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Build a Kick-Ass Blog By Creating a Kick-Ass Brand

Posted by on May 26, 2011 | 12 Comments

Why a post on building a blog?  Simple- I want each and every one of my readers to start blogging.  It is one of the most efficient ways to build a HUGE database of great barefoot running stories, which helps me reach my goal of changing the running world.  Let’s face it… A LOT of you guys have some amazingly inspiring stories.  Anyway…

I’m not much of a marketer or a businessperson.  My strategy in both is deceptively simple- I write from the heart, write what interests me, and don’t temper my passion.   Marketing and business take care of themselves because the stuff I write resonates with at least a few people.  I may not bother with things like search engine optimization or strategic advertising, but I DO work to foster the Barefoot Running University brand.  If you produce great stuff, people will share it.  If you produce crap, no favorable Google search results will save you.  Having a recognizable brand based on quality posts helps the sharing process.

I define what BRU stands for; I define my core principles that shape my decisions.   I make BRU known with some simple word-spreading methods like guest writing, freelancing, giving away stickers, etc.  Leveraging the BRU brand has been incredibly helpful.  It has helped me spread my message.

So how do you go about creating a kick-ass brand and blog?  Here are my non-professional suggestions:

  1. Create a unique, memorable name, logo, and/or catch phrase. For BRU, I knew I wanted to teach.  Calling the business a “university” was logical.  For the logo, I wanted to make something memorable, but NOT use a bare foot.  I thank Richard Knobbs for this advice.  EVERYONE was using a bare foot for logos… it was getting a little lame.  I went with a “varsity” font and had some cool graphic designers whip up the current logo.  It’s not a swoosh or golden arches, but it’s a little different.
  2. Identify your defining principles. What do you stand for?  Once you figure out what you stand for, tell the world.  Repeatedly.  Now live by those principles.
  3. Write stuff slightly different than the rest of the bloggers in your niche. Yes, I write reviews.  I also write the occasional “how-to barefoot” article.  But a good portion of my posts cover the psychology and sociology of barefoot running, minimalist shoe running, and related topics.  Most people in my niche don’t write about this stuff.  I also occasionally write about my own path to improving my life.  These posts take several forms, but all share an element of my inner self.  Finally, I recruit guest writers to add variety and boost their own traffic.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ruffle feathers. I want to stimulate discussion.  The most effective means to that end is to write controversial stuff.  Don’t be afraid to pick fights.  I do not apologize for my dislike of Brooks, Reebok, The Running Room, and Road Runner Sports.
  5. Don’t post boring shit. This is a cardinal sin.  Don’t whine.  Don’t complain.  Don’t tell stupid stories nobody cares about.  Don’t post your training log unless a) you’re really fast, or b) you’re experimenting with some new crazy shit.  Note- all rules are voided IF and ONLY IF you either 1) are VERY funny, or 2) are self-depreciating in a way that is funny. BTW- I have done all of these and suffered the hit in traffic.
  6. Get your brand out there. TJ Gerken has done a great job with the Barefoot Runners Society.  Justin Owings hit a homerun with  These cats get it.  Share your blog using your brand any way possible.
  7. Listen to your critics. They can give valuable advice or challenge your beliefs.  Always be open to new ideas, even if they come from a critical viewpoint.  Of course, feel free to defend yourself if you believe you’re right.  😉
  8. Build karma. Remember where you came from.  Thank those that came before you.  This is why I constantly reference Ken Bob, Ted, and Rick.  Mention your fellow bloggers, even those outside your niche.  They’ll notice.

All of these ideas will help build your blog around your own unique brand.  This is the avenue to blogger nirvana.  Two great examples of barefoot bloggers that have fostered very different but equally entertaining brands are Christian Peterson (Maple Grove Barefoot Guy) and Angie Hotz (Barefoot Angie Bee).  Christian has defined his blog by his offensive but hilarious self-depreciating narcissistic writing style combined with the whole superhero motif.  Angie leverages a ton of give-aways along with personal stories of her life as a barefoot running mother.  Both are awesome reads; both have managed to create a brand and leverage it to blogger success.

Get into the blogging scene.  Tell your story.  Build your brand.  Help me change the world.

Further reading: Why Every Social Media Tip is keeping You From Becoming Awesome.

Mars, if you read this, thanks man! You post some entertaining shit.



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  1. The redesign of Kemme Fitness « Kemme Fitness
    June 1, 2011

    […] Robillard, of Barefoot Running University about establishing a brand. The post was called, “building a kick-ass blog by building a kick-ass brand.” He is always more creative on his post […]

  2. Janice Nicholls
    May 27, 2011

    Hey Jason. I wrote a blog article on your earlier article “Some Taboo Truths About Barefoot Running.” Check it out:)

  3. Angie Bee
    May 26, 2011

    Thanks for the mention Jason. Reminds me that I need to actually blog more!

  4. briderdt
    May 26, 2011

    I’m doing what I can… Thanks!

  5. Richard
    May 26, 2011

    Thanks for another mention, Jason! It seems like such a long time ago we talked about that – what you’ve achieved since then has been amazing, and you deserve every last bit of it.

    (Erm…one small thing, the link doesn’t work…)

    • Jason
      May 26, 2011

      No problem, this wouldn’t have been possible without your feedback! Link fixed, too!

  6. Brad
    May 26, 2011

    I’m in. Trying to spread the word among my friends and the greater central massachusetts area. Not sure what my brand is yet. I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up despite being one week shy of 40yrs old.

    Thanks again for adding me to your blogroll.

  7. Ryan
    May 26, 2011

    Oh sure, NOW you tell me not to use the bare foot in a logo… 😉

  8. The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy
    May 26, 2011

    Thanks for the mention Jason. I noticed 😉 Although what you call a brand I call “being myself”.

    • Jason
      May 26, 2011

      Christian- that’s exactly what makes it so great. 😉

    • scott hadley
      May 26, 2011

      Christian: you are a REAL superhero???? You’re so effin awesome!