Branding for Niche Marketers: Step-by Step Guide To Building a Powerful Online Brand Image
My mom is a brilliant chef.
I guess all moms are.
She makes delicious cheeseburgers; way more awesome than McDonalds or any other burger chain in the market.
But can I sell them for the same price as McDonalds?
McDonalds is a brand people trust and willingly associate themselves with. They know they’ll always get the same great taste when they order a McDonalds burger
I’m a nobody.
I might sell a few here and there, but I can’t build a long-term business from it.
Unless I establish a trusted brand as well.
As a niche marketer, you don’t sell cheeseburgers (you can of course!) but you do need to build a brand to earn people’s trust and establish yourself as a niche authority if you want to build a long-term business that keeps churning out money years down the line.
In this post, I’ll show you exactly how to do that.
What You'll Learn in this Post
- Why niche marketers should care about branding
- How to instantly build credibility with a small change to your website's design
- An under-utilized content type that can immediately establish you as a niche expert
- How Facebook can help you build word of mouth marketers and brand advocates
"If people like you, they'll listen to you. But if they trust you, they'll do business with you" - Zig Ziglar
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Why Branding is Important for Niche Marketers
Thousands of niche marketers are promoting the same products from Amazon, ClickBank, JVZoo and other affiliate networks.
But all of them have different results.
Some are making six-figures every month while others are hardly selling anything.
The top marketers have strong personal brands. People trust their recommendations and know that they’ll get their money’s worth.
This is exactly why companies spend millions of dollars every year buying celebrity endorsements for their products.
And this is why influencers generate 2x more sales for companies vs. paid ads.
But that’s just one side of the story.
As an internet marketer, you know you can’t build a viable business without generating a significant portion of your traffic from Google.
So how do you differentiate yourself from the thousands of other marketers selling or promoting similar products?
Take a deep breath and follow these steps.
"Building my brand has quite frankly turned out to be the best business move I’ve made in my entire career" - Chris Ducker
1. List Your Brand’s Core Values and Identify Your Target Audience
Are you in this for the long run or just trying to make a quick buck?
Are you solving problems or just promoting shiny products?
Who’re you targeting? Anyone with an overflowing wallet or someone who’d be grateful you helped?
You can’t build a powerful brand without the right mindset.
So you need to answer these, and many other, questions before you start working on your brand image.
The shortcut to getting this step right is by defining your core values; things that you just can’t compromise on.
For example, as an affiliate marketer, some of your core values could be
- To offer solutions to your audience that’ll help them excel in their businesses (aka Customer Success)
- To never promote products that you haven’t tried yourself.
- To never recommend a service that you don’t believe in.
- To take full responsibility for anything that you promote.
- To promote only the most relevant offers.
You can expand this as much as you want.
Following a set of values doesn’t bring immediate results. Sometimes, it can even test you for months. There might be no good enough products to promote
Do you go back to promoting rubbish just to make a quick buck, or do you stick to your values?
And I’m not preaching morals over here.
Sticking to your values is the only way to differentiate yourself from opportunistic marketers and establish yourself as a trustworthy knowledge source.
It pays off 100x once your audience starts trusting you.
2. Choose a Memorable Domain Name and Invest in Your Site’s Design
Exact match domains (EMD) vs. branded domains is still a hot debate in the SEO world. Many marketers still go for EMDs and find success.
However, in 2012 Google’s head of web spam clearly indicated that EMDs are not going to work anymore.
So even if EMDs are working for you right now, it’s still a risky strategy.
But purely from a branding perspective, I’d go for a domain name that is easy to remember, represents my brand properly and sounds good.
NicheHacks.com is a good example.
Stuart could’ve easily gone for a URL like freenichereports.com or nichesiteearnings.com, but NicheHacks sounds much better and also represents his core offer properly.
It’s also much easier to secure backlinks from high authority sites for branded domain names as compared to EMDs.
For example, editors of Forbes or Entrepreneur would never allow a backlink to a URL like “BestWeightLossTipsFor Men.com” or “AwesomeCheapTshirts.com”.
As a freelance guest blogger, and a writer for several A-list blogs, I know this from experience. You can use Shopify's free business name generator to find domain name ideas that suit your brand or use a brandable domain name marketplace to find niche domains.
Nutrition Secrets, a niche blog by Neil Patel, is a great example of a branded domain name.
It not only has a unique and easy to remember brand name but also has a very professional design, which is the other thing that you need to invest in.
As a serious marketer, you don’t want to be using a free WordPress theme because it not only looks bad but also puts your site at a security risk.
We use Wp-Radiance for NicheHacks and it looks quite clean and professional.
But you can use any other theme you like as long as it gives center stage to your content and doesn’t have unnecessary clutter.
AuthorityNutrition, a blog in the healthcare niche, is a good example.
Both these things (domain and design) are easy to overlook when you’re starting out, but they have a huge impact on your brand’s identity.
If you’re not good with WordPress, you can use this A to Z guide to building a WordPress website. If you don’t have the time to do everything yourself, you can hire designers from 99Designs, Fiverr or Upwork to get yourself plenty of logo and website design options.
"I no longer even care if an exact match domain is available" - Spencer Haws (NichePursuits)
3. Get Your Hands Dirty in Your Niche and Share Personal Experiences
If you’re planning to build an authority blog in a crowded niche, your best chance to stand out and get noticed is by really getting involved in your niche and getting your hands dirty.
Not sure what that means?
NicheHacks writer James Johnson is a perfect example.
James recently started his own blog in the travel niche – really crowded – in an open niche site challenge.
And what’s the first thing James does after getting the design and URL right? He dives right into his niche and goes out traveling himself.
He could’ve easily found all the content he needed with a few Google searches, but he chose to explore things himself and share his own experiences with his audience.
This immediately makes him authentic to his audience and adds so much more weight to his content because he’s sharing his personal experiences, not some re-hashed content from the web.
So the next time any of his readers are traveling to Portugal, or any other country James has been to, they can trust his advice.
4. Stand Out from the Crowd by Creating More Video Content
If you want your blog visitors to immediately fall in love with your content, start creating more videos. Video content has taken the web by storm and shows no signs of slowing down.
In fact, it drives the highest user engagement among all other content types.
Seriously, most people are just too shy to stand in front of a camera and look their audience right in the eye. If you can do that, you’ll immediately establish a strong rapport with your audience.
NicheHacks team member Chelsea recently started creating videos for her copywriting business. And she’s immediately more recognizable in her industry with more credibility and a higher probability of getting clients.
James is doing the same for his niche travel blog and regularly posts videos on his Facebook page.
It adds so much more value to his content when he’s actually visiting a place himself and sharing his experiences on camera.
Video becomes even more important when you’re marketing physical products. According to Internet Retailer, video product reviews boost eCommerce conversions by almost 144%.
While researching different sites for this post, I came across Ideaing.com, a product review site that clearly makes all of its revenue from affiliate commissions.
For many of their products, they have high-quality video reviews. This makes their content 100x more valuable and actionable for their readers.
Even if someone visits their site for the first time, he’d immediately start trusting them because of their strong branding and quality video content.
You can also use screencasts to create How-To videos on different topics related to your industry. There are dozens of free and paid screen recording software applications that you can use to create such videos.
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5. Grow Your Tribe by Starting a Facebook Group
According to Nielson, more than 83% of people trust recommendations, or word of mouth, from friends and family when making online purchase decisions.
What does that tell you about online marketing?
If you have a group of loyal readers and subscribers who can vouch for your products/services/content (Seth Godin calls them your tribe) you can make 10x more sales at a fraction of your total marketing costs.
In my experience, there’s no better way to achieve that than starting your own niche-focused Facebook group.
Because billions of people use Facebook every day and, in all likelihood, your audience is already there. There are more than 1 billion active Facebook groups on every niche imaginable.
Search for anything on Facebook and you’ll find related groups. I just randomly searched for “pumpkin growers” and found related groups.
It’s much easier to get people to join a Facebook group as compared to your email list (I’m a big fan of email list building).
Once you have them in your group, you can share useful content, engage with them, provide them solutions and build your image as a niche expert
Just look at how the NicheHacks Private Mastermind group has turned into a huge community of like-minded people.
When I joined Stuart's team, the group had just over 5000 people. Now it’s a thriving community of more than 20 thousand (and quickly growing). And most of them are share read and share NicheHacks content regularly because they’re loyal fans.
Neil Patel has an awesome guide for starting and growing a Facebook group.
Do check it out.
6. Start a Niche-Specific Podcast to Grow Your Audience
If you think that podcasts are old-fashioned or not effective anymore, think again.
In the U.S, the number of podcast listeners and Twitter users is almost the same. In fact, a recent study by Edison Research shows that the average number of podcast listeners is at an all-time high right now.
And just like Facebook groups, there are active and thriving podcasts in all kinds of niches.
Starting your own podcast is a great way to build your brand image and share value with your followers. In fact, you can use podcasts to interview other experts in your niche and borrow their credibility.
Despite huge potential, podcasts are under-utilized in niche marketing which is why it’s a great opportunity for you to take the lead.
Chris Ducker has a brilliant guide on starting and promoting an effective podcast.
"Facebook groups represents a massive opportunity for marketers who want to connect with prospects and provide value" - Neil Patel
7. Feature on Authority Publications to Borrow Credibility
You’re visiting a marketing blog for the first time, and you see names like Forbes, Entrepreneur, LifeHack, Huffington Post in the “As Seen On” section.
What’s your first impression? “This guy must be good”
Featuring your brand on high authority publications either through guest blogging or sponsored posts is one of the best ways to build instant credibility.
It helps you borrow authority from other established publications in your niche and helps you win people’s trust.
We’ve done it here on NicheHacks
And VideoFruit, one of my favorite blogs
Even top authors and speakers like Michael Hyatt follow this strategy to build instant credibility
Most bloggers use guest blogging to generate traffic, which is fine. But in my opinion, it's much better to use it as a brand building strategy. You'll get traffic anyway.
There are two ways to land mentions on leading blogs and publications.
You can reach out to them with high-quality guest posts or directly connect with the authors who're already writing for authority sites and ask them to review your site.
Use them to search for relevant bloggers and ask them to get you mentions and backlinks on your target publications. But to make this work, you'd need to have some link-worthy content on your site as well. Otherwise, no authority blog would allow linking to you.
MyBlogU is another platform you can use to get cited on authority blogs. But it works slightly differently. Instead of directly asking bloggers to feature your brand, you can collaborate with them, answer their questions and get cited on authority sites.
8. Highlight Customer Success Stories and Expert Endorsements on Your Site
Has your product helped customers achieve success in their businesses? Have you ever received words of encouragement from any experts in your industry?
If yes, don’t be shy to use them on your blog. They only make you look more credible.
For example, here’s a testimonial Neil Patel uses on his blog
There are several high-profile recommendations in the About section of NicheHacks
Similarly, if your content has helped people take action or make a positive change in their lives, make sure you document their success stories and share them on your blog.
Yaro, Entrepreneurs-Journey, does this brilliantly on his blog. He has well-documented success stories of all his students and shares them regularly with his audience.
This is another form of social proof for your brand and makes you look more credible to your readers.
9. Create Authentic, Actionable, and Data-Rich Content
Your content is authentic when you truly believe in it. You’re not just writing it to get visitors and social shares. It’s your honest opinion.
It means you’re prepared to lose readers because of your opinions and you’re not afraid of being controversial.
But you can only write authentic content if you’re knowledgeable about your niche.
The other two qualities, actionable and data-rich, are self-explanatory.
Every piece of content you publish needs to help your readers take action. It needs to give them actionable guidelines they can immediately follow.
And to make your content more persuasive, you need to back most of your opinions using solid data references and numbers.
Just read through NicheHacks archives. All our posts are highly actionable and backed by data evidence.
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Ready to Build Your Brand?
Your brand image plays a key role in determining your success as a niche marketer.
The more credible and trustworthy you are, the more chances you have of making sales and commissions.
People buy from people they trust - it's that simple.
So, what are you doing to strengthen your brand image?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.