It's been a while, of course, and as you know, I don't send this newsletter out often. This is your lucky day.
I've spent pretty much the whole week ill in bed (very frustrating) and am starting to feel somewhat functional today. But not functional enough to get started on what I wanted to do this week: long-overdue 2015 accounting (first time in Zoho Books!) AND the 2016 version of my professional website.
If you've stumbled upon some of my last articles on Climb to the Stars, you'll know that these last 6-9 months have not exactly been a walk in the park for me on the professional front. This crisis (let's not be afraid of words) has actually been brewing since 2013, postponed by the long gig I had with Phonak as the founding editor of their community blog, Open Ears.
Short version: in 2005, "I know about this exciting online social stuff that's starting to happen" was good enough positioning to build a successful freelance career upon. In 2016... not so much. The industry has evolved a lot, and matured. In 2013, I realised a bunch of things:
my "competition" were now ad and marketing agencies
"social media" meant "marketing" and "updating facebook pages for brands"
even the people around me didn't exactly know what I did for a living.
I 2013, I refused to "choose" amongst the various things I did/could do, and the result is the sprawling (half-finished, specially for the English version) professional site that is now online.
Fast-forward to now, after going through pretty much everything from "is it time for me to seek employment" to "is anything I have to offer still relevant on today's market", I have finally figured out what makes sense for me to focus upon: helping people have an authentic personal online presence and strengthen their network.
It makes sense and feels right:
I've been doing this for as long as I've been online, and am definitely good at it
my happiest "work" moments are sitting next to somebody in front of their computer and seeing them "get" how social media can work for them as a person
I'm much more of a "person" person than a "brand" person -- I like humans
beyond freelancers and small business owners (my current clientèle), this is relevant for upper managers (who might want to attract attention for other positions, without "looking"), scientists, politicians, the unemployed, artists... (Not to forget outplacement companies and the like.)
the value in doing this? building a "safety network" for one's career -- we all know how important one's network is, and our online presence and activities can largely contribute towards strengthening and expanding it
The key here is authenticity. I've always cringed a bit at the phrase "personal branding", because it points to something that is constructed. I am a person first and foremost. There will be much more to write about this aspect.
This doesn't mean I'm "stopping" all of the other stuff I might be asked to do for clients. But my lesson of 2016 is that packaging/marketing does matter: I need to present the core of what I do in a way that is understandable and memorable. "I do all this social media stuff, but maybe not how you'd expect me to, because I'm a cluetrain person, blah blah blah," well, yeah, no.