I’ve been thinking about my personal “brand” since at least one year. Moving into the blogosphere, I realized how much is important that your online existence is consistent and clear. And I have to start with the first important acknowledgment: almost everything I know about this topic, and upon which I built my “online presence”, comes from an article by Danah Boyd, Controlling your public appearance; another useful source of inspiration comes from Jenica Roger’s Notes on Online identity. You can just read those two pages and drop this one, because that is all you need to know. Seriously, they are really great.
Since I see that a lot of #cpd23 participants are totally new to the blogging world, I start with sharing some golden rules that I learnt on the way and that I try to apply as much as I can:
- You are an individual, and your blog must represent you. So be original, pick up a good name (if you can’t find a smart and meaningful catchphrase, just use your own name!), and customize your theme.
- Pick up an icon, and use it everywhere like your Avatar, your Logo, your Symbol, your Badge, your Banner, your Seal. That is what I’ve been doing lately: the great picture you see in the sidebar was taken by a dear friend, and it represents me so well that it became my Logo in every other online presence that I have.
- Don’t be sloppy: what you write is what you show, so spellcheck what you write, think before posting, put judgment in what you do. Your words are likely to survive the intention from which they were born, so think carefully about what you write and how you write it. This of course applies also for comments and replies. Polish and smooth your temptation of being cool, arrogant, clever.
- Participate. A blog is not a dashboard or a press agency, but it’s meant for confrontation. Don’t avoid comments and interaction. In and out of your blog: always sign your comments with your nickname, and stick to it!
- Always reply comments. This makes people feel welcome, and shows that you are alive and listening. The computer screen is dumb and cold, so you need to put a spark of life into it.
- Tag your content. Tag tag tag! If you want to be an information professional, there is no need to stress on the importance of metadata, right?
- Provide links. Links links links! Run this hypertextual machine to the extreme: link what you say to what inspires you, and cite sources.
- Connect your identities: twitter, identi.ca, skype, rss, flickr, anobii, mendeley, citeulike are all sides of your identity. Web technicians work hard to make these tools talk to each other, so use their potentials. And make them all part of your identity: use your avatar and your nickname so people can make connections around you (see point 2).
- Don’t be anonymous, as much as you can. Use this tool to enforce and strengthen your physical and offline identity. After all, everything you do must converge to your real you: otherwise your online presence will be useless and deaf. You don’t want to get stuck inside the “echo chamber“, do you? Your online presence must feed on your offline presence, and viceversa: I found a clear point about this here: http://kloutbait.tumblr.com/post/6975130290/improving-online-influence-step-1.
These of course are just my rules and results: I don’t know if they are well accomplished, successful, or reasonable. But you can see the fruits all around you: my blog theme, colours and style, is built around them. I like black and dark appearance, but I also offer an alternative white theme which can be more readable; but I tried to customize my theme as much as possible, because I wanted it to be my page; the drawing in the headline also is made by me, and I want it to represent my approach and vision, a documentary world which easily goes from paper to machinery. Language is part of the content, language shapes the content, so I find extremeley important to cultivate your own language, both in the visual and in the textual aspect.
Ah, and even though checking your visits and statistics is a good sport, don’t be too obsessed by that: Google will find you eventually, if you play it correctly :-).