BlogHer 07 | Self Branding and Self Promotion | Live Blogging Transcript | Updated 08.16.07

Updated 08.16.07

Thanks for finding your way here. This post first appeared on July 27, 2007 at my former blog address and now includes other bloggers who covered the mentoring and coaching session along with BlogHer ’07’s description and my notes. Unfortunately, all comments vanished in the move. But, I’d still love to hear from you if you want to talk . . .
BlogHer ‘07’s Self-branding and Self-promotion Breakout Session Description
Ask yourself this: if you’re a blogger, do you consider yourself a writer? If you’re submitting paid pieces, or running ads, or making money either directly or indirectly by being a blogger, do you consider yourself a professional writer? Do you call yourself that when people ask what you do? If The Business of You track called your name, then you should probably be answering “yes” to all of the above. And if You are the Business, then you might want to get comfortable with self-branding and self-promotion. This session will explore how to think of yourself in what might be a new way…and how to use both online and offline media to promote your work. Putting yourself out there isn’t always comfortable, but it is good Business. Featuring Nina Burokas, “Brazen Careerist” Penelope Trunk and Stephanie Cockerl, who will coach you towards owning your own personal voice, your own personal brand.

Live Blogging Notes by Barbara Rozgonyi

Here’s the random notes version . . . fresh with minimal editing updated version.
Please leave a comment if you mentioned your blog during the session and would like a link. Also, feel free to add resources.

The room is crowded, people are sitting on the floor. Forty-eight seats at tables hold laptops. A newborn sits on its mom’s lap. It’s mostly women – about 15 men.

Penelope Trunk is greeting everyone. This is personal branding; each speaker will give an introduction about who they are what they bring to the personal branding issue. Then, we’ll see what we want to get out of the session.

Penelope Trunk got her start as a professional beach volleyball player; this was her first personal branding position. She took that experience to the Fortune 500 industry and told them you really need to be noticed.

After finding that everyone at the top Fortune 500 had demanding lives, she started her own company, sold it, and moved to New York. She was in the World Trade Center when it fell and she thought she was going to die.

At the time she wrote a column about her life as a software executive and her life. Penelope decided to re-brand her life as a columnist. She wrote for the Boston Globe and although she said everyone should be blogging, she didn’t have a blog. And, everyone she interviewed that had one didn’t make any money.

For the past year, she’s been blogging at Brazen Careerist with 350,000 page views per month. That’s her new personal brand.

Nina Burokas says branding is about leveraging your strengths and differentiating yourself from the crowd. She was in operations for 10 years, then sales and marketing. This is the type of situation where you’re not in control. As a Scorpio, she needed to be in control. She wanted to understand her expertise, and how to communicate that.

The power of blogging is the range that you can get – you’re going outside of your geographic location, etc. With women it’s important for us to be proactive, to figure out our area of expertise. We need to ask: how do I connect the dots between who I know, and who I need to know?

A lot of times we don’t take to think about what success means for us – are we an executive, an owner, a mom? It’s probably a lot different than traditional consumerism. Make sure your blogging is moving you where you want to go.

Nina’s final foray into the corporate realm was in a Fortune 50 company. After going through four reorganizations, she found her vision. To have a sustainable, global society – we need to unleash the power of women. She’s now honed in on personal branding.

Stephanie Cockerl, the third speaker, finally signed up for Twitter this morning. Her branding began almost 34 year years ago when she was born.

She bought her first domain name in 1999, using her initials and her last name. As an HTML programmer and school of business consulting major, she took her inspiration for her company’s name, next Steph, from Next Step, a college magazine. She added an h – and that’s how Next Steph came to be.

Steph’s involved in so many things, but now her focus is on search engine and marketing. She says, dig into your passion and figure out what works for you.

After the introductions, Penelope asked the group: What do we want to get out this? A blog is a conversation.

The group contributed these comments . . .- recommendations about how to get your name out there, build traffic- logistics – how do you build a brand – step by step process- challenge- interested in how you separate yourself from the business if you’re both- how do you maintain the sense of brand that you’ve created in a world that 1- how to establish so it doesn’t get harassed2 -once you have that brand how do you build traffic?

Penelope Trunk has some strong opinions about brands. She used to have one that was separate from her name, but now it’s the same. She found that being separate has no purpose. It’s very hard to build a brand that you do not actually feel is you. If you’re establishing a brand that can’t be you, that’s dishonest.

Once you establish a brand that is you and you’re out there, then you do open yourself up to harassment. Women understand that – being harassed online is a lot safer than in person. Be true to yourself in life and online. Then you have to be only one person. Blogging is such a great expression of who you are.

Comment: I have two blogs –a personal one and a reporter, which personality should I use?

Penelope: We’re all really practical with our personality. We’re really good at what to be where. When you blog at – you take the part of you that’s really serious. When you’re with the smart kids be smart.

Comment: From a generalist: How important is it to be a specialist?

Nina: strong brands are known for something, not a bunch of things. If there is something that you want to be known for, it really should be a couple of things, not a bunch. An integrated mindset is good, but keep it focused.

Stephanie: keep it succinct. Recommendation: Laura Allen of, Sometimes it takes time to develop a narrow focus; give it time and go with your gut.

Comment –I’m trying to brand myself as, also my byline. It’s my magazine – politics, knitting. Have a number of different things I’m writing about, but now I find that I’m moving into another direction. Is that too diffused?

Penelope: Yes, it’s too diffused – can’t do knitting and politics on the same blog.

Nina: What’s your unique promise or value? Executive Recruiter vs. Bringing Wisdom to the Talent Process, focus in on a byline on what you uniquely bring to the party.

Comment: Can you recommend a self-guided workshop to build a brand communication plan so they know what to write about?

Nina: Recommends and collaborates with the authors of Career Distinction, Standing Up by Building Your Brand, which is a really inexpensive way to do that. It’s written by the two folks that wrote The Reach.

Comments – How do I brand within the mom blogger sphere

Penelope: What do you stand for?

Nina: That’s what it’s all about.

Penelope: If you find something where you’re the only one who does – say, diapers – you’ll stand out.

Nina: You need to express your point of view. You need to alienate a certain number of people, but you’ll attract the people who are interested in you.

Comment: Should you stay within your community – is it okay if you see an interesting thought to venture out of your community to see something valuable?

Penelope: It’s interesting to think about how narrow you can get. The value in pegging yourself to a narrow topic is much greater than being broad.

Comment – – 2 books, has a blog since January, blogging from book tours, has a dedicated audience, how does she grow?

Penelope: You need a 3 word tagline. You have to have that umbrella to cover all of your book topics. The blog doesn’t need to include your book. Focus more on the blog topic, than the book topic. Also gives you more freedom to write a wide variety of books.

Comments – Beth’s blog, how non-profits are using social media for social change, technology is very broad, how non-profits use YouTube, Flicker, etc. How can I boil that down to a tagline?

Penelope: How non-profits use technology

Stephanie: Technology’s changing every minute.

Nina: As long as you know what your thing is, stick to it.

Comment: For those women who’ve had a lot of success and want to take it to the next level – is there a transition space: you know who you are and what you want – and generating income. Is the tagline issue the thing or is this a magical leap? Art in pictures and books.

 Penelope: If your goal is to sell something, you need to know who you’re selling to and then send your switch there.

Nina: I don’t get that from the tagline. Think about a Business Etiquette Consultant: Etiquette for Business and Social Success, basically college and older people who want to lead the good life. Create a tagline that lets people know what you’re selling.

Comment: Food scientist – how do I use my blog to advance me in the corporate world?

Penelope: Blog about what you want to be hired for. Your blog is your resume, you want to be hired for your ideas.

Comment: being a home business blog, there’s a really wide range of topics. Strayed away but come back are the most popular posts like one on kids’ activities.

Penelope: This is a great transition on how to build traffic. The posts that do really well are those that meet at intersections: combining two topics that are not typically combined. When you take three posts that have nothing to do with each other and then tie them together, you get some of the most interesting posts.

Comment: Personal growth – you can do almost anything if you bring it back in. If I want to jump ahead, how do I get my blog beyond my email list?

Penelope: How many blogs do you comment on each day? Questioner – two times a week. If you want to have a conversation, do blogging. If you don’t, do print. If you’re not really interested in the back and forth, then blogging’s not right for you. The way to get known is to be authentically known and to be interested in people. If you’re going to be in the conversation you have to want to be there.

Stephanie: It starts with community. Find similar sites. Some things get lost in translation.

Comment: another way to get traffic is through blog carnivals and see if other sites need guest bloggers

Comment: blog is like the Today Show with lots of topics

Penelope: There are a few people online who can blog about anything online. Go read the people who blog about anything. – technology changes, humans don’t. Apply business principles to our personal lives. Recommends Made to Stick. When you blog about a lot of different topics, you can be a curator for everybody else. If you’re passionate about a topic, blogging should be a secondary benefit to what you do naturally. You have to give to get. My most popular photo ever is on Flickr with an eye patch [I saw that! comment from audience] – example of how unexpectedness can pop up. Headlines get attention.

Penelope: If she’s not scared to post something, if it’s not new, it’s not interesting. If you’re posting every day and you’re not worried that someone will call you an idiot, then you’re not taking enough of a risk.

Comments: Tags are important, great for headlines and how to develop a niche market.

Comment: Holly from – a lot of people read my entire blog. People are touched and send emails. How do you balance the people that read your blog contacting you, you want to be friendly with, but how do you respond to personal requests? She wants to continue interacting, but she can’t council one-on-one sessions.

Penelope: I asked a lot of people how they handle email. For example, Guy Kawasaki said he spends 4 hours a day on email – “it’s better than being a garbage man, that’s my job.” A lot of people said the same thing. Then I sent emails out and asked for advice to people like Seth Godin. They would email a one-liner that was really courteous.

Nina: What do you want to do with you blog? A-publish a book. B-have the fans come out on the book tour.

Stephanie: Make it a win-win. Ask them if they can ask the question on the blog.

Comment: Another way is to offer online calls where people can buy the time.

Comment: I’m curious about syndication and how that works and how it affects the traffic that you get.

Peneolope: It’s totally archaic and a waste of time. $500/month from 50 different papers – it’s a waste of time.

Comment:, I want to expand beyond the blog world to get a book deal or a sit com.

Penelope: You can’t take a blog and go to a book. If you have a blog, you get $15,000. If you have a blog and something else like an idea for a book, then you get your money. Your blog is not your book.

Comment: Try – ProfNet puts out a query, a generalist writing a story looks for sources. Then, PR Leads connects you to the journalists. Start connecting with the journalists and the reporters. I looked on PR Leads and contacted a journalist to let them know that I had a source.

Comment: I’m on the team at Harper that decides about what gets acquired. The blog cannot translate to a book. If you have a platform, if you have an interesting idea, then the book can be acquired. Every publisher asks – is this book beyond the blog? In publishing, we’re seeing a great deal of failures in blog to book publishing. I would certainly make the steps to develop a clear and concise proposal.

Comment:What is the brand risk and how out there you are in the appropriate business context? She is totally out with her lesbian family blog, because she needs to be herself. If you’re a blogger in your authentic voice, you can only gain from that.

.Comment: I’m in the mommysphere with a masters, how do I wear both hats in the same site to help people and parents? How do I transition and balance between giving advice and telling them what to do?

Penelope: I write about 5% of the time I screw up at home. This makes me more unique. You have an opportunity to do both together.

Comment: For those of you have blogs, there is no money in syndication in print – no money, but it is a good way to get noticed. How do you make money blogging?

Comment: You can make money blogging with affiliate revenue. AdSense is a joke. Also find ways to spin off and tap your audience in different directions.

Check out these blogs for more BlogHer ’07 self-branding and self-promotion coverage . . .

Stephanie’s Notes 

eMoms at Home

Silicon Valley Moms Blog

Felicia Sullivan 

Don’t Gel Too Soon

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