Before I get to the big question (and the point of this post), I’ll run through the other questions in the top three.
Three: What planner do you use?
Currently, I use a Sarah Pinto planner. I have used a Lilly Pulitzer mini one and a Kate Spade (pre-redesign) in the past. I personally like to change it up every year and I do not prefer academic calendars.
Two: What size and color Longchamp do you carry?
I have navy and black, both medium sized with long handles. I find that the lighter colors appear “dingy” too quickly.
The number one most frequently asked question is….
One: “How do you brand yourself?”
I’m not an expert, but I think it’s something I ended up doing without necessarily meaning to. I’ve definitely made mistakes going about it, but that’s the best way I learned what works and what does not work.
I’m providing advice with a heavy emphasis on online branding, but as is life, there’s a huge (if not complete) overlap between IRL (in real life) and online.
Here are my basic tips (in no particular order):
1. Ultimately, you have to be yourself both in person and online. It’s impossible to maintain a “false” personal brand after a while. You may be able to fake it for a little bit, but eventually (if you do everything else correctly), people will realize that you’re not really who they think you are.
2. Don’t be anonymous. I mean, after all, you’re trying to create a certain perception of yourself. Anyone can be anonymous. Only you can be you. Another reason not to be anonymous, is that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ANONYMOUS. Just putting that out there. If you blog/tweet/whatever for a year and a half thinking no one knows who you are… you may end up saying things you would not say if you were held accountable. What, though, happens if your identity is revealed? Yikes. I tweet and blog with the thought of, “Is it okay for my dad to read?” Mostly because, well, my dad actually does read it!!!
Being completely open about yourself seems “scary” and there are definitely ways in which it could take a really bad turn for the worse. However, you have to be smart. I actually tweet things in a delayed fashion. If I’m shopping in J. Crew and tweet a picture, I set my phone to send the email in an hour.
3. Figure out what your “hook” is. College blogger? Boring. Fashion blogger? Boring. Pinterest reposter? Boring. Obviously your brand may incorporate some of these things, but merely blogging about your schedule or posting pictures from a magazine or reblogging “inspiration” from Pinterest does not distinguish yourself from the Blogger Next Door.
What do you have to offer? What makes you different than someone else? Use that as your hook.
4. This is bigger than a résumé. Saying you have a blog and that you’re a “blogger” during an interview will always lead to this: “Oh! I’d love to see it!” Make sure that when you hand over that URL, it will help not hurt you. Be consistent: post often, maintain a theme, and present yourself well.
5. Think about your favorite brands. Just like a company, you have to maintain a certain image. Will people be able to recognize your work right away? Apple, for example, great branding. iPhones, iPads, iPods. They are all unique products but are clearly from the same family. What do you look like online?
Those are my pretty basic, macro tips for how to better brand yourself online. It’s a constantly evolving process for me, and I keep adding new “projects” that I have to figure out how closely linked I want them to The College Prepster. It takes a little bit of work getting it off the ground, but then it ends up being a lot of fun!
Even my bloggie cards and cell phone fit with the brand!
What are your tips? How do you maintain your online personal brand? Any big “must dos” or big “no-nos”?