Notes on personal brands
My name and my blog and my life have been intertwined for the last five years, which is really just a fraction of my life–but in 2015, it can seem like nothing existed before there was Google and Facebook there to confirm it.
When you Google my name, this life spills out in front of you. There are the photos I’ve taken and the articles I’ve written, the places I’ve been and the questions I’ve answered. The internet does not tell you the divorces in my family or show you my ex-boyfriends or give you any (real) indication of the life before the day where I bought a domain name and decided to start writing on the internet.
The thing about blogging about my life is that the two things become inordinately wrapped up in each other. My life is my blog and my blog is my life; when people stop liking one, I wonder if they have stopped liking the other. I sometimes tentatively search my name on GOMI, I worry that the tides will turn and people will leave and if my blog is over, well, what does that mean for the rest of it.
When something good happens–when BuzzFeed says that I am an “incredibly amazing woman who will inspire you,” an accolade that riles up the congratulations of the faint circle of friends who knew me before this blog and who keep in touch with me via my posts on social networks–I feel validated, albeit a bit of a fraud. I mean, it’s super cool, but it’s only because I know the editor and this is New York, it’s all about who you know, right?
And then I daydream up a collaboration that will just be perfect, and I receive an decline email almost as soon as I send the pitch, the flat words immediately dashing my spirits and infusing my day with a flat sense of “not good enough.” Even though I’ve been on the other side of those words, even though I know the myriad factors that affect this strange world of influencer marketing and small businesses.
When a lot of people like one of my photos, I think: yes! A small digital symbol of people liking me! And liking my work! I am on the right track! When someone tells me that they’ve already hit their cap for working with bloggers this year and so maybe better luck next time, it’s hard not to take it as they just don’t want to work with me. Not my blog, but me as a person who tries really hard to be a good person to work with.
And, always, comparison is the thief of joy: something goes well for me, and I am happy, and then I see something go better for someone else, and I am defeated.
I don’t travel enough to keep up with the travel bloggers, I don’t have the overflowing closet to be a fashion blogger (yet I have too many things to be a minimalist), I don’t have the perfectly styled life worthy of being a lifestyle blogger. I eat and I cook and I enjoy both of those things very thoroughly, but I am not a food blogger. I don’t practice yoga every day and I don’t own a juicer and I am not a health blogger, overflowing with meditation and motivation and inspiration.
The thing about personal brands is that we’re trying to act like ourselves–our lives, our quirks, our likes and our dislikes, our relationships and our childhood, all of the little things that make us us–are a business entity that can be redesigned and dashed with a new color scheme and molded to fit the swinging shifts of customer opinion. We try to fit ourselves within the box that we’ve created for ourselves with nothing but a URL and a handle and a photo filter or a consistent emoji use. We only share broadly what fits within our brand, keeping parts of our individuality hidden completely or saved only for that inner circle of trust.
And so when I tell myself that personal brands are more business than not–that the highs have to be treated with the same attitude as the lows, that I can’t pick and choose what to take personally–in a sense, I have to pull out of the million strands intertwined of what is both and what is my blog but what is just simply me. And I have to keep a little of that life that is just mine, and not this blog’s, for me.