This Whole ‘Personal Branding’ Thing is Driving Me Crazy


oh-no

This whole personal branding movement is driving me bonkers, which is weird, because I help other businesses brand themselves.

When it comes to me, though? I just want to scream a bad word that starts with “f” and ends in “uck.”

So here’s the deal. I left my full-time job in August of 2014 to launch my business, Shari’s Ink: Copywriting & Creative Services. As you may have guessed, I do freelance writing for everything from websites, blogs, social media, to press releases and newsletters (not to mention, I also manage social media accounts or act as a communications consultant). Which is cool, because now I work my own hours and take on a variety of projects.

BUT, I’ve been reading all this crap about the importance of attracting the type of work you really want, and to do that, you need to make sure your personal brand aligns with your target audience.

Well … shit.

What happens, then, for writers like me, who are just … WRITERS? When our ideal client includes big-name magazines like Time or Vanity Fair, or online pubs like Slate or Vice, that pay $1 per word? When our ideal clients might be major publishing houses that can offer us a $750,000, three-year contract to write another three books?

Can anyone tell me how to brand that?

What happens when you are not well-connected, don’t have the cash flow, but you’re crazy good at what you do? When you don’t have $25,000 (or $5,000) to toss at building a serious following and are spending your days landing enough clients to make your mortgage next month, because–you know–you’ve only been in business for less than six months?

Of course I’d love to dedicate all day, every day, to targeting my ideal client. But in reality, work is work, and I pride myself on always producing the highest quality product for any client who pays, whether they’re a health insurance company, a dance studio, or a fashion designer.

I understand that personal branding is important.

And I advocate that everyone try to label themselves somehow. But really, enough with this insane “personal branding” movement. I feel like I’m suffocating. Whatever happened to just working, doing it well, and building your reputation off that?

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Shari Lopatin is a professional writer, editor, and social media manager living in Phoenix, Ariz. Did you like this post? Then get more like it! Sign up for the Shari’s Ink eNewsletter and get FREE resources on social media news, publishing trends, and effective writing tips, every month.  

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One thought on “This Whole ‘Personal Branding’ Thing is Driving Me Crazy

  1. I completely understand where you’re coming from, Shari. I hope someone who qualifies as a branding guru will offer up an answer. I’m eager to learn as well.

    The whole “branding” craze has definitely annoyed me plenty is the past 2 or 3 years. I revealed in a blog post last year that half of the branding advice seems to contradict the other half, so I feel like most people are just making things up to sound like they’re expert when they’re clearly not. (Source: http://incandescere.com/home/2013/12/29/3-trends-to-leave-behind-in-2013/)

    But hey, what do I know? I could be wrong and everyone is a guru on the topic but me. I think I’m more of the same mindset as you where I let my work, voice and business style speak for myself. I understand the purpose of consistency, saying no to the “wrong” kind of job, and never missing a deadline. But in the end, I think that would apply to all freelancers, not just those with a specific personal brand.

C'mon, you MUST be thinking something.

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