Brace yourself for my typical cautious (jaundiced?) look at internet-goldrush-style-hype, this time pertaining to the website copywriting perspective on Personal Brands. Three well-known personal brands spoke at Interactive Day San Diego’slecture “People are Brands, Too!” on June 16, 2012. All three have thousands of Twitter and Facebook follower and lots of traffic to their websites. Still, I went in cautiously—frowny-face first. Why? The implication is that ALL people can be Brands. It’s the If-I-Did-It-You-Can-Too appeal, which I find misleading. The Personal Brands were: Crosby Noricks of PR Couture Allison Friel of TV Guide Letter Theater Sam the Cooking Guy who hated his job at a biotech company so much he created a cooking show even though he had no idea of how to prepare a simple dish.
My Objections to Personal Brand Hype
Right off the bat, it was clear what these three successful brands had in spades: PERSONALITY.
- Crosby Noricks channels “quirky” which clearly stems from her intelligence and wit but also her unusual looks.
- Alison Flierl came across as DROLL to the point of being FLAT, to such an extent the panel mediator actually asked her, “Do you think you’re funny?” To which she responded, “I think I’m amusing.” She writes for the Conan O’Brien show, however, which means her ability to amuse must be off the charts. In the end, her refusal to pander for laughs, her very drollness, did become funny.
- Sam the Cooking Guy is hyper, IRREVERENT and borderline obnoxious. In other words, he grooves on being the most up front, straight-talking guy in the room, which can be abrasive. It’s clear seeing him in person that he disdains the idea of finesse. Many find this style funny, but others find it rude. Sam is well aware of his propensity to offend, but it’s just that quality which gets him any audience at all.
The Bottom Line: Website Copywriting for the Personal Brand Hinges on VOICE
And voice hinges on big personality. My daughter has big personality. My son? Not so much. It takes all kinds. My daughter creates chaos but all kinds of fun, too. My son may not be the most dynamic conversationalist, but he’s puppy-dog sweet and gentle. Both charm in their own way. Imagine the world’s discombobulation if everyone had BIG PERSONALITY. If you are one of the more gentle, observant souls in the universe (and thank heavens for you all!), developing a personal brand may not be for you. Keep in mind, too, that both Crosby Noricks and Alison Flierl have kept their day jobs (Crosby as an ad executive and Alison on the Conan show) and exhort anyone trying to develop a personal brand to do the same.
5 Steps that Get Voice into the Website Copywriting for Your Personal Brand
Have you always cracked up your friends? Found it easy to get the attention of those around you? Found people waiting to hear what YOU have to say? You may be a good candidate as a personal brand. If so, before setting up hosting and pinning down a domain name, take these steps to develop your unique “voice.”
- Consider how friends have described your humor and/or personality: intense (Christopher Hitchens), bubbly/annoying (Eddie Murphy), dry (Ellen DeGeneres), sarcastic (Lewis Black/David Spade), academic (Carl Sagan/Neil DeGrasse Tyson), sadistic (Daniel Tosh), smooth (Barak Obama) or other-worldly (Dimitri Martin).
- Accept that your personality and particular personal brand writing style will turn some people off. In other words: you’re weird! USE YOUR WEIRD. You will lose some business or attention because of it. Sam the Cooking Guy, predictably, couldn’t care less what his detractors say. To get any kind of audience, he was prepared to alienate the majority. Those who want to befriend everyone probably shouldn’t attempt to be personal brands. Greg Cook of Stone Brewing is flat out obnoxious on Twitter and Facebook. He decided early to take on the Arrogant Bastard (the name of one of his beers) persona.
- Think of other writers and speakers who may also have a style similar to yours and read them, watch their videos or listen to their podcasts. Pandora now has a comedy channel you can listen to and stream.
- Read long-time writer Les Edgerton’s Finding Your Voice: How to Put Personality into Your Writing.
- Once you determine your voice, stick with it, never apologize and keep it consistent across all social media channels: blog, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. When people need a dose of droll, bubbly or academic to get them through their day, they’ll come straight to you.
Take the time Develop a Voice for Your Website Copywriting
The online personal brand hinges on carefully crafted web copywriting. Before you stumble on the scene, guns blazing, develop your unique voice. If you’re already clever but haven’t written much, chances are you have talent. When I taught high school and college English, I always looked for the class smart ass, knowing it would be that person who had a flair with words. That said, they had to take the time to develop their style and often felt awkward at first honing it.
Need a Sounding Board When Developing Your Personal Brand Voice?
Consider joining a writing group. There are thousands on the internet where members exchange pieces they’ve written and comment. Check with your local library or writers association for in-person groups. Getting honest feedback is the only way you can measure the success of your style. Looking to get a personal brand rolling faster? Contact us! We’ve seen which online personal brand spaghetti sticks to the wall and which drops to the floor, and we’ll give you an honest appraisal.