Now that you’ve developed a mission statement and are plotting ways to put yourself out there, it’s time to take a look in the proverbial mirror to see how your personal brand is being portrayed. The Web is an extremely visual place, and your site and online profiles represent your brand’s image and make your first impression. On that note, let’s talk about a couple of things that you should pay attention to when crafting your image online:
Your Site Should Be Visually and Functionally Appealing. It’s Internet 101: Does it look good? That’s not to say you have to drop ten bills on having your blog designed, but do take care in the final product. There are tons of affordable and talented designers out there (more on that in another post) that can transform your vision into a professional-looking site.
So what does it mean for your site to “look good”? Of course looks are subjective, but here are some qualities that I like to see: (1) a cohesive color palette – not too bright, not too bland, not to busy; the colors you choose should add some character to your site but shouldn’t overpower it. And Cecily’s already given you some great advice about fonts and backgrounds; (2) a simple layout – do you really need a magazine theme? And, if the answer is yes, is it one that’s easy to navigate? Are ads and buttons cluttering your site? Put yourself in your reader’s shoes – can you find what you’re looking for without getting frustrated? Along those same lines, can you quickly and easily leave a comment?; and (3) a professional-looking design – I say “professional-looking” because, again, there’s no need to actually have a professional design your site if you (or a talented friend) can swing it yourself; but if your site looks professional, then you’re well on your way to being perceived as such.
Your Brand Should Be Consistent Across the Web. These days you need to be in more than one place to stay relevant and engaged, and your brand should be consistent across those multiple outlets. The easiest way to start the process of streamlining your web presence is to use the same avatar for your profile picture wherever the opportunity arises. Of course, not everyone will agree with me (and I have to admit that I’ve veered from this piece of advice myself here and there), but using the same avatar will allow you to be easily recognized throughout your Internet travels. In fact, I couldn’t change my avatar if I wanted to – I’ve been using the same one since 2009 and constantly hear that people love it and that they feel like it represents my personality. And I like that.
Another approach is to either (1) always use a picture of yourself (even if the picture changes); or (2) always use an image of your blog’s logo. The bottom line is consistency – it earns you credibility and relatability and those two qualities go a long way in the blogosphere and beyond.