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This website, right now, has absolutely no way of making money. There are no ads in the sidebar, there are no hidden affiliate links and I have nothing to sell you. This lack of promotion isn’t coincidental: I have a genuine aim to help as many of you as I can succeed online and I’ll do that by focusing purely on the content that I put out there, and not the money I can make with it.
Now that we’re beginning a New Year, many people (myself included) feel like they are able to wipe the slate clean and try a ‘fresh start’ or a new strategy for a brand new year. My job right now is to catch you in this enthusiastic and energetic mood by showing you the one thing you need to do first: build your brand base online.
I only thought of the term “brand base” recently so that’s probably why you haven’t heard of it. To explain what a brand base in as short a sentence as possible, I would say a brand base is simply a ‘home’ for content around your brand online. Ideally, all of this content would be found on just one or two services, rather than across the web.
Over the last few years, more and more of my content has been moving online. I used to organise all of this content through folders and bookmarks in Firefox, but I recently began to realise how limiting this set-up is. Instead of keeping to this method, I’ve decided to register on a website I used for the first time over three years ago…Netvibes.
Netvibes is a custom homepage that allows you to customise thousands of modules to have an area online that is completely how you want it. I’ve tested countless alternatives such as iGoogle and have found nothing I prefer more over Netvibes.
Before I show you exactly what my own brand base looks like, I thought it would be a good idea to answer exactly why you should have one in the first place. As a webmaster / blogger, your goal is probably to grow your website as much as possible. Generally, the ‘spaces’ we need online to do such things include:
Because I was moving more and more online, I was finding that my checking of these sites was taking up more and more of my time. I had to head over to Google Reader to read other internet marketing blogs, Google Apps to read my ViperChill email and GoNutshell.com to get a hold of my task list.
As I worked this way for a few months, I quickly realised that I needed a better solution, and this is where Netvibes comes in. Netvibes simply allows you to access all of these websites and services in one place on the web. In fact, I can access half of these things all on the same page. It’s fantastic. Because I’m focusing all of these services and modules around one website / project, this inturn makes this new portal my brand base.
The benefits of having this brand base, are:
If you now believe that a brand base is for you, then we’ll take a look at my setup and workout how you can get the same.
Please note that while I’m using Netvibes for my own Brand Base, you don’t have to do the same. There are probably hundreds of websites which offer you similar functionality with a different look. Netvibes not only looks fantastic and has all of the modules I need, but is used by hundreds of thousands of people so I don’t think it will be disappearing anytime soon.
I have three tabs on my Netvibes account, the first bringing you to the page you see below:
I decided to use the ViperChill background on Netvibes to give me a constant feel of the brand and the site that I work on. This first page is my ‘social’ area with two social network accounts and my two email accounts (one is below). I did, however, make sure to put my task list right in between the two social accounts so I never forget what I have to be working on.
The Twitter integration in Netvibes actually includes the very same functionality of Tweetdeck. In other words: it’s absolutely awesome. In fact, it’s so good that I have now uninstalled Tweetdeck from my Mac as this online version has some features even Tweetdeck was missing.
The second tab on my Netvibes account brings me to my blog reading area:
I subscribe to about 15 blogs here and I’m so far enjoying the dramatic visual change compared to Google Reader. I love how easy it is to see the post frequency for the biggest blogs in my niche and of course, how easy it is to see when they have updated. Similar to Google Reader, Netvibes also shows the ‘unread’ count in the title so when I’m on a non-Netvibes tab, I can still see if new content has been posted.
I also love that having multiple accounts in one place means that I can easily share blog links on Twitter and Facebook or save them if I wish.
My third and final tab on Netvibes is used for reputation monitoring:
Here I have simply added RSS feeds from places like Twitter Search and Google Blog Search. This allows me to track the web for mentions of myself, my brand, and anything else I want to track. It’s more important than ever to keep up to date on what people are saying about you so that you can respond and react as quickly as possible (where necessary).
For example, if someone purchased Cloud Living and wrote a negative review, I want to know about it. I want to help them out if I can and make sure the ‘negativity’ doesn’t spread too far. When deciding what to track, consider:
And anything else you feel people may be talking about. I call this area ‘Business’ but really think of it as my speaker from the web. The constant noise of what is going on around me.
I honestly believe that having this brand base set-up is going to make a big difference for me in 2010. I’ve already had some ideas of more things to add that are going to save me a lot of time. Please remember that if you like the idea of creating something like this, you could also try iGoogle or Pageflakes for competitive alternatives.
Now that I’ve shared what I’m using, I want to hear about you! What do you think of building a brand base? Do you like the way I have set mine up? Or, if this isn’t something for you, which services do you use for email, task management and so on while staying organised.
Together, you guys are far more intelligent and creative than me, so I look forward to the replies…