About how to make a brand online. There are a lot of books, yes, but this has been done a proven by an amateur, somebody who was a nobody before the Internet.
Well well well. Where to start.
I guess I should make sure that I make my first point clear: You have to have goals. Goals are very important in achieving any sort of success, wether it is online or in a shopping mall. You need to know what you are going to do, even if you don’t know how to get there.
So, let us imagine, for a case study, that you are a Pokemon fan, and you create Photoshopped Pokemon cards in your spare time. So, to accomplish my first point, you have to have goals. These should be written down, but they could also be in a long-running Word document, or in an online journal.
The basic goals would look something like this:
Goals (In order of importance):
1) Have fun with making the cards
2) Make some friends that have similar interests.
3) Build a reputation, so that you can eventually do number four.
4) Sell the Pokemon cards, creating your own brand. You will try to make money off of a hobby, and try not to go to jail for any copyright infringement.
So, you have your goals, but now how do you get there?
Well, when I was starting my sexy adventures, I thought I’d jump right in. I searched for probably ten minutes for a place to “set up shop.” I found wetpaint.com. I set it up, and kept it up for about a week or two. Then I quit. I had no goals, but ultimately I had no idea what I was doing online. I thought that people would automatically see me if I just got my stuff out there. That delusion is on that you cannot afford to have.
I would suggest posting on some sort of forum or message board. Start out by finding a message board that fits what you are doing. For Pokemon, you might try the IGN boards or maybe Pokemon’s own boards. I do not know of any Pokemon message boards, but they are definitely out there. You should pick a forum that has posts every single day. If you look one day, and the last post was from three months ago, you should probably move on. These forums are thought of as “dead.” You won’t find many people going to these forums, and you won’t make any friends.
Once you find a forum you like, then you should start to watch. Make an account, but don’t post a thing. This could take a week, maybe too. Be a “lurker”: somebody who just watches the other people’s posts, either learning from the information that they put out, or maybe getting to know what kind of person they are online. You need to know who the big posters are, and what they don’t like. You don’t want to do what they don’t like, because first impressions are everything. I would recommend not starting your own topics until you have forty or fifty posts. That way, people won’t see your post count as one or two, and ignore your thread because of that. If you have a better post record, then you might have some respect.
You should post at least one post a day, after you start posting. If you have a good post count, then you will be thought of as a “regular.” A regular has more respect, and they won’t be thought of as a spammer.
Signatures are where most people post a banner or a link to their site. Since you shouldn’t have a site yet, you won’t have anything to post in your signature. Instead, make a business e-mail, something related to your hopefully money-making hobby. For example, you could make an account “firstname.lastname@example.org” and then you should put that link in your signature. You could put some text like “If you’d like to contact me, either PM or e-mail me: cardmaster (at) yahoo (dot) com.”
This prevents you from getting spammed, having the (at) and the (dot). PM’s are Private Messages, which are usually supported by most PhpBB forums types. If you don’t have PM’s then you obviously don’t need to say this.
After a few months (yes I said months) you should have a nice size post count. A hundred or two hundred posts. Because you’ll have so many posts, you could be thought of a somebody who sticks around. This is important. Some people just get up to fifty or even an hundred posts. and then just start to spam. That is not good for anything, and you will lose all respect. You shouldn’t have any topics stated by you yet. You should only respond to other people’s topics, adding input that isn’t spam, something that you yourself might want to read.
You should, through all this time, be making more and more cards, or doing whatever it is your hobby is. When you think you have enough quality content, then you can start thinking about posting your owm web-site. You can use this to sell your Pokemon cards through a site that you make the code for, or if you aren’t tech-savvy, then a Cafepress or some other print-on-demand store would work fine. Your main personality shouldn’t have to shine on your site, it needs to shine on the forums or wherever else you want to post.