When you’re first starting out as an entrepreneur or freelancer, or you’re taking first steps into personal branding, it can be difficult to know exactly which topics to choose for product and service development, and blogging. If you imagine the blog you’re about to set up, maybe some themes seem more appealing than others, some you could speak about for days and others would lead to only a blog post or two. Instead of getting stuck in the more theoretic parts of entrepreneurship, why not reverse engineer this a little bit? Or if you’re an established blogger, who wants to narrow down your topics when launching a business, keep on reading as well. Let’s take a look at how you can use the blog categories and tags to create more clarity about both business strategy, branding, and personal branding. For inspiration, I’m presenting a case study as well.
Choosing blog categories
Let’s use meditation as an example. Meditation would have to be a core topic of my website for me to decide to make it a blog category. I would talk about it very frequently and it would be a central part of my business strategy as well as branding, including brand identity.
While I like meditation and its health benefits, I have many other things I wish to discuss and therefore I rather think of it as a topic to discuss under the Health umbrella. My aim is to meditate for a while every evening before going to sleep, but in my daily health projects there are several other activities. Currently, my skills aren’t on such a level that I could teach a meditation class either.
On the other hand, I’m also very interested in the science behind it, including benefits out of a medical perspective, so when I talk about meditation with scientific papers in mind, I would put it in the Medicine & Science category.
And if I were to talk about the photographic exhibition I saw of meditating people, meditation paraphernalia, and beautiful nature shots, I’d categorise the blog post as The Arts.
The blog category works as an indicator of main context in other words.
Choosing blog tags
Tags are another way to find blog posts. Depending on the blog theme of your choice, you may or may not see them when reading individual posts. My own WordPress theme currently shows categories only, whereas the tags remain hidden. They still work in search engine optimization, though.
An article on that photographic exhibition with meditation as theme (and blog-post name), for example, could be tagged meditation, zen garden, and mindfulness, when filed under The Arts category.
When a reader would click on the meditation tag, search results could show blog posts on the art exhibition (in The Arts category), my own struggles to create a daily meditation routine (post in Health category), and recent research results on meditation (post in Medicine & Science category).
How would the yogini arrange her yoga studio blog?
For Meditation to be a blog category, however, we need to introduce a new person, a woman with a background in both business and yoga. For a few years now she’s been dreaming of a yoga studio of her own, because the work she does no longer inspires her.
Teaching students, however, is where she feels at home and fulfilling her life’s purpose, so lately she’s been crunching numbers, saving money and scouting possible locations for rent. Currently she’s drafting her plan to market the studio in social media.
After talking a bit with our yogini, I’m suggesting as first blog category Meditation. This puzzles her slightly, until I remind her that meditation isn’t receiving enough time in the spotlight, compared to asanas all over social media, Instagram in particular. And since she’s solidly planted in meditation after a couple of decades of practice, I feel her voice could start shining light the right way on the topic.
Our yogini could discuss meditation basics with beginners in mind, meditation tools such as a set of mala beads or the zafu and zabuton cushions, and her own experiences with the different gurus she’s had over the years.
Another category might be Asana to teach about the movements in yoga, discuss props to assist movement alterations, and show photos of how to do a particular asana the wrong and right ways.
A third could be Updates from the Studio for latest news on classes, workshops and retreats, visiting instructors, etc.
A fourth, Yoga as Business, is where she would share business insights for yoga teachers since she’s both a business-school graduate and a registered yoga teacher. She feels deeply about yoga, but also realises she has food to put on the family table, bills to pay and so on, and thinks she has found a balance between staying grounded and turning her love of yoga into a successful business, which employs other yogis and yoginis as well. This wisdom is something she passionately wants to spread within the community so that other teachers can learn how to strike a similar sort of balance.
Extrapolating blog categories and tags to business strategy
Thinking properly about this hierarchy and understanding deeply how it works, and how you should use it, will make it easier to stay aligned with everything that your business is, from values, mission and vision, to strategy and plan, to content creation and marketing.
When you’ve clearly outlined what it is that you’re about, and the blog breathes it, your readers will perceive a red thread that works throughout.
If we’re continuing to use our yogini as case study, since she outlined four categories to use yet feels something is missing still, further thinking reveals she has ignored collaborations.
She’s active in her community, communicates frequently with other studio owners from the same and other traditions of yoga, and has quite a network of clients as well. Because of this, on the spot she decides to nurture this potential by adding a fifth category for a string of guest bloggers. While the name is open for debate still, her working name is Guests. She knows quite a few people, who write inspirational articles and who happily would contribute to her blog as well. Plus they’ll receive free advertising for their own work as teachers.
All of a sudden she sees clearly the extent of just how important people are to her, because despite knowing her customers would be a core part of her business strategy, brainstorming peacefully shows that the collaborations will be as relevant to the business structure.
One of her core values in life is connection, and part of her business mission therefore is to make everyone feel welcome and included, regardless of age, sex/gender, religion, financial situation, body size, race, and more. She feels this is the true spirit of yoga, which should be felt throughout all the collaborative work as well.
But she doesn’t stop at customers and collaboration partners. Another thing very close to her heart is stability of employment, and so she invests time and energy on improving as a responsible and fair team leader. She also decides to consult legal and tax experts from time to time to ensure that contracts, bookkeeping and other management tasks are done properly, with caring for her employees and their health as key components.
With customers in mind, nothing but a professional approach to running classes and workshops is acceptable to her. This will include exemplary maintenance and cleaning of both studios, locker rooms and shower areas. Onto her to-do lists she adds finding a professional yet warm-hearted person to take care of the reception area. For the maintenance and cleaning tasks she already has in mind a local small business, which has struggled in the current economy.
To attract new customers, she makes a note to brainstorm how to keep the studio spaces used as much as possible, and she also wants to take it up with her team. Most have been teaching in several places, so she wishes to use to maximum all that knowledge.
Thinking of her team also reminds her she’ll need to ask about their different skills, because at least one of them has some kind of design background. As it happens, she needs a smashing brand identity.
This bunch of wonderfully vibrant people most likely have other skills, too, which could be used in building the studio. And she wants everyone of them to feel heard, so she makes a note to think in greater detail about ways to create a feeling of them belonging to a group. Maybe they should all go to a yearly retreat together, not have monthly meetings only? Ah, now she’s getting off track, but the idea gets captured right away.
Before moving on to working on the brand identity, she writes down to ask her people about teaching programmes. She doesn’t see herself teaching new yoga teachers anytime soon, but some of the more advanced teachers might be up for the task. It could be a wonderful addition to the brand to show that yoga teachers certified from her studio will fulfill strict criteria and are knowledgeable in accommodating yoga to the needs of various body types among others.
Extrapolating blog categories and tags to brand identity
Our yogini appreciates the beautiful things in life and wants the website of her future studio reflect serenity and personal growth. She wants a soothing colour scheme combined with simple yet lovely typography, and in no way does she picture any sort of clutter on the website.
The logo will hopefully appear in many a place eventually, so it should communicate what the website does, too. Perhaps something related to Meditation would be the best considering the eight limbs of yoga and all?
When she ponders the blog categories, she decides that all posts in Asana should include a person in asana as featured image. And Meditation featured images could show calm views either with or without people in meditaton, and maybe some mudras could appear once in a while, too. The images with people shouldn’t be confused across these two categories, though.
Now that she has thought in-depth on how to structure what the customers will experience both offline and online, she feels ready to discuss the visual identity of her brand with the designer.
She hasn’t yet decided how to communicate the brand of her studio to the team, but it feels important that they all represent the brand in similar ways, with kindness, ambition and integrity. While they all value the same lifestyle, they’ll have to decide how to speak in the name of the studio, and how as private people.
No matter what, she thinks all the visual content produced across platforms should look the same, so maybe someone on the team wants to take care of creating that content, not just teach classes. Otherwise they could hire a graphic student maybe?
But now she really needs to contact the designer, who possibly doesn’t do web design at all. Oh, and then there’s the stationery to think of as well. Now we’ll leave her to her to-do list and further planning of marketing.
To conclude, I hope using as example my own website and the yogini as case study has been helpful in giving you ideas how to start thinking backwards on both business and personal branding. Start from the practical level where you find easily what you are good at, where your knowledge is to be found, and also what makes you eagerly sit down at your computer to start drafting blog posts for your website.
Do you need help narrowing down your blog voice a bit? Post in the comments if you like!