Continuing the week-long series of my blogging secrets to celebrate my one year blog anniversary, today is about being “on-brand.” As I mentioned on Friday, one of the decisions I had to make was what my brand was going to be:
Was I going to be Jason the unemployed guy so I could relate with my audience (but thenâ€¦ what if I got a job???) or Jason the wildly successful internet entrepreneur (so you can feel safe about using JibberJobber because it isnâ€™t going anywhere!)?
I chose to be Jason the wildly successful internet entrepreneur who feels the pain of being unemployed. And who hates the despair of the job search. And who wanted to help others through a sucky experience. And who was discovering career management, which including things that you do long-term (look at my categories on the left and you’ll see what those things are).
I also chose to not compete with any particular group out there. There are recruiters (I’m not one), career coaches (I’m not one), resume writers (I’m not one), career space watchers (I’m not really one, as they focus more on a career expert audience and are smarter than I am), career counselors (I don’t work for a gov’t institution anymore), etc. I positioned JibberJobber (the application) and the blog as central to any of these. Complementary.
It was a good place to be because it was really easy to get others to blog about me, link back to me, participate in the discussions and promote and endorse JibberJobber. No one could get offended at me, or what I wrote, because I was generally a nice guy.
And this, during a time when writing controversial stuff was a guarantee to get more readers! But my focus wasn’t on getting “more readers.” I didn’t want the fly-by-night readers. I wanted the intelligent readers – I wanted people that cared about this stuff, could appreciate it, and hopefully get value out of what I wrote, and what others left in the comments.
Last November I kind of went off-brand for a post where I felt very ranty. It was titled Does your parachute have HOLES and I kind of slammed a team member from Richard Nelson Bolles’ What Color Is Your Parachute team.
I also slammed Princeton University.
I also slammed the New York state labor department.
In a different post I slammed the state of California (without naming them, but I said “It rhymes with Malimornia”).
Was this really off-brand? Well, here’s the deal. I care about getting the best information out to my readers. And all the noise, trickery, and double-standards that I saw as a job seeker really got under my skin. As a blogger I thought I could call these people out, especially since I really trusted my state (Utah) to help me in my job search (they didn’t). As a side note, I’m still bitter about the whole crappy experience, which I know is giving me bad karma, but it fuels my passion for delivering better tools to professionals :).
Being true to one of my main goals, which was to always provide the best information to my reader, it kind of was my place to do this. But then I got a two page e-mail from a mentor who basically said “don’t ever do a blog post like that again – it was off-brand.” At first I totally disagreed, but then I started to think about what my brand was. One of his points was “do you want people to associate all of this spite and bitterness with JibberJobber? Or do you want them to associate JibberJobber with positive/constructive things?”
I learned that it wasn’t that the message was necessarily off-brand, rather my tone and attitude were off-brand.
I can’t remember a rant since then (although I have used strong language, like “sucks” frequently ;)) because I want to have a more pleasant, constructive, positive, you-can-do-it brand. Career management and job search can be hard enough, and there are enough negative feelings out there – I didn’t need to add to the negativity.
Aside from what I post on my own blog, another on-brand/off-brand consideration includes where I comment (and what I comment on). Here are some thoughts:
- As mentioned yesterday, I tried to leave nice comments. Constructive, so that people saw me as a positive contact, not a jerk. My brand was not to be a jerk, right?
- I did not leave comments on controversial websites in my space that seemed to be off my brand. These would be the bitter sites, or cheesy sites (no, I’m not talking about Cheezhead :p), or cliche sites that were obviously all about adsense revenue. I didn’t want to be associated with them.
- Even when I was on a non-controversial site, but found a controversial post, I’d stay away from it.
- When leaving a comment on a non-career site, like TechCrunch or Guy Kawasaki’s blog, I would only do so if I had something smart to say, and not slam anyone/anything. Again, it was off-brand for me to be a jerk.
- All of this on-brand/off-brand stuff carried over to non-blog activities – participation in e-mail groups, face-to-face network meetings, one-on-one e-mails, chats, etc.
Perhaps this sounds like a whimpy strategy, or a slow-growth strategy. But remember, my main business is not this blog. This blog complements JibberJobber the application, and my main goal isn’t to get a certain number of readers, rather I want users (hint hint) ;).
So there you go – Day 2 is about knowing what my brand was and trying to stay on-brand. Have you ever gone off-brand? Do you regret it?
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