Yi Xiang

A Young Writer in Search of His Voice

Don’t Bother Branding Your Personal Blog

Blog!If you have been into the whole making money blogging thing, you probably have heard multiple times about how important your blog brand is, and why you should pick a niche and stick to it. You may have even spent a lot of time trying to figure out what niche you should be in and what kind of brand your blog should have.

Here’s a good news, you don’t need to worry about any of these bullshit. You don’t need a brand and you don’t need a niche.

Why? Because you’ve already got a brand, and that brand is yourself.

A few examples.

When I think about Zen Habits, probably the most popular blog in the world, I am not thinking about how great mindfulness is or how powerful habits are. What comes to my mind is the blogger Leo Babauta, how he quitted smoking, paid off all his debt, turned his life around with mindfulness and habits, and how he is open about his imperfections and mistakes.

What his blog is about matters sure, how it helps me matters too, but only in the beginning. After I thought I kinda like his writings, I would check out his other writings, like his blog on minimalism, or unschooling. Am I interested in these things? Sort of. But am I interested in what he has to say, yes.

I stumbled upon my favorite blog Mark Manson because I happened to read recommendations of his book Models on reddit and then liked his book. Since then I have read almost all of his blog posts, and I have been somewhat disappointed that some of his early writings were deleted.

If you enjoy reading, I’m sure you have similar experiences where you would want to read everything by your favorite author, no matter the topic, because you simply enjoy his writings.

But it’s not only about the writings, it’s about the writer himself as well. You’ll like him more if he’s a honest person, if he shares with you his life stories, his struggles and his deepest pains. If you still don’t believe me, then tell me have you ever read the about page of any blogs? Have you ever been disappointed when you want to know more about the author but he talks nothing about himself?

A reader does not simply read for information or entertainment, reading is a way for human connection, albeit quite a strange way.

Branding Is For Businesses Who Use Content as a Marketing Tool

But if this is so, then how come that so many people talk about branding and niching? Why nobody talked about human connection?

Simply take a look at their blogs and you’ll have the answer.

They do not start a blog to write, they start a blog so that they can market in an effective way. So that they can sell your services or products.

That’s why they will need a brand, and a catch phrase to tell you exactly what they do — so that more people will pay. Their visitors will not need to read 20+ posts to know them and like them, they may just come to the home page and decide to buy.

That’s why these blogs are so full of guest posts that you would have difficulties finding a single post written by the blogger.

That’s also why they don’t have an archive page. Why make it easier for your visitors to read all the posts and get everything they need? Make it easier to purchase so we can make more money!

If you want to start a business and use a blog as one of your marketing tools, you can have a brand, and post guest posts every day, I may even do that myself if my Chinese translation service goes well and I can start a company. But then I would have to write without shits and fucks to be seen as a serious businessman. Nothing wrong with that though.

A Brand Limits a Writer

There are bloggers who choose a brand but later want to write something else so they started another blog or rebranded their first one.

Tim Ferris did that with his 4 hour work week blog. First he talks all about moneymaking, then he wanted to talk about body and health, and so he rebranded his blog.

Mark Manson’s first blog is Post Masculine, then he decided he wanted to talk about broader issues like culture so he changed his domain to markmanson.net and basically rebuilt his blog from scratch.

I started my first blog on tarot(in Chinese) in 2009, but after some time, I am no longer that much interested in writing about it, so I started another self-help blog(in Chinese again) in 2014, and eventually got bored of it too.

A writer gets bored about a topic constantly, maybe not in one year or five years, but eventually, when he could learn nothing new or think of no new idea for one topic, he will lose interest. If he still forces himself to write on this topic, he will begin repeating himself, writing nothing but what he has said one thousand times before.

I know it because I have done it.

It’s pretty pathetic.

Just between you and me, when I first planned this blog, I decided to center upon a topic (trauma). But I was too disappointed with my writings so I thought fuck it, I’ll just start a blog to post my daily practices. I have been very satisfied with this decision.

What to Do Instead

Just start a blog with your name as a domain and start writing. Don’t worry about bad writings because you will write crap when starting out, it’s inevitable, just get used to it. It will become better with time so you better start practicing now.

One more thing though, don’t make it a public diary, write something helpful, write around some topics.

If you find writing too boring or too hard to do on a regular basis, than you may not be a writer, go find something else to do.