spam so I just leave them. I really like your phrase “You are Your Brand” – I made a video with the same title! I just love those people who try to sell you something while using another product rather than the one they are trying to sell – hello? Is it just me or wouldn’t you have more confidence in a product if the person selling it would actually USED it? I am afraid I fall short on the email address. While I DO have my brand in my email, I DON’T have my name. I am “info”. I do have a valid reason though. I have messed up my Outlook so many times and now that it is working, I don’t want to TOUCH IT for fear that I will mess it up again!

    Thanks so much for the valuable lesson in branding!

    1. Hi Julie, I still accept comments from people who use keywords as their name (if the comment is really good) but I honestly feel badly that they don’t understand that it’s not an effective strategy. It is so competitive online that it’s important to connect with people on a personal level.

      Your example of having confidence in someone is key. You’re right, if they’re not using the product themselves, that sends up warning flags. It’s like a person who is promoting SEO services and then doesn’t use a Gravatar and has keywords for their names. Seriously? 🙂

      Changing emails can be a pain but I do like the personal touch. If you did want to create another email address, it really should be simple to add another account to Outlook without breaking anything. (If you have a question, you know where to find me.)

  45. Sherryl — all excellent points. The actual cost of a self-hosted blog is relatively low. Mine is $8.95 a month at Hostgator, the company that hosts my blog. I think the issue is that many people don’t understand the difference between WordPress.com (hosted by WordPress) and WordPress.org, in which you own your blog and pay another company to host it (meaning it sits on their server).

    The bigger cost for newbies to self-hosting is buying a premium template (there are even some free ones) and having someone with technical skills, like yourself, do the initial setup. But the all-in costs are still reasonable for someone who is serious about his/her business. You have the ability to build your brand with the added functionality of your own blog, distributing it to social networks, and refining the look and messages as your business evolves.

    1. Hi Jeannette. Hosting is simply a cost of business. I recommend Rochen Host (because of performance, their “Backup Vault” & their customer support). They’re $8.95 a month too. There are cheaper hosts too but it’s important to select a vendor with a good reputation for hosting websites built with CMS (Content Management System) software like WordPress and Joomla. The last thing anyone needs is a slow site or a site that is “down” a lot.

      That’s a good point about using a good theme too. If it’s a basic blog, a free theme should work. (With the developer license of Thesis, client licenses are $40 or less.) It’s all part of the cost of doing business. What’s important for newbies to keep in mind is that their domain name and hosting is the foundation that they’re building their business on. Thanks for getting the discussion started!