If you’re into blogging, you may have your favourite bloggers. I do! Entrepreneur Richard Branson is one of them. Therefore, a while ago Richard gave an interview in which he was asked to give us some blog advice, and to tell us how to make the most of an online audience and turn your blog into a business. I would like to go through his blog advice (s) on building an online presence with you. Hang on with me.
Branson = Virgin
Richard Branson is well-known as a serial-entrepreneur and owner of the Virgin brand. Started in 1972, Virgin Records conquered the market with her records and mailed them to order – something unusual at the time. Up to now, the Virgin group is the size of 400 companies and has a value of 16.6 billion (in 2019).
I’ve the impression that many people think of the person Richard Branson when they think of the Virgin brand. What certainly contributed to his visibility is how he used blogging to make the most of his personal brand. On his blog he shares the ups and downs of Virgin and his adventures on Necker Island, and I really enjoy reading these blogs. Head over to his personal blog if you’d like to read them.
Therefore, it is not surprising that TheStar.com asked him for blog tips a while ago… Read on for some of his lessons on building an online presence through blogging.
Finding the fit
The Washington Post publishes over 500 pieces of content a day. Other big content kings like the New York Times and the Wallstreet Journal publish 230 and 240 stories a day. That is tremendous! So with starting a blog in todays era, you can definitely count on some competition. Richard Branson confirms in an interview from 2016 in TheStar.com: “Drawing a loyal group of followers is not easy, and requires a lot of time, effort and commitment […]”.
But aside from this effort, commitment and planning, there is also something else that´’s very important if you want to make your mark in today’s blogging era. The cue to building a brand is to find the fit between the desires of your loyal audience on the one hand and the blog posts, services and products that you offer on the other.
Think about it. A niche reader comes to your blog for a specific purpose. The reader wants to learn something new about their niche or industry, to survey different opinions about a certain topic, or to solve a problem they’re facing right now. Although it is very tempting to go on and on with telling your (personal) stories, it is important that you do it in a way that it will add value for the reader. That’s why finding “the fit” is so important. It makes the difference between pushing the reader away instead of dragging them in.
But finding the fit is also important to build some level of consistency through your blog. The Virgin founder mentions in The Star: “[…] The most important step when building a business around your blog is to look at whether the products and services you’re considering fit with the brand that you have built up. For example, if the image that you’re conveying through your site is one of sophistication and luxury, the items you sell should reflect that as well.”
Storytelling makes it easy for your readers to immerse themselves in the topic and keep the focus, as well as relate to your experience and connect at a more human level. It’s all about balance. Keep your storytelling and niche advice in balance. Storytelling per-se is not what people are after – for that, they have novels and Netflix.
The advantages of a blogger
Richard acknowledges that bloggers have a unique advantage over others trying to launch a business: “You know who your customers are, and your customers already know and trust you.”
Richard adds: “Often people are drawn to blogs because of a feeling of intimacy or community; it may be that they’d be interested in purchasing items that you find interesting, as a way of further taking part in that experience.” “As a blogger, you have a direct line to your customers, and you should use this connection to help make the best decisions for the community you have created.”
Another advantage that Richard identifies bloggers have over other entrepreneurs is that they can communicate with customers in ways that “normal businesses” don’t. They are able to adapt to a dialogue with their readers to figure out what’s really in their minds. He recommends to just ask readers whether they’d be interest in buying some of the products or services that you’re thinking about.
But, Richard also warns for the dark side of blogging. He says: “The relationship between a successful blogger and her readers tends to be a two-way street, and you need to avoid alienating them when you monetise your blog.”
Never loose the dialogue, intimacy or a sense of community
“Take a careful look at what differentiates you from your competition. Often people are drawn to blogs because of a feeling of intimacy or community; it may be that they’d be interested in purchasing items that you find interesting, as a way of further taking part in that experience.”
He adds: “Think about why your readers come to you, and not another blogger. “[…] you need to make sure that what you’re offering is truly unique. Your readers and followers should see those goods or services as different from everyone else’s.”
Make your readers your first priority as you pursue this idea, and you’ll turn your brand into a business.”
If you create a brand, whether through blogging or not, ask yourself the following question. When I put my own name or that brand name on a blog or on a product, what does it convey?
For example, when I say Coca-Cola, you immediatly have a visible feeling about it. When I say Disney or Beyoncé, you immediatly have a visible feeling about them too.
The same works with your content. Building an online presence can be challenging. You have to find that perfect fit between the desires of your audience and the content that you provide. If you want to engage a loyal audience, it’s very important to make sense of those desires. Although it may seem like blogging is something that you just do on the side.
As Branson have mentioned, there are many advantages that bloggers have over other entrepreneurs or artists that doesn’t have a blog. It may help you to take them into consideration.
I hope Richard Branson’s blog advice (s) help you along your own journey. Reach out for me if you want to share your ideas. That’s something I enjoy.
Read on to find more blogs about building an online presence and how to turn your online presence into a personal brand: