My Brand is Crisis

I’m going to share something. I’m feeling an enormous pressure to build my own personal brand, and I f**ing hate it.

An anonymous social media editor tells Digiday:

“I’m not worried about building my personal brand to get my next job. I can just pull up a Powerpoint deck of analytics showing that I’m capable of building one. I actually think it’s harder for editors and people who do work that isn’t as quantifiable; as a result, they feel more pressure to develop a real personal brand. I have data; I don’t need window dressing.”

This time last year, I thought the same thing, but after leaving my job, trolling my former employer, and talking to a half-dozen companies, I was encouraged to start pitching myself as “talent.” I have no idea where to start.

I’ve increased my Twitter following by 50% and earned some press back in January, but after 10 years and 9 media companies, I’m mostly just tired. I’m discouraged. I’m running on fumes.

When I got to the corporate world six years ago, I knew I couldn’t get by on creativity alone. I originally thought grad school would help me learn all the necessary acronyms to climb up some nebulous corporate ladder, but these days it’s a numbers game — and a bit of a popularity contest. The editor continues:

“My job was just beginning to be a real field five years ago, and I’m not confident it will be a real field five years from now — or at least not a field where there’s room for growth. I know I’m in for another career pivot within the next 5–10 years, and I have some ongoing existential dread about what that will look like.”

You need to be an “influencer” or “thought leader.” Or a rich kid of Instagram. I don’t want to start over, but I don’t want to “build a brand.”

Maybe “existential dread” is my brand.


Debbie Saslaw is an award-winning producer with a dangerous Internet addiction. Her work has been featured in Vanity Fair, New York Magazine, Jezebel, and others. She writes about web culture, media, technology, and our behavior.