Tuesday, September 15, 2009

30-Day Branding Challenge: Your personal life and your brand

How much of what you do in your personal life should be part of your brand?

It's an important question to ask yourself as you craft your brand. Since you're writers, I think I have an analogy that you'll understand.

I'll start with a story.

When I was in college, my journalism professor taught us to do a "letter from"--a combination of a first person essay and reported feature. In teaching us about the writing voice to assume, he was very clear. In essence, he told us that none of your readers care about you as a person, not really. They don't care what irritates you personally, what you think is funny. You aren't famous enough or charismatic enough--probably--for that to be compelling. You are, most likely, the generic first-person.

The only personal stuff you share in your story is stuff that advances the story. So if it advances the story for you to be funny, share the bit about the funny behavior of the bell hop in the hotel. If is advances the story to talk about your childhood raised by a single parent, share that part of yourself.

But not everything belongs in the story.

Likewise, not everything about your personal life belongs in your brand. But if you are a financial writer, talk on your Web site about working on the stock exchange. If you're a real estate writer, talk about your experience as a landlord or a renter.

If you look at the bio on my Web site, you'll see that I write openly about having lost 85 lbs. in the past five. I also write about my decade-long love affair with yoga. But I don't write about other parts of my life--parts I'm going to keep to myself even now.

I'm a health writer, and I excel at stories about regular people taking charge of their health with small but important changes. Guess why I include that stuff in my bio? Plus, the vibe I go for on my Web site and with my clients is friendly and personable. So I don't mind sharing parts of my personal life. I also don't mind showing myself dancing around on this blog, apparently.

So think about this: What in your personal life motivates your work? If there isn't anything in particular, don't feel like you have to come up with something. But if something authentically makes you passionate about the work you do, celebrate it, and tell your editors about it.

Photo by tiffa130.

1 comment:

Bridget (@bcyberchondriac) said...

I think your personal life just has to enter your "brand." Sorry, still have trouble saying that, even though I realize it's the lingo these days.
But, ultimataly, your own personal experiences are what you have, what you can talk about in a compelling way, and what others relate to. Exclude the personal, and you end up with a cardboard cutout.
That said, we don't really need to know that you had a tuna salad for lunch, unless it made you sick (or something).