I wanted to write about the lecture I gave at Kingston University last week without being dull and just inserting the slides to my Powerpoint (no, but seriously, I had to make a Powerpoint and it made me a bit scared, so I gave it a purple background).
I think the key thing that came out of it was how important it is in 2014 to build your own brand as part of your career.
I know when my parents were young adults, building the base to their working lives, you were expected to start off low in one company and work up the ranks, staying there for thirty odd years until you left with a pretty pension and a big old send off that involved some sort of engraved watch.
For our generation it’s different, and whether you want to be a blogger or a journalist or something entirely different, I think a lot can be said for creating a buzz around yourself, around you, and creating your own brand.
Why? Because you’ll get headhunted, you’ll have foundations to fall back on should you leave a job, and you’ll have an entire network at your fingertips. In many ways, having your own brand is more secure than having a permanent role in a big company, because you’re not relying on anyone aside from yourself.
When I say build your own brand, I don’t mean like create a chocolate brand and give is a spesh name, I mean you as a brand. Like Hannah Gale (journalist, writer, blogger) or Katie Price (glamour model, entrepreneur, author). You get the gist. And yes, I did just compare myself to Jordan. FML.
Yup, even if you don’t want to be a blogger, or even a writer. It’s so quick and easy to start your own blog (and free), I run mine through WordPress. If you want to get into the journalism industry try and post every single week, and mix it up – it doesn’t have to be centered on one subject. I like looking at a mixture of things, deep personal posts, light hearted lists and posts made-up of pretty pictures.
Don’t want to be a writer? Still blog, even if it’s only fortnightly or monthly. It gives you a good online presence, and is a great place to document and chat about the industry you do work in and show off work you have done – already putting you a step ahead of other people in your field. Go you.
Make sure to fill in your keyword tags with relevant buzz words, so if you’re writing about a great new skincare launch from Simple you might put ‘simple’ ‘simple skincare’ ‘cheap skincare’ ‘skincare 2014’ and so on. It’ll help you get picked up in search.
I can’t stand people that half-heartedly use Twitter, those that Tweet once a month. Eurgh. For me it’s all about tweeting links to your own work (you’ve got to promote it so people can see it, it’s pretty damn obvious), sharing things that interest you, and just be generally normal. There’s nothing wrong with telling the world you fell over in the street, have a giant new spot or are accidentally wondering into McDonald’s for the second time that week – people like to know they’re not the only ones.
Twitter followers grow the more you tweet and the more you converse with people – but it’s important to remain pretty consistent and keep at it daily.
Instagram doesn’t directly bring traffic into websites or blogs, but it definitely helps to grow your brand and your identity. I try and upload between one and four times a day, and it’s a real mixture between selfies, fashion, beauty, food and just generally pretty things. I find, and I know a lot of other brands are finding that Instagram followings are growing much quicker than Twitter or Facebook, so it’s an easy way to help people recognise you and know who you are and what you do.
Plus, it’s pretty damn bloody fun, no?
I’m not suggesting you go out and make yourself a separate Facebook account for your blog or company (although you can do that too), but utilize the followers you already have (most of us have around 600 friends on there) but it’s a great way to again promote your work and get more people looking at your work.
You might think Facebook is a bit lame and old now but it’s a huge traffic driver. I get at least 10 times more views from people clicking on Facebook links than I do with Twitter, and it’s the same with Metro.
5. Be relateable
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my past four years in the industry it’s that people have grown tired of feeling like they’re being spoken to by someone more ‘in the know’ than them – people like to read and listen to people who are just like them, to remind them that they’re not the only one going through the same daily trials and tribulations.
I try and film vlogs and write posts like i’m talking to a friend, and well, it seems to be what you guys like. People don’t want to read complex essays when they get in from work, they want something easy that just flows that takes minimal effort whilst they’re cooking up a pasta-related dish in the kitchen So give it to them, you can still be educated and interesting and write in a fun, light-hearted way.
It’s a simple one, but have a separate email for work things that you give out for job applications and have on your blog. I miss so many emails on my old account where they’re drowned in emails from JustEat and ASOS. This way I can make sure the important stuff is weeded out and I don’t miss anything exciting like a free hand cream. Uh huh.
Sometimes I find it a right drag to get myself up and ready for the events i’m invited to, but they’re a great way to meet new people, network, and remind yourself to the people organising them (usually PRs) that I exist. If you’re not at the point in your career that you’re invited to industry events, then buy yourself in. A lot of publications like Cosmo and Red hold events that readers can go to and immerse themselves with hefty networking.
8. Don’t be scared of speaking about things no-one else is talking about
I don’t mean make bad Ebola jokes – I mean be honest, be ground-breaking and have a concise argument when you are attempting to write/talk about anything that might ruffle a few feathers. I’ve chosen to be honest about my past with eating disorders and depression, and as well as (hopefully) helping others, i’ve found that it’s worked as a sort of therapy for me.
The day that Never Underdressed closed, I wrote a piece about why it was so obviously going to happen. Timely? Yes. A little too soon? Maybe. But I had valid points, and it got people talking about the future of online fashion industry in an exciting way.
9. Enjoy it
There’s no point slogging away at any of the above if it makes you miserable and tired. Social media should be a fun (although destructive and sometimes upsetting) hobby that becomes a habit rather than a chore, and blogging the same.
It’s all about incorporating it into your life and considering how you big up yourself, your skills and your ability – and bring it to the world’s attention, without even feeling like you’re trying too.
So yeah, go out there and take over the world. Just let me run a cat farm if you do. K, thanks.