Pro Tips: Branding and Blogging Professionally


Charlie Capen

Gina Crosley-Cocoran

Jill Krause

Mandy Morrison

Blogging 5 years
Did not allow herself to take things seriously until BlogHer '11 -- once she did, her readership tripled and opportunities came her way.

Topics of the morning:

Will talk about basics:
How to make your blog appear more professional
How to brand yourself
Giving yourself permission to be a professional blogger
Moving beyond self deprecation as this can be a blessing and a curse
How they define professionalism

You want to make sure that once you are comfortable with your brand that it carries across all social media platforms so that people know who you are.

Blogging consistently every day is important -- you must blog often. She blogs at least 5 days a week, sometimes has "blog post fillers" to keep consistency. Get more page views, following when I blogged more often.

Give yourself permission to be professional
When I decided I wanted to be a professional blogger, I wrote five days a week. However, it was difficult as I was a stay-at-home-mom. I put my son and daughter in Mothers' Day Out, as it was an investment in my business; I knew I had to spend money to make money.

You need to communicate with your partner as to what you want and get their support, whether it is watching the kids or doing the laundry.

If you have money to invest, you should hire a blog designer to help you out.

Find your "graduating class" -- find other bloggers like you -- be open and frank with other bloggers like you and encourage each other. So much value in your own community.

Remember that you can not always take what your readers say to heart as they will not always agree with you - if you are happy/ok with what you put out to the world, then stand behind what you write.

Gina - the feminist breeder

Started 5 years ago, wanted to have a place to speak my mind without getting kicked off message boards, taken seriously when people started seeing me as a resource.

If you are going to do advertising, make it easy for people to find you and contact you to purchase your ads.

Branding is about consistency in your message and your appearance for your blog.
My name is the same across all social media sites
Logo is the same across all areas
I brand the e-mail as well, pulls people as to what I am about and why people should read me.
WiseStamp - email signature on steroids - can include all social media logos and links from your e-mail.
Makes you appear more professional whether you have thousands of readers or not.

I also trademarked my name: if you are going to brand, spend a few hundred dollars to do this as it goes a long way to protect your intellectual property.

When starting a small business, decide what you want and how you will go about it. I wanted my blog to be a tool/platform for my career. Figure out what you want to get out of your project and what time/resources to invest to be successful.

Women often have issues with putting yourself our there. You have a lot of followers because people are interested in what you have to say. Believe in yourself and believe that you have something to add to the universe.

We should all be more positive in the community and ignore the negative.

Charlie Capen:

Co-Founder how to be a dad. Around 14-15 months. Started to take it seriously when he started but wanted to make sure that it was good.

Uses AdRotate for WordPress -- allows control as to how many times ads can be shown.

Also uses Federated Media.

Prefers to have a conversation with people so that he knows what the person is looking for rather than having a random ad on the site.

Blogging can be serious without making it "too serious" -- can be very important without being the be all and end all of life.

We spent 9 months planning the site so that it's exactly what we wanted to be -- planning your site this way can also make you appear more professional.

Blogging more frequently can make you feel more comfortable, however don't just blog anything.

If you do not professionally code, hire a professional blog designer. Saves a ton of time and less to worry about.

When we talk about site changes or when you talk to brands, there is a level of self-deprecation that is detrimental to your brand. If you value it, you will be willing to share it without false pride


When people first come to your page, it's important to have something that does not visually accost the reader, an about page (updated),
categories that showcase popular content, no music (unless it's prince) instead have a playlist. Centered text is hard to read.

Have a way to contact you, either an e-mail address, comments, etc. Do not make it hard for them. Links to facebook, twitter etc.

No colored text on black background - not MySpace.

Ads: On my blog, all of the advertising is on one side and contact information is on another side of the page. For personal ads, I recommended a sponsor page separately so that one can see stats, etc. It makes people easier to contact me for opportunities. Also uses passionfruit.

Do not panic if all of your names match across platforms; You can not have branding across and still be professional.

You need to know the difference between constructive criticism and trolls.
Trolls tell you that they want you to kill yourself. Constructive criticism can come from a reader that will give you negative feedback as to what is going on with your blog that may have changed.

Question: KAT - How important is it to comment back or respond to comments?

Mandy: Depends on what type of blog you have, but it is really important and I will try and respond to comments. You also have to give yourself permission to not respond to every comment.

Gina: I like to be engaged with my readers, however I think the comment section is more for readers to talk about their experiences.

Charlie: We respond to almost everything as we want to be part of the conversatoin our readers have while on the blog. I will respond whether I have something poignant or stupid to say.

Jill: I am really responsive to comments on my Facebook page.

Question: Have you switched graphic designers? How do I have the conversation regarding paying?

Jill: You should pay your designers for your services.
Gina: If you are not in love with your designer, feel free to switch.

Question: I blog on multiple platforms, is it better to take the personal blogs and keep them under one umbrella or have them separate?

Mandy: If you want them all to relate to your name, you can do a landing page with your URL with your name. Example -

Question: How often do you change your layouts?

Gina: have done it once. If you are going to change it, at least have people know where to find your links.

Mandy: No set schedule.

Charlie: have done it twice in one year. You want to create consistency, so it may not be a good idea to change it often.

Question: Do you ever guest post or correlate posts or working with other bloggers?

Mandy: Guest posts are great as long as the guest is giving value to your readers.

Jill: Any time that you can be a part of a conversation online that you are passionate about you should go for it.

Gina: This can also fall under Blog Carnivals (i.e. topic is chosen, we will all write about it and link back to each other's posts) - gives you a chance to get to know your community.

Charlie: Know the difference between a comment and a link post.

Question: Because Charlie Blogs with Andym what is good, bad or indifferent about blogging with a partner rather than blogging by yourself

Charlie: If one of us freaks out, the other is not allowed to. Bounce ideas off each other.

Question: I am looking to redesign my layout, can you guys suggest one that is not expensive?

Mandy: Elements of SEO is free. Since you can code, it's customizable.
Make it easy for people to read your posts.

Question: You mentioned trademarking your posts: how do you do that?

A: Find a lawyer and pay the fee.

Question: I don't have a facebook just a site; where would that conversation take place?

Gina: You should have a facebook page. You should also go where the readers are and/or the conversation is. If it's on Facebook, then it needs to be on Facebook.

Jill: I installed a Facebook widget on my blog that allows readers to make Facebook posts on my blog without going to Facebook. The comments
end up on the commenter's newsfeed. Google Facebook Wordpress comment widget.

Question: I have a facebook page and a twitter page but not a lot of likes - what am I doing wrong?

Jill: Nothing - you can't really control who likes your page.

Gina: Put reminders of your twitter page and your facebook page on your blog so you can remind your readers to like you.

Charlie: let the conversation be where it is and pick your social media poison.

Gina: Try not to get caught up in your Facebook numbers. I prefer to keep it small and to keep a sense of community.

Question: When you blog professionally, should you stay away from blog hops?

Mandy: Participating in them is are good, but keep it to a minimum.

Charlie: Be the baker but not the person taking all of the baked goods.

Question: We struggle with Facebook as to when to post. What seems to be the hotspot to post to Facebook?

Charlie: If your content is good, there are no rules.

Jill: It depends on your audience.

Gina: I post what I am thinking whenever I am thinking, but I usually try not to post once an hour.

Question: Do you find that themed posts help with branding?

Charlie: We worked on the content and what the categories were for a while because it helped us remain consistent.