This post originally appeared in January, 2012 and I thought it was an appropriate post to dust off for this week’s Going Green with The Mommy Mess. I mean.. I found her originally because of her fantastic post on getting more out of your blog! Most bloggers I know have a decent handle on branding themselves, but if you’re not and you’re looking to make your blog your business, take heed of my advice.

I met with a group of co-eds last week who are Entrepreneur majors at UNCG. I was entertained by their questions and surprised by a few things. Namely how unconnected most of them were. Yes, they were all on Facebook and a few were on Twitter but when I asked how many of them blogged, they looked at me like I had two heads.

I realize that most of the under-25 crowd communicates by text alone, but I was astounded how few of them had even a basic understanding of self-promotion – especially from a group of students studying to become Entrepreneurs.

So instead of just being there as the person who owns their own business, I put on my Mom hat and started giving out directives on how they could brand themselves that I think may be helpful for many.

Own Your Name – There is nothing more important than “owning” your name. You need to own your name as a domain if it’s available. I bought the domains for every person’s name in this family. I even tried to buy but it was already taken. You don’t have to do anything with it for now just make sure you have it. Our kids can decide what they want to do with it later, but make sure it’s at least available to them. It’s cheap – go do it.

Buy Up the Social Media Real Estate – I use for my clients and it’s a great resource to determine where your name is available on social media sites. You need to at least grab the obvious ones such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc but if you’re a crafter you’ll want to grab your name on Etsy and others as well. You don’t have to be active on these sites but again – it’s better for YOU to have it than run the risk of someone else grabbing it.

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Start a Blog – I realize this is redundant for many reading this, but I can’t not mention it after my class yesterday. One of the common statements when I was with them was “is it just a journal of your life?”. Well, it can be but I encouraged them to find something they were passionate about and go from there.

Once on Google.. – One of the main things I wanted to stress to them is that be cautious what you put out in the interwebz. Have you Googled your name lately? Do it. If you haven’t done it ever, you’ll be astounded what shows up. If you haven’t done it lately, you’ll still be amazed. Watch what you put out there because it shows up and it sticks around for a long time. A blog that I contributed on over 8 years ago (Baby Sanity Tips) STILL shows up pretty high in my google search and that site hasn’t been touched in 7 years. While the F-bomb might be pretty funny in context, it could hurt you down the road especially if you’re just starting out.

Google Alerts – I set up Google Alerts for all my clients and I have them set up for me, as well. Since my name is very hard to pronounce and is in no way phonetic (it’s pronounced Doe-kiss not Daw-kiss), I also set it up for the common misspellings of Dokus, Daukus and Daukis. With Google Alerts, anytime your name is mentioned, you get an alert. Granted this won’t happen much until you have a larger presence but you may as well do it now.

Google+ – I know many of you have zero interest in Google+ so I’m just going to ask is this: When you need to find information on something, what site do you use? Mmhhmm.. I bet you all said Google, didn’t you? And if you’re putting your posts, your google authorship and your keywords on your profile on Google+, do you think that just maybe it’ll work for you? My rankings ALWAYS go up when I put effort into G+.

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Twitter – Again, I know I’m singing to the choir but if you’re not on Twitter, you need to be there. Not only are there amazing people on Twitter but it’s one of the best ways to get your content out there. I have made more connections and virtual friends (many of who are real life friends now) thru Twitter than any other way. If it’s new and scary to you, commit to it for 6 weeks. Find 10 new people to follow each day, start chatting and I PROMISE you will have your AHA! moment and then you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Couple of things.. follow people back unless they’re blatant MLM or spammers and do NOT protect your tweets or use something like TrueTwit validation. You’ll never grow your audience that way.

Facebook – If you have a blog or a company, you should have a Facebook page for your blog or company. You will come across people who will want to “friend” you and while the decision is yours, I recommend that you keep the casual reader or customer contained to your professional page and not your personal page. It’s easy to set up – create a page and don’t forget to promote it on your site!

Finally, make sure that you put your links on everything… your site, your email signature, your business card if you have one. Branding is so important for all of us. In every type of business, branding is vital so you really need to consider the strategy you’re going to use. Although a blogger might not use those techniques, it’s worth learning about them and seeing which strategies could work for your business. Even if you only do a surface level job of it, you never know when you’re going to need it to be spot on and up to date. If you’re serious about your business and your brand then you’re going to want to focus on these things even more. Either way – it’s your brand, how are you going to use it to promote you?