When I was a little girl, I used to make my own clothing. Okay, I’m not gonna lie, I’ve done that as an adult too. But my styles were less “off tha chain” and more “off her rocker.”
My mother told me my brand should be Ashley Go-Figure, a play on the once-populer (is it still? I don’t follow fashion…) Tommy Hilfiger. A lot of my Twitter followers that are blog- or small-business-people keep bringing up the concept of branding.
In the proverbial nutshell, branding is when you create a unique concept for your business/blog/bacchanalia so that other people will remember and recognize it. This can be a good thing, a way to separate you from the proverbial herd so that you may be heard amongst the rest of the cacophonous coterie.
But is it necessary?
Most of the advice I get is that branding is necessary, and certainly it has worked for Allie Brosh over at Hyperbole and a Half and for Dan and Noah over at Single Dad Laughing. Both write about their lives, much as I do. Allie does it through the most awesome MS Paint creations I have ever seen!
There are tons of blogs out there and most of them boil down to these categories: art blogs, foodie blogs, egocentric blogs, book review blogs, tech savvy blogs, crafting blogs, advice blogs, family blogs, political blogs, and educational blogs. If you run across a blog that doesn’t seem to fit into at least one of these categories and you pick it apart, it probably does fit, at its roots.
But the problem with fitting a blog into a tidy little box like that and staying in that box in order to keep a brand is that everyone else is doing that to. Branding isn’t the only answer, and isn’t the answer at all for some people. HAAH and SAL are both popular because the authors write well (and draw well) and have something to say.
And, essentially, that’s what my blog is too. I don’t have a plot, so to speak. I just write about my life, and things and people that impact or interact with my life.
I have dabbled in the MS Paint drawing world; I suck at it, but I consider art blogs to also include every other kind of visual or performing art, including showcasing ones writing talents (okay, so all blogs do this to a certain extent, but I meant fiction and poetry and such). This is not a foodie blog, but sometimes I cook and sometimes I write about the things that I cook. My blog is not exclusively dedicated to book reviews, but I do them on occasion because I love to read and figure my readers do too. I am by no means tech savvy or a crafting aficionado, but sometimes certain technology or craft projects will interest me. I give advice on occasion and talk about my family. I’ve been known to tackle politics; I might even teach my readers something from time to time.
If I fit into any of the boxes, it might be accurate to call this an egocentric blog, since I talk about myself…a great deal.
But even amidst the egocentric ramblings all of the other things I’ve mentioned that I write about keep my blog from being part of a set mold. And really, who wants a moldy blog?
Do I have any advice for other bloggers? I might…
Rules for Blogging:
- Blog about things that happen to you, interest you, or that you are somewhat knowledgeable about. I’ve come across blogs where the writer has tried to fit a certain theme without really knowing much about the subject matter, and it shows–glaringly.
- Blog often. I’m guilty of ignoring this rule. I get caught up in the business of living life and forget to write about it. Which is why I’ve taken on more blogging projects, such as the reviews of books and businesses. Which brings me to number 3:
- The more you have to write about, the more you will be able to write. Don’t overload yourself, of course, and don’t forget rule number 1, but find topics. They’re out there.
- Read other blogs. Why? You cannot write in a bubble! My apologies to the original coiner of that phrase; I cannot remember who you are and Google was no help. But the point is, you need to know what’s going on in the blogosphere and you need to interact. You’ll get topic ideas. You’ll make friends. You’ll be angered or inspired, but either way it’ll help you write.
- Read. No, this is not a senile repetition of rule number 4. You need to read books, magazines, billboard signs, social networking sites, humour sites, the back of the cereal box, the ingredients to your shampoo, the instruction manual for your lastest electronic gadget, shipping labels, messages in bottles, traffic signs, business cards,
your neighbor’s mail…wait, scratch that last one, that’s illegal. But reading everything in sight improves your base knowledge, making rules 1, 2, and 3 much easier to follow.
- Keep your eyes and ears open. Like reading, listening to and observing the world around you is a great way to find topics to blog about. I did a whole entry recently after hearing my little girl’s response to watching Jerry (as in Tom and) go to heaven.
- My 7th rule? There really aren’t any rules at all. You can take my advice or leave it like the blind date you saw before they saw you.
I’m not syndicated and the followers that admit to being followers are well into the tens, but I’ve been blogging since 2005, and people do read. Even if they don’t comment and don’t list themselves as a follower on facebook or Google, they tell me on the phone or in an email or at school or on facebook or on Twitter or in Wal-Mart (and don’t think that wasn’t awkward for all involved!) that they loved reading an entry or have advice regarding the subject matter of an entry.
That’s the best part of blogging. Knowing that people are reading and that it’s impacting their lives in some way. You can’t get that if you’re focused on fitting into a box. You can’t get that if you’re so obsessed with branding that you lose sight of the real reason blogs exist. What is a blog? It’s a web-log AKA journal AKA diary AKA something-that-was-once-written-in-a-private-and-possibly-locked-book-for-one-person-but-is-now-stored-on-the-world-wide-web-for-all-to-see-and-comment-on and that is a good thing.
Jim Jones–This is my life. We die young ’cause we livin’ fast, so I’ma let you read my diary, so I’ma let you read my dairy.