Despite my extroverted and dramatic tendencies, I can be a very private person. I often spend time alone to recharge, unplug (or plug in), and escape the rat race. So, it has certainly been a special challenge these last ten months trying to both brand and market myself. From day one, I faced a steep learning curve. I’m well-versed in internet and mobile technology, but all of my previous social media experience was either as a private user or as a behind-the-scenes company promoter. How many likes are appropriate when my audience is strangers? How do I use hashtags without being obnoxious? How do I consistently brand across platforms? These were all questions I had to answer, and quickly. I started to absorb everything I could – if I saw someone else use a technique that I liked, I’d consider applying it myself. I tweaked tried-and-true methods to fit my own style. I experimented.
Once I felt comfortable in the public digital sphere and had a handle on my own evolving brand, I faced the concept of self-promotion. I had never promoted ME before. I still constantly ask myself, Why would anyone be interested in what I have to say? I realize there will only be more and more of these hurdles while I continue along my path. As a self-branding entrepreneur newbie, I’ve made a list of the hard lessons I seem to relearn everyday.
*I have not quite formed an opinion on the creative as a noun debate but, if it is a thing, I will stand in solidarity with my fellow “creatives.”
8 Lessons in Personal Branding
1. No one else is going to promote you – you have to do it yourself. This is the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn lately. I feel very uncomfortable blasting, “Look at me! This thing I did! Ooh, ahh!” I’ve always tried to present my actions or thoughts in an unbiased way so others can choose if they want to interact or not. But…that’s self-defeating. How will I ever get anywhere if I don’t believe in myself first? Moral of the story: It’s a constant struggle to justify what I share with others and how I solicit their interaction.
2. Quality over quantity. It is better to infrequently post consistently good content than post lots of content that is occasionally good. Less product, more process.
3. Act natural. Authenticity is key. It’s okay to be polished, but don’t over-think your persona. You are you and that’s awesome. After all, you’re the best at being you!
4. You are in the driver’s seat. Do not simply accept “like for like” or “follow for follow.” That is a hollow method of networking. Connect with people and product pages you are truly interested in. Connect because you like a person overall, not just a single post. Follow company pages, not because you like the product but because you respect how the company presents itself to the community. Make profiteers and so-called “influencers” work for your attention. After all, they are making money off of your brand interest, interaction, and endorsement (i.e. free advertising for them). Value your own time and energy.
5. Maintain a private social media life. I highly encourage maintaining private social media accounts simultaneously with public ones. It allows me to get things off my chest in a safe way, rather than make myself vulnerable to the gaze of the whole wide world. Remember, you are in control of your audience. Pick and choose who gets to see what you share, and when. If you are at a private or sensitive location, wait a day or two to post your photo. Resist the urge to geo-tag.
6. Cultivate and document your thoughts. Journal. Write things down – ideas, scenarios, whatever pops into your head. Keep track of which music you listen to while these ideas occur so you can understand your inspiration. Start a few creative, conceptual Pinterest boards. Research a thing you are passionate about. Talk philosophy with a dear friend. Take notes.
7. Cultivate your body. Meditate. Exercise. Stretch. Eat well. Sleep 8+ hours a night. Use moisturizer. Drink water. Get a deep tissue massage. Be in nature. Indulge in sunshine responsibly.
8. This is a job. Remember what is at stake here? Oh yeah, just my reputation, my livelihood, and my career. Act professionally. Factor in all that weight and jump in, 100%. (Notice: I didn’t say 110%.) At the same time, treat it like a job. Remember to maintain a work-life balance. Hold approximate 9 to 5, Monday to Friday working hours. Use weekends as personal time. Take breaks and vacations without guilt. But during business hours, make sure you’re in it to win it.
My greatest take-away? I sometimes get the impression our social media etiquette is broken. Instagram has millions of bots, Facebook was recently hacked, and news media blatantly lies to us. Where is integrity on these platforms? How about we make a change and use the Internet the way it was intended – to support each other, to share, and to reflect the best of what we can be…? Or am I just an artsy, idealist eccentric?
Thank you for reading! Learn more about my social media adventure via the following pages: