Rebecca Bollwitt (Miss604) on branding: Third Tuesday recap

When I was being interviewed for The Georgia Straight article, I mentioned that it had been only this year that I had gotten involved in the Vancouver social media and blogging scene. However, it was back in the middle of 2007 that I sent an email to Rebecca Bollwitt asking her whether she thought that doing Blogathon. Her email response back to me was really sweet, encouraging and very positive. She even helped me set up the Blogathon badge on my (then) Blogspot blog. Ah, the memories!

WordCamp Fraser Valley 2008

Almost a year and a half and more than 1,200 posts later, I had the pleasure of hearing her distill the wisdom she has imparted to me throughout all the time that we’ve known each other into a short talk at Third Tuesday. I’ve been always very open and forthcoming in indicating that a lot of what I have achieved has been in no small part through what Rebecca has taught me. I still consider her my Blogging Jedi Master.

I would have live-blogged her talk (which was originally the intent) had it not been for the fact that (a) my laptop [on which I am writing this post now and that is NOT failing this time] was failing at the time, and (b) I didn’t get wifi on Rebecca’s (nor my) laptop, so I couldn’t really liveblog. Tris Hussey, however, did an excellent job of liveblogging Rebecca using CoverItLive, and I will seriously consider (after I buy a new laptop!) using the software. You can read Tris’ great coverage here.

What you are about to read are my notes on how Rebecca started Miss604. The text will read as though she is speaking, so bear that in mind.

So how did Miss604 start? Back in Boston – Miss604 would be the name that would associate me back with Vancouver. When I moved back to Vancouver from Boston, 2004 started. I’ve been in the information technology industry for over a decade now.

In 2006 my site started to pick up thanks to several elements. First, I was invited to liveblog a special concert by Matt Good. That same weekend, I signed up to BarCamp Vancouver, my first livebloggage of a BarCamp. I then switched from Blogger to WordPress. Got more involved with blogging. And the rest, as they say, is history.

How to grow your brand and your own presence online.

First off, some blogging basics.

1.- You need to read other blogs. See how people are responding, what people like to read, etc.
2.- Choose a topic you’re passionate about. In my case, Vancouver, BC, Surrey. I had my own voice and passion.

Quoting from Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2008
Reasons bloggers start blogging
1 – 79% of people – to speak my mind in areas of interest
2 – 73% of people – to share my experiences.
3 – To Communicate with like minded people.

Blogging basics again

3.- Choose your name. Have a handle. Buy your domain.
4.- Sign up for your blogger account.
5.- You should join social networks (Facebook, etc.)
6.- Branch out – connect with others.
7.- Set up a blog that people can subscribe to.

The average involvement with social activities online – 5 things
- Comments
- Share videos
- Share photos
- Share links
- Read blogs

8.- You don’t need to get in EVERY single one application
- Rebecca recommends Viddler – videos – audience is in YouTube

9.- Find your audience. Then you have two choices – Go to your audience or have them find you.

Going to your audience
- Do links exchanges.
- Give people exposure and they will link back.
- Write a post including your thoughts on someone else’s posts. Link back on it. “Here are my thoughts on it.”

10.- Add people to your social networks. Check that they have a website, make sure you’re in every social network.

Having your audience find you
- SEO – Search Engine Optimization – try to use keywords and tags on your posts that are relevant.
- Make sure you are on Google. You can basically introduce your site to Google. You can add your site to Google Site Maps.
- Produce content on other sites. In 2005 and 2006 Rebecca wrote for Metroblogging (and still does, occasionally). You can find the specific sites and types of blogs where your message could be best heard.

11.- Once you have your audience, how do you keep your audience coming back?
- Make it easy for them to subscribe to your RSS feed.
- Be engaged and you will lose readers if you are not passionate about what you write.
- Keep writing about something you’ll want to write about several times.

12.- How do you measure the success of your blog?

According to Technorati
- First and foremost, your own personal satisfaction
- Number of comments
- Links

- To keep your audience you need to write often.
- Apparently, the top 10 blogs in Technorati blog 10 times a day although Rebecca wouldn’t recommend that. Rebecca’s maximum eve was 8 posts in one day (Raul – my own maximum was 6, although I think Rebecca forgot to mention that not once, but twice we both have done 49 posts, through Blogathon).

- Most bloggers spend 5-10 hours blogging.
- 2-3 posts a week is a normal average.

13.- Keep the discussion going.
- A huge part of blogging is respond the comments and discussions.
- Don’t sit back – engage in the conversation. If someone provides new information you can include it and update your post.

14.- Make sure you have a contact form so that people can contact you, or a visible email address.

15.- Have a contest you can have people engage.

16.- Ask a question and see what the reaction is on the comments.
- Never be afraid to ask a question.
- You want to make sure that you are aware of what is being said online. Monitor your own presence online.
- Listen to what people are bloggging about etc.
- In the corporate realm, find out what people were saying about the company. Make sure to find what you are listening, be aware of what you find online and make sure that what you write is louder than everyone else’s writing (e.g. important that readers find YOUR blog before anyone else who might be talking about YOU).

17.- Don’t let the worry about privacy put you off. Don’t worry about putting your first and last name. Fake names are very off-putting.

Personal thoughts on the personal brand (Rebecca’s thoughts)

* There are some people who think that personal branding is a crutch that people use when they are unsure of their comapnys real value.
- People who use the concept of a personal brand to be accepted.
- People often associate with personal brands – funny smart intelligent
- They have two personas and the personal and the public one.

* You can have your business and personal site – as long as you are being YOU, you are your brand, no matter who you are or what you do. You need to be who you are and be proud of what you write. You are, however, responsible for what you have written. So you have to monitor comments and stuff like that.
* Set your own boundaries. How much attention you have to you pay.

Examples of owning your brand
John Chow – I make money online by making people online — If I want to go where I can learn how to make money by doing online business, John Chow is the go-to person.

Rebecca considers Tony Pierce her blogfather (who has been writing the BusBlog since 2001) – (Raul side note – I have to confess that I have rarely only — once actually — read Tony’s blog, I read a post where he mentioned some blogging rules, and that was the one time when Rebecca suggested that I read them. I wouldn’t agree with all of them, but from the stories that Rebecca and Duane have given me, apparently Tony is a super awesome guy and I would love to meet him at some point – I know that he does love the way Raimi The Minx writes and that he has been to Vancouver)

He wrote a book called How to Blog. Some rules he has
- Write everyday
- Write twice a day – dont be afraid of doing anything – if you are afraid, write
- Dont be upset if no one comments for a long time
- If people start acting mean, remember that you have a power to moderate a comment

Rebecca reminds the audience “this is your space online, you are responsible for it
- Dont be afraid if you think something has been said before, but you can say it anyway using your own words, as honestly as you can. Your brand is you. Be proud of what you are putting out there.
Make sure that you have your reputation online in the best way. You need to make sure that what you are doing is out there. Be aware of what is being said online.

— End of the talk —

I would like to mention a couple of things that I personally have learned from Rebecca.

First, own to your brand. If you are going to be snarky, be snarky ALL THE WAY. If you are going to be “clean” in your blog (my own blog, for example, is super G rated – I don’t write about sex nor religion) then be clean, all the way.

Second, BE your brand. For example, part of my own (Raul) brand is the social aspect. I *am* friends with many of my Twitter followers, many of my fellow bloggers in Vancouver. That’s one of the aspects that characterizes me. I would like to think that part of the reason why people follow me and follow my blog is because of the personal side that I bring to my blog, and the social (in real life) aspect. I’m a very social blogger. And it’s not fake or anything, that’s who I am. Actually blogging gave me the opportunity to put my social personality to good use :)

Third, be transparent at all times. Disclosure is really important. Rebecca is very honest in her disclosure of sponsored ads, etc.

Fourth, blog if/when/because you want to. The posts that you write when you’re tired are the worst kind, so just blog when it’s right for you to blog.

Overall, it was awesome to hear Rebecca give a talk on how she became as successful a blogger as she is, and I am very proud of what she’s done. I was very mortified by the fact that I couldn’t liveblog her talk, but whatever, here are my notes for what they’re worth.

Related posts:

  1. Rebecca Bollwitt (@miss604) on WordPress plugins bloggers should use #wcyyj10
  2. Happy birthday Rebecca Bollwitt @miss604
  3. A 90 second interview with @miss604 (Rebecca Bollwitt)
  4. Happy Birthday, Rebecca Bollwitt :)
  5. Third Tuesday w/ Rebecca Bollwitt at Granville Room

Comments (4)

[...] can find Raul’s notes of my talk on his site, Tris did a live blog, Dale took a video of the entire talk (that I believe will be up on his [...]

Tris HusseyNovember 19th, 2008 at 12:08 pm

Rock on man! You have much better notes than I took!

[...] Raul took some awesome notes and has those in his post:Rebecca Bollwitt (Miss604) on branding: Third Tuesday recap « Random Thoughts of a Student of the E… [...]

PhaedraNovember 20th, 2008 at 7:31 am

Good job Raul! And I’m really proud of Rebecca – knowing how nervous she was going in, you’d never know it by listening to her….she’s a pro.

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