Best practices and the dogma that has spread throughout the web from the gurus, thought leaders, and usual suspects might have you believe that you need to be a great writer to have a strong personal brand. But some of the biggest personal brands on the web have proven just how untrue this is. We forget that it’s about the message not the medium. Maybe you’re a terrible writer. It’s no secret that I make my share of mistakes when I write. That’s why my primary delivery mechanism for my message is a podcast and my podcast has a far greater reach than any of my written work. You don’t have to be a great writer to have a strong personal brand. So let’s talk about your options.
First you should remember that nobody starts out a great writer. It’s about making a commitment to your craft, and writing 1000 words a day. While you don’t have to be a great writer it doesn’t mean you can’t leverage written mediums. Plenty of people have leveraged a medium like twitter without doing much writing.
- Lori Deschene started Tinybuddha with a twitter account that eventually grew to over 100,000 followers and then started her blog.
- Scott Stratten tweeted 50,000 times before he ever shared his own content.
Many other people have built successful personal brands by sharing their message through nothing but twitter. As a result of the value they were creating from their presence on twitter, their personal brands grew. A bit of imagination and 140 characters can go a really long way. Scott and Lori eventually went on to get book deals.
Have you ever had the dream of your own television show? Why not create one about your business? Some people are simply better on camera than they are behind the keyboard. They’re naturals in front of the camera.
- Gary Vaynerchuk didn’t start out the way we know him. If you watch his first 50 videos, you’ll see that he was actually not that good. But by sticking with it, his personal brand skyrocketed. Ironically it led to numerous opportunities to write.
- Ray William Johnson has the most popular channel on Youtube. If he had bought into the idea that he needed to be a writer to grow his brand, the world would have missed out on his natural talent.
Video is time consuming to produce, but it also stands out in an endless of sea of status updates, tweets, and blog posts.
The other day as I was perusing the iTunes store, I came across a statistic that floored me: 1 billion podcast subscriptions. With the increasing use of mobile devices, it’s clear the podcasts are making a come back If the statistics aren’t enough, check the new and noteworthy section for a few days and you’ll see that new shows are popping up every week
- Cliff Ravenscraft (aka PodcastAnswerMan) told me in a conversation that he’s not a very good writer and doesn’t enjoy it. Fortunately for him it hasn’t mattered since he’s been the creator of multiple podcasts that have been wildly successful.
- Mark Maron’s comedy career has blossomed because of his unique interview style. Millions of people tune into his show and it’s turned into the perfect medium for his message.
Maybe you can’t write a sentence to save your life and have a “face for radio.” Then a podcast might be the perfect delivery mechanism for your message.
There are people who have built wildly successful personal brands by focusing on creating visual content. Maybe you’re an artist, designer, or photographer. If that’s the case there’s no reason all those elements can’t be blended into your personal brand.
- The Oatmeal is one of the most visited blogs on the entire web. If somebody had told Matthew Inman to focus on writing and stop with drawings, he would have missed out on an opportunity for full self expression.
- Some people have built strong brands almost entirely through mediums like Slideshare. Slides that Rock is a company that consistently gets featured as a presentation of the day. Given that their business is to design presentations, there’s no better place for them to build a platform. Focusing on becoming great writers would hurt them more than help.
Yesterday I was having dinner with a friend of mine who has a background in performing arts. I asked her why she hasn’t infused that with that her personal brand. She said “what amI supposed to do, sing marketing tips.” My reply was ”why not.” In a world so crowded that would be an incredibly unique selling point. If you think this approach is audacious watch this video of my friend Michelle Ward who decided sing instead of give a speech at last year’s world domination summit.
Your personal brand is an opportunity for full self expression. This is what we must never forget. Don’t be afraid to blend other parts of your background into your personal brand. In the words of Erik Wahl “If you’re pushed into something you weren’t expecting you might find something new” Figure out what medium gives you the best opportunity to express yourself and focus your efforts on that.
Have you experimented with forms of self expression other than writing? Let me know in the comments below.