Ann Friedman’s article about personal brands is a bit dated, but still an interesting, relevant read.
I haven’t really tried to cultivate a personal brand. Maybe that’s to my detriment as an author. I don’t like the idea of pigeon-holing myself into a polished persona. Admittedly, I think about personal brands on occasion and wonder if I should put more work into being XYZ.
I’ve realized that it is more important to do what it is that you want to do. Focus on the work rather than who you want to be, or a personal brand known by others.
Author Austin Kleon sums it up succinctly.
“Lots of people want to be the noun without doing the verb. They want the job title without the work.
“Let go of the thing that you’re trying to be (the noun), and focus on the actual work you need to be doing (the verb).”
I’m many things to different people as far as who I am, what I create, and what I try to accomplish and represent. I’m more than my roles, depending on my work or interests, as a whole person. I am not a soundbite or tagline or profile on social media or personal brand that needs to always be on stage, digitally or in life.
For instance, I’ve always disliked the term foodie. I’m more than a food writer or beer writer or journalist. I detest the idea of being called an influencer. I’m not trying to influence anyone. I think it is weird that people on social media aspire to do this unless you’re getting paid money. Then you’re a public relations person which is a useful and needed profession. Otherwise, you’re a shill for someone else’s product/service while aspiring to build a relevant personal brand built on social media currency.
I’m a writer at heart with a penchant for storytelling. I have done many things in life – edit, cook, photograph, manage people and projects. What I do and why I do it isn’t wholly who I am.
If anything, I am a well-rounded person leading a full life. I prefer to be capable of doing many things and sharing informed thoughts on a wide array of matters and topics vs. being a brand expert on XYZ.
Since the dawn of the internet and social media and platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, it seems paramount to have a brand and a following to amount to having value or currency. Of course, that’s not the case.
What we do to help others, how we support family, friends, and community, develop as an individual, and lead a decent life in society has value, too. Our life – who we are as a person rather than a personal brand – doesn’t need to be documented, posted, shared, liked, and commented on for validation.
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