Stop Plastering Yourself All Over the F****** Internet!

And Other Unsolicited Advice for Building a Personal Brand

I can’t help but notice an annoying trend.

You can’t toss a digital rock on the internet without hitting someone who is building a personal brand as an “influencer” or “expert.”

This wouldn’t normally irk me if it wasn’t for the fact that most, if not all of these “tastemakers,” plaster their work with images of themselves. You would think that since many of them fancy themselves as personal branding experts, they would realize there is more to personal branding then flooding our feeds with selfies and photos taken by photographer friends.

As most of us know by now, branding isn’t what you put out into the world. It isn’t what you say you are. In fact, as hard as you try, you really have no control over your brand.

Instead, it’s up to everyone else and the judgements they make about you.

If you ask me, making every single Instagram post or header image for your blog a picture of you paints a pretty clear picture. Whether or not you mean to, it says:

“Hey, look at me! I’m a self-obsessed douchebag who lacks creativity and I want to make sure you recognize me in real life!”

If I had to guess, this isn’t an ideal takeaway for a brand.

I get it. You claim that by consistently posting photos of yourself, you’re “increasing brand awareness” and “ensuring brand coherence on all channels.” Sure you are. You can keep your bullshit jargon to yourself.

As a human, I don’t care about you or what you want. I couldn’t care less about what you’re trying to accomplish or how many followers you have.

Instead, I’m worried about me and my problems. How can seeing your face all over the internet help me pay my bills, find a job I like, or bring me closer to living a fulfilling life?

Can you imagine what this would be like in real life? You walk into a bar and, before introducing yourself, you start handing out headshots to every single person there.

Not the same audience? Fine. Instead of a bar, you’re handing out headshots at a networking event filled with potential clients. Doesn’t seem any better, does it?

No matter what other “experts” say, you are not your brand. Your likeness is one minor piece of the overall puzzle.

Since your main goal is to highlight the value you provide and the problems you can solve, I don’t see how sharing photos of yourself will accomplish these things (unless you’re a model and, let’s be honest, you probably aren’t).

I’ve got a few suggestions:

Champion the people you help and share their stories.

When you promote others, not only do you provide more value for them, you are also seen as someone who genuinely cares about others. After all, you’re building a brand to help others, right? If not, I strongly suggest you reconsider what you’re doing. There are plenty of other ways to sell yourself.

Be an accessible human being who has a sense of humor.

Consider lightening up and injecting a bit of humor into your brand. In the beginning, I found this much harder because, as someone who has always worked for myself, I wanted others to take me seriously. Over time, you learn that it’s possible to do great work while not taking yourself so seriously. In my personal life, I tend to have and appreciate a self-deprecating sense of humor. Why shouldn’t this shine through in my professional life?

Slow down and use a little creativity.

In today’s fast-paced world, I understand time is valuable. However, I also believe that if something is important to you, then it deserves the time and attention necessary in order to do it right. It doesn’t take that much effort to slap a photo of yourself on a blog post and call it a day. Instead, consider taking a little more time to creatively set yourself apart from everyone else.

Share what you do instead of who you are.

Even people in the acting and modeling industries have more to them than their appearances. They have interests, passion projects, and causes they care about. If they can break the endless stream of selfies to share these, then you should be able to, too.

Be honest with people you don’t know.

It’s easy to open up and be vulnerable with a close friend or family member, but what about people you haven’t met? Part of creating a personal brand is sharing who you are with the world. No one trusts that person who changes who they are based on who they’re around. Do your best to remain consistent across all channels, both in your physical and digital life.

That about does it. I know you’re probably wondering, “Who the hell does this guy think he is? He’s not even a ‘Public Figure’ on Instagram?!”

You’re right. I’m not famous. I don’t have hundreds of thousands of followers.

I’m just someone who believes in being open and honest with others and I’m tired of how superficial the internet has become. Since we’re all a part of it, why not make it a little better by promoting depth and quality?

Otherwise, the internet will suffer the same fate as reality TV — a meaningless existence.


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William Frazier is a designer, writer, and founder who blogs about making ideas happen at The Imperfectionist. For helpful tidbits on making your own ideas happen, join his newsletter and follow him on Twitter.


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