Blogging For Dummies – An Opportunity For Personal Branding

This  blog has been inspired by Jan who contacted me through Twitter saying, “Would I think about doing an article on “Blogging For Dummies”.

Jan has just started a blog and she said in her first post on February 28, 2010.

“I have started this blog because frankly, I, like thousands of others, have recently been downsized. I am unemployed. I am home without a job to go to for the 1st time in 25 years. It is a staggering admission and why would I want to expose this to the world? Well, besides needing something to do for 16 hours of awake time, everyone I know is suggesting I start my own thing.”

You have to admire the honesty and the effort for being that open as well starting a blog! A lot of very skilled and experienced people are in this situation all around the world due to the GFC.

A colleague I recently met at a dinner party, also said that he had started a blog while he was “transitioning between jobs” and turned that time into an opportunity to reskill and position himself online in his area of expertise and passion.

In essence a blog is a great opportunity to create your own “online personal brand”. You only have to look at several prominent bloggers to notice the first essential element of creating a personal brand online.

Mike Volpe of Hubspot

Scott Monty of Ford

Matt Cutts of Google

Dan Schwabel of Dan Schwabel

Did you click on any of the their Hyperlinked names?… If you haven’t check them out…. What did you notice? In answering this rhetorical question….. they have their own names as the domain name of their blog or website.

So bloggers can use their blog to position themselves within the niche that they are passionate about. Rumi Neely of the well known fashion blog “Fashion Toast” has used her blog to position herself as an authority on fashion.

So what are some of the basics of a blog for creating a personal brand that will help you “get found online”, find a job or a new career? What are some of the activities that you should pursue with your brand new blog?  Here are some ideas to get you started.

  1. Buy your own domain name with your own name (it doesn’t have to be a dot com, if it isn’t available use another domain suffix such as dot biz)
  2. Purchase a blogging template (if financial resources allow) such as a WordPress Thesis theme, this is flexible and great for SEO (usually can be bought for less than a $100)
  3. Have the blog self hosted not hosted with free hosting such as  WordPress or Typepad.. this creates much more flexibilityin the future to improve your blog through widgets that aren’t possible when within a third party blogging environment.
  4. Get the blog built professionally designed and developed if you have the financial resources to do so
  5. Write posts regularly at least once a week (more if you can.. 2-3 is better.. 1 a day is best)
  6. Publish any content online you have offline
  7. Use great headlines, this is the bait to get someone to read further
  8. Write comments on other important bloggers posts in your industry
  9. Place your blog content on other social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter to leverage your content
  10. Use bullet points to make it easy for readers to scan your blog posts to obtain the important points
  11. Add credibility banners such as how many subscribers, number of hits, blog grade and any awards as your blog gains traction
  12. Provide “share this” buttons to Facebook and Twitter as a minimum
  13. Implement from day one, the feature to subscribe to your blog either with RSS and Email – Google’s feedburner makes this easy to implement
  14. Use images to add some style to the blog, these can be easily copied into your blog using free images from Flickr’s advanced search creative commons licence
  15. Promote your blog on Twitter

So Jan, and others of you that are feeling some pain through no choice of your own. Take the opportunity to reskill, learn and rebuild your passion while you have the time. You might be surprised at the opportunities that emerge from the gloom.

What are the opportunities that you have obtained from blogging that surprised you? Let’s hear some of your stories.

Note: By the way Dan Schwabel blog is all about personal branding so check it out


  • Slamdunk

    Good points–blogging can be a great opportunity.

  • Barry Dewar

    Useful post. Thanks for sharing your tips.

    I’m not sure if I agree with you about the importance of buying your own domain name and having your blog professionally designed. Using your own name as a suffix to wordpress, bogger or similar is perfectly acceptable. I’d even argue that it positions you as “one of the masses” which is useful for blogging as people don’t expect you to be in an ivory tower.

    Having said that though, I guess it depends on the audience you’re looking for…

    • Brian Currin

      Hi Barry

      Like the way you think about domain names … I use them sometimes and other times I don’t

  • Justin Kownacki

    All good tips from the tactical side.


    I like to think you left out tips like “have something relevant to say,” “do it because you love it” and “invest yourself in quality and individuality” because they should go without saying.

    Otherwise, you’re handing people the keys to a well-designed blog that no one, including the author, will care about.

  • Jan Harvey

    I am flattered that you would go to the trouble of creating this very insightful blog. I appreciate the guidance and now feel that I need to rush out and do everything differently including changing my domain name. I will have to think on that one. Since I don’t have the extra cash, I think I will stay with the wordpress format as it suits my needs at the moment. I really just needed a place to spew and put my idle mind to use. The thing I miss most about working is the stimulating exchanges of interesting people and ideas. I am grateful to all of my new twitter friends for giving me an outlet to express myself and learn.

    Many thanks Jeff.

  • foxygknits

    Thanks for another good article!

    I have an online shop on etsy where I sell hand knit scarves, shawls and wraps. As part of my “networking,” I belong to several etsy teams, including the Etsy Twitter Team and Etsy Bloggers Team. I post to my blog, Foxy G’s Den of i-KNIT-quity ( twice a week and take every opportunity to feature items that were made by members of my teams and other etsy sellers. This not only has given me a wonderful network, but also, hopefully, drives people to my etsy shop.

  • Mike Volpe

    Wow. I am flattered. Thanks for including me as one of your examples! I hope to meet you in person sometime…

  • tillatorrens

    Thanks, all very good points on the technical/tactical side – I’m taking notes for the day I start my own blog. I agree with Justin too, content is king – probably why I haven’t started mine yet 😉 I would also add one to your list from my observations so far: it’s good practice to reply to comments on one’s own blog, if warranted, as it continues the conversation.

  • Shawn

    Great post. Just 1 thing. Where are your share buttons? I tried to put it on Twitter, but couldn’t find any button to do that easily.

  • Logan Nathan

    Great post. Thank you.

    Spot on with all your 15 points and you have given us some great examples to role model on this subject. I need to update my blog site more than once or twice a week which I try and do now.

    I think on your point 15, we need to pomote our blogs on all social media not just on twitter! In partcular via Linked and Facebook.

  • iqhope

    FULL of wonderful insights and URL’s on how and when to use Twitter; didn’t have quite as many anecdotes and ‘ah-hah’ moments as Twitterville, but still worth the discounted prices from Barnes & Noble (with added membership discount!). Follow me: #Dawn_Boyer

  • Mars Dorian

    “Write comments on other important bloggers posts in your industry”

    that’s what I’m doing now, long live personal branding 😉

  • Sharon Mostyn

    I appreciate the tips and think #3 should be given special emphasis. If you host your blog on WordPress, Typepad, etc. then you’re at their mercy instead of taking control of your content – case in point the Ning announcement that they will be charging for all of their forums…

    Sharon Mostyn
    Twitter: @sharonmostyn

  • hisbell

    Fantastic blog! I just discovered it by someone else Tweeting it… You now have a loyal follower! :)

  • Anna Hoge

    Thanks so much for this post. I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now about things I love, but never before in order to promote the things I Do. After a little research and posts such as this, I am finding it not as frightening of a task as first thought, and will be starting my new site this weekend. This was the last little boost of confidence I needed before making the decision to go for it! Much appreciation!!

  • Through a New Lens

    Love it. I recently started my own blog and basically use your list as a checklist to make sure I’m on the right path. On all the numbers that had “if resources and money allow” I’m still working on those, but the things I can control outside of money, I am (I’m even commenting on blogs I respect and read myself, I’m doing it right now, see #8 above). I try to stick to a strict Mon, Wed, Fri posting schedule starting out on but hope to “up the ante” sometime soon.

  • Chris Domaloan

    “#4 Get the blog built professionally designed and developed if you have the financial resources to do so”

    Couldn’t agree more. As much as I like tinkering with my site EVERY SINGLE DAY I’d be about a thousand times more productive if I had someone build and design it to my liking. Then I’d be able to focus on the real stuff like content and generating traffic.

  • sexy legs and body

    Great post, as a casual blogger, I see I have lots to learn still, but this was a very interesting and informative post, thanks for taking the time to share.

    Have a super day.

  • Social Rabbit

    Thanks Jeff.

    Although I am not sure on the credibility of adding numbers to your blog, especially when you first start out, as if you only have 2 readers, it doesn’t really inspire others to read.

    I think as well patience needs to be added in, I have been blogging now for 4 months, and realistically it takes this amount of time before people start to engage with you, I now when I started I didn’t think it would take that long!


  • Dave

    Great list. The list would have been nice when I was starting out.

  • scott haley

    Blogging for Dummies….Now that is a book that I would buy by the case! First for me, and then my clients. Think somebody such as yourself or Seth Godin should approach the ‘For Dummies’ people about seriously writing that book.

    • Ellen Gerstein

      Of course, there already is a Blogging For Dummies.

  • pushpendra

    Yes you have mentioned the basics of blogging. Very Useful Thank you

  • CathyWebSavvyPR

    Great post on the topic of blogging 101 – one point of clarification of blogging newbies. WordPress is one of the very good blogging platforms as you mentioned. However, to help people find the Right WordPress – here goes: – is what you probably DON’T want – that would be for the URL. (Although – this can be a fun training ground for a few weeks, just to get the “feel” of blogging – maybe behind the scenes, without mentioning your full name (so Google doesn’t show your early efforts to the world forever) – just to play around – but don’t spend too much time here – this is not the full, robust wordpress experience) – is probably what you want – you buy your OWN domain name/URL (as suggested above)then uses the software to run your site. In order to do this – you have to purchase a website hosting package from a webhost (make sure it meets WordPress’s requirements. See next tip below.

    Two more tips for 1st time bloggers.
    If you just got downsized or are a work-at-home type that isn’t bringing in the big bucks yet, or a hobbyist would-be-blogger – the $60-$150 web hosting fee can seem steep. Not everyone likes GoDaddy as a web host (I’ve not had trouble with them, others love to hate them. There are plenty of other options as well) – but…they have 2 things that make blogging MUCH EASIER for newbies – they are one of the few sites that let you pay for your hosting on a month by month basis – $6.95 per month – and you can set it on Credit card automatic payment.

    Many other website hosts also offer some version of a “One Button WordPress Install” which is a great help, but the best feature GoDaddy curretnly offers – is a website hosting package with WordPress PREINSTALLED! – you’ll still have to tweak the theme etc. – but that is a great help – no FTPing the wordpress files necessary.

    Also if you don’t use your name in the domain URL – be sure to use it somewhere in the text the top of your site – maybe in a welcome box – that way Google will pick it up there for SEO purposes. Not as strong SEO, but it helps.

    I hope Jeff doesn’t mind me suggesting one web company over another, but it is a trick that can make it much easier for a new would-be blogger. Have fun folks!

    Cathy Larkin

    • Melodie Licht

      Great comment here. I wasn’t aware of the month-to-month hosting – can be very helpful to a beginner. Also, having WordPress preinstalled is another way to get them going right away. Thanks for the insight!

    • Maree Walsh

      I’m a totally newbie trying to figure this all out.Thx for the awesome info.

  • Jam

    I like the post, it is very informative. After reading the post I came to know about Matt cutt and all.


  • jbdcolley

    Thanks Jeff – just getting my blog started and appreciate the advice

  • Jon Mertz

    Practical points. Great advice and ideas on building and enhancing our personal brands. Thanks!

  • Brady Lewis

    Another great post! Very useful information for people just getting into blogging. I think a lot of people overlook the importance of visiting other blogs. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own stuff, but you need to get out a participate!

  • Amanda Sliepka

    Above you mention that a blog needs a great headline. What headlines have or would catch your attention to read a blog?

  • fredfelton

    Great post on Blogging here full of so many wonderful tips.  

  • hima chhag

    very useful guidelines.. thanks.

  • Writersmind2009

    I’m just starting to be consistent with my blog and developing my brand after a series of writer workshops. This is helpful information. Thanks.


  • Larry Erdman

    Best advise is, look at several prominent bloggers to notice the first essential element of creating a personal brand online. Always check out what others are doing first, learn from the good and the bad. Get the best you can afford, if you go cheap it will in most cases look cheap. If you want success give yourself the most opportunity you can.


    As a beginner this was well written and easy to grasp, Thanks Jeff

  • Praveen Rajarao

    Awesome blogging basics listed out here. Nice for anyone to understand the concept and get started all at once.

    If anyone is really interested, you can download my ebook – How to stop worrying and start blogging, free on my website.

  • Franchise Marketing Group

    Blogging just got made easy with these tips. The hardest part of blogging is coming up with engaging content that people will want to read, but if you are passionate then this should not be hard to do.