One of my very enterprising peer-friends, Nikki, told me about a year ago that I needed to start getting my brand in order. My…brand? was my clueless response.
She meant the brand of my online presence, the composite virtual face I was presenting to the world. At the time, I had little more than a LinkedIn page and a personal Twitter account used for silly interactions with my colleagues.
Nikki’s advice was sound. I’ve been trying to be a self-published author who wants to make a living off her words. A blog is a terrible thing to waste.
It’s been slow going, this “building a platform” thing. I started cross-posting to my Twitter and Facebook page, tried to keep up a more regular rhythm of public writing, and even finally put together a Medium page last month. All these little bits of digital progress…and I still don’t feel like I have a coherent whole yet.
Today I sat down to think about that.
I’ve done a lot of work. I’ve refined my brand messages a few times, picked at my bios, and read numerous times through each blog post I do finally publish (though I still miss things). I’ve started, and then deleted, a lot of posts that I deemed incapable of carrying The Brand forward. I’ve evaluated the drafts of various lengths sitting in my digital folders with the critical twin lenses of Audience & Salability.
In fact, I’ve worked really hard to second-guess myself.
Wait, didn’t I just realize something just like this in another recent post? Funny. Almost like there’s a common thread here.
OK, so the problem has clarified: I’m not giving myself enough credit or taking myself seriously enough. What’s my solution?
For one thing, every time I feel the urge to write, and then stifle it with self-criticism, I’m going to tell myself: It’s MY platform.
Nikki was right. I do need a brand. My brand. My weird, off-beat brand of silly, lyrical storytelling — which is the same, if more thoroughly edited, in my novels. This is MY blog. Who cares if “the Medium audience” will read it? I want MY audience to read it.
Because here’s the thing. Writers write. Writing isn’t always fun. If I’m going to make writing a life-long, every-day kind of habit, not to mention summon the motivation I need to go through the editing and publishing processes on my own… Well, I’d sure as hell better write what I want to write.
And sometimes, all I want to write are sappy space pirate drabbles. Yes, sometimes, I do want to write serious essays about things in the world that make me think. Then there are times I’m struck with a spark and just want to re-capture the magic of a remembered moment.
This is where the brand part, the platform part comes in. If I want to establish who I am, what I’m about, and what kinds of writing my audience can expect from me, I have to put what I write out into the world. A lot of it. Quantity will beget quality, and hopefully, when there’s enough, a clear and simple identity will emerge.
And if what I write is space pirate drabbles, serious essays, and magical moments, well… that’s what I’ll be putting out into the world.