Wordy C Answers Her E-mail: Newbie Questions And Answers Regarding AR, ASW And Branding Yourself
"What Drives Your Blog?" was not a rhetorical question (LOL). You, as a writer, need to understand that if you are going to participate in branding yourself you should be in the driver's seat - not your passengers. The goal is to take your readers on a journey and not be taken for a ride in the comment sections. Watch how you moderate your blog because how you respond says a lot about you. :-)
Proactive? Reactive? Proponent? Opponent? Doesn't really make a difference... You control your responses and you control how active your blog is or isn't by the quality of your work, not the quantity. When people read something they like they tend to share links with their friends. Word of mouth buzz is priceless and can not be brought. Lots of drivel does not a blog make... If you are into drivel, then the least you can do is make it very entertaining drivel (LMAO).
Your subject matter is entirely up to you, but when you do decide to tackle it, make sure you do the very best that you can whether serious or silly. Everything has its place and part of branding is not only figuring out where your place is, it is also figuring out where you want to go... If you stop wanting to climb higher in your professional and personal life you will stop trying and become a status quo personality because you mistakenly think you have "arrived" and now must maintain a particular comfort zone.
I remember making a statement over and over as a founder trying to explain why we wanted to grow Club Chaos at a slow, measured pace: Our relationships matter. We took the virtual family approach and made it by invitation because we want to have conversations with each other and make new friends. We didn't know about A Small World (ASW) but now that we are learning about it we discovered we sort of stumbled upon a few parallels regarding the power of social media as a resource to foster personal friendships and not squander those relationships. In Aug 2008 Social Networking Watch interviewed ASW Founder Erik Wachtmeister who said something very interesting:
SNW Question: "So you’re both an online and off-line community, whereas most of the social networks are purely online?"
ASW Answer: "I would say we are a real community where most social networks are not communities. It’s not like you’re going to meet somebody in Shanghai and say oh you’re also a member of My Space how interesting. Let’s go and grab a beer."
The light-bulb went off because Rainers frequently do grab beers and a host of other foodie paradise treats simply because we meet another Rainer we are comfortable reading. I randomly call people and do food all the time. ActiveRain is a culture and a community and I found myself thinking about that when I was doing some research for Cher's Post about wanting to get an invite to A Small World.
I sat there thinking about the fact that people call and e-mail me when they are flying into NYC all the time. Why? It's because they are comfortable with my blog, have an idea who I am and know I like invading states to visit with Rainers between handling unrelated matters.
Simply saying "ActiveRain" to the right person will open doors just like saying "ASW" does. We have it going on in spades over here and I find myself suddenly determined to get our ActivePeeps over there. If founding AR doesn't make one "culturally influential" then what does? If stellar writers who can move people to organize and act on others behalf like ActiveBob and ActiveBrad do don't qualify, then what does? If lurkers like me who would follow Cheryl Johnson's tech advice or Elizabeth Weintraub's real estate advice along with millions of other readers all over the map don't qualify as culturally influential, then what does? Secretaries and Personal Assistants are there right next to Royalty and the infamous in ASW. Why wouldn't any Rainer worth their salt not want to take a crack at it? Scared? Why? Only a real friend can get you in. Only someone who claims you as a friend can open that door. Your cousin could be there and you wouldn't even know it because you didn't think enough of your own cousin to ask.
This is how people miss their moments. They assume... If you do not understand how AR or ASW works you should do your own research because the information is out there. If you are going to brand yourself as something, don't assume, KNOW. The power of the Rain can open doors if you stop trolling for business long enough to actually make really cool friends. Friends share information on a different level than business associates.
If you are not an expert do not pretend that you are. If you do not know the answer, say you will find out and get back to someone making it very clear that you want to confirm your information before you answer. Nothing ruins a brand and a business relationship faster than getting a reputation for misinformation.
Branding and personal associations are very important components to any business endeavor. Are you here just to troll for business or are you here to build your future and expand every facet you can maximize? You have to figure out what you want then do your best to get it. I want Cher to get what she wants because helping Cher helps me. It may not help me get in, but watching a buddy pierce the corporate veil has its own rewards. It helps differentiate you and what you do from someone else who may not be willing to do it. :-)
Are you looking to differentiate yourself? Then do so honestly. Write as honestly as you can about how you feel about anything and everything that interests you. Transparency doesn't mean telling all, it means telling enough. As you grow and find your voice your readers will grow with you. If you are really lucky, the right person will read your blog and open the door for you when you least expect it. If you fail, you may still have something relevant to say because sharing your hindsight after going through something may provide a viable solution for others. It all starts with a conversation...
It's a conversation you, the writer, have decided to have with other people. As long as you remember to take other people into consideration you will always have something to say. Some of the best moments I have had have been people writing blurbs about their day. What the cat killed. What the dog chewed up. How baby ran amuck in the fridge... I still get e-mail about Stephen toasting our cell phones (LOL). I'll have you know that the ritual sacrifice of electronics is alive and well in my household (LMAO). Yes. It's true. A Life With Wee People blog about the trials and tribulations suffered by my iPod Nanno is Overdue (ROTFL).
My point? Start by talking to people and not at them. The moment they start chatting back you will be talking with them. It is the with them connection you, as a writer, should always be striving for. Your ability to connect creates buzz. Nothing beats word of mouth buzz, especially when it goes viral in your favor. :-)
How writers talk with people affect how people perceive their brand.
To quote Garr Reynolds: "If you don't brand yourself, you can rest assured that others are branding you and letting others brand you can be risky business. Instead, we should have control, as much as we can, in determining our reputation, our image, and the intangibles, the ephemeral, and the perceptions and ideas that other people have about us."
Round one was mad fun, mad long (and to some, just plain maddening - LOL). Why does Wordy C get wordy? Because stuff needs to be said. Fluffy people don't read my wordy posts. The people who get me get the fact that I am really having a conversation with you. If you were sitting across the table from me would I stop talking at 300 words? We all know I would not, so why listen to people who b*tch about long posts? They obvious don't have as much to share with you. To each his own...
If you are intelligent enough to sit down and read a book, then my long posts in relation to the book suddenly become short (LOL). I share a lot because along the way I learn things... Like there are 4 Lies About Social Media you should be aware of (Thank you Penelope Trunk) and one should Beware Social Media Snake Oil (Thank you Stephen Baker) and it wouldn't hurt to know What Matters Now (Thank you Seth Godin).
Branding yourself isn't a casual thing. If you are really lucky, someone smarter than you may brand you in a moment of laughter that sticks and takes off with a life of its own. When Susan Mangigian gave me the affectionate nickname Wordy C, she was branding me. When everyone else started calling me that, I embraced it, accepted it, then started living up to the moniker because people have an expectation. They count on my playful misbehavior and they count on me getting serious when something serious needs to be done. The expectations of my friends, family and readers drive my blog. I have a growing relationship with them. I answer e-mail in public and private. I pick up the phone and call. I even called China. Have you?
What drives your blog? You need to know why you write... This really is not a rhetorical question or me having a facetious moment. This is me telling you that your motives have to be defined because our motives are a heavy influence over why we do all of the things that we do.
Since I want us all on the same page regarding what motivation is, I'm going to make a brief detour to Wikipedia: "Motivation is the activation or energization of goal-oriented behavior. Motivation may be intrinsic or extrinsic. The term is generally used for humans but, theoretically, it can also be used to describe the causes for animal behavior as well. This article refers to human motivation. According to various theories, motivation may be rooted in the basic need to minimize physical pain and maximize pleasure, or it may include specific needs such as eating and resting, or a desired object, hobby, goal, state of being, ideal, or it may be attributed to less-apparent reasons such as altruism, morality, or avoiding mortality." You can read the full article here.
If you want to be a stellar writer, then you need to read people who write because people who write consistently are motivated writers. I don't want you to hang out with people who teach you how to write. I want you to start hanging out with people who actually write.
Observing them teaches you how to observe yourself because we all emulate the people we admire on some level. We all strive for that intangible gift that they (motivated writers) have because those types of bloggers pave the way for us to believe that if we keep trying we can do this, we can learn to express ourselves more effectively and use our interpersonal communication skills to grow our networks and businesses.
Do not stick with people who agree with what you agree with. You need balance in your blog life. The more propponents and opponents you read regarding a subject that interests you, the more you learn about yourself and discover what you did, do and don't agree with. Good writers bring clarity to a subject and can inspire you to opine...
Your opinions are going to affect your brand, so it also helps if you, the person creating your brand, is honest about why you want to brand yourself a particular way. Just because you want people to see you a particular way doesn't mean they actually do. Sometimes, the best brands are accidental by products of you simply being just you (LOL). Those are fun because they are usually created by word of mouth and viral buzz usually happens when the things people do and say are so noteworthy it resonates within others.
Along the way the people who read you learn things, just like I others and learn stuff... For instance:
(Observation #01) "It's a Recession when your neighbor loses his job. It's a Depression when you lose yours." Harry S. Truman
Hmm... (LOL) Very well said, Harry. People get it... they really get this. Even when they are laughing about something that makes them sad. Sometimes, a famous quote can color how you think about what you've just observed if the quote is on your mind while you are being made aware of something...
(Observation #02) "If a man does his best, what else is there?" General George S. Patton
Hmm... George reminds me of my Dad (LOL). We didn't have to be perfect, we just had to try our best and always say what we mean... We also had the prerogative to change our minds, and if we did it didn't automatically make us liars, it simply sometimes means we had evolved, learned something new and changed our minds... Other times more facts being revealed meant we were mistaken in our assessment of a situation. If you are the type of person willing to do your best, then what else is there? If you need to change your mind, then change it. Don't let people attack your position because you have the nerve and audacity to move on... What does it say about the blogger who screams a practitioner is a liar in order to make themselves look good? What does it say about your brand?
(Observation #03) "Political correctness is tyranny with manners." Charlton Heston
(ROTFL) Oh, the things I could say here, but wont. I'm gonna let Charlton speak for himself. ;-)
If not for the intellect of these three writers, they would never have excelled and been well known for anything. If you want to brand yourself then be honest about who you are, even in the face of great adversity... Let your blog stand on its own two digital feet and write about what ever you want and let your level of intelligence shine through. Let your humor loose. Let your irony loose. Let you fears, hopes and desires loose. Some people will not agree with this simply because they feel if you are in a particular network you should write a particular thing.
Why? Who is the blog writer of your post? You or them? It's YOUR blog. Simply sit down, get comfy and write about what ever you want to have a conversation about today. You are sharing. Sharing is personal. It ticks me off when people attack other writers because they think something shared is stupid. If you don't like it, move on or write your own post as to why you felt something was stupid without embarrassing a peer.
Now that your eyes are crossed I shall leave you with my fave two quotes regarding stupidity:
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." Martin Luther King Jr.
My point? Everything is relative so write about what is important and relevant to you, then do your damnedest to get what you want out of life while you are still alive to live and enjoy it...
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