5 Telltale Signs You’re Going to Fail at Branding

5 Telltale Signs You’re Going to Fail at Branding

So guys, this blog post came to me in the car as I was driving to work, so I grabbed my WordPress app and I started talking into it.

I was listening to The Skinny Confidential Him and Her podcast on blogging and branding (super great podcast, listen here), and I started thinking about brands that have really really strong branding.

This is probs going to be a text-heavy post, so bear with me. And let me know if you guys like these or if there’s any way for me to make them better.

Truth #1: Paid promotion without good content will get you nowhere.

Think of yourself as a media brand first

Because I work in PR and social media, I hear a lot of the “organic reach is dead.” People say paid social media advertising is the end all be all, and they put millions and millions of dollars behind it. But I think GREAT content trumps paid advertising.

Think of yourself as a media brand first. If you’re a blogger, content needs to be your top top top priority. And if you can’t figure out how to write the content, then I don’t think you’re going to succeed at blogging.

Blogging is so saturated right now it’s not even funny, and I see so so many blogs that are really pretty…and then the content sucks. It’s short or it’s very vague or it’s just something I’ve already read 1000 times.

And figure out how to write

So, you have to figure out how to write. And write well. The difference between the bloggers “making it” and the ones who are just watching and mimicking is the content.

And this just doesn’t apply to bloggers… If you’re a photographer and your pictures suck, it doesn’t matter how great of a social media following you have or how many email subscribers you can get to your photo gallery…because your pictures suck.

You can’t build a fabulous brand on the back of poor content. 

♡ so what should you do?

Write great content. Go all in (links, good pics, unique ideas, smart value, etc).

Go the organic reach route – use your TIME to connect in Facebook groups, pin on Tailwind, comment on other blogs. When you have AMAZING content, you can do a lot with working your butt off and going the organic route.

Sign up for Board Booster to help with automated pinning –> here

slightly savvy instagram-worthy books april



Truth #2: There’s no shortcut.

I see so many posts that are like “I’ve been blogging for two months and I haven’t made any money… How do I reach out to brands for sponsored posts?”

No one wants to hear it but it’s the truth – there’s no shortcut. There’s no e-book that’s going to completely change your life, there is no course that’s going to change your life. The only thing that will help you is if you put in the work.

And some people take the work to mean they scroll through Instagram a few times a day, post photos a few times a week, and pray that like the likes roll in.

No, I mean you sit there on your phone for two hours leaving comments on other bloggers in your niche. And I mean that instead of going to bed at 9:30 because you’re tired, you stay up till 1 PM writing content for the next week.


so what should you do?

Develop a strategy and EXECUTE on it.

Pick 2 social media platforms to double down on. I picked Instagram and Pinterest. Then, use your hours in the day to interact, engage, and promote your content.

Here’s a strategy for Instagram + Pinterest –> here, here

slightly savvy how to create a beautiful instagram feed

Truth #3: You went too sponsored too fast.

I know this is a lot of people’s pet peeve, and I get it. it’s SO obvious when you see someone going for those quick and easy sponsored posts.

Your brand needs to give, give, give, take. Gary Vee talks a lot about this – give, give, give, for a longgggg time. Then ask for something. A lot of brands want to give, take, give, take, and it just doesn’t work like that.

There’s so many brands and bloggers want to take with very little giving.

Read Gary Vee’s book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noise Social World” –> here

♡ so what does this mean…?

1. You turn money down

2. You turn brands down that you don’t LOVE

3. You watch other bloggers say YES to those sponsorships, get the free stuff, get the money + feel that slight tinge of jealousy for not having that, too

4. You give away your info for FREE again and again

♡ and long-term, what does it mean?

1. Your audience trusts you.

And that’s EVERYTHING.

Read more: 4 Insider Secrets on Working with Brand Collaborations –> here

slightly savvy instagram-worthy books april

Truth #4: You’re not consistent.

So, your Insta is bright and white. Then, your Snapchat is dark and black. Then, your actual blog is black and white and moody.

Your branding across allll platforms needs to be consistent. Even if you’re not on Twitter a lot, it needs to fit the brand.

If people can’t get a grasp for exactly WHO you are, they’re not going to listen to you or follow you.

♡ so what do you do?

1. keep your profile pic and cover photo consistent

2. use the same bio

3. pick your colors – then, do EVERYTHING in those

4. think twice before you post something – even in as something as small Instagram filters, be consistent. Does the rainbow filter fit your brand? How about the stickers? Is the” yaaass” sticker more on brand than the “meh” sticker or what?

5. You know what makes my life easier? Buying things in my life that perfectly fit who I am. Then, I don’t really need “blog props” because everything is organic, natural, and just 100% me.

The truth is…my iPhone is rose gold. My case is clear. My clothes are white and bright. My house walls are light gray/white. I buy marble jars for $4 from Homegoods (get marble contact paper and make your own here). I like cute donut coffee mugs (here). I buy cute + soft nightgowns here that photograph well.

So when I sit down to take the below photo, I don’t NEED any props. I’m literally still in my PJs, grabbed my phone, sat on my bed, and pulled up Spotify.

With your blog/brand, staying consistent is key…and you can make this easier on yourself by keeping your brand in mind when you purchase ANYTHING.

slightly spotify riverdale

Truth #5: You’re not adjusting for the platform.slightly savvy telltale signs you're going to fail at branding

So real talk. A lot of people write one caption, hit publish, and then copy and paste across evvverrrrythinggggg. I can’t even explain this without an example so here we go.

Case Study on 2017 Cruelty-Free Makeup Staples (read it here)

This is what the post looks like on my blog.

slightly savvy telltale signs you're going to fail at branding


instagram stories

The morning I published the post, I did a quick walkthrough of 5 products on my stories.

slightly savvy telltale signs you're going to fail at branding




Quick and easy caption that lets people know exactly what they’re clicking on…including blogger retweet accounts for extra exposure.

slightly savvy telltale signs you're going to fail at branding



changed up the coloring so it wasn’t too white. Bright and white works great on Instagram but needs to be more eye-catching on Pinterest. Research has also shown that red/pink tones do well on Pinterest.

slightly savvy telltale signs you're going to fail at branding


You don’t need to have entirely brand new captions on everything, but consider each audience on each platform. Tweak and adjust where you need to, but keep the overall look/theme consistent.

Twitter: quick, easy to read caption with eye-catching photo (follow me here)

Pinterest: eye-catching photo, good keywords for SEO and Pinterest algorithm  (follow me here)

Insta Stories: more detailed walkthrough/preview of the post, talk about individual parts, make your readers interested enough to click the link in your bio  (read 5 Dos and Don’ts To Up Your Insta Story Game here, this post went mini viral for a hot sec and it was pretty cool / / follow me here)

Facebook: longer captions do well. tell a quick story about WHY they should bother to click on your post.


tl;dr on how not to fail at branding?

Create something amazing. And don’t be a sellout.

When you start succeeding at branding, you start wanting to work with brands, right ??


Summer Camp is the first of its kind to put bloggers + influencers in direct contact with the very people holding the hypothetical keys to sponsorships and collaborations.

You’re going to learn exactly what brands are looking for. You’re going to learn how to be a dream blogger/influencer for your PR contact. And you’re going to learn new strategies to make your content stand out, from the people who are combing through your Instagram and your blog.

“I’m vetting a 50 person list right now, weeding through people who are a fit for an upcoming program. I wish I could help these women understand how to make their content feel more authentic + brand friendly.” – Account + Influencer Relations at Edelman PR

Learn more about Camp, the agenda, the guest experts, etc. –> here


  • I think having your readers trust you is the most valuable thing. If they trust you, they will go to you for help or products they need.

  • I agree that your brand needs to give, give, give… before you try to take. Great advice 🙂

  • Drop dead amazing article as usual Katherine! I always look forward to your original content.

    & I love your email newsletter tips & find your newsletters as inspiration to work on and improve my own.

    (Anyone reading this…Definitely subscribe! Katherine’s tips are some you don’t get anywhere else.)

  • This was such a great article and reminder that nothing beats hard work! This is just what I needed to read today!

  • Great article! I’ve bookmarked it for reference for a friend who is doing research on becoming a blogger. Thank you!

  • These are all super helpful. I know I get super annoyed when I don’t see anything but sponsored content and it’s not even good.

  • What a wonderful post! So clear, detailed, and helpful. I definitely needed to read this this week. 🙂

  • Excellent tips! I haven’t broken into Insta stories yet but I want to soon!

  • Marina

    I love the idea of building trust with your readers! Any specific tips to do this? I’ve just started blogging (for a month now) and I aim to build real relationships with my readers but I’m not sure how.


  • Kaycee

    These are great tips! I’m still learning about the whole blogging world, so thanks for this!

    • Katherine

      That’s awesome you’re just starting out! Blogging is super fun but def comes with challenges. Thanks for reading girl!

  • The amount of sponsored content or free product I turn down because I don’t want to promote it for free is crazy. I would rather wait and be patient for the right opportunities, instead of taking any opportunity.

    • Katherine

      Ditto. It’s definitely sad to see brands just going after bloggers like they are worth nothing or asking for so much, and then saying, “We don’t have the budget for sponsored posts.” I know you always work with brands I know you connect with and have used before, so I always feel that genuineness from you.

  • Love the format of this post and couldn’t agree with you more! I’ve learned in the past couple months that I really need to focus on growing a community with my readers, THEN deal with the monetization. Going in with dollar signs first is not a good strategy, nor does it achieve anything!


    • Katherine

      Eep thanks girl! Totally agree with that. I am hyped for your revamp, too. I know my favorite bloggers are the ones who genuinely interact and provide REAL value, and you are always one of them.

  • Oh my gosh YES. I can’t even tell you how bothersome it is when I see beautiful blogs (HUGE blogs with HUGE followings), say literally nothing of value. Generic, nothing revolutionary, no point of view.


    • Katherine

      Omg yes yes yes. I literally am like…how did you get here?? Your post was 500 words and said absolutely nothing new! It’s super frustrating.

      But thanks so much for reading Sam! xx

  • This was such a great article and reminder that nothing beats hard work! Going straight for the dollar signs isn’t the best strategy. 🙂

    • Katherine

      For real, it’s annoying to say but nothing does beat hard work. Sounds so cliche and sure you can try shortcuts of buying followers and selling yourself out. It might work in the short-term, but I can almost guarantee it’s not going to fly long term!

  • Silvia

    Love this and totally agree on all your points! It’s more of a give give give take life so that you can build that trust.

  • Love love love this! Great tips & advice.

  • I love the straight talk. Thanks for the honesty.
    How do you know if you have excellent content? I feel like my content is good, but that’s my own opinion. I put it together, so of course I think it’s good! I’m not growing any kind of audience at all. Which is discouraging. I’m struggling between the voice that says, “it’s never going to catch on, stop wasting your time.” And the voice that says, “Believe in yourself and never give up.”

  • Honestly such a informative and helpful post! Loved the caption/post information you posted in the conclusion. I was unsure if I should be using the same caption across all my social media or to tailor it to each and this answered my question! xx

  • I’m trying to brand myself better and it’s good to see I’m doing okay, based on this post. I do need to work on changing up my captions when I share to different platforms. While I feel better about what I’m doing, it’s also great to know where I need to improve. 🙂

    Thanks for this article – and btw, it didn’t seem long at all! Don’t apologize for “wordy” content! I’m a reader who loathes short posts that I find through Pinterest or elsewhere – I feel shorted for even clicking on the article if it’s less than 700 words lol.

    • Katherine

      Ah me too! I love long posts and def feel short changed when a post is like 500 words. Like…thanks for that in-depth advice, I guess ??

      So glad you enjoyed it + hit me up if you ever need anything !

  • Leslie

    As a new blogger this is so beneficial to me! Thank you so much for taking the time to drop advice and love!

    • Katherine

      So glad you liked it Leslie !! xx

  • Ali

    This post is REALLY well written, and has a ton of helpful information in an easy to read format. Great job – thank you for putting these tips together. So, so helpful.

  • Olivia Thibault

    I feel like I’ve done so much research on Pinterest, but have never heard about red and pink tones doing better! Definitely going to have to try that out now!

    xoxo Olivia

  • Samantha O’Brian Summers

    This is an excellent article. Unfortunately I feel like I’m a bit all over the place across the board. I like everything and everything appeals to me, but it looks about like a Picasso.

  • This is such a great post – I like the point about choosing things that are exactly to your taste – I just need to work out what that is exactly.