Google Yourself – Then Read This!

Google Yourself – Then Read This!

Google Yourself – Then Read This!

Personal Branding

By Donna O’Toole

What have these four people all got in common?

zoella-etc-pic

A good hairdresser? A business?  A title?

Wrong. Try again.

Still guessing?

The answer is that Businessman and Dragon’s Den regular  Peter Jones, infamous blogger  Zoella, author, historian and headmaster of Wellington College  Sir Anthony Seldon, and founder of lastminute.com  and philanthropist  Baroness Martha Lane Fox  have all taken control of their online reputation via their own personal blogs.

Yes this eclectic mix of successful individuals have realised the power of an online profile and chosen to control their content, promote their passions and spread the word about their expertise through their very own web portfolios.

They are diverse in every way; their age, gender, expertise and personal objectives couldn’t be more different, yet they are all highly aware of their personal brand image and have become key influencers through developing their reputations.

Why is this important?

Top Tip:  Well, whether you like it or not, anyone who is anyone is now talking about what matters to them online as well as offline.

When your name is searched online by someone who wants to know more about you or your work, Google simply shows anything  with your name attached — good or bad, old and new. And naturally we all just click on the first few results from a Google search, so if all the great stuff about you is buried, that’s where it stays, and readers make up their minds about you from the first few things they have read.

So wouldn’t you like to be in control of what the first thing is that people read about you? Be in control of what people think of you? Of your perceived expertise, credibility and contribution to the world?

Or would you prefer to leave your reputation to chance? To let people make up their own minds from the myriad of material they find online about you? Or even worse, to let them concur that your  lack of social presence  indicates a lack of ongoing discovery,  development and  commitment to your field?

Here’s a little activity for you. Google yourself. What do you find?

If the first result is not yourname.com  then you are already behind.  And if your social media profiles are lacking rather than linking then it’s time to take action — if you take your reputation seriously of course.

Discover how to manage your personal and professional profile  through your very own online web profile and let us create a bespoke social media strategy that will show the world your achievements.

Simply contact us  to arrange a no obligation consultation to discuss raising your social profile and look forward to enjoying the benefits of a reputation that you choose.
What are you waiting for?

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What’s Your Why?

What’s Your Why?

What’s Your Why?

Personal Branding

By Donna O’Toole

When it comes to the best leaders, it’s all about the Golden Circle

It’s not an unusual question. In fact, it’s become quite popular in recent years. Simon Sinek says that when it comes to the best leaders, it’s all about the Golden Circle.  Carmine Gallo says it’s what ‘makes your heart sing’.

Top Tip:  Knowing your why in business simply means knowing what you believe in, knowing what you stand for,  and knowing what really makes you tick.

And I’ll give you a clue — your why is not money. Or at least it shouldn’t be. As Sinek explains, for the most inspirational leaders money is a necessity, of course it is, but it’s a by-product of what  they do, it follows what  they do, it’s not why they do it.

An accountant’s why might be the satisfaction that comes from relieving their clients’ stress and keeping their businesses on track by dealing with their tax returns. It’s unlikely to be the actual process of form-filling or calculating that makes their heart sing.

A teacher’s why  might be seeing a young child’s mind and opportunities grow when they learn to read, or dance, or sing. It’s unlikely to be the thrill of instructing, marking, and assessing that makes them get out of bed each day.

And take what I do for example, I help people, businesses and brands to grow through winning awards and achieving valuable recognition.

Why? Well it’s not because I like to think strategically and commercially. Or because writing and communications are in my skill set. It’s not because my brain is bursting with all the tiny details of awards and recognition programmes. Or because I enjoy working with a team of creative and inspirational colleagues. Although these factors all help me carry out my work on a day to day basis…

No, what makes my heart sing is seeing the business leaders I work with grow and flourish as they start achieving their hopes, dreams, and goals.

It’s seeing the employees and brands I work with stand out from the competition and be recognised for their hard work — empowering them to give even more energy back to their people and projects.

It’s watching entrepreneurs come to terms with their self-growth, and focus on their own values to bring even greater benefit to everything they do.

My why is the thrill I get from  helping others to aim for the moon and to catch a few stars along the way. It’s helping dreams to become a reality and seeing the opportunities grow and grow.

And knowing that I might have helped you identify your why, helped you achieve your goals, and helped you reach further and higher, that’s what makes my heart sing.

I believe everyone has the potential to achieve their dreams if they truly have the determination to do so, no matter what their age, race, gender or social status.

And I truly believe in the people  I work with. I have to, or for me, I just can’t achieve my why, or help them to achieve theirs.

Top Tip:  Knowing your why is the secret to achieving your goals.

So next time you apply for a new job, go for that big contract, or think about entering an award, ask yourself, ‘what’s my why?’ and believe me, you will find the answer that makes you  memorable.

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Getting Started On Your New Blog

Getting Started On Your New Blog

Getting Started On Your New Blog

Personal Branding

By Donna O’Toole

Have you read How to blog in business?

Well now it’s time to get started on your new blog!

1. Choose your blog name:

If you already have a business name then great use that, otherwise I’d say using your own name for a personal blog is great for getting you to the top of Google searches. However, if you want to be creative, anonymous, or a bit quirky then the world is your oyster, just bear in mind it may be harder for people to find you organically through online searches until your name is well known. Do your market research before you secure your domain name, tell people the name and ask them what they think the blog would be about — and give yourself a week or so to settle on a name because changing it later could give you a headache.

2. Pick your host and register your domain:

Personally I like GoDaddy, Bluehost and 123reg — in that order. For users based in the UK I find GoDaddy absolutely brilliant for giving technical support. If you want an expert to build your beautiful blog then discuss this with them before buying your domain as they can help you choose the right hosting package.

3. Pick your blog platform:

Pick a user-friendly and customisable online platform for your website/blog. I use WordPress.org as the possibilities are endless, the templates you can purchase are beautiful and inspirational, and the backend is simple to use for even the most non-techie person.

4. Now you are ready to blog:

Once your blog is all set up with a logo, photos, contact details, an about page, email address etc etc you can start to ‘blog’…but what on earth should you write about?

Well if you’re blogging for your business then you should know your topic, but if you’re not used to writing for your audience you could still be stumped on what style or approach to take.

5. Finding your blog style:

The best way to find out the kind of blog style you like, whether for business or pleasure, is to read as many other blogs as you can. As you do, note down the things you liked about that blog: Was the writing humorous or deep and meaningful? Short and sweet or long and detailed? Full of pictures or written in an attractive font? Did it take an authoritative business tone or a friendly approachable tone? Did the topic pull you in, or was it the catchy headline?
There is no right answer, just be open to new blogs and ideas, even if they are not on your topic, you will learn so much from other blogger and you’ll start to see patterns in what you like. Of course your audience may not feel the same, but the more you get to know what you enjoy reading, the more you will find yourself connecting with a tone and voice that you’ll probably also find enjoyable for writing. And the more comfortable you are when you write, the easier your blog will be to read…leading to more engagement with your audience.

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How To Avoid A Logo No No

How To Avoid A Logo No No

How To Avoid A Logo No No

Personal Branding

By Donna O’Toole

An exciting step

When you start a new business a new shiny logo can be a very exciting step in the branding process. In fact logos can be hugely important to businesses, old and new, big and small — just one glimpse of the ‘Apple’ logo can have us reaching for the latest iPhone can’t it?

So that’s good — we should all have a logo shouldn’t we?

Not necessarily (more on this later), but if you do go for a logo it is so important to get it right. Get it wrong and you could end up confusing customers and even worse, sending them to your competitors.

This week I saw someone’s beloved new business nearly take a nosedive into branding obscurity thanks to a very beautiful logo.

Here’s what happened (all names have been changed to prevent me losing a lovely friend):

Friend: Donna, I’ve had these new logos designed for my business and they are all really lovely, I just can’t decide which one to go with, would you mind taking a look?

Me: Yes, course, love to, send ’em over…

[pause]

Friend: What do you think? They are all lovely aren’t they?

Me:  Um, could you just confirm something for me…why did you call your company The Daffodil Boutique?

Friend: Oh because daffodils are very special to me… [goes on to explain why].

Me:  Right, so why are  there daisies all over the logos and not daffodils?

Friend:  Ah, I’m not sure, but the lady who designed them worked really hard and I’d hate to offend her by not choosing one now. They are pretty though so I don’t mind really, I just can’t seem to pick one.

Me: That’s because your words and pictures just don’t fit together. A logo should sing out  your identity to the world, it should be memorable and it should make you instantly recognisable — with and without your brand name alongside — these are pretty, they just don’t  make sense.

So with a bit of advice, some creative suggestions and a carefully worded email that wouldn’t  upset anyone, my friend eventually had a  logo that gave her business clarity and consistency across all her communications.

Phew. I really was glad she’d asked for feedback — because that’s all it was, just a bit of honesty and a well-timed common-sense question, but it made all the difference.

There are a few lessons to learn here; a clear brief will give you  the right results the first time, and if you are looking for creative inspiration and are not yet ready to give clear directions, especially on something creative like a logo, then brainstorm around  your brand vision and values to help you get there — no rush and no pressure.

And never be afraid to ask for feedback from people who will be honest with you — friends, family, bored-looking strangers on the train — whoever might be able to view your logo from a customer’s perspective. This can work for choosing a company name too, just show them your ideas and ask a few  questions like the ones below:

  1. What do you think we sell?  This is always tougher for service companies who don’t have products to make into pictures, but it’s easy for anyone to get wrong — if you sell legal services but people think your logo belongs to a technology company you may be putting off more customers than you are getting, particularly if your company name doesn’t spell out what you do.
  2. How much do you think our product/service  costs?  This will help you identify whether your brand logo fits with your target customer. Does it look slick, expensive and exclusive, homemade and crafty, or fast and off the shelf — all will do the trick so long as they deliver the right message and align with your customers’ expectations and budget.
  3. Which part of the name/logo do you like/dislike and why?  This one might be painful to start with, but listen to the responses carefully — they don’t all require a reaction, opinions are subjective after all, but if everyone says ‘I love the colour but can’t read the font’ or ‘I like the name but what on earth is the koala in the corner for?’ then half the work has been done for you.

Don’t go crazy and torture yourself, you don’t need to stand in the street with a clipboard canvassing opinions from every poor unsuspecting passer-by, but even a little bit of honest and objective feedback can make all the difference to your final logo (or name) — it’s what we call ‘market research’. And if you can’t face going  through all that then please don’t just take a punt and end up living with a poor decision, call in a branding expert and make sure all your words and pictures  go together to create a clear brand identity.
Note: When I say you don’t necessarily need a logo, I’m referring to having a picture/icon/emblem to go along with your brand name (think the Ralph Lauren polo player, the Playboy bunny, the Apple apple). If your head is swimming with icons and you just can’t choose one, try stripping things back for simplicity, look at Google, Coca-Cola and FedEx who use colour and typography as their only branding devices. Not having a picture logo certainly hasn’t done these companies any harm now has it?!

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My 10 Top Blogging Tips

My 10 Top Blogging Tips

My 10 Top Blogging Tips

Personal Branding

By Donna O’Toole

Have you read how to blog in business and getting started on your blog?

Well then you are ready to start developing your very own blog!

10 Top Blogging Tips

  1. Blogs work best at a length of 500 — 800 words written in short paragraphs with bullets, lists and frequent subheadings and /or images to break up the text. If you write too much just break it down into multiple bite-sized blog posts.
  2. An easy way to get started is to list the most frequently asked questions from your customers and give UNIQUE answers to them in a blog post that shows your USP.
  3. Embrace the ‘rules’ of good copywriting when you write; picture your audience and write as if you’re talking directly to one person — always using the word ‘you’ to connect and engage.
  4. Try to think of your writing as ‘talking’ and write as you would speak (without the ums and ers) then read aloud to check it flows naturally. If you stumble start editing.
  5. Give your post a clear structure that leads the reader through logically, and create titles and subtitles using searchable phrases like ‘How to…’ ‘5 Tips for…’ Why you should…’ etc. as these will help your blog to pop up when people search online.
  6. Use personal or professional stories to illustrate your message and make it unique. You may find you need to tweak your title once you finish writing your post and have mentally clarified your ideas but that’s just good practice.
  7. Add a specific ‘call to action’ like ‘Call now to book your free consultation’ in every post. And link to other similar posts and your contact page.
  8. Always credit other people’s work, images, blogs or ideas and add links where appropriate. Better still, create your own images using Canva or Pic Monkey to attract the reader and build SEO.
  9. Share, share, share…get your blog out on Twitter, LinkedIn and on a professional facebook page to start with, and guest  post for as many external websites, magazines and publications as possible to prove your credibility.
  10. Be consistent. Publish a post weekly, monthly, seasonally, or however frequently you wish, but stick to it. Putting up one post one week, then five posts a month later is chaotic. You can pre-programme posts to go out at certain times, and the only way to  create a loyal following is by posting frequently and consistently.

Take all of the steps above, as well as more tips from my how to blog in business and getting started on your new blog posts, and you’ll soon be on your way to success through blogging. But don’t expect to see too much in the way of business too soon, blogging is not a get-rich-quick scheme, it’s a new way of showcasing your business, demonstrating your expertise and connecting with your audience, and it truly is the best way to build your Personal Brand.

Print your FREE blogging worksheet below:

Now before you start blogging fill in the worksheet below to help you stay focused on your niche, your audience and your goals. Look at your answers and think carefully about what you are trying to achieve before you start. Come back to this often to either update your goals or regain your focus:

August  Blog Development Worksheet

Name up to 3 topics you specialise in as part of your business. This is your ‘expertise’.

1.

2.

3.

Name your top 3 ideal customers. These people are your ‘audience’, think of them as you write.

1.

2.

3.

Name up to 3 competitors or similar businesses. Investigate their blogs and improve on them.

1.

2.

3.

Name up to 3 blogs or business books you genuinely enjoy reading. If you want to write in this way too, take inspiration from them but stay unique when developing your tone of voice.

1.

2.

3.

Name up to 3 celebrities you find inspirational. Read their blogs/social media posts to help you stay focused when blogging feels too tiresome (and it will at some point). Keep going!

1.

2.

3.

Name up to 3 specific outcomes you would like to achieve from your blog. This is how you will focus on your goals and measure your effectiveness and impact.

1.

2.

3.

That’s it — time to get started by answering your customer’s burning questions in the unique way that only YOU are able to do… good luck, and above all, have fun and enjoy writing your blog, then your readers will enjoy following your thoughts and ideas too.
Still stuck on your blog? Need help getting started? If you need an expert to create your own beautiful blog or don’t have the time to blog yourself but don’t want to miss out on the benefits it can bring your business just contact me and I can take care of all your blogging in business needs.

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Could you be Eligible for a Queen’s Honour?

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The honours system rewards people for their outstanding achievements, those who have shown great commitment to serving and supporting Britain, and those who have demonstrated exceptional service to their industries, communities and professional disciplines.

read more

How to successfully blog in business?

How to successfully blog in business?

How to successfully blog in business?

Personal Branding

By Donna O’Toole

Making your blog successful

So you know that blogging is something you should be doing in nowadays, but you don’t necessarily know why, how to blog in business, or what makes a blog successful. Read  my short guide to blogging in business to get you started on the road to success:

Building your Personal Brand

In short, blogging (creating original content and distributing it online) enhances your Personal Brand; gives you credibility as the expert in your field; it makes you a Thought Leader (if you are inspirational and original enough), and makes you and your business visible across the world. Plus once you get started it’s a free, efficient and effective way to connect, network, and build trust with potential customers.

I started blogging a couple of years ago, not for business but as a hobby. I felt that I needed a something creative and interesting that I could do at home (with no need for babysitters or expensive equipment) and that would be fun to do with my daughters who were ready to learn about the world of digital in a way I hoped would be a safe and productive.

Being a writer, blogging was a natural opportunity for me, although it wasn’t necessarily easy. Understanding what other people found interesting was a journey in itself, but once I did, the rewards were absolutely worth the effort.

Fast forward a few years and now I blog for business both on this Communications Director blog and on my popular and extremely niche Awards Expert blog. I also build other people’s blogs, teach people how to blog for business, and write and manage a variety of fascinating blogs as part of my client’s professional profile-raising / Thought Leader / Personal Branding programmes.

How to start blogging

If you really want to blog for yourself, the very best way you will learn is to just jump right in and get started. If you’re worried you’ll say or do the wrong thing and ruin your business (unlikely but always possible if you press publish on something particularly unpopular  I suppose) then learn to blog on a topic unrelated to your business — if you’re really shy you can even create a new blog name so no one knows it’s you!
Read on to find out my top tips for getting started on blogging in business, and I even include a worksheet on  how to find your blog USP, how to settle on your tone of voice, and how to pick topics that will engage with your audience.
Need help blogging? If you need an expert to create your own beautiful blog or  don’t have the time to blog yourself but don’t want to miss out on the benefits it can bring your business just contact me and I can take care of all your blogging in business needs.

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Could you be Eligible for a Queen’s Honour?

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The honours system rewards people for their outstanding achievements, those who have shown great commitment to serving and supporting Britain, and those who have demonstrated exceptional service to their industries, communities and professional disciplines.

read more