Everybody is becoming a brand
I started blogging October of 2003. I began for a variety of reasons. The biggest one is that I wasn't working anymore in the Internet industry. Fred was in the midst of the next generation of Internet users and I wanted to keep my connection. Blogging became a way for me to remain connected. In many ways blogging also created a daily job for me because I figured who knew what type of opportunities might unfold as a blogger.
Let's fast forward to now. I have continued to blog, almost daily. I have found an audience who I really enjoy hearing from ( Disqus ). Opportunities have come my way. But most important, I have remained connected to a burgeoning industry which I believe I fundamentally understand whether or not I participate ( social networking ).
As we are watching the world change, over night, it is interesting to participate in different conversations with people at many ages about what the future brings. On one hand, there are many people, mostly people who are in their mid-40's and older who want to look at last year to prepare for next year. They don't understand that what happened last year in their business is irrelevant. Consumer spending has changed dramatically, what and where people are reading is changing ( print media is dead ) and advertisers are at a loss on how to find their audience unless they truly understand how the Internet works. Granted, people don't want to believe that things have changed because that means that their businesses will never make the type of money that they have in the past but that is the reality of the world today. Twitter is growing, not Madison Avenue.
People who are 30 and below mostly get it. They are participating in social networking and technology is part of their daily life. They grew up with it. It is an extension of who they are. I see it in my kids.
Blogging has become standard stuff. Everybody seems to have a blog. Through blogging, everybody is becoming a brand. If you want, as your audience grows, you can monopolize your product, your brand. I have a few friends who have now started their own brands. Even my daughter Jessica has a blog. Each of these blogs represent them. My friend Vanessa, who is from Brazil, works with retailers in South America who come to the US and want to engage someone who understands the fashion markets and trends in America and how to translate them to the Brazilian market. Her blog, gives people who are her clients or potential clients to get a daily glimpse of what Vanessa is seeing and thinking. My other friend, Helene, who started the card company, is creating a business that works around her life style (the image Now What is her card) Jessica has started a blog which is her voice on fashion and her photography. Her audience is exploding and perhaps she will be one of the most read bloggers who are out there now in the industry she is part of. That unlocks opportunities that you hope for but aren't expecting. You go to a site like tastespotting which aggregates beautiful photographs of food everyday and when you click on someone that you'd like to make you are directed to someones blog. Some of the blogs are not worth writing about but others are fantastic and have Google ads running which make me want to see how many people are reading that blog. Tastespotting gives me a reason to never buy a cookbook again. Josh Rubin started Cool Hunting five years ago and that blog definitely provides a lifestyle for Josh.
Blogging has become mainstream and is changing media. Social networking is changing the way people connect and do business. There are now millions of micro-businesses on the net. Etsy is an aggregation of marketplaces for handmade goods and many of their shops create economies for people who live off their sales. Some blogs are creating enough money so that the income generated from ad revenue is enough to exist without having to go into an office everyday. Figuring out how to market yourself on the web isn't easy. Sometimes it is just viral while other times it is about being connected and connecting to others.
Blogging has allowed people to make themselves into their own brand. The next generation is going to use technology to spur entrepreneurship at a total different level. It doesn't mean starting up a lemonade stand then growing it to lemonade stands across the country through raising money and giving away a part of your business to do it. It means creating an audience who is interesting in reading what you have to say or perhaps spurning an interest in people want to hire you for your talents.
As the entire world has turned up side down, the youth really get that the playing field is changing over night and it is essential that everybody become a brand. After all, they began their brand the first time they set up their facebook account.
Having been in the online industry for almost 15 years now, I totally agree with you that everyone is becoming a brand. I experience it myself with a couple of thousand twitter followers, hundreds of Facebook and LinkedIn connections, and almost 4k RSS subscribers to my 4 year-old blog. Talking about age, I am 40 years old now and consider my self a ‘bridge’ between digital and analog generations since I believe I understand both due to what I do for a living.Though amazed with my own personal brand – which I like to call ‘micro-fame’ (I rank # 1 in Google Brazil when you simply search for “michel”. Yeah, more famous than Michel Focault), still I have no idea what to do with it in terms of money. Not that this really bothers me, once I understand it helps my career.My point is, everything IS changing and this IS amazing, but the filling the gap between this new world and how to make a living out of it is not an easy deed. Google Ad Sense (which is basically good just for Google) will not do the trick.But I’m sure this is a question that will be answered with the new generation’s rising power and minds.What we old tarts have to do is basically try to keep up with it. 🙂
It is tough, keeping up. But, certainly keeps us young!
I really like this post. Last weekend I attended the fifth annual NorthernVoice, a blogging conference in Vancouver, Canada. Lots of interesting panels & discussions, but during one on traditional media journalism, a University of British Columbia professor of journalism (Alfred Hermida, who used to be a journalist for the BBC) actually tried to convince us that newspapers own the brand, and that bloggers don’t have “brand.” (In my head, I was like, wtf?, what are you talking about?)He totally missed the point that we – all of us – assign brand value to blogs we love, and that the whoop-de-doo brand identity of the Vancouver Sun or the Globe & Mail (Toronto) or even (gasp!) the New York Times is dependent on our pleasure and not just on their whuffie. He totally didn’t get it, as far as I could tell.Compare that attitude with this post by Steve Outing on Editors & Publishers (and I can’t remember how/why I found this link, so forgive me for not crediting the source): “Forget Micropayments — Here’s a Far Better Idea for Monetizing Content” ( http://tinyurl.com/crfvbs ), which describes Kachingle. That line of thinking is much more in line with what you’re describing, too.The paradigm is shifting, for sure.
The paradigm is absolutely shifting. People like Hermida are not onlyliving in the past, they fear change.