I was at WordUp yesterday – an event organised by Indiblogger in Delhi. I met a lot of popular, accomplished bloggers and was inspired by many of them. The key take aways about how they’ve gone about blogging (either as a profession or as a serious pastime) and personal branding were these: passion for what they do, laser-sharp focus on a domain (food, auto, fashion etc.), enjoying themselves while blogging and making an effort to monetise the activity.
During one of the sessions, a member of the audience asked about undercutting (by other bloggers) and how to deal with it. Someone else asked how to increase audience for a blog quickly. I meant to touch upon these during my closing presentation at the event, but I forgot. Herewith some thoughts on the above issues:
Placing value to your personal brand
Let’s face it: undercutting is a reality in any business, especially service business. Even in the ad agency business, which I am familiar with it is common. If you are a professional blogger charging a fee for a brand engagement, rest assured that there will be someone else willing to do the same at half the price or even free. Bloggers or businesses have these choices (a) accept fate, match competitors price and agree to work at the reduced price (b) try and educate the client on why they should pay the premium, the value they will get and the risk of ‘bottom of the barrel’ approach (c) actively seek to work with clients (there are a handful of such) who don’t mind paying a premium if they perceive value. Obviously the last option is a tough one and brands (personal brands included) have to work really hard to equate ‘premium-worthy’ to their name. That’s the strategy adopted by Apple, FedEx and a few other brands which charge a premium and make buyers believe that its worthwhile. They do that through credibility, trust & reputation built over a good product, over time. If you had a critical, sensitive document which had to reach a destination the next day, would you trust a no-name courier company who is cheap or a reputed brand which charges a premium?
As @saffrontrail said at the event, bloggers need to value their brand and not sell out cheap. Reality is that there is a market for every price point (as we see in mobile handsets, hotels and virtually any category) and you need to decide which price point you want to cater to: the free loaders or premium seekers. Naturally, it is hard work and built on delivering a great product – whatever your ‘product’ is.
Building an audience
As someone said at the event, audience is not built overnight. In fact, building an audience should be the least of all concerns. The focus should be on building great content…the audience will come. Of course, analysing statistics and using the numbers to better understand your audience is an important aspect of blogging but it does not take precedence over good content.
Demand for content is real
As seen in many of the case studies at the event, businesses are thirsting for great content. We are likely to see more of ‘non-advertising’ content in the coming years. This is not say that traditional advertising is dead yet (it is thriving) but businesses are increasingly looking at partnering in content which is native to the platform & media they are in. In that context, the role of content creators will only get better.
Bloggers should study what GE does across its various platforms and how sites Techpinions monetise content. Services like Cointent, which allow content creators to charge a small amount for an article, are options which bloggers should seriously consider. At the end, I used this slide to summarise all that was said during the event.
I probably should have added ‘premium-worthy’ at the end as the fourth ‘P’. Let us try to add value to our readers by creating content which someone would be willing to pay a premium for. As inspiration, we have the VCCircle story.