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Blog Your Brand Trisha Okubo Disruptive Innovator, eBay [email protected] 0 Steps to Building Your Brand by Bloggin

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10 Steps to Building Your Personal Brand via blogging, using nationally-recognized fashion blog Omiru: Style for All ( as a case study. Omiru has been featured by the Wall Street Journal, Lucky Magazine, and Real Simple Magazine. These slides are for Web 2.0 Expo, for a workshop on Blogging and Social Media Marketing.


  • Blog Your BrandTrisha OkuboDisruptive Innovator, [email protected] Steps to Building Your Brand by Blogging

  • Hi, Im Trisha Okubo.

    By day, Im a Disruptive Innovator at eBay, where my work focuses on social commerce.(If anyone wants to chat about social networking and eCommerce, lets dish after this session!)

  • By night, Im the founder and editor of a Top 3 Fashion Blog: Omiru: Style for All

  • I started Omiru in March of 2005, armed with:

    a desire to learn, a passion for fashion, and persistence.

  • And since Omirus founding,

  • Weve written well over a thousand posts,What to Wear for Girls Night Out at the ClubHow to Wear Fishnet Stockings without Looking TrashyHow to Fit Jeans into Knee-High Boots How to Fly in StyleHow to Wear a Short Sleeved BlazerProfessional Style 101 5 Questions with Constance White, eBay Style Director Street Style: BostonReady Made Outfit: Trenchcoats for Every OccasionMen's Trend Alert: Summer PlaidsFashion over Fifty: Five Style TipsWhat to Wear to a Casual No-Tie Wedding Q&A: Whats the Ideal Shirt Length for a Man? Q&A: What to Wear to the Company Holiday Party How to Stop Static From Ruining Your Outfit

  • Helped hundreds of readers who write in with style questions, What should I wear and where can I find clothes for a summer, European Honeymoon?

  • and built a loyal community of readers who trade fashion tips.I just found out Im pregnant, and Im excited about buying clothes to fit my growing belly. Can you give me some inspiration? - VickieTarget has a fabulous line of clothing from designer Liz Lange. In fact, Im jealous - I wish they made some of her designs for us non-pregnant women! - Kate

  • Ive done style expert videos for Yahoo! Health/Capessa and SheZoom,Talking about things like

  • Fashion for Figure Flattery(Great for Petites!)

  • How to Accessorize

  • What to Wear to Work

  • Through Omiru, Ive also been recognized by mainstream media.

  • (who gave us our Top 3 Fashion Blog distinction)

  • Weve also done radio segments for a prominent radio station in Richmond, VA. Random!

  • Now, three years after founding Omiru, Im a sought-after style expert, specializing in real style for real people.

  • Today, using Omiru as a case study,Im going to share with you:

    10 Steps to Building Your Brand through Blogging

  • Im going to share the story of Omiru:

    from picking a topic, to creating and enhancing content,to relationship building and distribution, and finallyto fostering community.

  • But first, Id like to address the somewhat negative connotation surrounding personal branding (aka self promotion).

  • Self promotion gets a bad reputation because its often practiced at the expense of others.

  • We call someone self promotional when their message helps thembut doesnt help others.

  • But self promotion doesnt have to be bad.

  • In fact, it can be used for Good.

  • And you can use self promotion for Good when you provide value to your audience.

  • So lets do just that.Provide value and spread the word.

    How do you do this?

  • No. 1

    Pick a Topic thats Uniquely You

  • Back in the day, Microsoft asked:Where do you want to go today?

  • If youre blogging to build your reputation, the first step is to focus in on an area of expertise.

  • Think about where youve been in life.(aka your experience)Now{ Experience }

  • Think about where you want to go in life.(aka your future)Now{ Future }

  • Think about your passion.

  • For me, it made sense to focus on fashion.

  • Ive always harbored a love of style,

  • I went to fashion school in the evenings during college,

  • And Ive done a lot of fashion consulting.(so if you want some style tips, find me after the session)

  • But fashion as a topic was way too broad.

  • How broad

    or how narrow to go?

  • This is the Goldilocks Question.

  • You dont want a topic thats too broad(e.g. technology companies)

  • Or too narrow(e.g. technology companies in Mountain View that heart dogs at work)

  • You want a topic thats Just Right.(e.g. technology companies that are likely to ride out the bust)

  • If youre building reputation, the ideal topic is broad enough to be interesting

  • But also focused enough so that youre the Best at Something.

  • Maybe its being the keeper of the Cutest Pet Photos Online.

  • Maybe its being the most distinguished chocolate connoisseur.

  • Maybe its being the sharpest LOST commentator.

  • Whatever your topic is,you should aim to

  • No. 2

    Stand for Something Real

  • A blog is easy to start, but its hard to maintain.

  • Somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of blogs are abandoned within one month.

  • Why is blogging so hard?

  • In between all of your other commitments,

  • Job

  • Family

  • Friends

  • and Life

  • Youre going to have to find the time and energy to maintain the blog.

  • Plus, youre going to have to find new stuff to write about every day.

  • Long story short

    If you dont love it, dont blog about it.

  • { Sidebar }

  • Where possible and where appropriate, create a new category.

  • But isnt it hard to create a new category?

  • Sure it is.

  • If it werent hard, everyone would be doing it.

  • (But on the flip side, its easier to stand out if youre in a category of one.)1

  • Tim Ferriss did this brilliantly.

  • He wasnt quite in the career category

  • Or in the work-life category.

  • So he created a whole new category:Lifestyle Design.

  • Not only was this a more accurate description,But it also made him a creator

  • Instead of an imitator.

  • But back to the main point of standing for something real.

  • There are tons of blogs out there, with tons of voices.

  • So do your research to explore the other blogs in your space.

  • And then focus your topic so that youre the: best (or the only) blog in your area.

  • At this point, you should be able to distill your blog topic into a single short sentence.

  • An elevator pitch, if you will.

  • As for Omiru, I needed to narrow down the fashion topic.

  • At the time, I was a recent college grad, and I didnt have a whole lot of cash.$

  • And regardless, I didnt want to spend my entire paycheck on fashion.

  • My other fashion challenge?

  • Im short!(I really wanted to be 59)

  • And to add insult to injury, I have no waist.

  • But my financial situation and my figure flattery issues gave me my blog topic.

  • Real Style for Real People

    Great fashion for everybody,regardless of financial situation, or personal architecture.

  • Once you have your topic, its time to start writing great content.

  • How do you do this?

  • No. 3

    Be Newsworthy

  • I currently work at in ecommerce, but my background is in media.

  • Traditional media has its challenges ahead,

  • But it knows something really important.

  • They know what will get your attention and what wont make you turn your head.

  • In other words, whats newsworthy and whats not.

  • What makes something newsworthy?

  • #1: Timing

  • People dont want old news.They want new news!(probably why its called news)

  • They want the latest update in a story, a meme thats particularly on-trend.

  • Rogan Gregory for Target (May 18)

  • #2: Significance

  • How many people does the story affect?

  • Tons of people?

  • Or just a few?

  • (theres no shortage of guys who need to dress to go out)Fashion for short ppl SS

  • #3: Proximity

  • The closer people are to a story, the more interesting it is.

  • San Francisco Fashion >> Boston Fashion

  • But its not all about geography.

  • Its about how much you can relate to the story.

  • For me, petite fashion is more interesting than regular fashion.

  • #4: Prominence

  • When possible, and where appropriate, write about well known personalities.

  • Its more interesting for readers to hear about the fashion from

  • Than it is to hear about what I wore to work yesterday.

  • #5: Human Interest

  • Here, the key is to appeal to emotion.

  • Think of things that are off the beaten path, personal stories, and profiles.

  • Omiru Example: We published photos of a readers casual wedding (v. trendy now).

  • Timing, Significance, Proximity, Prominence, and Human Interest

    are the standard criteria for newsworthiness.

  • But since you guys are so awesome, you get an extra one.

  • (#6:) News You Can Use

  • This is where most of Omirus stories fall.

  • We share How to Mix and Match Patterns,+

  • What to Wear to an Engagement Pool Party,

  • Everyday Casual Chic for Men

  • But there are tons of other newsworthy media sources out there, both mainstream media and blogs.

  • Newsworthiness is part of the price of entrance to building a personal brand via blogging.

  • Its necessary, but not sufficient.

  • You need to be more than newsworthy. You need to

  • No. 4

    Be Awesome!

  • But how do you be Awesome?

  • After all, we cant all be Barney.Photo Credit: CBS

  • Ask yourself:What Would Aretha Do? (WWAD)

  • Give your audience R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

  • Respect their intelligence by discussing whats important to them.

  • Respect their time by being concise.

  • Respect their views by engaging them in dialogue.

  • Respect them by going above and beyond the call of duty.

  • A few simple ways we try to be Awesome at Omiru:

  • Giveaways

  • Only Relevant Ads

  • Readers Help Drive the Editorial Calendar

  • In order to find the awesome things that work, youll also find a lot of things that dont work

  • What to do?

  • No. 5

    Create a Stoplist

  • Its no secret that we livein a time starved society.

  • We all have stuff to do.

  • Jobs to go to.

  • Friends and Family to see.

  • No matter how passionate you are, you only have a limited amount of time.

  • So what do you do?

  • Prioritize the stuff youre doing, and create a stoplist.

  • The stoplist is just what it sounds like. A list of things you stop doing.

  • (Not stuff youre doing less. Its stuff that you cut out completely.)

  • Stop doing the things that suck your time away from meaningful, effective things.

  • Easier said than done.

  • But you can do it.

  • Write down all the things youre doing for your blog on a piece of paper.1.2.3.

  • ID the things that are actively helping you,+

  • And the things that arent._

  • And then stop doing the things that arent helping you._

  • For Omiru, one of those things was actually Social Bookmarking buttons.

  • Bloggers (and other publishers) often add buttons for social bookmarking sites like:

  • They provide an easy way for readers to bookmark/share your postsso your content spreads more easily online.

  • I added these buttons to posts, but Omiru readers didnt use them.

  • This doesnt mean that social bookmarking doesnt work.

  • But it depends on your audience.

  • (And if your audience doesnt like it, dont force it.)

  • Once youve created your stoplist (and stopped doing things that dont matter), its time to look outside your blog to

  • No. 6

    Build Real Relationships

  • As bloggers, we dont exist in a vacuum.

  • We can be competitive and closed off, or we can choose to be open and friendly.

  • Id advocate for open and friendly :)

  • If you did your homework and chose a topic thats focused(and one that youre uniquely suited to write about)

  • Chances are, you and your fellow bloggers are writing about different enough things.

  • And even if you arent, I still think its beneficial to be friendly.

  • You have more to gain than you have to lose.

  • Links from Blogrolls and Link Posts

  • Someone to bounce ideas off of.

  • Advicefromotherbloggers

  • Introductions to people in your field.Id like to you to meet.

  • Then again, what you get is a function of what you give.f(give) = get

  • So how do you build relationships? (i.e. how do you start giving?)

  • A couple of best practices:

  • Actively participate on other blogs.Especially before asking for a link or any favors.(Oh, and down with form letters.)

  • Do other bloggers favors.

  • If you know another blogger is looking to borrow a set of Pantone swatches,

    let her borrow your set.

  • Once youve built those relationships, you can share opportunities.

  • If theres a paid gig I dont have the time for, Ill refer one of my blog friends.

  • And if Im doing press interviews, where appropriate, Ill refer reporters to them.

  • And they do the same.

  • Thats how I got the WSJ interview. Elisa Camahort (BlogHer)referred the reporter to me.

  • But in order to build Real Relationships, you need to do more than email and chat with them onlineOMG! I did not just see that...

  • No. 7

    Meet People in Person

  • Why is it important to meet people in person?

  • Well, who are you closer to?

  • People you hang out with online

  • Or people you see in real life.

  • So whenever I get the chance, I meet up with my blogger friends.

  • During New York Fashion Week, we meet up

  • Have drinks

  • Dish about fashionWhat do you think about Marcs Spring line?

  • And blog together as the models come down the runway.(Look, florals are back!)

  • Shared experiences lead to closer relationships.

  • So when it comes time to refer another blogger, who am I going to call?

  • Thats right. The people I hang out with in person.

  • But by meeting people in person, youre building relationships 1:1, which isnt so scalable.

  • How do you scale?

  • No. 8

    Make it Easy to Spread the Word

  • As a personal branding blogger, youre always looking to

    grow your audience.

  • You can do this in two main ways:

  • (1) Spreading the word yourself, or

  • (2) Having your fans help you spread the word.

  • For your fans to help spread the word, you need

  • Something worth sharing, (but youre already creating awesome, newsworthy content, right?)Awesomeness!

  • And an easy way for fans to share.

  • What are some things that make content easy to share?

  • RSS

  • RSS helps readers get your content wherever is most convenient for them.

  • And while were on the subject, theres a debatebetween full text and partial text.

  • Full text is more satisfying for the reader,

  • But partial text encourages readers to come back to your site.

  • We chose full text so that readers can get Omiru articles however is most convenient.

  • Why?

    Our philosophy is that were looking to build an audience, not just traffic for Omiru.

  • Email Newsletter

  • Again, we like to empower readers to read Omiru however they like to.

  • Email newsletters still work well, especially among communities that arent big on RSS (e.g. fashion).

  • I have to admit

    Omiru doesnt have an email newsletter yet, but its the next thing were adding.

  • We get requests for email newsletters all the time. Its the second most requested feature.Hey, I love Omiru! Do you guys have an email newsletter?

  • A couple of Email Newsletter Best Practices:

  • SAMPLE(1) Let people know what theyre signing up for. Show an example newsletter up front.

  • (2) Encourage signups by giving something away free upon signup (e.g. an informational PDF).

  • P.S. Social Bookmarking also falls underneath this category of tools to make content easy to share.

  • It didnt really work for Omirus audience.

  • But the idea of social bookmarking is extremely powerful for the right audience.

  • Speaking of sharing content off of your site, part of a sound blog strategy is to.

  • No. 9

    Create Community Wherever You Go

  • Some bloggers are tweaked that community is happening around their content on other sites.

  • But IMHO, thats an old-school way of thinking.

  • Sure, you dont want your content stolen.

  • Or reposted without attribution.

  • But if conversation is happening around your attributed content on another site,

    Its better than no conversation (or less) happening at all.

  • Think about it this way. Wheres your potential audience?

  • Theyre a lot of different places.

  • Theyre on your site.

  • But theyre also on similar sites.

  • And related sites.

  • And really, all over the Internet.

  • So, why force them to come to you?

  • Why not help them out?

    By going to where they are.

  • How might you do this?

  • (1) Guest write for other sites

  • I do this on BlogHer, where I serve as a Fashion & Shopping Contributing Editor

  • (And in fact, some of Omirus writers are guest blogging to create more awareness for their own sites.)

  • (2) Build Your Social Network Presence

  • Create a profile on the appropriate major social networks.

  • On Facebook, you can import your blog posts via Facebook Notes.

  • And while you cant edit your posts,

  • You can share them easily with friends.

  • And even tag people in your posts.(Dont spam!)

  • As for your profile page, populate it with extra content thats not on your site.

  • After all, if there were no goodies there, why would someone come visit your page?

  • Its even more important for a personal branding blogger to add this extra content.

  • It gives you the opportunity to talk about yourselfand why youre passionate about your topic.

  • Its an opportunity to share stories.

  • Like your quest to find the Perfect Pair of Jeans.

  • Or the crazy backstage interview you had at Fashion Week where you witnessed a model meltdown.

  • But traditional social networks arent the only places to build your presence.

  • (3) Participate on other Social Sites

  • A couple that I use personally are FriendFeed and Polyvore.(who, incidentally, share a workspace in Mountain View)

  • On FriendFeed, you can automatically import your blog posts to be shared with your friends.

  • And the beauty of it is that conversations can happen around this content.

  • Added bonus? Theyre pretty high-quality conversations (at least right now).

  • Plus, you can gain new readers.

    not only friends, but friends of friends, and friends of those friends..

  • Polyvore is another cool site that I use to build community around Omiru.

  • Its a web application that allows you to mashup images from around the web.

  • I use it for creating outfits, mixing and matching clothes from different online stores.

  • Its greatI get feedback on the outfits I create.

  • And I can dish about fashion with the community, sharing fashion advice and outfit ideas.

  • You might be thinking, these tips are all well and good (common sense, even)but will they work for me right now?

  • Chances are, yes.

    But you have to

  • No. 10

    Be Patient

  • Overnight successes are very rare,

  • And overnight success stories are often not overnight at all.

  • Ive been working on Omiru for three years.

  • And for Omiru, community is still a work in progress.

  • We have a community of regularswho are really passionate about affordable, feel-great fashion.

  • Readers help each other out:

    they dish about fashion dilemmas,they share style tips,and they talk about their experiences.

  • How did this happen?

  • Shared Passion

  • This goes way back to the beginning:Choosing a blog topic.If youre passionate about something, it shows.

  • And other people, especially those who share your views, are drawn to it.

  • And passion breeds interactionand community.

  • My main point about community?

  • Community isnt something you do. Its something that happens.

  • Theres no secret recipe for community.

  • And you dont go out and build a community like you build a product.

  • It just doesnt work like that.

  • What you can do, though, is to lay the foundations for community to grow.

  • And you lay these foundations by

  • No. 1

    Pick a Topic thats Uniquely You

  • No. 2

    Stand for Something Real

  • No. 3

    Be Newsworthy

  • No. 4

    Be Awesome!

  • No. 5

    Create a Stoplist

  • No. 6

    Build Real Relationships

  • No. 7

    Meet People in Person

  • No. 8

    Make it Easy to Spread the Word

  • No. 9

    Create Community Wherever You Go

  • No. 10

    Be Patient

  • What now?

  • Do you have something youre passionate about?

  • Something meaningful?

  • Something worthwhile?

  • (I bet you do!)

  • So go on, start your own blog.Or take your existing blog to the next level.

  • And then, if you care to, tell me about it.

  • Find me on Facebook:

  • FriendFeed:

  • Polyvore:

  • Omiru:

  • Questions?

  • Id love to hear from you:Trisha OkuboDisruptive Innovator, [email protected] / [email protected]

    Liked this presentation? Find me next at eBay Developers Conference June 16-18 in