Friday, December 4, 2009

Personal Branding Vs. Online Writing

photo by Hazar Sultan
I have a lot of trouble with personal branding. I think most people do which is why there are so many personal branding coaches out there. Good ones. I usually end up talking to them about the city they live in or their families or social circle because I don't think I can ever reconcile the two brands I currently have: a quirky social media addict and a nonfiction writer that now and again feels the need to tell people about how I ran away from college in Iowa or the thrill of spray painting my favorite lines of poetry under bridges.
Personal branding coaches will tell you to write for other people - for the perception of you online. There should be consistency of message across the Internet and other really sound advice. Writing coaches will tell you to write about things not necessarily thinking of your audience. Big problem. Here's a great writing quote from Mary Karr's new book (one of my heroes):

"Tell your stories and your story will be revealed... don't be afraid of appearing angry, small minded, obtuse, mean, immoral, amoral, calculating, or anything else. Take no care for your dignity."

Since I don't want my personal brand to be "that small minded, amoral social media consultant" I have had to have 2 brands online. I don't know what the personal branding coaches would think about this I haven't asked Dan yet. When I write under my personal brand or for clients I am constantly thinking about how my audience will perceive my message and when I write a piece of nonfiction I have to sit near the quote above which is taped inside my writing book and look at it every time I want to delete a sentence that makes me seem mean, small minded, obtuse, or any of those lovely qualities (there are many).

So my word of advice to online writers, bloggers, and those seeking to perfect their personal brands is it's okay to have 2 if they clash with one another and when you are creating something to first think about which brand you are writing for and create accordingly.

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Anonymous Ira said...

I think there's a big difference between writing for your audience and being aware of your audience. For me, this is the happy medium.

Make sure you're talking to someone, but don't let that person be your mom or boss.

December 4, 2009 at 10:19 AM  
Blogger Royce said...

Hey C-Mac, did you read Jenny Blake's interview with that author Villareal? What you say sounds a LOT like what he said in the interview. Essentially you tell your stories and even if they do end up apparently clashing, actually that just defines who you are even more strongly. If that makes sense?

Also I like Dan Schwabel quite a bit and typically enjoy reading him. Plus he looks professional in his about me photo, which is nice.

December 4, 2009 at 3:36 PM  
Blogger Rebecca ♥ said...

Great post and wonderful advice. I've been having a similar issue where I started a blog that was supposed to focus on an intellectual discussion of literature. However, I was having a hard time "keeping out" my generally quirky, enthusiastic, and pop-culture-interested personality out of it. So, I started a second blog to hopefully help reconcile the two, but have been wondering if it's too much/too inconsistent. After reading this, I think I'll keep at it.

December 6, 2009 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Caitlin said...

Ira - very true! I think some of the best ad campaigns are aware of but aren't overly catering to their audience....

Royce - I'll have to check that out! Sounds really cool.
I tried to look professional in my profile pics but... it doesn't seem right for me not to have my cup of coffee with me in it :)

December 7, 2009 at 5:31 AM  
Blogger Caitlin said...

Rebecca -
I recently found you blog and I love it, glad you liked the post and found it helpful.

December 7, 2009 at 5:32 AM  
Blogger evf said...

I can't buy into the Write For Your Audience hype, but since I don't have much of an audience I don't worry about it. Both of my blogs are consistent with my inconsistencies. I guess that's saying something.

December 15, 2009 at 8:59 PM  

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