Wired PR Works by Barbara Rozgonyi

Real-izing Your Virtual Identity

BlogHer Conference ’07 | Live Blogging on 7-28| Self Branding and Self Promotion

Posted by barbararozgonyi on July 27, 2007

BlogHer '07 Conference Theme

Self-branding and Self-promotion Breakout Session Description
Ask yourself this: if you’re a blogger, do you consider yourself a writer? If you’re submitting paid pieces, or running ads, or making money either directly or indirectly by being a blogger, do you consider yourself a professional writer? Do you call yourself that when people ask what you do? If The Business of You track called your name, then you should probably be answering “yes” to all of the above. And if You are the Business, then you might want to get comfortable with self-branding and self-promotion. This session will explore how to think of yourself in what might be a new way…and how to use both online and offline media to promote your work. Putting yourself out there isn’t always comfortable, but it is good Business. Featuring Nina Burokas, “Brazen Careerist” Penelope Trunk and Stephanie Cockerl, who will coach you towards owning your own personal voice, your own personal brand.

Here’s the random notes version . . . fresh with minimal editing now edited. By the way, the speakers are still in the room taking questions almost 20 minutes after the session ended. Please leave a comment if you mentioned your blog during the session and would like a link. Also, feel free to add resources.

The room is crowded, people are sitting on the floor. Forty-eight seats at tables hold laptops. A newborn sits on its mom’s lap. It’s mostly women – about 15 men.

Penelope is greeting everyone. This is personal branding. Each speaker will give intros about who they are what they bring to the personal branding issue and then we’ll see what we want to get out of the session is the format.

Penelope’s first personal branding position was as a beach volleyball player. She took that experience to the Fortune 500 industry and told them you really need to be noticed. Finding the Fortune 500 lifestyle to be difficult and demanding, she started her own company, then sold it and moved to New York.

When the World Trade Center fell, she thought she was going to die. At the time she wrote a column about her life as a software executive. She decided to rebrand her life as a columnist. She wrote for the Boston Globe and said everyone should be blogging, but she didn’t have a blog. Everyone she interviewed that had a blog didn’t make any money.

For the past year, she’s been blogging at Brazen Careerist with 350,000 page views per month. That’s her new personal brand.

Nina –Branding is about leveraging your strengths and differentiating yourself from the crowd. She was in operations for 10 years, then sales and marketing. This is the type of situation where you’re not in control. As a Scorpio, she needed to be in control. She wanted to understand her expertise, and how to communicate that. The power of blogging is the range that you can get – you’re going outside of your geographic location, etc.

With women it’s important for us to be proactive, to figure out our area of expertise. We need to find out how: I connect the dots between who I know, and who I need to know? A lot of times we don’t take to think about what is success for us – exec, owner, mom? It’s probably a lot different than traditional consumerism. Make sure blogging is moving you where you want to go.

Nina’s final foray into the corporate realm was in a Fortune 50 company. After going through four reorganizations, she found her vision. To have a sustainable, global society – we need to unleash the power of women. She’s now honed in on personal branding.

Stephanie – finally signed up for Twitter this morning. Her branding began almost 34 year years ago. She bought her first domain name in 1999, using her initials and her last name. As an HTML programmer and school of business consulting, she took her inspiration for her company’s name, next Steph, from Next Step College Magazine. She added an h and that’s how her brand, next steph, came to be. She’s involved in so many things, now her focus is on search engine and marketing. Stephanie advises you to dig into your passion and figure out what works for you.

What do we want to get out this? A blog is a conversation.

Audience – We need recommendations about how to get your name out there, build traffic– logistics – how do you build a brand? What is the step by step process? Interested in how you separate yourself from the business if you’re both? How do you maintain the sense of brand that you’ve created in a world that 1- how to establish so it doesn’t get harassed2 -once you have that brand how do you build traffic?

Penelope: Has some strong opinions about brands. Used to have a comapany one that was separate from herself, but now it’s the same. Being separate has no purpose. It’s very hard to build a brand that you do not actually feel as you. If you’re establishing a brand that can’t be you, that’s dishonest. Once you establish a brand that is you and you’re out there, then you do open yourself up to harassment. Women understand that – being harassed online is a lot safer than in person. Be true to yourself in life and online. Then you have to be only one person. Blogging is such a great expression of who you are.

Comment: 2 blogs – personal + reporter – how do you be true to both?

Penelope: We’re all really practical with our personality. We’re really good at what to be where. When you blog at seriousbusiness.com – you take the part of you that’s really serious. When you’re with the smart kids be smart.

Comment: From a generalist: How important is it to be a specialist?

Nina – strong brands are known for something, not a bunch of things. If there is something that you want to be known for, it really should be a couple of things, not a bunch. An integrated mindset is good, but keep it focused.

Stephanie: keep it succinct. She recommends Laura Allen of 15secondpitch.com, Sometimes it takes time to develop a narrow focus, give it time and go with your gut.

Comment – trying to brand myself as byjane, also my byline, it’s my magazine – politics, knitting. Has a number of different things she’s writing about, but now I find that I’m moving into another direction. Is that too diffused?

Penelope: Yes, it’s too diffused – you can’t do knitting and politics on the same blog.

Nina: What’s your unique promise or value? For example, Executive Recruiter vs. Bringing Wisdom to the Talent Process. Focus in on a byline that describes what you uniquely bring to the party.

Comment: Can you recommend a self-guided workshop to build a brand communication plan so they know what to write about?

Nina: Recommends and ollaborates with the authors of Career Distinction, Standing Up by Building Your Brand, which is a really inexpensive way to do that. Written by the two folks that wrote The Reach.

Comments – How do I brand within the mom blogger sphere

Penelope: What do you stand for?

Nina: That’s what it’s all about.

Penelope: If you find something where you’re the only one who does – say, diapers – you’ll stand out.

Nina: You need to express your point of view. You need to alienate a certain number of people, but you’ll attract the people who are interested in you.

Comment: Should you stay within your community – interesting thought to venture out of your community to say something valuable?

Penelope – It’s interesting to think about how narrow you can get. The value in pegging yourself to a narrow topic is much greater than being broad.

Comment – girlwithpen – 2 books, has a blog since January, blogging from book tours, has a dedicated audience, how does she grow?

Penelope – You need a 3 word tagline, have to have that umbrella to cover all of your book topics. The blog doesn’t need to include your book. Focus more on the blog topic, than the book topic. Also gives you more freedom to write a wide variety of books.

Comments – Beth’s blog, how non-profits are using social media for social change, technology is very broad, how non-profits use YouTube, Flicker, etc. How can I boil that down to a tagline?

Penelope: How non-profits use technology

Stephanie: Technology’s changing every minute.

Nina: As long as you know what your thing is, stick to it.

Comment: Jan Lemmon on women who’ve had a lot of success and want to take it to the next level. Where is the transition space: you know who you are and what you want – and you are generating income. Is the tagline issue the thing or is this magical leap? How about art in pictures and books?

Penelope: If your goal is to sell something, you need to know who you’re selling to and then send your switch there.

Nina: I don’t get that from the tagline. You can be a Business Etiquette Consultant or say you specialize in Etiquette for Business and Social Success, basically college and older people who want to lead the good life. Create a tagline that lets people know what you’re selling.

Comment: Food scientist – how do I use my blog to advance my career in the corporate world?

Penelope: Blog about what you want to be hired for. Your blog is your resume, you want to be hired for your ideas.

Comment: emomsathome.com being a home business blog, there’s a really wide range of topics. Strayed away but come back are the most popular posts like one on kids activities.

Penelope: That’s a great transition example on how to build traffic. The posts that do really well are those that meet at intersections: combining two topics that are not typically combined. Some of her best posts take 3 posts that have nothing to do with each other and tie them together, some of the most interesting.

Comment: How do I get people to read my blog beyond my email list?

Penelope: How many blogs do you comment on each day? Questioner – 2 times a week. If you want to have a conversation, do blogging. If you don’t, do print. If you’re not really interested in the back and forth, then blogging’s not right for you. The way to get known is to be authentically known and to be interested in people. If you’re going to be in the conversation you have to want to be there.

Stephanie: It starts with community. Find similar sites.

Comment: havefundogood – another way to get traffic is through blog carnivals and see if other sites need guest bloggers

Comment: dontjelltoosoon.com her blog is like the Today Show

Penelope – There are a few people online who can blog about anything online. Go read the people who blog about anything.

Comment: debrashultz.com – technology changes, humans don’t, business principles applied to our personal lives. Recommends Made to Stick. If you blog about a lot of different topics, can be a curator for everybody else. If you’re passionate about a topic, you blog should be a secondary benefit to what you do naturally. You have to give to get. My most popular photo ever is on Flickr with an eye patch [I saw that! comment from audience] – example of how unexpectedness can pop up. Headlines get attention.

Penelope: If she’s not scared to post something, if it’s not new or interesting, she’s not doing her job. If you’re posting every day and you’re not worried that someone will call you an idiot, then you’re not taking enough of a risk.

Comments: Tags are important, copyblogger.com great for headlines and how to develop a niche market.

Comment: Holly from babyfaith.com – a lot of people read my entire blog. People are touched and send emails. How do you balance the people that read your blog contacting you, you want to be friendly with, but how do you respond to personal requests? She wants to continue interacting, but she can’t council one-on-one sessions.

Penelope: She polled people like Guy Kawasaki who said he spends 4 hours a day on email about how they handle all the messages. He says it’s better than being a garbage man, that’s his job. A lot of people she talked to said the same thing. Then she sent emails out to the same problem and asked for advice to people like Seth Godin. They would email a one-liner that was really courteous.

Nina: What do you want to do with it [the questions and comments]? You can: A-publish a book. B-have the fans come out on the book tour.

Stephanie: Make it a win-win. Ask them if they can ask the question on the blog.

Comment: Another way is to offer online calls where people can buy consulting time.

Comment: Curious about syndication and how that works and how it affects the traffic that you get.

Peneolope: It’s totally archiac and a waste of time. $500/month from 50 different papers – it’s a waste of time.

Comment: suburbanturmoil.com, want to expand beyond the blog world to get a book deal or a sit com

Penelope: You can’t take a blog and go to a book. If you have a blog, you get $15,000. If you have a blog and something else like an idea for a book, then you get your money. Your blog is not your book.

Comment: PRLeads.com – ProfNet puts out a query, a generalist writing a story looks for a sources. PR Leads connects you to the journalists. Start connecting with the journalists and the reporters. Looked on PR Leads and contacted a journalists to let them know that she had a source.

Comment: Person is on the team at Harper that decides about what gets acquired. The blog cannot translate to a book. If you have a platform, if you have an interesting idea, then the book can be acquired. Every publisher asks – is this book beyond the blog? In publishing, they’re seeing a great deal of failures in blog to book publishing. She would certainly make the steps to develop a clear and concise proposal.

Comment: lizawashere.com on brand risk and how out there you are in the appropriate business context. She is totally out with her lesbian family blog, because she needs to be herself. If you’re a blogger in your authentic voice, you can only gain from that.

Comment: In the mommysphere with a masters, how does she have both hats in the same site to help people and parents? How does she transition and balance between giving advice and telling them what to do?

Penelope: She writes about 5% of the time she screws up as a home. Makes her more unique. You have an opportunity to do both together.

Comment: For those of you have blogs, there is no money in syndication in print – no money, but it is a good way to get noticed. How do you make money blogging?

Comment: You can make money blogging with affiliate revenue. AdSense is a joke. Also find ways to spin off and tap your audience in different.

The speakers thanked the audience and the session ended.

08.02.07 Update

Read Nina’s continuing coverage on branding and self promotion at her blog, Nina Burokas on Better Living Through Brand


8 Responses to “BlogHer Conference ’07 | Live Blogging on 7-28| Self Branding and Self Promotion”

  1. kfry said

    Nice summary! I thought this was a fantastic workshop. I would have prefered an actual presentation followed by Q & A instead of all Q & A…but the presenters did an awesome job of answering the room coherently, on their feet. Great work. The main point I walked away with: You need a one sentence description of your blog that communicates and connects with people. And do I ever need help with that! I’d be very happy to hear ANY suggestions for what my “tag line” ought to be. If you’re good at coming up with pithy, catchy, tag lines…visit me at http://www.ReclaimingTheFWord.com and leave your idea as a comment on today’s post. Thanks for your help!!

    And thanks for a great conference.

  2. Thanks for your comment – and your takeaway. Even if you have a cool logo [like BlogHer], you still need to be able to express yourself succintly. Keep crunching until you get to the bare essence. Anyone want to share their taglines here?

  3. Kvetch said

    I agree with the first commenter, I expected a presentation on branding, not a Q&A. I think the session picked up tremendously when the bloggers in attendance started asking questions, but a dynamic, informative presentation given by three experts followed by a Q & A would have been more to my liking.

    In the beginning of the session someone asked for a “step-by-step” mini-guide to self-branding, like a how-to. That was never answered which was disappointing.

  4. We also didn’t get around to talking about traffic in too much detail. Maybe next time traffic and branding could both be breakout sessions. A flipchart to capture group comments on the best techniques would turn the session into a best practices brainstorming session.

  5. Barbara, thanks for live blogging the panel! Thanks as well to Kelly, et.al., for participating and providing feedback. For future reference, am I hearing replace the introductions with a 5 minute (per panelist) overview of personal branding and then open it up to Q&A?

    Re: the mini-guide. Sorry – we missed that one. Here’s my five step process (developed in collaboration with Paul Copcutt): (1) Visualize – Establish your brand foundation; (2) Clarify – Conduct & analyze market research; (3) Differentiate – Articulate brand positioning; (4) Communicate – Develop & execute brand strategy; (5) Collaborate – Build influence & expertise. If you’re visual, picture a lifecycle process diagram around a core of Evolve – Manage & evolve your brand (that is, it’s not an event, it’s an ongoing process).

    The blue & white Dos & Don’ts/How Strong is Your Brand handout provides additional insight into the process. For example, Visualize is about building a brand foundation that incorporates your vision, purpose, values and passions. And, as I alluded to in posts and during the panel, until you figure out who you are and what you’re trying to achieve (what success means to you), a tagline is meaningless.

    The book I recommended for those who want more context is Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand, based on the Reach methodology (full disclosure: I’m a Reach Certified Personal Brand Strategist). The Reach process, which is what I used in my original branding, is three steps – Extract, Express, Exude – but I think the 5-step above is more accessible for DIYers.

  6. Nina:
    Thanks for sharing your provess and the valuable resources – great to keep the conversation going! You make an excellent point about branding [and life]: “. . . as I alluded to in posts and during the panel, until you figure out who you are and what you’re trying to achieve (what success means to you), a tagline is meaningless.”

  7. […] paid to write, but …lifecreativitycoach on Yes, I get paid to write, but …barbararozgonyi on BlogHer Conference ‘07 |…Nina Burokas on BlogHer Conference ‘07 […]

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