February 23, 2015 46 comments

20 Ways to Help Your Brand Stand Out

by Regina

20 Ways to Help Your Brand Stand Out, plus Business Valentine's Day

As you know, this weekend we celebrate Business Valentine’s Day (#BizVDay), and therefore, I have some cool treats for you and your business.

Okay. Okay. You make a fair point. How could you have known about #BizVDay, considering I just made it up?

But you can at least see where this is going right? A week’s worth of posts on how to treat and love your business, a couple of free eBooks, a free desktop wallpaper, and a list of ideas for you to celebrate the first annual Business Valentine’s Day on Saturday, February 28th . . . you picked up on all that right?

Listen, I don’t know if you’re having a slow day or if I’m just not explaining myself well . . .
But it’s probably not me . . .

Anyhow, I’ll try to make it more clear: February 28th is Business Valentine’s Day. I chose a day/date still in the month of love, so it’d be easy for us to remember, but I wanted to make it far enough away from that other impostor Valentine’s Day (on February 14th–have you heard of it?) that it would give people’s bank accounts a little bit of recuperation time.

To celebrate #BizVDay, I’ll be releasing multiple posts this week, starting with today’s (20 Ways to Help Your Brand Stand Out), and then throughout the whole week >> ranging from blogger collaborations to protecting your business and getting search engines to love you. I’ll also be releasing two (wait what?) . . . two free eBooks this week for anyone on le good ol’ email friends list. There will be other various goodies shared through social media and other sources as well. On actual Business Valentine’s Day, I hope you’ll be celebrating as I will, by doing things that show love to our businesses (maintenance, cleaning/auditing things, planning, developing products, being epic, etc.). Don’t worry, I’ll share more as the week unfolds, but for now, just tweet me that you’re in.

Are you down with Business Valentine's Day? #BizVDay

Oh, and feel free to release some cool, free stuff for your blog readers and friends for #BizVDay too. I’d love to see what you come up with, so please Tweet me.



20 Ways to Help Your Brand Stand Out
(and Attract the Right People to You)


1. Create a pretty archive page on your website, or create a “start here” page to direct first-time visitors to your best stuff.

As we get blogging, it’s sometimes easy to forget that new people are probably finding us every day, and that these new people are entering our sites from all sorts of links/pages/posts. Someone may come through a link to a specific post through Pinterest, someone else may have found your bio page through a Google search, and yet another person may have been sent a link to your services page by a friend . . . you never know.

So, having a beautiful archive page (that shows all your posts) or creating a custom “First time here?” or “Start Here” page can be the most welcoming, brilliant thing ever. You’re able to direct people to your best content (or your most recent content) in a super attractive way. I love how Lindsay and Bjork over at Pinch of Yum have fashioned their archives page.

Pinch of Yum Archive Page


2. Boomerang everythang.

It was important to use an “a” there, so it could rhyme. Don’t hate on that. That’s genius level stuff that no one has ever done before.

Boomerang for Gmail is your new thing . . . I promise. With just the basic, free account, you can schedule emails to send later (so your client who lives in another country won’t get emails at 11:30 p.m. their time >> or so your clients/collaborators who live in the same country will get your email the next morning at 8:30 a.m. instead of at 3 a.m. when you finished writing it), and you can also return an email to your inbox at a later time. It’s like having a personal assistant remind you that you still haven’t replied to SoAndSo or done SuchAndSuch thing. Brilliant Boomerang, brilliant.

Boomerang for Gmail fo' life


3. Create a resources page for your audience, but only if you really mean it.

People like you. People like your website, blog, or products. People see you as an expert in whatever you’re talking about or doing. People will have questions for you. Sometimes it’s simplest to answer those questions (What do you use for ___? How do you do ___?) with a single resource page on your website.

But only if you really mean it. If you’re developing it to help people, as Pat Flynn did (screenshot below), then go for it. If you’re developing it solely to dump affiliate links of stuff you’ve never tried right along with stuff you love, then do me a favor, just don’t. Your readers and the Internets thank you for being genuine.

Resource Page Example from Pat Flynn


4. Get someone to review your site, for free.

Use a service such as criticue.com or peek.usertesting.com to get free, real, user reviews of your website. What do real live people think of your website? You can find out, like today-ish.

Free Website Testing


5. Clean up your portfolio.

“I love that logo you made 10 years ago with Clip Art,” said no true friend of yours, ever. Include your best stuff, not all your stuff. Get an honest friend, client, or colleague (or all three) to be for realsies with you. My best friend in life (BMays.com) is a talented designer, but even she asked me to be real with her if there was anything she needed to take out of her portfolio. Everything she does is pretty awesome to me, but it was about deciding what represents her capabilities best. Her current portfolio is about 1/30th of her entire body of work.

BMays Portfolio // Brittany Mays


6. Create a challenge.

My best buddy (referenced above) and I like to call them “happy accidents.” Those times when you mess up something in Photoshop and end up loving it–or those times when you plan a 30-day challenge that you think a handful of people will care about and it turns out to be one of the things that grows your blog the most in a certain year. Creating my 30-day Creative Business Cleanse was my happy accident of 2014. My Internet friend, Amy Maricle, created the most adorably awesome Holiday Self-Care Challenge last year that really drove some awareness for her art therapy and counseling brand. Whatever you create just has to make sense for you, your people, your goals, and their goals.

Speaking of creating challenges: Is anyone interested in a challenge on creating challenges? With tips and resources on making a successful challenge? Because if you are, I’ll be making that soon. Just tweet me or leave a comment on this post if you’re reading this and are interested. P.S. I love you.

Create a challenge to help your brand stand out


7. Reassess the categories on your site.

So. Don’t judge me. I may or may not have had 43 categories on my site that I just collected over time from not being purposeful about my categories. Whatever. You’ll be happy to know I actually took myself through The Stellar Content Plan Workbook and narrowed it down a bit. I recommend only a handful or two of categories to keep your content looking focused.

The Stellar Content Plan Workbook


8. Plan your first webinar.

Mannnnnn, I get nervous each time I do these things. But honestly, and I’m not just saying this to convince you to start doing them, it gets easier every single time. I was still nervous in my most recent one (previewed below) about using Apple Pages to create digital and printable documents, but it was way better than the first one, which is the webinar we shall not speak of. I mean, technically it’s live on my YouTube channel, but whatever. And P.S. I use free Google+ Hangouts On Air to conduct my webinars, just in case you wanted to know.

Create a webinar


9. Create some standard reply emails.

All those questions that you seem to get over and over again–create an amazing reply once (complete with resources and your award-winning humor) and then send it out each time you get a specific question. Do the same with client emails or anything else you send out regularly. And if you’re a Gmail or Google Apps user, get the free Lab (app) called Canned Responses that lets you store and insert specific responses in one click. And please, don’t ask me to explain my naming system for my Canned Responses (below). It all makes sense in my head.

Canned Responses for Gmail


10. Dream up a collaboration and propose it.

Did I make up an entire post and eBook on the 33 types of blogger collaborations you can try? I can neither confirm nor deny this, but if you come back to the blog each day this week leading up to Business Valentine’s Day, you’ll definitely know the answer. Hint: It’s yes.

The Epic Guide to Blogger Collaborations


11. Do an SEO audit of your pages and blog posts.

Try this non-techie overview of SEO, but stay tuned for the second installment of #SearchEngineSaturday as well.


12. Start a questions doc.

Compile all the questions you get via email, social media, real life, post comments, and even inside your brilliant head into one document. This will give you the most epic list of things that your people want to know. These can be formed into standard reply emails (#9 above), products, blog posts, services, collaborations, and more.


13. Audit your services and products.

Are they all listed? Are they all valuable? Organized? Reflective of your true abilities and interests? Are there any that you kinda (in your heart) hate to deliver? Get rid of anything that makes you nauseous.


14. Create a blog post graphic template.

Or multiple templates, if you want to vary the look of each blog post graphic based on the category. My new blog image obsession? This guy’s blog >> Bryan Robert Thompson. Creating consistent, bold, attractive images will definitely help your brand stand out (on social media and more).

Blog Graphic Templates


15. Open up office hours.

Whether you offer Q+As on Facebook, Google+, or via Twitter chats, consider providing some free office hours to start to connect with potential clients on a meaningful level. I hosted office hours on Facebook and my blog for a few months when I was starting out. P.S. You can do as I did so that you won’t seem like a loner at first >> ask your true friends with real interest in your topics to populate your events and ask some questions.


16. Send some handwritten notecards to clients.

Whenever you ship physical items, you have an amazing opportunity to handwrite some notecards, but you can also send them just because. Consider using Postable to collect addresses from your favorite clients during the holidays, or before their birthdays, or just because. You can export your list or you can send some semi-handwritten notecards directly from the Postable system.


17. Put a real accounting system in place.

I use Wave for free. And their cool app that lets me snap pics of my receipts on the go. But whatever you use, get in the habit of entering your income and expenses each week. You and/or your accountant will hate tax time a lot less with some organization. And an organized and less-stressed you can do better work.

Wave Accounting and Invoicing


18. Make an email plan.

I recommend planning out your email content in themes, just as you do your blog content. I also recommend that I take my own advice on this one.

#SorryToMyEmailFriendsWhoMayFeelIgnored
#ButImEmailingYouSomethingAwesomeThisWeek


19. Identify 10 client/reader haunts, and start going there.

Where are your people at online? Where are your people at IRL (in real life)? Figure out 10 places you would go if you were them, then start going there. Be present, be real, be helpful, be memorable. Your 10 places will probably eventually narrow themselves down (or weed themselves out) until you’re left with just a few that are truly effective, but that’s okay. Think of clubs, communities, classes, organizations, websites, other blogs, Facebook Groups, etc. where your people would be.


20. Spend a day Buffering out blog posts, products, and resources from other people that your audience might find interesting. Tag (@) the author/creator in each tweet or G+/Facebook post.

To be a stand up, stand out brand, it’s important that you share other people and mention them frequently. Spend a couple hours one day filling your social media queue with future tweets, Facebook posts, Google+ posts, and LinkedIn updates that share other people’s resources, products, and thoughts (just make sure you actually admire/recommend the content). The person whose stuff you shared will love you. Your audience will appreciate you.


Did I mention I expanded on these 20 points in an eBook that includes 75 ways to help your brand stand out and be generally awesome? I really can’t remember if I mentioned that or not.

Either way, before I get to the free eBook situation, I want to mention that if you’re looking for more tips like this, plus a small and epic community of bloggers, then Zero to Blog can help you get established, or Blog to Profit can help your blog go from well established to making money. Applications are only open for a limited time. Come join us.


Free eBook for email friendsOkay, now, on to the FREE eBook + workbook: 75 Ways to Help Your Brand Stand Out. I’ve been promising its release and Wednesday (two days away) is the day I email it to you. If you’re an email friend that is. And don’t worry, if you catch this message after the fact, I’ll still be emailing it out to each new email friend for quite some time. I’m super excited to finally be able to offer it to you and I hope it sparks some epic ideas for you.

Do you want a free eBook on how to make your brand stand out?


So, what are you considering doing for Business Valentine’s Day? Please let me know in the comments below.

Main blog photo: Kristen Curette

46 responses to “20 Ways to Help Your Brand Stand Out”

  1. Hanh says:

    Amazing, so helpful. Thanks R! x

  2. Hanna says:

    Hi, Regina! So, I think I might officially have a girl-crush on you (OMG, did I just write that out loud). Anyways, love your blog! It’s been so inspiring and helpful! Signing up to the newsletter ASAP, and looking forward to celebrating Biz V-Day with you 🙂

    • regina says:

      Awwww, you’re amazing Hanna. You’ve definitely encouraged me today; thank you for taking time out to do that. I’m very happy that you’ll be celebrating Biz ViDay.

      Random note: love your sidebar — it’s colorful and fun.

  3. Amy Maricle says:

    HI Regina!

    Thank you so much for mentioning my Holiday Self-Care Challenge. I’m honored to hear that noise breaking through the crickets that sometimes populate my internet life. 🙂

    I would LOVE to learn more from you about how you advise running and using challenges. I have learned a number of things in the 1st two I did, and I think I did pretty well considering, but I’m interested in seeing how doing some smaller ones could help get people excited about art therapy and creative self-care through art journaling. Like, how could I best use a challenge to drive people to register for my art journaling classes – whether online or in person? I’d be happy to offer a really nice art journal, or for a larger challenge, do a set of Neocolors – which are like crayons and watercolors on crack with awesome, intense color. (Are you getting how fun these are for anyone with an ounce of creative interest? The catch is they are expensive – making them a good prize I thought.) But I would love your guidance on challenges, because maybe you’ll say, NOOOO, not that, THIS! I’m so looking forward to your information and guidance!

    I also really appreciate the advice about the “start here” page, I’ve been thinking that would be helpful. I just uploaded a welcome video to replace my photo on the home page, which has a similar purpose, but I think a resources page like the beautiful one from Pinch of Yum would be fun and useful for folks.

    I need to get my act together on a number of the other suggestions, but this is where I will start.

    Thanks Regina for being such an awesome “Internet Human” and Internet friend!

    Cheers,

    Amy

  4. Jeff says:

    Excellent post, Regina. I just joined your email list. I’m anxious to read your new eBook. Keep up the great work.

    • regina says:

      Thank you Jeff. Can’t wait to send it along. I appreciate your comment.

      I’m a fan of your “podcasts I’m listening to” list on your site. I really want to finally check out Entrepreneur On Fire. I’m just slowly getting into the podcasting world. Thanks for putting that list together.

  5. Amber says:

    Hey Regina,
    As always I absolutely loved this blog post. I am definitely in for a challenge on challenges, since I have like a million and one ideas for challenges to do and to write. I had no idea you could let people review your website for free. I am definitely doing that when my new website comes out. Looking forward to all the amazing blog posts this week!

  6. Kelita says:

    I love this idea, I wish I knew about it earlier but I will push myself this week and create 5 blog posts under the theme 5 Steps to 5K and host a free/ non opt-in Google Hangout for my Fans and Followers on Saturday.

    I just wrote this so now I have to do it… >< 🙂

  7. Stephanie says:

    Ouh, great a whole week of Regina’s posts coming up, what a way to get rid of winter blues. Thank you !

    I have an issue with number 14 though and wonder if you have some advice. I want to create a consistent banner image and free printable style. I’m ready to pay a graphic designer for it but all of the ones I email (including some you recommended in previous posts) don’t accept my request and are only interested in doing a full brand redesign or blog redesign. Any other tips/resources I could turn to to get that done?

    Thanks

  8. It’s always nice to have a list like this because I never would have come up with most of these things on my own.

  9. Lontier says:

    Starting a questions doc is a really great idea and I’m on it! Another stellar post, Regina. I’m so looking forward to the rest of the week! 🙂

  10. All your articles have been so helpful for me! I started my blog just a few weeks ago and this is helping me tons to figure out what I should and shouldn’t do 🙂 Thank you!

  11. OK…so they were all so good, but I will say that #s 1, 3, 4, 12, & 14 specifically spoke to my heart today. Great job. I’m filling up my Azendoo with stuff I have to do because you brought some great things to my attention. Excellent job friend. Oh and I’m excited about like 3 things you are making especially the 75 Ways to Help your Brand Stand Out.

  12. Gertrude says:

    Dear Regina,

    You are one of the reasons I am hosting my very first webinar on Thursday. You offer so much it makes me WANT to offer so much. One of the things I will be sharing in my webinar is how to actually create a style guide for your blog/brand – something I learned from you.

    Alright my dear, I will be waiting for my free eBook in the inbox. So excited about it.

    Thanks + I hope you are having an amazing day.

  13. Helena says:

    I’m seriously falling in love with you! Your blog and the valuable content you publish, I mean 😉

    Thank you so so much for another great epic post!

  14. Caroline says:

    Just love your stuff Regina, it is always so useful. And I would love a challenge on preparing a challenge!

    • regina says:

      Thank you so much Caroline. What a wonderful thing to say. I appreciate you.

      Your website is amazing–so beautiful–can’t wait for the launch of your eCourse. It’s such a distinct and useful topic. Will you please, please consider tweeting/messaging me when it’s done? I’d love to share it.

      Thank you for your comment.

      • Caroline says:

        Thanks Regina for popping by my website and for offering to share it – means a lot that you take the time to get to know us! The course is taking longer than expected to develop but I am learning lots including from all your wonderful tips and hopefully your next course 🙂

  15. Aldy says:

    Hi Regina,

    What a Wonderful post! Oh, after reading this post… I think that I still have a lot to do in my blog yet! It’s so nice to finally come here and say Hi! Since my 14 months baby-girl keep me running all day long 🙂 I want to say; thank you for your posts, they’re a delight to read! I’ve been reading your blog from a short while now (btw, I discovered you through pinterest) and I have to say that for the first time in this blogging world, I really understand the meaning about SEO! Really, just the non-techie way you explained seo was GREAT! Like music to my ears. I’m a food blogger and I’ve been blogging for a long while but I started to take blogging more seriously just last year, before that it was more like a hobby. I started to see more potential in my blog after receiving emails from people interested in my food recipes and photographs. So now I’m trying to educate myself about what blogging really means, and how I could share with others my passion for food and art. And I couldn’t be happier to learn from someone like you. So excited to be here!

    Oh, and I would definitely love to hear about how to create a Challenge!
    Happy Day!

  16. Anna says:

    long time lurker (and pinner), first time commenter here…I love your posts, they are so inspiring…I’m contemplating with creating a “new here” page. I was wondering, why not make the About page also serve as “new here”? Any thoughts?

    • regina says:

      Anna, I think that’s absolutely brilliant. I wish I had a link to share, where I’ve seen it done beautifully before, but I didn’t record the site. But, judging from your already attractive site, you’ll probably have no problem making it epic.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment Anna. And thank you for your pins. That means so much to me.

  17. Britt Nicole says:

    I’d be down for a “challenge” challenge!

    This was a great read. Thanks, Regina!

  18. You’re amazing. (Oh, I’ve said that already?) Everything you post is so helpful. I’m pretty sure that if I ever had the chance to just sit with you and work out all the kinks in my thang, my brain would explode. But not like fire explosion, more like…. i dunno, confetti and sprinkles? Now that I’ve sounded really silly, I’m going to leave now. But you’re helpfulness keeps me inspired everyday I come here! 🙂

  19. Hi Regina,

    I’d love to read more about setting up challenges. I feel completely lost just thinking about it so I can’t wait to read your take on this.

    Looking forward to see what you’ve planned for us this week.

  20. I am excited for all of the goodies you have planned for #bizvday! But I am even more excited about the fact that I NOW have a list of 5 challenge ideas for my blog….BAM! Inspiration has struck….

  21. Briana says:

    I swear, every post you put up makes me more and more excited (and/or frustrated with not being able to devote my time to trying ALL of it out)! On note to your 6. “Create a Challenge”, I’d definitely be interested in coming up with something, though with my particular blog/brand, I’m not sure what that would be or what it would look like.

    As always, thank you SO much for putting so much help out there for us newbies (and even folks who’ve been around the blog for a while). You have such a big heart and brain for this kind of thing. (Have I mentioned that you seem like you would be ridiculously fun to have afternoon tea with? Consider it mentioned!)

  22. Melissa says:

    Okay, I’m going to have to spend some quality time with #19 and #20, especially. And yes, please, I’d love the challenge about challenges! I need some serious brainstorming on this topic. Said brainstorming may or may not need to include wine. Wait, of course it will.

  23. cristina says:

    I will be buffering (hootsuiting, actually) my face off. And I would LOVE to join a challenge on creating challenges. I’m on the Regina train! Choo choo!!

  24. Carey says:

    These are all really great tips and advice Regina. Thanks so much for giving

  25. Jeanette says:

    I truly love this Regina! Thank you so much for all good info and tips you bring to us all the time:)

  26. Rach says:

    The amount of links and resources in this post blows me away! There is so much to learn from you. I’d love to join a challenge on creating challenges. Much admiration for you Regina.

  27. Danielle says:

    Oh, I just love you, Regina. I need to look into these email tips. Updating my categories is still on my list, along with photo archive pages. Do you have any suggestions for creating these easily, without doing it manually? Thank you!

  28. ivana split says:

    challenge on creating challenges for ourselves? that sounds pretty awesome.
    I love it how I have a feeling I’m really using my mind when I read your posts. They’re so well written.

  29. Ok, this list is great but #14 is definitely a winner in terms of making your blog stand out AND saving time for yourself. I am all about creating templates to save time in your business (I have a ton of really awesome email templates I’ve created for the most common notes/responses I have to send out in my biz) but I haven’t done a lot in terms of graphic templates. I think part of it is feeling intimidated (graphics! yikes!) but then the other piece is just never having sat down and just done it. I need to tho and this post has me feeling properly inspired (i.e. this was a good kick in the ass right when I needed one… good timing)! lol

  30. I was browsing on Instagram and stumbled on your page and I absolutely love it, and love your website. Btw I signed up to receive the “love my brand kit”, will that be emailed to me? I’m so excited to have found your page and website

  31. […] 20 Ways to Help Your Brand stand out: I could not do this round up without including a link by Regina. She always has the most helpful […]

  32. Jonathan says:

    This was very helpful. thank you!

  33. Bonnie says:

    Hi Regina,

    I am just getting the hang of adding pages to my blog/website… so I love the “start here” and “resources” page ideas. I will have to get working on that soon.

    Ever since reading about challenges here on your website, I have wanted to make one. It just might be my next project!

    I also love the office hours idea. How do you do that? How do you know what time of day is best or do you just play around with that?

    And also love the blog/business tools you mentioned and will be trying Wave, Boomerang, and Buffering out soon. I really need to get on top of some of those things!

    Thanks!
    ~Bonnie~

  34. […] 4 By Regina – 20 Ways to Make your Brand Stand Out […]

  35. Charleen says:

    Would I be lame to admit that I just read this, even though it is almost a year old? Perhaps. But I am willing to wear the lame cap for a minute if it means acknowledging the brilliance of this post, and expressing my gratitude for it. Perfect, love it, using it, doing it. Thanks Regina BYE Regina 😉

  36. […] 20 Ways to Help your Brand Stand OUT from byregina.com – this is another must read blog for bloggers and smal business owners. […]

  37. MyJustice says:

    Thank you! This was so helpful. Lately all of my exceptionally useful information, has been coming from your blog posts. I appreciate it, Thanks!

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