lamiki

on life, ambitions, and dreams

Flower

Posts Tagged ‘personal branding’

Am I really a writer?

Am I really a writer?

My husband shared this picture with me today and it speaks to me too much not to be shared.

This is something that he and I have been struggling with for our entire lives but only embraced last year (it was the secret I was talking about in this post actually). The challenge for me is declaring and ‘owning’ that I am, indeed, a writer. For John, it’s that he is an artist.

The difference between a writer and an author

As someone with a background in the book publishing industry, I hold the titles of “writer” and “author” to high regards. Just because you write does not make you a writer.

And it all comes down to something that my first college writing professor said –

Next time someone you meet at a party introduces themselves as a writer, ask them what they’ve written. If they say, “Oh, nothing you’ve ever read,” then they’re not really a writer.

Last spring I had a conversation with Simon Salt about this topic and he pointed me to a very good blog post he wrote on the topic: Author, Writer, Blogger – it’s all the same write?

Here’s how I define it:

To be an author, you need to write something that is published by someone who is not yourself. This means your writing is in a book, a journal, or in a magazine (though periodicals usually mean you’re a journalist) and it was edited and endorsed by someone else, usually your editor and the publisher. Again, not you.

To be a writer, you should have some level of formal training and be paid or endorsed by someone to write. In other words, the transaction of a payment means that someone else has endorsed that you truly are a writer. Can you be a ‘writer’ if you’ve never been paid? Sure, just like I’m an athlete though I’ve never competed in a competition but I’m not going to carry around business cards that declare that.

The point is this – you are what other people say you are and what other people validate you to be. If you’re a writer, like that quote is inferring, people will start to label you as one.

Is that fair? No, not really. So that means you better self-promote the hell out of your work if you want them to notice your writing and call you a writer. 🙂

Am I really a writer?

I have been writing since I was seven years old, since before I knew what a paragraph was. In spiral bound notebooks, using colored felt-tipped pens at recess. I did not play kickball or foursquare, I wrote. Harriet-the-Spy-style, but instead of writing down what I was seeing, I wrote stories. And I kept them to myself because I was not brave enough to share them with other people.

It wasn’t until I read blogs like Damsels in Success (which is no more), Penelope Trunk’s Blog, and a year later Matt Chevy’s Life Without Pants that I decided I, too, had shit to say and was brave enough to say it.

And it wasn’t until the evening after publishing my first blog post after seeing the positive response on Twitter and reading my first comments in my friend’s kitchen that it hit me – people wanted to read what I had to say.

I almost threw up.

About ten months later I got my first job as a paid writer based on the writing my client found on my blog. She was the first person to call me a “writer” and it wasn’t until December that I started adopting that title to my friends.

Malcom Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours or approximately 10 years to become an “expert” at something. While I still have a lot to learn and every thing I write is hard to produce, it’s safe to say I’ve crossed that mark.

Am I really a writer? I have no idea. But I know what I’m doing.

And, yes, I’m scared to death that people will find out that this is exactly who I want to be.

Social by Design

Laura Kimball LinkedIn Maps
The more immersed I am professionally and personally in social media, the less I self-identify as a social media professional. It’s interesting because when I left my last job in the book world, I advertised that I was “social media curious” and was aching to do something in that space. I had no idea what that would look like, but I knew that I needed to be there.

Fast forward to now. You all know that my major concentration at Jolkona is social media—it’s so core to my position that it’s 50% of my title. But social media is also part of my “non work” life. You can see an example of that right here on my blog and how you can always find me on Twitter.

So here I am, sitting on the top of my social media empire. Someone who learned the skills and is making an impact in the space, and yet I don’t want to self-identify* as just a social media person.

Why? Because social media is a tool—a channel, a platform. What is more important than the tools you use is what you do with them.

Here’s what I do through the content that I write and share across social media channels, personal and professional: I promote, I market, I provide customer service; I connect, I network, I build relationships; and I show up virtually and in-real-life. More importantly: I write, I edit, and I share. All the time.

Social is inherently social

Last night I started reading The Dragonfly Effect by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith. I barely read through the introduction before the authors blew my mind with this quote on page xiv:

It is clear from our research that, in contrast to what you may think, promoting a personal goal is inherently social. To be successful, you must translate your passion into a powerful story and tell it in a way that generates “contagious energy,” so that your audience reflects on your tweet, blog post, or email, long after they leave their computers.

Read between the lines: your audience is your friends on Facebook/Twitter/YouTube/the-next-great-social-network, etc. and your friends in real life.

Remember the giving campaign I launched back in December? Through the help of you, my readers, and my friends across Twitter, Facebook, and real life, we blasted through that goal in 3 weeks and EXCEEDED the goal by supporting 6 moms and newborns in India. (My goal was to only support 5 mothers and newborns–which reminds me, I will write a blog post to recap that soon.) Yes, I could have reached that goal by promoting my campaign offline, and if doing so, I would have used the same strategy and techniques to promote it that I did online.

Social starts with you

One of the best pieces of advice that I received during my first internship is that everyone has to learn how to market themselves. (Thank you, LRC.)

You are the only person who knows what you’re passionate about, who can help you reach your goals, when to approach them, and how to deliver the message. You know what your motivations are and what the motivations are of others that will help turn a conversation over coffee into action.

But you have to start with knowing who you are and socialize from there.

Everyone can be is his or her own advocate and social media is another medium that can help amplify your message.

Questions for you:

If you work in the social media space, do you self-identify as a social media professional?

Or, if you use social media in your personal life, what role does it play? Do you even know why you have a Facebook profile or are on Twitter?

*How do I self-identify or brand myself? Check out the bio.