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This empath's journal

Long time, no biz talk. Here are some thoughts on my work in the content strategy course I took at the end of Q2/218 min read

As a writer I find it difficult to accept the transient nature of social media.

When I write I feel comfortable writing in journals and on my blog, social media posts that are voraciously consumed in a fraction of a second seem strange to me.

I write for the sake of my own clarity, I journal to understand myself, and I use words to trap fleeting moments in stasis because I want to remember them, anchor them into my experience.

I also feel like the threat of having your account getting hacked and taken from you is larger on social media as well becuase when I see the stories about that happening, I attach more meaning and a greater threat urgency to them in my mind that to all the accounts that have weathered their growth without getting hacked.

And maybe it isn’t so much that social media posts are ephemeral that bothers me, it’s that social media itself looms over me and my little words like an open maw, ready to devour us into the capitalist machine that profits off of invading your privacy.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be comfortable with social media, even using it as a tool for reaching other people and connecting with them.

As I saw in the social media strategy course I recently participated in, there’s a system and a method behind using social media as a tool for marketing. But when we’re all using the same methods (not that we can get away from the things that work, or the way a specific platform works) we inevitably start looking the same and soudning the same.

Here’s the crux; if you want to participate in the world and be seen, you must use the standard methods to do so.

I chose to turn off commenting on the blog because I don’t want that distratction.

I’m with Seth Godin on that one:

"I think comments are terrific, and they are the key attraction for some blogs and some bloggers. Not for me, though. First, I feel compelled to clarify or to answer every objection or to point out every flaw in reasoning. Second, it takes way too much of my time to even think about them, never mind curate them. And finally, and most important for you, it permanently changes the way I write. Instead of writing for everyone, I find myself writing in anticipation of the commenters. I’m already itching to rewrite my traffic post below. So, given a choice between a blog with comments or no blog at all, I think I’d have to choose the latter."

– from Why I don’t have comments, Seth's Blog

Yet I need to have an avenue for people to reach out and connect with me.

My emails are by far the best way to do so. As a highly sensitive and introverted empath, I love one-on-one conversations the best.

But I also need a space for something more immediate and communal: enter social media.

In my case Instagram.

I’m following the content strategy I laid out for myself in the course, Q3 and Q4 are both dedicated to this.

I don’t know if I’m going to see any results or if it’s going to work, but I’m going to keep at it because I’m a) running low on options for marketing my business that feel aligned with my purpose and b) being familiar with SERP where things take 6-12 months before they start tracking any real results, I understand that these things take time.

Some marketing method I’ve tried and hated for my blog.

I tried doing ads and I hated it, sending out messages to a large group of people who may or may not be interested in what I’m offering is no better than cold calling. Inevitably you end up face to face with someone who’s just staring at you blankly and you stare blankly back in your realisation that you don’t have anything in common.

I don’t use Facebook on principle (I can’t get behind the way they make money) and, yes, I’m aware that Instagram is little better than Facebook as it’s owned by them. But I, as I said before, I think I need a channel for more immediate communication – I’ll let you know how this theory turns out (maybe by end-of-year I’ll have had enough of it and simply call it quits on Instagram and just solely focus on my blog and emails).

On LinkedIn people are too concerned with being PC for the eyes of their workplace community, that the raw, emotionally charged things I talk about simply don’t track well there.

What I should be doing instead.

Pinterest is probably where I should be dedicating more time than I am, simply because it’s been baffling me.

I took a course in how to market on Pinterest and I haven’t recovered from that overwhelm yet. Now that I think about it post-strategy course, I’m beginning to form an idea in my mind about taking the time I spend on Instagram now, and switching that over to Pinterest instead.

One of my qualms with Instagram has, as ever, been finding that balance between being on social media to market my business and putting my own authentic voice into it.

Though the course I took (wisely) cautioned against using buzzwords and sounding inauthentic, hearing people talk about “showing your authentic self” or “posting with integrity” starts getting that buzzy flavour about it.

Naturally, I do understand the value in being authentic and staying away from being buzzwordy.

But the flipside of that is that in trying to stay away from being bland and generic, I pour too much of myself into it and lose sight of why I’m on the platform in the first place.

That’s when not getting likes for posts starts feeling like a personal rebuke, even when I know that ‘likes’ as a metric is meaningless because it tells me nothing.

So, I need to figure out how to do it and keep it at arm’s length while still allowing my voice to ring true, or just not do it at all.

If I’m honest, at this point I’m not ever sure.

Building a personal brand is hard.

Especially when I want to build one as a writer (not a copywriter).

Other people who took the course with me had businesses in which they either sold one-to-one services like coaching, consulting or photography. Or they had product-based businesses where the person was the maker of the products.

No one was like me.

As a writer, I have words. And showing the process of how those words form into larger, cohesive matrices like blog posts or essays, is mostly me just sitting at a desk.

And I personally don’t find that particularly fascinating.

Not like seeing jewellry being made or yarn being spun.

I also don’t make my own products because I use a dropshipping service to fulfil that end. So, not much to see there either.

What I have are digital products, ones that nobody wants to watch being compiled. And I don’t know how to talk about digital products like an email course or a blog in an interesting or engaging way.

What makes this process even harder is that I’m talking to people who are just like me.

And I can barely make sense of me most of the time.

How can I possibly get it together long enough to talk to others that are internally just as chaotic as me?

Honestly, some days I genuinely question my ability to make this business work. Because so far I feel like all I’m good at is failing.

And that’s a kind of a downer.

But I wanna say two things. One: I decided when I started on this journey that I’m going to start before I’m ready and if (when) that means learning “in public” then that’s what I’ll do.

And two: I realise that persistence is key here and that I need to resist my urge to fly off the handle and declare that my life up to this point has been a complete waste of energy and effort.

I don’t know if I’m going to succeed on Instagram. I don’t know if I’m going to succeed with this blog. And I don’t know if I’m going to succeed with this business.

Part of it is because I can’t trust myself to make decisions. I courageously make a decision, feeling in my gut like it’s the thing I want to dedicate my time to, only to later discover that something entirely different ignites my passionate interest.

Seth Godin once said that, thankfully, your past self is a gift. And if you don’t like the gift, you can just say ‘no thank you’.

Even if that past you went to law school and practiced law for five years, but now you want to become a baker, you can just say no thank you to the path that the past you requires you to tread and move off on a completely different path.

That gives me some comfort.

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