How to Build a Strong Online Brand

Are you ready to DOMINATE the Internet?????
Are you ready to DOMINATE the Internet?????

Your Online Brand Matters

A strong portfolio of writing on HubPages can serve as an excellent mooring point for one’s broader online presence, however building a noteworthy online brand involves no small amount of effort and engagement across several different websites.

Why is having a strong online brand worth the effort required to build and maintain it? The perks of having a noteworthy presence on the Internet include:

  • More traffic to your Hubs
  • A larger following of people who read your Hubs because they are interested in your work; not because they have randomly found them in search engine results
  • A higher likelihood that readers will share your Hubs
  • Greater general credibility
  • A higher probability of being contacted by the media
  • A more attractive online persona to present to potential clients and employers
  • A more flattering and controlled collection of results that appear when people search for you on Google
  • A richer, more engaging online experience

What about you?

Why do you want a strong online brand?

  • I want more readers
  • I want to get my name out there, professionally speaking
  • I want to be famous!
  • I want to be recruited and hired by attractive employers
  • I want to more effectively get my message out there
  • When people Google my name, I want them to find something good about me
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Crafting a Great Username

Before choosing a username, think of how you would like to brand yourself as a writer. Many Hubbers use their real name or a pen name so that potential employers or other readers know who they are and are aware of the quality of their writing. When you create high quality Hubs, you are creating a name for yourself as a legitimate writer and contributor of useful information to the web.

  • Your real name: It is up to you whether you use your real name or not. If you are building a brand around your name, it's a great idea. However, if you touch on topics that you'd otherwise be uncomfortable discussing in public, you might need to think twice about using your real name. One advantage of using your real name is credibility. If potential employers search for you online, they can find your high quality work on HubPages and get to know you as a superior author. Another reason to use your real name is that Google is adding weight to cross-platform online publishing behavior.
  • Your topic of interest: You might be very interested in quilting, so calling yourself Quilting Jim might seem like a good idea. But how's that going to look if you start publishing articles on other subjects? In this case, having a specific topic-centric name might not be the best idea.
  • A pen name: This might be advisable if you want a touch of anonymity. A name that is original and unique, but that you have used elsewhere on the web is a good idea.

Keep in mind that once you have registered a name on HubPages, you can't change it (though you can always close your account and register a new name). Unfortunately, you can't transfer your Hubs from one account to another, so choosing your name wisely from the get-go is a great idea!

Note: Usernames that are vulgar, trademarked, or encourage/incite violence are not permitted on HubPages.

Choose Carefully

Is username the type of name a potential reader would want to "hear from"?
Is username the type of name a potential reader would want to "hear from"? | Source

Choosing the Right Image

The image(s) you choose to represent yourself online make a huge impact, and we recommend putting a lot of careful thought into your selection.

Just as we encourage you to use your real name, we also encourage you to use a real photo of yourself, preferably a straightforward headshot (a high quality, well-lit, flattering one, of course). If you would prefer to remain anonymous online, that's fine- in that case, just make sure that the image you choose for your online profiles is...

  • Easily-recognizable
  • Properly-used (i.e. do not steal another's image to which you do not have rights)
  • Of high quality (not blurry, pixelated, or watermarked)
  • Appropriate (no porn, nudity, or other fun bits of flesh)

When selecting a Profile photo for HubPages, try to use an image that is 200 by 200 pixels or larger. Anything smaller might leave you with a pixelated avatar in some instances.

While many Hubbers choose to use illustrations and abstract photos as their profile images, using a photo of yourself can add a professional polish to your profile and Hubs, and is ideal if you seek to build a strong online writing career.

Uploading a Profile image is on HubPages easy, just use the following instructions:

  • Click My Account > Profile > Edit Profile
  • Click "upload photo" (or, if you already have one, click the text below the photo to change it)
  • You will then be prompted to choose a new image from your computer, upload it, and crop it

We Recommend Real Portraits

We recommend using a high quality, well-lit photo of yourself.
We recommend using a high quality, well-lit photo of yourself. | Source
Custom-made, abstract images might not be the best way to go....
Custom-made, abstract images might not be the best way to go.... | Source
Though if you're out to build a unique, creative brand, by all means let your personality shine through!
Though if you're out to build a unique, creative brand, by all means let your personality shine through! | Source

Writing an Effective Bio

Your Profile biography along with your Profile image are two things which will set you apart from being a faceless character on HubPages (and other sites). Here are a few tips when writing your personal bio:

  • Give people a clear, succinct taste of your purpose as an online content creator
  • Clearly establish what sets you apart from the crowd
  • Avoid personal rants and grammatical mistakes
  • Be alluring, brief, polished, and professional
  • Be honest

While you cannot add links to your bio on HubPages, you can add links to your social media profiles in the links fields lower down on the Edit Profile page. You can also select special backgrounds, choose Hubs that you would like to feature on the Profile page's main carousel, update your location and real name as it is configured on your Profile, and edit Accolade display settings, but those smaller details can always be addressed at a later date. When it comes to basic presentation on HubPages, one's username, bio, and profile image make the biggest impact.

Keep Your Bio Short and Sweet

Don't write a novel; try to distill your essence into a few polished, succinct sentences.
Don't write a novel; try to distill your essence into a few polished, succinct sentences. | Source

Write Effective About the Author Biographies (on Hubs)

About the Author biographies allow you to showcase your expertise while you have your readers' attention —  on the Hub itself! Having bios on your Hubs (particularly your high traffic, Featured Hubs) will distinguish you from generic content on the Internet. If you write about topics that require a high level of specialization (e.g., medicine, law, finance), use your bio to demonstrate your knowledge to the world.

Here are some tips for crafting effective About the Author Biographies:

  • Be specific but concise.
  • Be honest about your qualifications and interests.
  • Write your bio in the third person, i.e., "Stacy graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1987." not "I graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1987."
  • Use complete sentences.
  • Match your bio to the topic of a Hub. In other words, don't mention that you're a dog trainer on your chocolate chip cookie Hub. Don't include information about yourself on topics unrelated to the topic of the Hub.

Visit My Account > Hubs > About the Author to compose and manage your bios!

Cultivating Areas of Expertise

It is much easier to develop a strong online brand if you can be associated with a particular subject area. While HubPages is a great place to publish articles on a wide variety of topics, consider selecting a specific niche, publishing as many Hubs as possible within that niche, and establishing yourself as an online expert on that particular subject.

How to Highlight Your Expertise on Your HubPages Profile Page

In addition to establishing your expertise in your bio on HubPages, you can also highlight Hubs showcasing your special qualifications on the "In the Spotlight" carousel of your Profile (which, if left alone, will simply display the most recent Hub you have published).

To be eligible for the "In the Spotlight" carousel, a Hub must have an image that is at least 200 pixels by 150 pixels, so it is possible that not all of your Hubs will appear in the dropdown menu as options. You can include up to six Hubs at one time

Hubs in this carousel do not have to be Featured. Putting a Hub in the carousel does not make it Featured. "Featured" Hubs are Hubs that are shown on related Hubs and Topic pages while also being made available to search engines. Unless you have specified otherwise under My Account > Profile > Edit Profile, only Featured Hubs will appear on the general Hub feed visible on your Profile page (we recommend that those who are interested in getting significant search traffic keep it that way).

You can learn more about them in our guide to Featured Hubs and the Quality Assessment Process.

Should you have trouble identifying a specific subject you would like to be associated with, ask yourself:

  • What specific skill sets, certifications, and credentials set me apart from other people?
  • When people ask me for advice, what type of advice do they typically seek?
  • Which of my Hubs are most successful?
  • What am I most passionate about in life?
  • What do I enjoy writing about most?
  • Do I have a mission in life? What message do I want to convey to the world?

Once you have identified areas of expertise you might like to cultivate, do a bit of keyword research. If it looks as though it would not be impossible for you to dominate a particular subject area (by providing superior online resources and commentary), have a go at making yourself the go-to expert on that topic.

Is your imaging and messaging consistent across multiple platforms?
Is your imaging and messaging consistent across multiple platforms?

Managing Your Image

After selecting a particular area of expertise with which you will associate yourself, be sure to refer to that subject in your bio across all publishing platforms and social networks. Anyone visiting one of your profiles should be able to very quickly understand that you are an expert on this particular subject.

In addition to keeping your bio consistent across multiple platforms, also be sure to share links and posts that are consistent with the image you are building. If you aim to establish yourself as an expert on professionalism, for example, it would not be a good idea to have a Pinterest board dedicated to fart jokes, or to post a bunch of Facebook photos from your bachelorette party (unless your Facebook privacy settings are extremely well-maintained and controlled).

Consistent messaging and posting should be complemented by consistent visual markers. Make a point of using the same username and profile photo across all of your sites and social media profiles.

All together, this unified messaging, content, and visual appearance will make you far more memorable.

Becoming an Active Community Member

You will not be able to cultivate a noteworthy online presence without actively engaging with your readers and followers on HubPages.

Consider the people that you like to follow- both on HubPages and elsewhere. If these individuals are not already notable public figures or famous celebrities, writers, or newscasters (who do not have the capacity to actively engage with their readers to the same extent that normal people do), chances are they make an effort to respond to their readers and engage their followers in active dialogue.

If you are not already famous, chances are you’ll have to do the same. Don’t worry though- being an active community member does not take all that much effort. Just make a point of:

  • Reading others’ work and leaving meaningful, insightful comments: This increases your visibility on the site, as others will see your comments on people’s articles, and are more likely to check out your work after receiving comments from you on their own work.
  • Participating in HubPages special programs: Engaging in programs such as HubPages Challenges and our contests boosts your brand on HubPages by exposing you to our power users and a high volume of silent onlookers.
  • Getting involved as a HubPages volunteer: Consider applying for the HubGreeter program, which involves welcoming new Hubbers. By mentoring new entrants to the community, you can gain loyal followers.

Building Activity Across Multiple Platforms

To develop a robust online presence, it is not enough to simply publish a lot of Hubs and be an active HubPages community member. You must also cultivate a strong presence on other social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

Consider reviewing our specific Learning Center guides to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+ for additional advice on using each social media platform in a way that maximises time, enjoyment, and positive branding.

Statistics to Go By

Major signs of progress include inquiries from the press, an increased number of comments on Hubs, Facebook posts, Google+ posts, and Pins (not to mention @replies on Twitter), and your work or name showing up in Google Search results for keywords related to your area of expertise.

To further track the efficacy of your online branding efforts over time, we recommend referring to the following statistics:

  • Friends and followers across social media platforms: If these numbers consistently grow, you are doing a good job.
  • HubPages followers and traffic: If these numbers are also enjoying a steady increase, you know you are on the right track.
  • Your Klout Score: Though not perfect, this metric combines influence and engagement over multiple mainstream platforms. It is a particularly good sign if you find that the Klout topics you’re influential about are associated with the area of expertise you are cultivating.
  • Your Kred Score: Similar to Klout, Kred measures influence and outreach based on your Twitter and Facebook behavior. By connecting your Twitter and Facebook accounts with Kred, you can more easily monitor your followers, replies, mentions, and links.

More by this Author

  • A HubPages Guide to Facebook

    A guide to utilizing your Facebook profile in a way that can give your Hubs a boost, improve your online brand, and even make you a bit more popular amongst your friends.

  • A HubPages Guide to Google+

    While you may already be making use of Gmail, Google Search, Google AdSense, and Google Analytics, are you utilizing Google+? This social network can give your Hubs and personal brand a great boost.

  • An Overview of Making Money on HubPages

    One of the perks of HubPages is that you can earn a passive income from high-quality, media-rich articles you publish on the site. Here's how.

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